15 AWESOME Link Building Tools (That Work Great in 2018)

15 Best Link Building Tools [2018]

You’re about to see the 15 best link building tools for 2018.

In fact, I’ve used these exact tools to get backlinks from sites like Entrepreneur.com.

Entrepreneur – Link

And the BigCommerce blog.

BigCommerce – Link

With that, it’s time to reveal my favorite link building and outreach tools.

15 Best Link Building Tools

1. Guest Post Tracker

Find guest posting opportunities and manage campaigns.

Let’s face it:

Guest blogging can be a HUGE pain.

Enter: Guest Post Tracker

It’s a combination of a list of 1500+ sites that accept guest posts…

…and software that helps you manage your campaigns.

Guest Post Tracker

As someone that’s published over 200 guest posts, I can tell you that a tool like this can make the process A LOT easier.

Pricing: $99 one-time fee

My Favorite Feature: Categories

Sick of searching for “topic” + “write for us”?

Then you’ll love the fact that you can search the sites in Guest Post Tracker by category… including sports, fashion, food, and more.

Guest Post Tracker – Categories
The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

If you do a lot of guest posting, I recommend giving this a shot. At 99 bucks, it’s a lot cheaper than most other SEO tools. And it can help you find guest post opportunities that you couldn’t find any other way.

2. Ahrefs

The world’s largest backlink index.

Ahrefs is a link building software suite designed for SEO pros.

Ahrefs

It also has a lot of features that have nothing to do with link building, like:

  • A very solid keyword research tool
  • “Content Explorer” for finding popular content (similar to BuzzSumo)
  • Rank tracking
  • Technical SEO site audits

That said:

Even though Ahrefs has A LOT of cool features, it’s easy for non-techies (like me) to use.

Pricing: $99-$999 per month

My Favorite Feature: “Link Intersect”

This cool feature lets you see which sites link to your competitors… but not you.

For example, here’s a report I run at least once a month:

Ahrefs – Link intersect

This shows me who’s linking to Ahrefs and Moz… but not me.

Ahrefs – Missed links

Why is this helpful?

If someone links to your competitors, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll link to you.

(After all, they might have a relationship with the person that runs that site)

But if someone links to TWO of your competitors, you have a much better chance of getting a link from that site.

The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

If you can only invest in one link building tool, it should be Ahrefs.

3. GroupHigh

Find bloggers for outreach campaigns.

If you want people to link to your site, you need to master blogger outreach.

And the first step of any outreach campaign?

Find bloggers in your industry.

Well, GroupHigh claims to have “The World’s Largest Blog Search Engine”.

And after testing it out this week, I’d have to agree.

I did a search for “baking blogs” and found over 33,581 relevant blogs:

GroupHigh

So that’s GroupHigh’s big selling point: it makes it easy to find bloggers.

(Whether it’s for content promotion… or straight up link building)

It also has a built-in outreach platform that you can use to send your outreach emails:

GroupHigh – Outreach

Pricing: $99-$299 per month

My Favorite Feature: “Metrics”

Sure, it’s nice to have a giant list of blogs in your niche.

But how do you know which bloggers are worth reaching out to?

Well, that’s where GroupHigh’s metrics come into play.

You can sort and filter bloggers based on Domain Authority, social media followers, audience size… and lots more.

GroupHigh – Metrics

Very cool.

The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

Although GroupHigh isn’t designed for link building, I know lots of SEO agencies that use it to run their link building campaigns. And I can see why: it’s got a giant database of blogs… and a built in “Blogger CRM” that you can use to send link building-focused outreach emails.

4. BuzzStream

Scale your link building campaigns.

BuzzStream is an outreach platform built for staying organized with email outreach.

BuzzStream

In other words:

Instead of spreadsheets and random Gmail inboxes, you can use BuzzStream to track conversations and manage campaigns effectively across multiple projects.

(Which makes it especially helpful for teams and agencies)

Here’s how it works:

First, you either find websites using their built-in “Discovery” tool…

BuzzStream – Discovery

…or upload a list of sites in your niche that you want to reach out to:

BuzzStream – Upload

Then, use BuzzStream to find their contact info.

BuzzStream – Contact information

(I’m using the handy Buzzmarker Chrome extension to find contact information here. This is arguably the best feature of the entire platform).

Finally, connect your email with BuzzStream. This lets you reach out to people from within the platform.

BuzzStream – Email outreach

You can even dig deep into reporting to see the status of every email (and followup) that you’ve sent:

BuzzStream – Reporting

Pricing: $24-$999 per month

My Favorite Feature: Custom Fields

I view custom fields as the bread and butter of BuzzStream. They let you easily organize and customize campaigns in any way you want.

Let me show you an example.

One of the very few required custom fields is Relationship Stage. This basically means: “what is our current status with that person?”.

Here’s an example of some of the stages I use.

BuzzStream – Edit custom field

Let me break these down for you.

  • Not Yet Researched – we’ve saved the prospect as qualified, but haven’t prepped for outreach (i.e. found contact info, wrote the email, etc.).
  • Prepped for Outreach – this is specifically for those we’ve prepped for outreach, but have a contact form URL (not their actual email address). We save them here until an appropriate time of day & week to submit the form (since this can’t be automated / queued up for a future time).
  • Not Started – people we’ve prepped for outreach, and have an email queued up for a future time. When it gets sent, the prospect automatically moves into Attempting to Reach.
  • Attempting to Reach – we’ve sent at least 1 email, but haven’t heard back.
  • In Talks – we’ve heard back, but we haven’t drawn a conclusion.
  • Waiting for Result – we’ve sent our link/post/pitch over for review, but haven’t drawn a conclusion.
  • Agreed to Link – they’ve verbally agreed to do what we want them to do, i.e. post our link, accept our post, write about our client’s asset, etc.
  • Link Accepted – the link is live! Booyah.
  • Rejected – they shot down our request.

There are others, but the above makes up the vast majority. But the cool thing is, you can customize all of the above.

For example, you can create a new set of fields for a guest posting or influencer marketing campaign.

So: why are custom fields so helpful?

  • Filtering / Division – if you’re looking for a specific segment of prospects, filtering by that custom field allows us to easily find them. In the same way, this division of organization helps for process management.
  • Template fields – a custom field value can be used in an outreach template
  • Data analysis – you can add data points as a field (for example, the site’s Domain Authority or whether or not they’ve linked to a competitor)

BuzzStream has a lot of other cool features that I didn’t have room to cover here. If you want to learn more I recommend reading my BuzzStream review.

The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

BuzzStream is one of my favorite link building tools. If you do a lot of outreach or work with a team of link builders, it can save you a ton of time and energy.

5. Disavow.it

Create a disavow file in seconds.

Disavow.it makes it easy to create a disavow file.

Disavow.it

Without a tool like this, you need to manually create a file to upload to the Google Search Console

…and HOPE that it’s formatted correctly.

Pricing: Free

My Favorite Feature: “Apply Disavow File”

This feature is helpful if you have a list of URLs that you want to disavow links from… and a disavow file ready to go.

It compares the two lists. And lets you know which URLs in your list will (and won’t be) disavowed.

Disavow.it – Apply file
The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

The whole disavow process can be a giant pain (I know from experience. I’ve helped several clients recover from manual penalties). Disavow.it makes one step of this process a little bit easier. Or, if you proactive disavow shady links, it can help you with that too.

6. JustReachOut

Find and pitch reporters and journalists.

As you probably know, PR is one of the most powerful link building strategies on the planet.

When done right, PR can land you high quality links from HUGE authority news sites (like Forbes, the New York Times, and Tech Crunch)

The problem is:

Most outreach platforms are designed to help you find bloggers… not journalists.

That’s where JustReachOut comes in.

JustReachOut

It has a sizable (and up-to-date) database of journalists…

JustReachOut – List

… and a CRM that you can use to manage your outreach within the platform.

Pricing: $696-$2497 per month

My Favorite Feature: Source Search

JustOutReach lets you search for source requests from HARO, ProfNet and Twitter.

That way, you can pitch journalists that actually WANT to feature you in their story.

The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

If you want to get links and mentions in the press, JustReachOut can help. It’s dead-simple to use. And it’s relatively inexpensive for the features it includes.

7. Moz Link Explorer

Reverse engineer your competitor’s backlinks.

Moz Link Explorer is the flagship feature of Moz Pro.

Moz – Link Explorer

And it replaces the old (and honestly crappy) Open Site Explorer.

Moz – Open site explorer replaced

So: how does Moz Link Explorer work?

First, you pop a competitor’s domain (or specific URL) into it:

Moz – Enter competitor domain

And you can see all of their backlinks:

Moz – See backlinks

You also get link metrics, like the site’s Domain Authority:

Moz – Domain authority

Pricing: $99-$999 per month

My Favorite Feature: Anchor Text Analysis

Quickly see the most common anchor text in a site’s backlink profile:

Moz – Anchor text

Why is this helpful?

Well, if you see lots of exact match anchor text, that’s usually a sign of black hat link building)

The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

Moz Link Explorer is the 2nd best link analysis tool on the market. Unfortunately, it’s still a DISTANT second to Ahrefs (Ahrefs’s link database is significantly bigger than Moz’s Link Explorer). That said, a Moz subscription comes with several other tools (like an on-page grader) that can make the monthly investment worthwhile.

8. NinjaOutreach

Makes outreach (relatively) easy.

NinjaOutreach is similar to other outreach tools I’ve covered already, like BuzzStream and GroupHigh.

NinjaOutreach

So what makes NinjaOutreach different?

First of all, it’s database of influencers is HUGE (in the millions).

Second, it’s more SEO-focused than other outreach platforms. Yes, you can sort the results based on social metrics (like Facebook fans or Instagram followers).

But because NinjaOutreach is designed for link builders, you can get granular with SEO metrics too. Specifically, you can sort results by Domain Authority, Page Authority and number of backlinks

NinjaOutreach – Metrics

Pricing: $69-$599/month

My Favorite Feature: Premade Templates

NinjaOutreach comes bundled with templates for different types of link building campaigns… including broken link building, infographic promotion, and more.

NinjaOutreach – Templates

Of course, you should personalize these templates before you send them out. But at least you have a starting point compared to writing outreach emails from scratch.

The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

NinjaOutreach is a powerful piece of link building software. I first tried this tool 3 years ago and it’s come a long way since then. It’s got a much cleaner interface and 5x more features. Although not dirt cheap, NinjaOutreach is a good value considering the amount of helpful features that you get access to.

9. Link Prospector

Supercharged link prospecting.

If you’re sick of manually searching for resource pages in Google, you’ll love Link Prospector.

That’s because it has hundreds of pre-made search strings built right into it.

Link Prospector – Search strings

So all you need to do is enter a few keywords related to your site… and it takes care of the rest.

Link Prospector – Enter keywords

Pricing: $47-$497 per month (can also pay as you go)

My Favorite Feature: Link Target Score

Most link building tools spit out 1001 link “opportunities”.

And it’s on you to sift for gold nuggets.

Not Link Prospector.

It analyzes every prospect on your list and lets you know which sites are most related to yours:

Link Prospector – Link Target Score (LTS)

That way, you can focus on the prospects that are gonna actually turn into links.

The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

Link Prospector’s features are designed solely for full-time link builders and SEO agencies. In other words: it’s not newbie-friendly. But if you’re a link building pro, this tool can make link prospecting go 2-10x faster.

10. BuzzSumo

Discover influential bloggers in your niche.

Even though BuzzSumo is designed for content, lots of SEO pros use it as a link building tool.

BuzzSumo

Here’s how:

First, BuzzSumo makes it easy to create content that people WANT to link to.

BuzzSumo – Find content

Second, you can use BuzzSumo to find influencers in your niche that recently shared your competitor’s content:

BuzzSumo – Influencers

(Which means they’re super likely to share your stuff… and link to it)

Pricing: $79-$239 per month.

My Favorite Feature: “Brand Mentions”

“Brand Mentions” let you know whenever someone mentions your brand in a blog post… but didn’t link to your site.

Here’s an example:

BuzzSumo – Unlinked mention

In my experience, a friendly “can you please link to us?” email can turn those unlinked brand mentions into legit backlinks:

BuzzSumo – Unlinked mention outreach

You can also use BuzzSumo to find new links to your site:

BuzzSumo – New links

(I’ve found that BuzzSumo finds links from blog posts faster than any other tool)

The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

Sure, BuzzSumo isn’t designed for link building. But as you just saw, you can still use it to get white hat links to your site. Recommended.

11. cognitiveSEO

Easily identify unnatural links.

CognitiveSEO is an SEO software suite with a focus on backlink analysis.

(Just like Moz Link Explorer and Ahrefs)

Cognitive SEO

So what makes it unique?

Well, cognitiveSEO has some interesting features that most other tools don’t have.

For example: “Unnatural Link Detection”.

This lets you know if your site (or a site that you want to get a link from), has a shady link profile:

Cognitive SEO – Unnatural link detection

Otherwise, it’s very similar to Ahrefs and Moz.

Pricing: $99-$499 per month

My Favorite Feature: Domain Profile Influence

Lets you know what percentage of your links come from authority sites… and rinky dink blogs.

Cognitive SEO – Domain Profile Influence

It’s normal to have a mix. But if your link profile is lacking heavy hitters, it might be time to get backlinks from bigger sites.

The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

Cognitiveseo simply isn’t as good as Moz or Ahrefs. That said, it’s a solid value at $99/month. Plus, there’s a free trial. So if you’re on a tight budget and want pro-level backlink analysis, cognitiveSEO is probably your best bet.

12. Pitchbox

Use workflows that walk you through the outreach process.

Pitchbox is an outreach platform built for efficiency and ease-of-use.

Pitchbox

It tries to be an all-in-one solution, from discovering prospects to reporting on outreach and everything in between.

(In my opinion, it largely succeeds)

Let me show you how Pitchbox works.

After you sign up login, the first thing you’ll do is create a Project.

Pitchbox – Create project

Then, you choose the type of campaign you want to run.

Pitchbox – Campaign type

As you can see, there are LOTS of pre-built campaigns to choose from.

  • Blogger Outreach – you input keywords, they give you a list of blog articles.
  • Advanced Search – you input search phrases, they scrape their Google results.
  • Product Reviews – you input keywords, they give you a list of blogs that (they think) have featured review articles in the past.
  • “Hot Off The Press” – you input keywords, they give you a list of blog articles published in last 48 hours.
  • Competitor Backlinks – you input competitor domains, they give you a list of URLs linking to them.
  • Link Removal (default OR using LRT) – doesn’t prospect; you have to provide the list of URLs. But makes things very efficient for getting links removed.

What I like about Pitchbox is that the workflow is built right in. So once you start a campaign, it walks you through all the steps (from finding high quality prospects, to grabbing contact information, to actually sending outreach emails).

Pitchbox – Workflow

Speaking of outreach emails, this is one of the areas that Pitchbox really shines.

You can create personalized fields that make outreach emails personalized (without spending a ton of time tweaking each one).

Pitchbox – Personalized fields

You can also have multiple people work on a single outreach email (for example, one person composes the email and another person comes in to personalize it).

Finally, you can set up automated email sequences to automatically follow-up with people that don’t reply to your first email:

Pitchbox – Automated sequences

Pricing: $195-$395 per month

My Favorite Feature: Metrics Filters

This you to filter your results by certain quality metrics.

Specifically, you can filter by Majestic Citation Flow & Trust Flow, Link Research Tools Power*Trust, and Moz metrics (Page Authority and Domain Authority).

Pitchbox – Metrics: Filter

You can set your own filters, or you can use one of their pre-built “good” or “great” filters.

Pitchbox – Metrics: Set filter
The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

Pitchbox combines “easy to use” and “powerful features” into a single piece of link building software. It’s not the cheapest tool out there. But if you do a lot of outreach or work with a team of link builders, I highly recommend Pitchbox.

13. Majestic SEO

Link analysis on a budget.

Majestic is yet another backlink analysis tool.

Majestic

It has the features you’d expect… like number of backlinks, referring domains and anchor text analysis.

Majestic – Features

Pricing: $49-$99 per month

My Favorite Feature: Topical Trust Flow

This metric measures how many links a site has from a set of highly-trusted “seed” websites.

Majestic – Trust Flow

(It’s basically Majestic’s version of TrustRank)

The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

Majestic SEO has a massive link database. But the UX is ancient and hard to use. That said you definitely get your money’s worth at $50/month.

14. Hunter.io

Find accurate contact information in seconds.

After trying over 25 different tools for finding contact info, I can say with confidence that Hunter.io is the best.

Hunter.io

Not only is it lightning-fast, but the contact info that you get from it is insanely accurate.

Hunter.io – Contact information

That’s because Hunter doesn’t just scrape a single website for email addresses. Instead, it pulls data from several different sources.

Hunter.io – Result sources

Pricing: Free-$399 per month

My Favorite Feature: Email Verification

Hunter automatically verifies each email that it gives you:

Hunter.io – Verified

That way, you know the inbox is still active BEFORE you hit “send”.

(You can also bulk upload email addresses for verification)

The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

When it comes to finding email addresses for outreach, you absolutely cannot beat Hunter.

15. Monitor Backlinks

A backlink tool for people new to SEO.

Instead of building their own link index, Monitor Backlinks pulls link data from Moz and Majestic into a single dashboard.

Monitor Backlinks

(Raven Tools does the same thing)

It also comes with a few bonus features, like SERP position tracking and detailed reporting.

Monitor Backlinks – Reporting

Pricing: $25-$144 per month

My Favorite Feature: Disavow Tool

Makes identifying shady links (and adding them to a disavow file) simple and easy.

Monitor Backlinks – Disavow
The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line

When it comes to link analysis and overall features, Monitor Backlinks isn’t even close to something like Ahrefs. That said, it’s 4x cheaper. So depending on your budget, Monitor Backlinks might makes sense for you.

Any Tools That I Missed?

Those are my 15 favorite link building tools.

The question is:

How do you choose the best one for you?

Here’s a quick checklist to help you decide:

  • “What budget do I have to work with?” – If you’re so shoestring that you can’t afford shoestrings, Excel spreadsheets are always free. And they usually do the job. That said, outreach tools usually make the process faster and more efficient.
  • “How many people need to use the tool?” – If you’re the only one that build links, then you don’t need worry about user accounts and features designed for teams. But if you do outreach with a team, tools like BuzzStream or PitchBox are a must.
  • “How many links can I see?” – Backlink analysis tools like Moz, Ahrefs and Majestic give you the most competitor link data. Others might be cheaper… but you get what you pay for.
  • “How important is reporting?” – Are you reporting to clients? If so, detailed (and nice-looking) reporting features can be massively helpful.

Now I’d like to turn it over to you:

Which tool on this list is your personal favorite?

Or maybe there’s a tool you love that I didn’t mention here.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

26 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great post Brian.

    If you had to narrow down the list to your 2 or 3 most favorite tools, which tools would you select and why?

    Factoring in a budget of no more than $150 /month with a one man team & no client reporting.

    thanks.
    Angelo.

    1. You’re welcome, Angelo. I’d go with Ahrefs. You get a lot for your $150/month. And not just link building. It also has a really good keyword research tool.

  2. Great guide, thanks Brian! Just curious, are there any negative side effects to using a list service like “Guest Post Tracker” these days?

    1. Hey Alan, good question. You definitely want to carefully review each site before guest posting. It’s possible there are some spammy-ish sites on the list.

  3. This is a great list and came at just the right time as link building is getting more and more difficult (especially with all these updates!).

    Ahrefs is an invaluable tool I use every day, for link research and even for keyword research now.

    Another great tool created by the creator of Guest Post Tracker is a tool called SEOJet. It helps you really sort out your anchor text ratios down to the most specific types of text you should be using for each link you build.

    Thanks again for the list!

  4. Hey Brian,

    Thanks for yet another valuable post. This is super useful. Honestly, for a newbie like me link building is overwhelming as it is. So I never thought beyond Ahrefs. :-). But good to know there are so many tools out there.

    Just curious, what are your thoughts on Alexa’s Competitor Backlink checker. I understand Alexa may not be big yet, but they are making lot of noise. Please note, I have not tried it personally.

    Thinking tangentially, given the future of voice search (I am sure you will agree voice search is a huge thing), just curious to know your opinion how they stack up in backlinks.

    I might be completely off on this topic, please pardon my ignorance. I am just dipping my foot in the huge ocean. Appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for your time.

    1. Hey Sankara, I’m glad you liked today’s post. I actually haven’t tried Alexa’s SEO stuff before. I have to check it out. Re: voice search, I don’t really think it affects backlinks too much.

  5. I agree. Another great post Brian.
    Could you add a quick ‘possible stack’ of services to each of your checklist bullets towards the bottom. It couldn’t be perfect for each client, but it might be a good starting place for those looking for a service.

    1. Thanks Scott. I might add that in the future. As you said, tough to do because everyone’s needs are very different. But I’ll look into it for sure.

  6. Thanks as always, Brian for these great recommendations. I have heard a lot about Link Research Tools and Link Assistant. How do you feel about those tools?

    1. Hey Chris, good question. Both are solid tools. But for link analysis, I think Ahrefs, Moz, Majestic and Cognitive SEO are all better in terms of index and ease of use.

    1. Hey Cyrus, it’s designed to find and organize guest post opportunities. So it’s not ideal for managing inbound guest posts.

    1. SEMRush is great for keyword research. It has a link analysis function that’s pretty good. But I look at it more as a keyword tool.

  7. A very neat list and I personally can’t imagine doing the bloggers outreach (research) without Hunter, but it also seems like you perhaps forgot to include in your list Nightwatch.io as a powerful SEO tracker 🙂

    Are you going to use all of them in 2019 too?

    Kas

  8. Great list, Brian! Ahrefs, Pitchbox, and Hunter.io are all fantastic tools for link building. I’ve added Nightwatch into my toolkit as well. Super intuitive and accurate SEO tool that you should check out. 🙂

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