In SEO backlinks are the single most precious resource. That’s why website promoters spend most of their time hunting for links. Searching for link sources by hand is no longer an option. Whether you want to research your own link profile or scan the links of your competition you need to use backlink checkers for this. That’s why backlink checking apps are among the most popular SEO tools.
To help you in your quest for links here’s a list of most popular backlink checking tools and software (both free and paid).
1. Yahoo! Site Explorer
The grand daddy of all backlink checkers and perhaps the single most widely used SEO tool on the planet. Yahoo! Site Explorer is great for running quick checks on sites’ ranking profiles. It’s free and very straightforward to use: you enter the url of the site you want to check and Site Explorer generates a list of pages linking to it.
There are options that let you exclude the internal links coming from same domain or subdomain. You can also use advanced search operators such as site:/-site: command to check/exclude links coming from a particular website or all sites with certain TLDs (.coms,.edus, etc.)
Note: Yahoo! Site Explorer lets you check only 1,000 links per domain regardless of how many backlinks the site actually has.
2. Backlink Watch
Backlink Watch is an online backlink checker that helps you not only see what sites link to a page, but also gives you some data for SEO analysis, such as the title of the linking page, the anchor text of the link, whether the link is dofollow or nofollow, etc. The tool pulls the list of links from Yahoo! Site Explorer, so don’t expect wider or different results.
Webconfs offers a collection of free online SEO tools. Two of them are designed for backlink research. The first tool is called Backlink Anchor Text Analyzer. It shows you what pages are linking to a particular domain and with what anchor texts. If there are several links on a page you’ll see all the anchor texts used on each page. The second tool is Backlink Summary. It does exactly what its name suggests – gives you a summary of the domains linking to a page and shows you how many links are on each.
Just like Backlink Watch, Webconfs tools are also powered by Yahoo!, so the results are the same and also limited to 1k links per domain.
4. SEO SpyGlass – Majestic SEO – Linkscape
If you’re really serious about SEO you need to have some more solid backlink checkers at your disposal that would let you dive deeper into the link index, check more links and gather more data for analysis. That’s where tools like SEO SpyGlass, Majestic SEO and Linkscape come in handy. These three tools can dig up much more backlinks to a site than any other backlink checkers out there. The difference between them is that Majestic and Linkscape rely on their own crawlers and link bases while SEO SpyGlass queries a vast number of search engines and uses advanced search operators to find more links.
Both approaches have their strong points. Using their own crawlers allows gathering larger number of backlinks but also makes the service more expensive both for the company and for the end user. Plus large data sets are usually harder to analyze and make use of. The search engine based approach of SEO SpyGlass gets you only the links that search engines display resulting in a bit smaller link profile but you can run unlimited backlink checks at no additional cost and the data you get is more actionable.