Backlinks define the authority of your website, so they are one of the most important search ranking factors. Moreover, backlink SEO may be the key element to help you beat your competitors — you can do your best in technical, on-page, and content SEO, you may choose top keywords, but you’ll still fall behind if your backlink profile falls behind, too. With this in mind, it’s clear that backlink optimization does require your attention a lot.
To properly optimize your backlinks, you’ll need a good backlink tool. What makes a good backlink tool? It should be able to audit your backlink profile, discover new link-building opportunities, and, ideally, be next to free. Luckily, the latter is easily solved — the tools we’ll look at today are all available for free. Read, analyze, and choose what suits your business best.
A 100% free online tool with a large data allowance, backlink audit functionality, historical data records, and competitor research opportunities.
Online Backlink Checker is a 100% free tool for comprehensive backlink checks powered by SEO PowerSuite crawler.
The tool needs no prior ado such as complicated logins, passwords, downloads, or proofs of ownership to start working with a website. Just open the tool, sign up with an e-mail or Facebook (it’s free), enter the domain — and see how many backlinks a website has, what domains they come from, and how the number of backlinks changed over time, which is helpful for backlink health monitoring. You can also see how many dofollow and nofollow backlinks a website has, discover anchor texts, and see the rank of the linking page.
The tool will show you up to 10,000 backlinks, and the number of checks, as well as the number of domains, is unlimited. This means you are free to check all of your competitors’ websites to see how their backlink profile changes as time goes by. And borrow some of their backlink prospects, of course.
Online Backlink Checker lets you sort backlinks by various factors, such as:
- Domain rank;
- Page rank;
- Last found date.
This will help you find the most valuable backlink prospects, which could boost your rankings and let you beat your competitors in SERP.
Online Backlink Checker is a web-based platform, which needs no extra space on your device. The only thing you need is a domain, and that’s it. Literally. That easy.
Suits for: Online Backlink Checker is a perfect tool for regular backlink audits and competitor research for businesses of any scale.
Free data allowance: up to 10,000 backlinks per domain, unlimited domains, unlimited number of checks, unlimited data.
A free backlink tool with a large data allowance, but with somewhat limited opportunities for in-depth backlink analysis and competitor research.
Google Search Console is a Google tool designed to let webmasters and website owners audit their websites.
The tool is totally free, so it’s a nice choice if you’re on a budget. Still, GSC can only be used to audit your own websites, i.e. you have to verify your ownership and you can’t audit your competitors’ websites.
Once you connect your website to Google Search Console, you will get access to a variety of useful reports and metrics, and a backlink report is among them. The report features the list of your top linked pages, the websites that those backlinks come from, and the most popular anchor texts. The results are drawn directly from the Google index.
The peculiar thing about Search Console is that it doesn’t give you the backlink pages themselves but just the domains they come from. The results you can see in the tool are limited to the top 1,000 links, and no additional metrics such as dofollow/nofollow, domain authority, history records, etc. are available.
One more characteristic of GSC is that it reports a smaller number of backlinks than any other backlink checker would. This is because the tool removes low-quality backlinks from the report, and shows only those that matter in Google’s opinion. So you will not be able to use GSC to discover and remove toxic backlinks. Moreover, Search Console will not show backlinks that are indexed by other search engines.
Suits for: Google Search Console is a tool for website owners and webmasters to audit their websites. It may be used to perform a basic backlink audit, but you will need a set of additional tools with bigger data for more in-depth analysis.
Free data allowance: up to 1,000 results per report; the data is available for your website only.
A free online backlink checker tool with vast data and unlimited domains to check.
Ahrefs Backlink Checker is a free tool that takes data from one of the richest indexes on the web. It lets you check as many domains as you need, but the results you can see for free are limited to the top 100 backlinks.
In addition to backlinks themselves, the tool will show you the general domain authority of your website, anchor texts, and monthly organic traffic and authority of a referring page. The tool will also show you the share of dofollow backlinks, but will not specify what links exactly are dofollow.
As the number of checks is unlimited, you can use the tool for backlink competitor research.
Suits for: Ahrefs Backlink Checker can be used to quickly check your website’s backlink profile or to get some insights into your competitors’ profiles. We recommend using this tool together with another source of data, as the data available in Ahrefs for free doesn’t really reflect the full backlink profile.
Free data allowance: 100 backlinks per check, unlimited checks, unlimited domains.
A backlink checking tool for a quick check of your or your competitors’ backlink profiles.
Seobility offers a pretty nice set of metrics to evaluate backlinks and to see the brief backlink profile summary of your domain.
The tool will show referring domains, linked pages, anchor texts, whether a link is dofollow, and what’s its rating. Although it does not show the pages that link to your website. The referring domains are sorted by rank from highest to lowest, so you’ll get the list of most valuable domains as soon as you launch the check.
The number of daily checks is limited to three, which drastically limits opportunities for competitor research, and may be even more annoying if you accidentally close the tool tab in your browser. Also, the number of linking domains you can view per check is limited to 400, which may not be enough (it is not enough in most cases).
Suits for: Seobility is good for a quick insight into your competitor’s backlink profile. Due to limited daily checks, it’s not the best tool for regular backlink audits, but it can be used after Ahrefs to find backlinks that Ahrefs didn’t manage to.
Free data allowance: 3 checks daily, 400 backlinks per check.
A popular tool for link audits, yet very few results available for free.
MOZ Link Explorer offers a brief report on historical backlink data such as new and lost backlinks, domain authority stats, the percentage of dofollow backlinks, the list of the top popular anchors, top linking domains, and the list of the most popular backlinks.
To see the data, you’ll need to create a MOZ account and type in the domain you want to check.
In terms of competitor research, you’re limited to 10 free checks per month, so we’d recommend using this tool together with some other ones. Choose the tools where the number of checks is unlimited.
In terms of backlinks, the tool shows the top 50 followed backlinks. It’s a good start, but not enough data for in-depth research. And there are no filtering or sorting options to view a different set of backlinks, so you are stuck with those 50. On a plus side, you have an option to export those top 50 backlinks in CSV if you need to.
Suits for: MOZ Link Explorer can be used for regular backlink checks if your business is relatively small. In terms of in-depth analytics and competitor research, it’s better to use this tool in combination with, for example, Online Backlink Checker or Ahrefs.
Free data allowance: 10 checks monthly, up to 50 backlinks, up to 10 anchor texts, up to 10 linking domains.
To sum it up
Free SEO tools are less resourceful than their paid versions by default, and backlink checkers are not an exception. Plus (actually minus) they don’t let you save your findings. How can you get the most of them? Use a combination of tools — it doesn’t take much time but does provide you with more comprehensive analytics for in-depth research.
It would be wise to combine Online Backlink Checker and Google Search Console for more data. It is also a good solution to use a desktop SEO SpyGlass tool (an extended version of Online Backlink Checker), which can be connected to Search Console via settings. So you will have all the data present in one tool, which is obviously more convenient for managing and monitoring your backlinks, as well as for competitor research.
The free backlink checkers of Ahrefs, Seobility, and MOZ will help you with a quick backlink analysis. These tools will also be fine to use if your website is small, and you don’t have many backlinks.