Quality inbound links are an essential element of web site marketing and search engine optimization programs to increase traffic and online sales. The greater the number of relevant and authoritative links to a web page, the greater the potential for higher search engine rankings and qualified traffic.
A recent survey from SEOmoz illustrates just how important inbound links are to rankings. An impressive 4 of the top 5 ranking factors involve inbound links:
- Keyword focused anchor text from external links: 73% very high importance
- External link popularity: 71% very high importance
- Diversity of link sources: 67% very high importance
- Trustworthiness of the domain based on link distance from trusted domains: 66% very high importance
Conversely, the No. 2 negative ranking factor was link acquisition from known link brokers or sellers (56% high importance). Incidentally, TopRank has never engaged in link acquisitions in this manner, focusing instead on earning links through creative content promotions, social media and online public relations.
Tracking links to your web pages — and those of your competitors — is a major part of any SEO strategy. Fortunately, a host of free and paid tools exist to provide a comprehensive looks at where your web pages stand.
Since link building is so important, Lee and I have collected these 10 tools for tracking inbound links for you to test:
Majestic-SEO allows users to track link information for any domain – their own sites or those of competitors. Illustrated in the image below, users can access the number of:
- Sub domains
- Referring domains
- NoFollow links
By verifying ownership of a domain, users can obtain a more detailed report that includes unique links and their anchor text. With registration, the service for your own site is free. Users can buy credits to obtain that same information about other web sites such as competitors. Downloadable data is given on top anchor text, top referring domains and top pages. Plus, the tool offers a “daily update” feature that provides a daily journal of new inbound links.
BuzzStream Link Building focuses on providing tools that help automate redundant tasks in relationship building. It’s a CRM system for link building with applications for SEO as well as online PR.
- Find Contact Info
- Track Email & Twitter
- Manage Link Prospects
- Monitor Backlinks for anchor text, nofollows, outbound links, banned words
- Track activities and conversion rate
- Delegate contacts, split prospecting from outreach
BuzzStream Link Building tools are very robust for link detection, suggestions, relationship management and link management. The BuzzMarker bookmarklet allows easy addition of new link opportunities via the browser. Many other tools focus on link detection, acquisition and the technical site of management. The CRM aspect of BuzzStream and the conversion tracking reports make it unique.
There is a free trial for BuzzStream and monthly costs range from $29/mo to $249/mo. There are also options for Agencies and Enterprise use.
This inbound link tracking tool offers both a free basic version and an advanced version with a subscription to SEOmoz PRO.
The basic search (illustrated in the image below) allows users to determine the number of inbound links to a page and the number of different domains linking to a page. The tool also gives a ranking of the page based on number and quality of inbound links, as well as a ranking of the domain overall.
In the full version, users can not only judge the quality and quantity of links to their own web pages, but to their competitors as well. Users can compare number of links, number of domains and domain ranking side-by-side against competitor sites.
Users can also determine the keywords competitor sites are targeting in their anchor text and identify competitors’ most powerful links.
4. Raven SEO Tools
Raven is a suite of SEO tools including a Links Manager that allows you to easily manage the link status, contacts and tasks related to each link.
Raven will automatically alert if any changes have occurred on an active link, if the nofollow attribute was added, the anchor text changed, the PageRank changed, or the link was removed. There is team link building management functionality as well as the ability to import, export in CSV format or generate reports online.
A standalone linking too is not available for purchase. The cost for the suite of Raven SEO Tools starts at $79 per month.
5. SoloSEO Link Building Tools
SoloSEO is a collection of SEO campaign management and implementation tools which includes “Links Manager” and “Link Build It!” modules for building and tracking inbound links to your web site.
The Links Manager module helps discover links, assess the strength and quality and track progress. It also includes ongoing link detection and automatic notification if a link is deleted. Link Build It! is a bookmarklet that shows backlink count, PageRank, and Alexa rank for the site, DMOZ listing, .edu or.gov links and the ability to easily add the URL of the page being viewed to the Links Manager.
There is a free trial and the cost for SoloSEO is $29 per month for 5 domains and $4 per domain after.
6. Yahoo! Site Explorer
Yahoo! Site Explorer is a popular, free tool for analyzing and tracking inbound links for users’ own and their competitors’ sites. Users can:
- Determine the number pages within a domain indexed by SLURP, Yahoo’s search engine crawler
- Explore each page to determine inbound links for each
- Exclude inbound links from the domain
- Exclude inbound links from the subdomain
- Export results into a TSV file
7. Page Inlink Analyzer
Page Inlink Analyzer is a tool created by Eric Miraglia that leverages the Yahoo Site Explorer tool mentioned above in a more useful interface that combines a left side column listing of indexed pages for the site being researched and the inbound links to the focus URL in the right column. This allows the user to quickly research the inbound links to each page of a particular site.
For each inbound link the page level and domain level inlink counts are reported as well as the number of Delicious bookmarks (with a link to view them) for each link and the associated keyword tags.
The Page Inlink Analyzer tool is free.
8. pluginSEO Beta Linking Tools
pluginSEO is a service in Beta that works to simplify SEO and linking tasks by having users input keywords and competitor URLs to generate advice including link building suggestions.
Link features include:
- The Reactor:Links page makes suggestions
- My Links shows inbound links to your own site
- Competitor links documents inbound links to the competing sites entered
- Link suggestions provides a visual listing of new linking opportunities displayed below
pluginSEO is in Beta and is now offering free trials.
9. Sheer SEO Backlinks Watchdog
Sheer SEO is a set of SEO project management tools, one of which, monitors “guarded” inbound links. The Backlinks Watchdog tool monitors the following link characteristics:
- Anchor text
- Page rank
- Number of outbound links in the referring page
- Availability of the page
- Presence of meta tags “nofollow” and “noindex”
- Existance of the link to your site
- Presense of “nofollow” attribute on the backlink (rel=”nofollow” causes the link not to pass rank)
There is a 90 day free trial for Sheer SEO with paid options ranging from $7 to $40 per month.
10. HubSpot Website Grader
This free SEO tool provides an overall SEO score for websites based on inbound links, website traffic, SEO, social popularity and other factors. Users submit their website URL, along with competing site URLs, and are then emailed a detailed report that includes:
- Google PageRank and number of Google indexed pages
- Number of inbound links, with the option to analyze links through HubSpot
- Competitive analysis with website grade, Google PageRank, number of inbound links and number of del.icio.us bookmarks
A sample report is shown below.
What web based or desktop software tools have you found to be useful for tracking inbound links?