Link profile analysis is, of course, the bedrock of any successful technical SEO campaign, but which software should you trust to perform this ever-important task?
Over the years I’ve tried and tested them all, well most anyway and all that I believe to be the best. This analysis has become more and more intricate over the last decade as the importance of having a spam free, natural link profile has soared.
So, what in my opinion is indeed the best link profiler on the market? Below you can find the link profiling tools I believe you should be considering and some of their pros and cons.
All of the links and referring domains shown below are for the same site, so you can see the levels of data being retrieved by each one.
5. Moz (OpenSiteExplorer)
Mox’ OpenSiteExplorer was the only tool I used as a young SEO back in the day and very well it served me too.
I’m still a big fan of Moz Pro, Rand and all the great work these guys do but I have to say that their backlink analyser as fallen a little behind the pack these days.
The data set just seems quite limited, but these are still plenty of useful tools you should be investigating over at Moz as well as their awesome blog and of course, Whiteboard Fridays.
SEMRush is a tool which in my opinion is growing from strength to strength at the moment, offering all sorts of features for everything from paid search, social and of course technical SEO. Their forte is of course keyword research, but this tool is quickly becoming the most versatile one available.
However, their link profiler is very new and only just out of beta I believe so is understandably a little behind in terms of the volume of links and domains it reports back.
That said, the SEMRush team seems to be working tirelessly on their software so I wouldn’t expect them to be far behind for long.
Similarly, Sistrix wasnt designed to be a link profiler although this is a large part of their toolbox.
I’ll be completely honest and admit we have only just invested in the tool so cant comment too much, but you can see how many links it has brought back for our chosen domain just above.
So far the visibility and site optimisation features within the Sistrix toolbox seem to be head and shoulders above the likes of SearchMetrics and LinkDex, but as a link profiler the jury is still out for me. Watch this space for updates on that one…
2. Google Search Console
Many technical SEO’s overlook Google Search Console as a source of backlink information, due mainly to the fact that historically it has been very limited. Personally, I have always found it very useful as you can, of course, combine this with your chosen backlink checker’s data to end up with a comprehensive set of backlinks.
Granted, you don’t get a lot of the information you do with the paid for services but one would be a fool to ignore the information Google is giving us especially as this is so rare for us SEO practitioners. As you can see from the above graphic, this data set has improved dramatically over the years so ignore this at your peril.
Ahrefs is quite simply, the best backlink checker or analyser out there. Their interface is superb and the instant overview you get gives you a fantastic at a glance look at your chosen domain’s offsite performance. The word on the street is also that the UI is about to get a facelift, so could be set to improve furthermore.
The data set just cannot be argued with and you get loads of features with Ahrefs that can help not just with link profile analysis but also monitoring your competition and assisting with paid search and content marketing activities too.
The link count of 9k compared with Moz’s tells the story really and justifies any investment in Ahrefs as you backlink analyser. But that is of course just my humble but correct opinion.
The Best Backlink Checker: Conclusion
My advice is that you combine your chosen backlink software with the information you can retrieve from any technical SEO’s holy grail, Google Search Console. What we are trying to achieve here is a clean link profile in the eyes of Google and perhaps the other search engines, so it makes sense to use the data they are providing.
As we have established, tools such as Ahrefs provide us with increased levels of data and all we know these extra links could be picked up by Google in the future. So, use your link profiling tools to drill down into historic, deep data but use the information Google provides via their own console; as it these could well be the links they are using to decide whether or not you have a clean or toxic link profile.