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8 “Best” Backlink Monitoring Tools for SEO Success (for Any Budget)

Introduction

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Although they are crucial in a site’s visibility and search engine rankings, not all backlinks contribute positively to your website’s rankings. In fact, spammy or low-quality links can harm your site’s credibility and rankings significantly. 

If you’ve built a robust backlink profile, and grown your website’s visibility and ranking on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)—kudos on that! However, your job doesn’t end there. 

Google regularly checks your site’s backlinks to see how important and reliable it is. Too many harmful backlinks could result in a penalty, causing your site to rank lower or be removed from search results. 

This is why you must stay vigilant and regularly check your backlink profile. This way, you can identify and manage spammy or detrimental links to maintain a clean and authoritative backlink profile, an essential step for good SEO health.

Good Backlinks vs. Bad Backlinks

Backlink monitoring tools are indispensable for this purpose. They automate the tracking process, providing comprehensive insights into your backlinks’ quality, source, and authority of linking domains.

This article will discuss the importance of backlink monitoring and evaluate 8 of the top tools that provide solutions to this crucial and underappreciated part of your SEO strategy. 

Understanding Backlinks

Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are links from one website to a page on another website. They are crucial for SEO because they act as a vote of confidence from one site to another. Search engines like Google use backlinks as key indicators to assess a website’s authority, relevance, and overall quality. 

PR links

This “vote” tells search engines that the content on the linked page is valuable, credible, and useful, thereby improving its authority and position in SERPs.

Backlinks are categorized into two main types:

  1. Dofollow links. These are the default state of links unless otherwise specified. They allow search engines to follow them and pass link equity or “link juice” to the linked website. This passing of equity can help improve the linked site’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).
  2. Nofollow links. Introduced to combat spam and manipulate search engine rankings, the nofollow attribute (rel=”nofollow“) tells search engines not to follow the link and not to pass any link equity. Initially, nofollow links were not considered in ranking algorithms, but over time, search engines have evolved to treat them as “hints,” meaning they might choose to follow them in certain contexts.

A website with many high-quality backlinks is considered more authoritative and is more likely to rank higher in search engine results. Research shows the more backlinks a page has, the more organic traffic it gets from Google.

However, the quality of the links matters. Bad links can cause Google to penalize your site, making it drop in rankings or disappear from search results. But how do you determine the quality of the links? 

Here are some key factors algorithms use to determine if links are spammy:

  • Source relevance. Check if the linking site’s content is relevant to your website. Irrelevant links may be considered spammy.
  • Source quality. High-quality, authoritative sites are less likely to provide spammy links. Look for signs of credibility like industry recognition, original content, and user engagement.
  • Link profile diversity. A natural link profile has links from various domains and types of websites. A high concentration of links from few sources or similar types of sites can be suspicious.
  • Anchor text usage. Over-optimized anchor text that’s heavily keyword-focused, especially with commercial keywords, can be a spam indicator.
  • Link placement. Links embedded naturally within valuable content are typically legitimate. Links that are out of context, hidden, or in areas of a website not meant for quality content (like footers or sidebars) might be spammy.
  • Follow vs. NoFollow. “NoFollow” links tell search engines to disregard the link in terms of passing on ranking credit. While not inherently spammy, a high volume of “Follow” links from low-quality or irrelevant sites can be problematic.
  • Site behavior and content. Sites engaging in deceptive practices, like hidden text or links, misleading redirects, or copied content, are likely sources of spammy links.

Why Backlinks Are Important in SEO

Backlinks from authoritative sites can boost your site’s domain and page authority, signaling to search engines and users alike that your content is credible and valuable​​​​. As your rankings improve, your content becomes more visible on search engines potentially ranking for a broader set of keywords and attracting more clicks​​.

Backlinks enhance your site’s off-page SEO by contributing to your overall SEO score, which is critical for search engine rankings​​. The quantity and quality of backlinks to your website influence your position in search engine results, with quality backlinks from reputable sources being particularly valuable​​.

Nofollow and dofollow backlinks

The combination of improved rankings, increased visibility, and higher traffic can lead to more conversions and, consequently, higher revenue​​. Consistent backlinking from reputable sites can also enhance your brand’s visibility and authority, making your site a go-to resource in your niche​​.

To fully harness these benefits, it’s essential to focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks relevant to your content and from reputable sources within your industry. 

Strategies such as creating valuable content, engaging in guest blogging, and participating in industry communities can help you build a robust backlink profile that supports your SEO goals and overall digital marketing strategy.

Types of Backlinks

There are various forms of backlinks, each with its unique impact on SEO. Here are some of the main types of backlinks:

  • Editorial Backlinks. Editorial backlinks are a type of natural link that happens when your content is cited as a source by other high-authority websites. These links indicate trust and credibility. To get them, create unique and credible newsworthy content and build relationships with influencers and bloggers in your niche.
  • Guest Post Backlinks. Acquired by writing articles for other websites, guest post backlinks help establish authority and relevance within your industry. Choosing reputable sites for guest posting is crucial to ensure the backlinks provide SEO value and targeted traffic.
  • Badge backlinks. Created by designing a badge to award other companies for their achievements, badge backlinks can be an effective way to gain backlinks when the awarded sites display the badge on their websites.
  • Comment and forum backlinks. Acquired through blog comments or forum threads, these backlinks are easy to obtain but are often associated with low authority and relevance. They should be used sparingly and strategically to avoid negative impacts on your SEO.
  • Niche edits backlinks. Also known as curated links or link insertions, these backlinks are added to existing articles or pages, offering the advantage of linking from already indexed and high-ranking pages.
  • Press release backlinks. Obtained through distributing press releases, these backlinks can increase brand exposure and boost SEO if used correctly. Using them for genuinely newsworthy events is important to avoid being considered spam.
  • UGC (User-Generated Content) links. These links come from user interactions such as comments and forum posts and should include a “UGC” attribute to signal their origin to search engines. UGC links can demonstrate an active and engaged community, Which can be beneficial for SEO.
  • Edu backlinks. Links from educational institutions or websites and are often considered authoritative.
  • Gov backlinks. Links from government websites and are also seen as highly authoritative.

The Importance of Backlink Monitoring

After building a robust backlink profile, the last thing you want is spammy links sneakily harming your site’s performance in search rankings. That said, here are some of the reasons you need to keep a keen eye on your links profile.

To Maintain Link Quality

Monitoring helps identify harmful backlinks that could potentially damage your site’s search rankings, such as links from spammy or irrelevant sites. Occasionally, competitors might also use negative SEO tactics by creating low-quality backlinks to your site. Regular monitoring allows you to spot and disavow these links.

To Assess the Impact of Each Link

Not all backlinks contribute equally to your site’s SEO. Monitoring enables you to evaluate the relevance and authority of linking sites, focusing your efforts on acquiring impactful, high-quality backlinks.

Tracking backlinks can also help you better understand how specific links affect your site’s SEO performance, including changes in rankings and traffic.

As a Strategic Link Building Method

You can identify and replicate successful link-building strategies by analyzing which backlinks positively impact your SEO. Constant monitoring can reveal opportunities for new link-building efforts, such as unlinked mentions of your brand or content that could be turned into backlinks.

To Comply with Search Engine Guidelines

Search engines, like Google, penalize sites that engage in manipulative link-building practices. Monitoring helps ensure your backlink profile adheres to these guidelines, reducing the risk of penalties. Regular backlink monitoring also ensures your SEO strategy remains aligned with the latest algorithm changes and best practices.

Best Backlink Monitoring Tools for 2024

There are many backlink monitoring tools in the market today, but not all can get the job done. Here are some of the best tools that will make the process not only more efficient but also more satisfying. 

1. Ahrefs – Best Overall (But Worth It?) 

Ahrefs

Ahrefs stands out because it constantly crawls the web to ensure that its backlink database is always factual and up to date. Should you opt for this tool, you will always get timely and accurate data about the backlinks to your site.

Another key feature of Ahrefs is its ability to distribute a variety of metrics for each backlink, and the anchor text used. This detailed level of reporting makes it easy to understand the quality and context of any link. 

Ahrefs also offers a range of features that further enhance its utility. For instance, it provides an API for more technical users who wish to integrate Ahrefs data with other tools or platforms. There’s also an option to export backlink data, allowing for even more detailed analysis and reporting.

However, despite its value, some in the SEO space are moving away from Ahrefs due to its steep pricing structure. It’s pretty expensive, starting at $99 per month for the Lite version, which offers quite limited features. If you want more from Ahrefs, you must pick the Standard, Advanced, or Enterprise plans priced at $199, $399, and $999 per month, respectively. 

As you move up the tiers of Ahrefs’ pricing structure, you gain access to more features and larger data allowances. However, the increased cost of these higher tiers may deter certain users, especially the likes of small businesses or solo bloggers. For many, it’s becoming harder to justify that financial commitment.

2. Semrush – Best for Backlinks Quality Control

Semrush

Semrush offers a rich suite of tools, including an advanced backlink checker. It includes quick comparison features and provides detailed information about referring domain, IPs, and anchor texts. Additionally, the Backlink Checker identifies top-performing pages in acquiring backlinks and updates backlink data every 15 minutes, ensuring timely monitoring of new and lost links. 

One unique feature is the ability to identify harmful backlinks and analyze backlink gaps. Semrush facilitates not only the identification but also the management of these links. You can compile a list of harmful backlinks and use Semrush’s tool to create a ‘disavow’ file, which you can then submit to search engines. 

This process informs search engines to disregard these links in their ranking algorithms, helping to safeguard the site’s SEO health.

Semrush’s pricing structure caters to different needs and scales. The Pro plan, starting at $129.95 per month, is suitable for freelancers, startups, and in-house marketers with a limited budget. 

At $229.95 per month, the Guru plan offers more advanced features for growing marketing agencies and SMBs. The highest tier, the Business plan, priced at $499.95 per month, is designed for large agencies and enterprises with extensive web presences. It offers the most comprehensive set of features, including API access and extended usage limits.

3. Moz – Best for Advanced Users

MOZ

Moz is another great tool with a comprehensive set of SEO features. Moz’s Link Explorer has many capabilities including tracking newly discovered and lost referring domain—which aids in understanding the dynamics of a site’s backlink profile. 

It offers in-depth reports like Inbound Links, Linking Domains, Anchor Text, Top Pages, Discovered and Lost, Compare Link Profiles, and more. The referring Domain report aggregates inbound links by domain, which gives you a chance to see your backlink profile diversity so you can easily know which links are contributing more to your SEO. 

One of its best features is the Spam Score report. It’s displayed as a bar graph and categorizes backlinks into low (1-30%), medium (31-60%), and high (61-100%) spam scores. This allows for effective risk assessment and management.

Moz’s pricing ranges from $79 to $479 per month. The main differences between these editions are in the limits on reports, queries, and tracked keywords, which affect the depth and breadth of backlink analysis that you can access. 

4. Majestic –  Best for Backlinks Visualisation

Majestic

One of Majestic’s key functionalities is tracking SEO metrics through its Site Explorer. The tool has four key ratings that allow you to analyze and gauge the trustworthiness and influence of your website: 

  • Trust Flow. Shows the quality of backlinks that point to your website. A high score means quality links.
  • Citation Flow. Displays the number of links that point to your website. A high score means a site has many links.
  • Visibility Flow. This score is based on the number of high-quality editorial links your website has.
  • Topical Trust Flow. This shows how relevant a site’s links are.

Advanced features also include things like a detailed Link Profile and an innovative and user-friendly Link Graph that offers a unique, interactive 3D display of all active backlinks. This allows for an engaging and comprehensive visualization of a website’s backlink landscape. 

Majestic’s pricing structure starts at $49.99 per month for the Lite plan and extends up to $399.99 per month for the API plan. The Lite plan is tailored for small-scale site audits and prospecting and offers features like Fresh Index, Site Explorer, and Link Graph. 

The Pro plan, at $99.99 monthly, caters to a broader range of users, including agencies and SEO consultants, with additional features like Historic Index and advanced reporting tools. The most comprehensive plan, API, is designed for maximum utility with full API access and a vast array of analysis units, suitable for agencies requiring high-power data extraction.

5. Ubersuggest – Best for Beginners

Widely known for its intuitive and user-friendly interface, Ubersuggest simplifies the typically complex process of backlink monitoring, making it accessible even to beginners.

One of the key features that set it apart is its ability to provide a comprehensive list of referring domains and backlinks. Each entry includes crucial metrics such as Domain Authority (DA) and spam scores, making it easy for you to assess each backlink’s quality and potential impact quickly. 

This feature is particularly useful for identifying high-value backlinks and avoiding those that might harm a site’s SEO performance.

It also keeps track of dynamic backlink profiles by showing new and lost referring domains. This real-time tracking is essential for understanding how a website’s backlink profile evolves over time.

Another practical aspect of Ubersuggest is its backlink data export capability. It allows you to export this data for more detailed analysis or reporting, adding a layer of convenience and efficiency to your backlink monitoring process.

Ubersuggest is one of the most affordable backlink monitoring SEO tools on this list, with prices starting at $20 per month, with an upper tier at $40 per month. The differences between the pricing editions primarily lie in the number of keywords tracked, reports generated, and the extent of historical data accessible. 

It also offers unique Lifetime packages, ranging from $120 to $400 as one-time payments. These packages provide long-term access to Ubersuggest’s features, making them a cost-effective solution for individuals or businesses seeking comprehensive SEO tools without ongoing subscription fees.

6. BuzzSumo Backlinks Analysis Tool – Great for Backlinks and Content Monitoring

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo, chiefly known as a content discovery tool, also includes a highly effective backlink analysis feature. This tool is instrumental in identifying the most widely shared content and tracking backlinks for specified topics or domains. 

One of its key benefits is it allows you to set specific targets, such as a webpage or a piece of content, and receive custom alerts when new backlinks are identified. This feature is crucial for understanding content performance and devising effective link-building strategies.

BuzzSumo’s pricing structure caters to a range of needs, starting at $199/month for the Pro plan up to $999 monthly for the Enterprise plan. The primary distinction between these tiers lies in the depth and breadth of the analysis. For instance, the Pro plan offers basic functionalities but limits the number of alerts one can set. 

Higher-tier plans offer more comprehensive backlink data and allow for more monitored domains and user seats, making them more suitable for larger teams or agencies. 

7. Linkody – Specialized for Tracking Link Building Campaigns

Linkody

Linkody stands out for its ability to monitor backlinks continuously and send you real-time alerts via email whenever there are changes—such as new backlinks, lost backlinks, or modifications in existing ones. 

Key features include detailed analyses of anchor texts and the quality of backlinks, which are crucial for understanding the strength and relevance of the backlink profile. Additionally, Linkody offers a competitor backlinks analysis feature. This lets you peek into your competitors’ backlink strategies to identify new opportunities.

Linkody is the most affordable on this list. You can buy a subscription for as little as 14.90€ per month for the Webmaster plan.  For larger organizations or more demanding users, plans extend up to 138.90€ per month. 

The variance in pricing correlates with the number of domains and backlinks one can monitor and access to advanced features. Higher-tier plans offer more in-depth analytics and a greater capacity for backlink monitoring. 

8. SEOptimer (Former Monitor Backlinks)

Monitor Backlinks, originally designed for tracking backlinks and keyword rankings, was acquired by SEOptimer.  This acquisition expanded SEOptimer’s capabilities, offering users comprehensive features for backlink monitoring, keyword ranking, and competitor analysis. 

With these expanded capabilities, you can now effectively oversee your backlink strategies, getting prompt email alerts about new or lost backlinks and changes in keyword rankings.

It now also offers detailed insights into backlink Top-Level Domain (TLD) distribution, which helps you understand the geographical or sector-based spread of your backlinks. Additionally, it analyzes the most used anchor texts within backlinks, giving clues on how websites are referred to across the web. 

The tool also maps out backlinks’ IP distribution, offering insights into the diversity and localization of linking domains.

Depending on your needs, you can buy a subscription for as little as $25 up to $187 per month. The primary differences between these plans lie in the number of websites, reports, and the depth of features available. The higher-tier plans offer more comprehensive tools and greater SEO monitoring and analysis capacity.

Conclusion

The impact of effective backlink monitoring on a website’s search engine rankings and overall online visibility cannot be understated. By leveraging the right SEO tools and adopting a proactive approach to backlink analysis, you can significantly enhance your SEO efforts and ensure your website remains competitive in the competitive SEO landscape. 

Remember that monitoring your backlinks is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. Regularly analyzing backlink reports and keeping an eye out for toxic or spammy backlinks can help maintain a healthy link profile, which is vital for preserving your website’s organic search rankings.

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Sia Mohajer

Get acquainted with Sia Mohajer, the brain behind some of BlueTree's most successful link-building campaigns. Read, learn, and grow.

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