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Backlink Monitoring: The Ultimate Guide (+ Top Free and Paid Tools)

Jeremy Ellens

Backlink Monitoring: The Ultimate Guide (+ Top Free and Paid Tools) - cover photo

Imagine this: you’ve worked hard to build a link, spent a month in outreach, sent 13 emails and the link finally went live… Only for you to check two months later and the link is no longer there. You’re wondering what happened and how you can prevent this headache from happening in the future… And we have the cure.

Backlink monitoring is a common way for SEO specialists to stay on top of their backlink profile and ensure their link building efforts do not go in vain. Today, we’ll show you what backlink monitoring is, why it’s necessary and which tools you can use for this job.

What is backlink monitoring?

Backlink monitoring is the process of keeping up with backlinks built to your website: new, broken and lost backlinks. It lets you see links from new referring domains, as well as let you know when a link is removed from your link profile.

Backlinks are one of the strongest signals for great search engine rankings, and as we’ve explained before, good backlinks cost a lot of money. Every time you lose a backlink, you lose a precious asset and your marketing budget is wasted.

Backlink monitoring helps you spot new links and look into the ones that may have been removed or lost.

Why is backlink monitoring necessary?

The most logical and important answer is: backlinks affect many SEO metrics and lost links can result in your pages losing traffic, your website dropping in domain authority and your competitors taking over your rankings. But there is more to it.

  1. You want to keep track of new links. As you build new website backlinks, you’ll want to know when they get added. Some bloggers won’t report that your link has been added and with backlink monitoring set up, you can get notifications about new linking domains.
  2. Broken backlinks happen. A page could get redirected or removed and you lose a precious backlink. The webmaster does not let you know or place your link on a different page.
  3. Websites change owners or editors. When this happens, they can remove quality backlinks for various reasons. They can remove an entire blog post with a new one or just remove links they don’t like.
  4. You can monitor your competitors. Every time a competitor backlink shows up, you can start the process of finding out how to get a similar backlink from that target website.

Whatever link building strategy you choose, monitoring your backlinks is a smart move. Especially since you can do it automatically, as we’ll explain in a moment.

Top backlink monitoring tools for SEO professionals

If you want to track broken and lost backlinks, do link analysis and find out the type and number of links your competitors are getting, there are plenty of tools to choose from. Here are some of the very best.

Google Search Console

One of the best SEO tools out there is entirely free – all you have to do is verify your website and register for it. With Google Search Console, you can see the top sites that link to you, your keywords and top URLs from your website that get backlinks. You also get tons of useful features, such as the ability to disavow links.

The downside is that GSC does not provide detailed backlink data as many other tools on this list. Also, you can only analyze your own website – not your competitors’ websites. However, you should still register for it, because A) it’s free and B) it has a disavow tool which can come in handy.


Backlink Monitoring: The Ultimate Guide (+ Top Free and Paid Tools)

The basic Ahrefs plan starts at $99 per month, which gives you lots of advanced features in one place. Keyword research, content gaps, keyword rank tracking, detailed backlink analysis… There is a good reason why Ahrefs is an industry leader in SEO, and their backlink checker is especially praised for its accuracy and speed when it comes to fetching new backlinks.

You’ll get access to reports on broken links (and the reasons why they’re broken), a breakdown of dofollow and nofollow external links, notifications for new links, a breakdown of anchor text for your backlinks, and more. The best part is that you can use this powerful backlink tool to analyze any website on the internet since Ahrefs’ crawler is extremely potent.


Backlink Monitoring: The Ultimate Guide (+ Top Free and Paid Tools)

Starting at $129.95, SEMRush is only slightly more expensive than Ahrefs but provides similar features. The best SEOs internally use this app for their link building campaigns. While Ahrefs is more about analysis, SEMRush helps you take action.

Within their dashboard, you can use their Link Building Tool, which identifies websites you can target to get high authority backlinks. You get access to emails within the tool, allowing you to do outreach directly from SEMRush. In terms of analytics and real-time reporting, it’s slightly behind Ahrefs, but you can use it to build high-quality links without hiring an outreach team.

There is a feature that allows you to export spammy links so you can disavow them, which is an excellent addition for link building newbies.

Monitor Backlinks (a part of SEOptimer)

Backlink Monitoring: The Ultimate Guide (+ Top Free and Paid Tools)

Previously known as just Monitor Backlinks, this tool was acquired by SEOptimer and is still a standalone app you can purchase. Unlike the previously mentioned entries, Monitor Backlinks is a SaaS app made for just that – monitoring backlinks.

You get a live dashboard with the most important changes in your backlink profile, as well as a global summary of your backlink health. Upload competitor websites to find link building opportunities from the links they build, too.

In terms of pricing, there are two plans, a white label one for $29 per month and a white label+embedding one for $59/month, which is more suited for agencies.

SE Ranking

Backlink Monitoring: The Ultimate Guide (+ Top Free and Paid Tools)

If you’re an agency looking to monitor a large number of backlinks at once and improve your clients’ SEO strategy, SE Ranking has one of the most comprehensive tool sets for agencies. You can use it to monitor links that are indexed and not indexed, found and not found, broken, and more. Like Ahrefs, it shows you when links were first and last seen.

You get more key data, such as dofollow/nofollow stats, anchor text analysis, text/image links, target URLs, UGC/sponsored link classification and more. Once done, you can export the data in various formats, including CSV, allowing you to spot low-quality links, negative SEO attacks and more..

At $55 per month, the pricing is pretty good, especially if you use the multitude of other SE ranking features.


Backlink Monitoring: The Ultimate Guide (+ Top Free and Paid Tools)

Before Ahrefs and SEMRush, Moz was the tool every SEO pro used to get accurate backlink data. And while competitors nowadays have more powerful features, Moz still has one of the biggest and most accurate link databases online.

You can use Moz to research competitor links, find broken links to your own website, find link building opportunities, check the spam score of a linking page that points to your website and more. You can also analyze your anchors to find out what words people use when linking to your pages. On top of that, Moz has its own unique metric called domain authority, which you can use to measure the reputation of a website linking to you.

Pricing starts at $79 per month if you pay annually.

Wrapping up

Backlink monitoring is key if you want to track your link building efforts, as well as find new link building opportunities by looking at your competitors. The best part about it is that the process can be fully automated, thanks to a variety of backlink monitoring tools. All you need is the basic knowledge of SEO.

And if you want to scale your link building without breaking a sweat or making a hole in your marketing budget – ReportCard can help. We’ve built links for multimillion dollar brands and we can build great links for you too. Reach out today and we’ll show you our process.

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