Updated for 2019
Back in 2007, this post was called the “best” link-building tools… but how times have changed. Of the ten tools I put up, only Google tools and WordPress (which is hardly a link tool) survive in any kind of usable form to this day. There is a page at “Live HTTP headers” but not on the SSL URL and even the page counter is broken… so I am calling that a dud too.
Nowadays, there are really three or four link tools worth talking about. They are better funded, better focussed and better built than most of the ones in 2007, although Yahoo site explorer was a great tool!
The tools in the list that died since 2007
labs.receptional.com/links/: This is the only one in the list that requires a log-in. This tool strips out links that cannot be identified as trustworthy and shows the different strategies between two competing sites.
Receptional survives and thrives to this day, but their tools went long ago (even before I left!)
Technorati Buzz-meter: This chart monitors your company’s name being mentioned on blogs. You can take this code and dispaly a graph on any web page. At Receptional we have the chart on our Intranet home page, so the whole company can see when we get a “buzz”.
Just a dead link!
Yahoo Site Explorer: Google doesn’t like to give useful back-link data. Yahoo is much happier doing so if you use this link. This is the best data source for finding backlinks into your entire domain… or your competitor’s!
In many ways, this was the flagship of link tools. Whilst I was sad to see it die, I knew it was only a matter of time before Yahoo either tried to charge for it or kill it. Luckily for Majestic, whom I went to work for around 2009, they just killed it.
Marketleap’s Linkpop: This back-link checker analyses up to three sites but compares them with the biggest sites in your vertical. This really is a tool for people looking to have significant market share.
Marketleap is still going strong, but I think this tool was built on Yahoo’s, so when Yahoo went, this one had to go as well.
Compete.com:This company has arrived to challenge Hitwise without the expense. Download the toolbar and set up a “snapshot portfolio” and you will be able to track competitors over time. The data used to be US centric, but I believe they now have UK data-sources.
Compete.com just put up a “closed” notice on their site one day.
Make a Blidget:Turn you blog into a Widget, which others can put into their pages – their Facebook, their Myspace, their personalised Google page… almost anywhere. If the content is good, you have got a viral link tool. (If you want something cleverer, we can build that too…)
No idea what happened to them… 404 now.
Live HTTP Headers: This Firefox plug-in helps SEOs avoid a trap. Many links involve redirects and whether Google correctly interprets these links is not obvious. This plug-in helps us to see if 301 redirects are operating correctly and whether 200 messages are being returned.
I took the link off because the page looks outdated, and I very much doubt the tool itself works… but you can find the page if you try hard enough (not using HTTPS though).
None of the survivors in the original list is REALLY about links, but here is how I described them in 2007…
Google Trends: Not as cool as Compete.com, but at least they have historical data and news spikes
Google Alerts:Seeing back-links is not always as useful as knowing what is changing on the search engines. Whenever Google indexes a new page on the web, you can get an email if it includes keywords that you are following. You cannot get much more relevant than Google itself telling you when it finds a new mention.
WordPress: If you don’t have a way to add content to your site easily, you don’t have one of the major tools for SEOs today. WordPress is free and robust. Add it to your site to have an instant blog or news service. Then use the RSS feed (or a blidget!) to syndicate the news with the rest of your site and other parties.
The New World Order
None of these tools existed back then, but Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs and, more recently, SEMRush have all become much more relevant products in 2019.