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September 9, 2016

7 of the best free backlink checkers

Looking for budget-friendly insights into your backlink profile? Mix up reports from these seven quality free tools.

Backlinks are SEO gold dust. They’re one of the major factors that help to determine where Google ranks your domain. While Yandex has long since dropped links from its algorithm, Google is still using it as a major quality and ranking factor. Since Google’s Penguin update in 2012, the emphasis has been on quality over quantity, with inbound links from credible, trusted sources taking precedent over lots of low-quality, spammy backlinks.

Thorough link analysis should form a key part of your SEO strategy and your regular housekeeping, helping you to detect problems and identify opportunities. The results of a link analysis should be used to build a picture of how and where your domain can be improved, which in turn can be used to underpin your content strategy. Look for gaps you need to fill, and new opportunities you can exploit.

Backlink checker tools are a good place to start. There are several free platforms that can perform a basic analysis of your site, and some will let you analyse competitors too. However, there is no one backlink checker that will capture every link, so it’s worth studying the results of a number of different ones to build up a full picture. For example, Open Site Explorer is limited to showing up to 10,000 backlinks at a time.

Below are seven of the most popular tools, highlighting their strengths and their shortcomings.


Majestic enables you to type in any URL and check backlinks to that site. It will show a trust score and citation index based on the quality of links, and it will demonstrate how a site rank changes over time. The free version displays 10 results and provides a report on them.


AHrefs offers a two-week free trial, which you can use to generate a thorough backlink analysis and anchor text analysis of your site. It will show you follow and nofollow backlinks, links as text, image backlinks and a clear diagrammatical representation of social shares. AHrefs provides fewer backlinks than Majestic, but it does give statistics on these and also on anchor texts. They limit your search to a few each day.


You can use the free version of SEMrush to view backlinks both to your site and competitors’ sites. It displays the number of follow and nofollow links, anchor text, referring domains and referring IP’s, and also has a backlink comparison feature. You can export the results as a PDF.

Moz Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer is a free tool that allows you to input any URL and check backlinks and also the authority of the domain. Its strengths are in its analytics, with the authority score giving you a strong indication of the performance of your domain over time.

Bing Webmaster Tools

Often forgotten, Bing actually provides much larger linking profiles than Google. It also reacts much like a search engine would, so always be sure to factor in Bing into your search. As with Google’s tool, you can only use this to check backlinks to your own domains.

Google Search Console (Google Webmaster Tools)

This free service from Google enables you to monitor your site’s performance on Google. You can check which domains are linking to your site, who is linking the most and which pages they are linking to. However, you can only explore your own domains.

SEO Spyglass

SEO Spyglassis a desktop application that downloads your backlinks from different sources. It can also display real-time data on the status of links, page ranks and anchor text. Its database of indexed links is higher than AHrefs and Majestic and it shows you the source it has retrieved the backlink from, such as Google or Yahoo.

Once you’ve grabbed and cross-referenced reports from a few of these platforms, you’ll have a pretty good overview of your backlink profile. Hopefully it’s looking healthy, but if you do spot any negative or spammy activity, take a look at our guide to cleaning up bad backlinks.

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