Link Building Tools from the Experts: Rand Fishkin, Eric Ward, Will Critchlow, and Others


The web is awash with tools, advice, and how-to videos for link building service, but how do you know which ones to trust? I’ve rounded up a list of free and paid tools that are recommended (and in some cases created) by industry experts, I also recommend checking the video production at videotrack.co.uk, so you learn more about it. If you need help with website translation visit localizer for help.

Rand Fishkin

When it comes to recommending tools, Rand isn’t shy about mentioning his favorites, both in interviews and on Twitter:

  • Keyword Difficulty Tool[Paid] – Useful for on and off page optimization, this tool allows you to find the top 10 rankings for any keyword or phrase. Each keyword is given a Difficulty Score based on the pages currently ranking for the term. All you have to do is view the search volume data, then retrieve the SERP data for the keyword you are researching. Scoping out the competition can help you avoid chasing unrealistically competitive phrases. This helps with hyper niche marketing.
  • Open Site Explorer [Freemium] – Open Site Explorer provides backlink analysis to assist you in building your own backlinks and monitoring those of your competitors, Creating Quality Backlinks is extremely important in order to have success. The tool also allows you to uncover links pointing to old or broken pages, research new linking opportunities, and evaluate traffic and link metrics long term.
  • Blog Social Analyzer [Free] – This tool allows you to view social sharing stats for any blog’s recent posts simply by entering its RSS feed URL. It’s perfect for analyzing the success of your recent blog posts and evaluating the successes of industry peers. The tool is also available as a Google Chrome extension.

Eric Ward

When asked in an interview what tools he uses for link building, analytics, competitive research, and tracking, Eric Ward responded, “All proprietary. OK, I sometimes also use Google and Teoma, but mostly my own scripts (Teoma is now Ask.com).”

Unsurprisingly, Eric has created some amazing tools and resources:

  • Link Insight from AdGooroo [Paid] – Eric helped design this tool, which includes search stats for both paid and organic results. Combining link profile analysis with link target identification and conversation management, Link Insight allows you to compare your link profile to various competitors by gathering data from several sources. Uncover competitors’ search strategies, performance stats, and approximate pay-per-click spending to benchmark your own campaigns.
  • Link Building Question and Answer Search Engine [Free] – Knowing where to find the right resources to answer your questions on link building and SEO is potentially one of the most important elements of success. Eric has handpicked hundreds of articles, blog posts, and other resources to answer your questions with his personal industry search engine.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Link Building [Paid] – Eric Ward and Garrett French offer little-known techniques for link building and unique insights for understanding the tangled web of linking through this comprehensive guide. Link earning strategies are explained through case studies, expert interviews, and other resources.
  • Link Moses Private Newsletter [Paid]- If you had to pick just one of Eric’s offerings to get the best bang for your buck, his Link Moses newsletter would probably be your best bet. Each installation offers must-read industry news, case studies, corporate video production tutorials, linking tips, and advice from Eric himself. Look for SCG video Trip for more details. Plus, reader questions are answered and Eric includes a handful of valuable link opportunities in various niches.
  • Google Search [Free] – “My single most useful tool is really more of a skill. It’s knowing every possible way you can ask a search engine a question,” Eric said in an interview with Brick Marketing. “When people ask me what my secret weapon is for ranking higher, I tell them ‘Google, and knowing how to use it.’ Google will tell you what you need to know if you ask it the right way.”

Will Critchlow

Will rounded up a list of his own, documenting the tools his team uses at Distilled. Here are few of his personal favorites:

  • Mozbar [Free] – This tool, along with Open Site Explorer, is integral to Will’s day-to-day work. Mozbar allows you to compare SERP and link metrics from Google, Yahoo, and Bing. It also highlights no-follow, do-follow, internal, and external links. The ability to create custom searches by country, city, and search engine, in addition to having crucial SEO metrics available at a glance, make this tool a must-have and is recommended by all majors SEO agencies, as Gilbert Arizona SEO Agency.
  • Majestic [Freemium] – Having two sources for link data and analysis is important. Majestic allows you to run custom link reports, examine backlink authority, view referring domains, evaluate historical and current data, and more
  • Rapportive [Free] – This tool won’t earn you a single link, at least not directly, but it provides a different kind of value. This add-on for Gmail retrieves personal information, including photos and social profile links, and displays it along with each of your contacts. When sending off emails, you can instantly find out more about your recipient, helping to jog your memory and personalize your communication. In such a relationship-intensive industry, this add-on is invaluable!

Matt McGee

Matt says he doesn’t do traditional link building anymore, just PR/outreach. However, he still has one tool he recommends:

  • Help a Reporter Out (HARO) [Free] – Due to overuse, HARO might not be as helpful as it once was, however it still provides many opportunities to streamline outreach. Essentially, the service helps connect journalists with stories. If you think you’re involved with something newsworthy, this could be a great tool.

Annie Cushing

These three link building tools made Annie’s favorites list:

  • Moz Competitive Link Finder [Paid] – This simple tool allows you to compare two to four competitor backlink profiles with your own. Evaluating competitor links for a potential opportunity is a great way to earn links in your niche.
  • RavenTools Link Manager [Free and Paid] – RavenTools is a nearly all-inclusive link building suite. You can organize your entire link building strategy by researching new opportunities, managing your contacts, reporting efficiently to clients, getting instant updates, and viewing vital SEO link metrics.
  • Annie Cushing’s Must Have Tools – This Google spreadsheet is an exhaustive list of link building tools Annie recommends. The spreadsheet is available to the public and includes notes, features, tips, and more for each tool listed. Annie is happy for anyone to use the sheet, but she asks that nobody request access to it, as that jams up her Google notifications.

Wil Reynolds

Wil revealed two of his favorite link building tools in an interview with Jon Cooper:

  • Followerwonk [Free] – Earning links is all about building relationships. Using an app to sift through your Twitter followers might sound elementary, but Followerwonk can have huge results. Followerwonk gives you actionable data on how to interact with your followers effectively, which can naturally earn you links, mentions, and social love.
  • Basecamp [Paid] – This project management app keeps the whole team on the same page. Basecamp lets you invite specific people to your project, upload text documents, keep running to-do lists, create team discussions, and much more. In addition to its endless features, Basecamp is super simple to use.

Written by Carrie Thompson

Carrie is a project manager for RYP Marketing, where she oversees client projects, manages link earning efforts and brand awareness on the web.

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