Which Is The Best Backlink Checker? Top 5 Backlink Checkers Compared

Which Is The Best Backlink Checker? Top 5 Backlink Checkers Compared

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I compared the backlinks of 1 million domains with Ahrefs and Majestic SEO. One of them is clearly the dominant force – Click here to find out which.

To find out which is the best backlink checker I decided to setup a Ahrefs vs SEOMoz vs Majestic SEO vs Raven Tools vs SEO Spyglass test.

Downloading your competitors backlink profile used to be easy when Yahoo Site Explorer was up and running.

It really is a shame they closed it down because replicating your competitors backlink profiles is a great way to rank sites in any niche.

Since then a few other players have beefed up their offering including Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, SEOMoz (Open Site Explorer), Raven Tools & SEO Spyglass.

All of these are web based services except for SEO Spyglass which is a desktop application and part of the SEO Powersuite package.

I will also be testing these against Google Webmaster Tools which allows you to download a sample of your backlinks. However this is only useful to people that own the site they are trying to download the backlinks for.

If you are trying to discover how your competitors are ranking and want to replicate their link profiles you cannot use Google Webmaster Tools to achieve this.

Which Is The Best Backlink Checker?

To find out which is the best tool I decided to see how many links each service reported for 3 different websites.

The 3 sites are my own so I know the history of them very well-

  • Site 1 – One of my oldest sites with 1000+ pages
  • Site 2 – A couple of years old with about 300 pages
  • Site 3 – Just under a year old – still a nurtured baby with ~40 pages

This will give us a balanced mix of results and test each backlink checking service from a variety of angles.

google webmaster toolsGoogle Webmaster Tools reports the total number of links it Google has found for your site under Traffic > Links To Your Site which you can see in the image to the right.

I will be using this number as the benchmark for the services to compare against, including the total number of sample links Google allow us to download from that total.

A Quick Look At The Tools

Before I get into the nitty gritty of testing I wanted to give you a quick tour of the tools we’ll be looking at.

SEO Spyglass

Download a free trial of SEO Spyglass

This is a unique offering in the fact that it is a desktop application available on its own or as part of SEO Powersuite.

It downloads your backlinks from a number of sources and they even have their own database of links similar to the services above the software accesses directly.

It will also fetch live / real time data on the status of links, the page rank, anchor text used and so on. All of which can be exported into highly customisable PDF reports!

SEO Spyglass

Unlike the monthly fee based services below this software is available for a one time fee of $99.75 (or $249 as part of SEO Powersuite).

Download the Free SEO Spyglass Trial

Ahrefs.com

I will tell you now Ahrefs.com is a personal favourite of mine. They show some fantastic data and break it down in pretty much every way imaginable.

How many links you have, from how many IPs, linking to which pages with which anchor text.

They breakdown the links by types and provide all sorts of graphs and visualisation options.

Ahrefs

The only real drawback with Ahrefs.com is pricing – starting at $79 a month upto $499 a month although the smallest package will suit most.

The free account will let you pull a few reports per day but are limited to 500 results.

Raven Tools

Raven Tools also has a completely free fully functional 30 day trial.

In a way Raven Tools is like SEOMoz as it provides a suite of tools for managing your online campaigns.

However it isn’t quite as developed as the SEOMoz offering and I find it lacking in a lot of places. The back end design is really poor and a big let down from the impressive front end.

You can import your backlink profile and it will monitor upto 50,000 of them for $99 per month but there are much better solutions to do this that are a lot cheaper.

Raven Tools

It is still worth taking out the trial to download some backlinks and have a snoop around though!

Get Your Raven Tools 30 Day Free Trial

SEOMoz / Open Site Explorer

SEOMoz has a completely free fully functional 30 day trial for you to take advantage of.

What separates this from the pack is the huge range of tools you get for your money.

Open Site Explorer is just a small part of the SEOMoz offering which also includes rank tracking, weekly crawls alerting you to onsite SEO issues, on page recommendations, social media statistics and competitive analysis to see how you stack up against the competition.

It also includes a whole bunch of other tools, webinars, training videos and an expert community.

SEOMoz

After the 30 day trial it costs $99 per month which is a bargain for what you get!

Claim Your Free 30 Day SEOMoz Trial

Majestic SEO

I really don’t like how Majestic SEO present their data it really does leave a lot to be desired. However when you drill down into the data it does provide everything you need to know.

It is very similar to Ahrefs in a lot of ways but in my opinion Ahrefs does a much better job all round – we’ll see what the test results say about that though!

Majestic SEO

Prices start from around $50 (€39 EUR) to $400 (€299.99 EUR) per month. However there is a free account that lets you run more detailed reports for websites you own.

Putting Them To The Test

The real test though is how many links does each service return for the 3 sites I mentioned earlier?

Site 1 – 498,947 Total Links

Google reports a total of 498,947 links for this site. Here is the data each tool returned-

Backlink Checker # Found % Found
Webmaster Tools Sample 98,831 19.81%
Ahrefs 41,985 8.41%
Majestic SEO 30,412 6.10%
SEOMoz 31,999 6.41%
Raven Tools 27,081 5.43%
SEO Spyglass 14,402 2.89%

As you can see Ahrefs takes the top spot finding a total of 41,985 links which is 8.41% of the total reported links from Google.

SEO Spyglass brings up the rear finding only 14,402 / 2.89% of the total links.

Site 2 – 17,390 Total Links

Google reports a total of 17,390 links for this site. Here is the data each tool returned-

Backlink Checker # Found % Found
Webmaster Tools Sample 8,802 50.62%
Ahrefs 6,535 37.58%
Majestic SEO 6,414 36.88%
SEOMoz 7,345 42.24%
Raven Tools 7,073 40.67%
SEO Spyglass 4,619 26.56%

This time SEOMoz takes lead finding 42.24% of the total link count with Raven Tools coming just behind with 40.67%.

SEO Spyglass still finds itself lagging in the bottom spot though.

Site 3 – 434 Total Links

Google reports a total of 434 links for this site. Here is the data each tool returned-

Backlink Checker # Found % Found
Webmaster Tools Sample 283 65.21%
Ahrefs 99 22.81%
Majestic SEO 85 19.59%
SEOMoz 67 15.44%
Raven Tools 52 11.98%
SEO Spyglass 74 17.05%

The final test brings Ahrefs to the top of the pack again finding a toal of 99 / 22.81% of the links.

At least SEO Spyglass managed to move its way up from the bottom spot this time though!

A Complete Look At The Data

First of all lets take a look at the % of links found for each site and service side by side.

Backlink Checker Site 1 Site 2 Site 3
Ahrefs 8.41% 37.58% 22.81%
Majestic SEO 6.10% 36.88% 19.59%
SEOMoz 6.41% 42.24% 15.44%
Raven Tools 5.43% 40.67% 11.98%
SEO Spyglass 2.89% 26.56% 17.05%

Looking at that you can see that although Ahrefs doesn’t always win, it does edge ahead over the others.

But what about if we look at it from a total perspective and compare the total amount of links available to find across the 3 sites with the total amount each service found?

Across the 3 sites there are a total of 516,771 backlinks to be found-

Backlink Checker # Total Found % Total Found
Ahrefs 48,619 9.41%
Majestic SEO 36,911 7.14%
SEOMoz 39,411 7.63%
Raven Tools 34,206 6.62%
SEO Spyglass 19,095 3.70%

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And The Best Backlink Checker Is…

If you are purely after a backlink checker then Ahrefs.com is the one to go for clearly.

I place a greater value on number of links returned because I personally take all of my competitors links and load them into Inspyder Backlink Monitor which provides the most advanced analysis of the links once you have them.

However for not much more money per month you can get access to SEOMoz which although returned 9,000 less backlinks then Ahrefs does offer an impressive suite of tools that will support your wider SEO campaigns.

I was surprised to see that SEO Spyglass didn’t perform better as it does have it’s own links database to pull data from in an effort to make up for the loss of Yahoo Site Explorer which it heavily relied on.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: – Viktar Khamianok (Link-Assistant CEO) published this response to how SEO SpyGlass performed in this test – be sure to check it out!

Hats off to him for addressing the issue on the front line in the trenches!

The Problem With Them All

Every backlink checker suffers from the same problem though and that is that no single one of them can provide a complete overview of your link profile.

At best you might find 1/10th of your entire link profile using Ahrefs but what about the other 90% of links pointing to a site? These make a big a difference.

The Solution

The solution is to grab reports from each service/tool and then combine them into one big master list of links to get the most complete overview of the link profile as possible.

Now obviously it is far to expensive to subscribe to every service but you can take advantage of the SEOMoz, Raven Tools and SEO Spyglass free trials to get you started and then use the limited free reports from Ahrefs and Majestic SEO as well.

Share Reports With Each Other & Save Money!

If you have access to one of these tools and would be willing to create reports for others in exchange for reports from other services?

Jump over to this forum thread and get involved with the community behind the site.

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164 Responses

Sillas Larsen
1.11.2013

Actually I’m a bit disappointed about how Majestic perform, and very disappointed about SEO Spyglass! But I’m positively surprised about how SEO Moz performs. I’m pretty sure it’s because of the recently new update on their index.

But like my intuition told me, Ahrefs is beating them all.

But every tool is good at their own thing imo. I won’t ever replace them with each other.

Nice one Matthew!

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Yes the SEOMoz team have made a few updates recently that seems to have them ticking along quite nicely.

You do need to combine data from each of them though to get the most detailed analysis possible.

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1.11.2013

A very well made comparison! Thank you for that. My company is just about to switch to ahrefs from majesticseo. Reason was that majesticseo sort of feels outdated even though they still have a large database. Ahrefis is lighter and has a better overall overview of things that are nicely packed together. Also I’ve heard ahrefs has a faster search/index rate than any other backlinks tracker.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Well this shows you that perhaps their database isn’t quite as large as Ahrefs :) Please let me know how you get on with the switch!

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ChrisR
1.11.2013

Matt, great report and as always, well documented. One question though, I thought it was almost an absolute no-no to use Google Webmaster Tools. Are you not worried about giving them a direct view into your site’s inner workings?

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Well take a step back and think about it – what do you actually give Google in exchange for Webmaster Tools access? You just upload a text file or place a meta reference in your header.

Your not actually giving them anything they don’t already have, in fact they are doing you a favour by sharing with you what they know about your site.

Analytics on the other hand, well that’s a different kettle of fish as you are feeding them data they don’t already have!

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ChrisR Reply:

So are you cautioning against using Google Analytics on your site but saying Webmaster Tools are okay? Makes sense.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well I use analytics on this site – I think its only a concern if your doing something shady/have a poor site ^^

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rugbyjack2005
1.11.2013

That was an interesting post. I was a little surprised by RavenSEO given that it supposedly gets it’s data from MajesticSEO. I think a while back it also incorporated open site explorer data but this isn’t on their site any more (from memory so I could be wrong).

What do you think about the reporting features of each? For ages I had a MajesticSEO subscription but in the end I got rid of it as I didn’t think the reporting was good enough so couldn’t see the point of a monthly fee.

I now just use SEOSpyglass and buy a subscription as and when I need any of the others and cancel them after a month once I have got my data. I actually found that I got more back links from SEOSpyglass than MajecticSEO but that was about 3 months ago since I last did a comparison and things have obviously moved on

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

In terms of the reporting/backends I think Ahrefs takes it, they present the data in a great way.

HOWEVER that is not where I keep it personally, I pull it all out from various source and drops into Inspyder and use that as a monitor/reporting tool. You can schedule it to recheck everything and automatically email you reports which is far more flexible and powerful than anything else at the moment.

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jespana
1.11.2013

Why did you not use Scrapebox it is by far cheaper than any of those programs and can do more then just post. You are able to scrape for backlinks as well.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

I’m not 100% sure where the new version of the addon sources it’s data – but there isn’t very much of it :) Not as useful as it used to be when it used YSE :(

Reply

pix113
1.11.2013

Perhaps in a future post you can do a comparison to the free backlink services such as:

Backlink Watch
IM Tool Back Link Checker
Bing Webmaster Tools

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Made a note to update the post with data from those – thank you!

Are there any others your aware of?

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Sarko
1.11.2013

Top Notch, as usual. Thanks Dog

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

No worrys thank you :)

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1.11.2013

Matt I’m amazed at these results. I assumed that a backlinks tool would simply spider a domain and supply “the answer”.

The variation is surprising too.

And that WMT seems to give a better picture than any of the commercial tools.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Well I have always seen people claim one is better than the other but I’ve never seen anyone actually put it to the test.

WMT is only useful if you own the sites though – if you want to steal your competitors heat its no good =\

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Boo
1.11.2013

Great post. I mean it. I use Spyglass, but even in Enterprise Edition you will get just a small portion of links. So, what I do is exactly you suggest: get links from every service I can find (and reports from linkbuilding services, and also Webmaster Tools), and analyze all together in Spyglass.

That works fine if you have a site with a link profile up to 30.000 links. A bigger project made Spyglass crash just after open it. But, in my opinion ¿Do we really need get every single link to take decisions? I think not.

If Google WMT says some site have 2 millions backlinks… ¿how much of that number we need to know to have at least a good idea about the quality of our link profile? ¿50%? ¿70%?

Bottom line: Of course we need as much data as we can get, but there’s no need to overthinking about some “existing but unable to find” links

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Yes this is a problem I have faced with Spyglass as it is written in Java there is only so much it can take before the whole system slows and it falls over.

This is why the much more advanced and robust Inspyder Backlink Monitor for my link monitoring/reporting/tracking needs.

While it is impossible to have every single link – I agree the more data we have at our disposal the better our decisions will be to move the site forward.

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Don F
1.11.2013

Hey Matt – Great Stuff!

I too am disappointed in SpyGlass –

Have you had any experience with LinkResearchTool.com?

Ive used their products and they ‘seem’ to work well, and provide a tremendous amount of data, but I have never structured a formal comparison. They offer a free trial for a few days for a tweet here:

https://www.linkresearchtools.com/members/signup-v12.php?product=freetrial

It would be interesting to put them up against the other major players as well?? They are pretty expensive so it would be good to know if it is actually worth it—

I know you’re busy, but just a thought :)

Best,

Don

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Don,

Thanks for the suggestion I will check it out and update the post if possible!

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Dennis Reply:

If you are going to test it for LRT, try the highest option. Ive tried both and the version with higher link sources sometimes have more than Majestic.

It’s a tad more expensive though.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Dennis,

Can you explain the highest option a bit more? You mean the most expensive package? Hopefully they’ll give me a demo account or something for the next edition of the show down!

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Christoph C. Cemper Reply:

Hi Matthew,

Dennis is refering to the “Superhero” or “Enterprise” accounts that we have. I would be glad to source you a superhero account for your review. Please contact us via the helpdesk, but in any case i’ll try to contact you now also via the contact form.

Best Christoph C. Cemper
CEO of LínkResearchTools

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Chris,

Just replied to your email – thank you kindly for the offer!

Reply

Dan Flueran Reply:

seo spy it;s ok or you need more?

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

I’m not sure what you mean?

Reply

1.11.2013

Hi. I’m a director here at Majestic. Thanks for the study.

It is true that Ahrefs are increasing their index size. However, using resources for “discovery” comes at a cost. The cost is the calculation as to the quality of each link.

It’s hard to comment on a study marked Site A, Site B, Site C. The data is public for all the data sets except GWT, so I see no reason why studies can’t use verifiable sites. You also did not specify whether you used Majestic’s Fresh or Historic Index. As you dig into those data sets you will find some links only one index and some only in the other, however – both indexes are excellent for different types of analysis.

Dropping into the analysis, however, is where analysis REALLY needs exploring in 2013. Penguin tells us that it is quality, Not quantity that will count from here on in. Looking at the top 20 links in each list will probably be plenty to come to a conclusion that may not be the one you suggest.

Anyway – can you list the three sites you used for the analysis?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Dixon,

Thanks for jumping over to the post to address it directly =D

I think everyone uses these services for different purposes and goals, for example I’m not interested in what Majestic, Ahrefs or anyone else decides is a ‘quality link’ all I want is the raw list of URL’s with no fluff but others like to use the additional data that is available to them. I certainly wouldn’t look at the top 20 links according to a service to draw a conclusion.

I chose to use my own sites for the test because I knew the history of them and I also know the type of links that have being built to them are the exact same types of links my blogs audience will be building. It was also important I had access to GWT to get that bench mark figure. Granted I only tested 3 sites which is a pretty small sample size in the grand scheme of things, but tried to keep things measured in that one was really old/big, one in the middle and one relevantly new/small. The downside to that though is I wont be revealing them :)

It was interesting to see that the largest/oldest site had the least amount of coverage in every single tool.

One thing the test didn’t attribute for is data decay. For example just because Majestic says there are 5,000 links doesn’t mean there are still 5,000 links that are live. Anchor texts could have changed, the page could of lost its PR or anything inbetween the time you update the data and the time I check it. This obviously isn’t unique to majestic but it is a huge drawback of services like this which is why I use http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/reviews/inspyder-backlink-checker-tool-review/ to get the view in there here and now, not the last time the service updated it’s data.

Either way, the fact that not a single service could even find 10% of the links Google says exists says a lot about how far behind all services of this nature really are.

Reply

1.12.2013

i’ve been using SEOmoz OSE for a long time, i guess now i should try Ahrefs as well. thank you for the indepth analysis Matthew.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

No worrys glad it has helped you out!

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Charles Floate Reply:

OSE is awesome and all.. BUT compared to the tons of services out there, they’re probably the least amount of dedication to that service.
SEOmoz is SEOmoz, if they closed OSE tomorrow they wouldn’t loose all too much money and probably cut a ton of AWS costs too.
Their DA and PA system is probably the best I’ve seen compared to Ahrefs domain rank and MJSEO Citation/Trust flow but from what I’ve seen Ahrefs indexes more, Majestic you can sort through data easier and has more tools (their Chrome extension is pretty damn awesome).

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Yes I agree with you, SEOMoz is so much more than a backlink checker and as the jack of all trades they aren’t the master of link checking.

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1.12.2013

Hey Matt, another great stuff from you!

Btw, I’d like to ask you something. When I try to check my backlinks using Majestic SEO, i got couple thousands backlinks. However, when i check my links in Google Webmaster tools, it says that I ‘only’ has 400 or so links.

From the test the amount of backlinks from GWT is greater than the backlink checkers tools, however why in my case it the exact opposite?

If it means that my backlinks aren’t indexed by google, then how can i make my backlinks indexed well and show up in Google Webmaster Tools?

Thank you for reading this comment, and I’ll really appreciate your answers. :D

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks man =D

I’m guessing you are using the historic index of Majestic SEO rather than the fresh index? Can you confirm please

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Syamsul Alam Reply:

Fresh index. It says like this:

Referring Domains
29
25 in the last 5 years.

External Backlinks
1,999
2,021 in the last 5 years.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Are the second set of stats from the historic?

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Ash
1.12.2013

Great analysis! You have answered what I have been wondering about these backlink checkers for a while!!!

I was a bit disappointed by SEO Spyglass’s performance, still I like it though.
Look forward to hear your thought about Scrapebox and Traffic Travis (if you use it) in the future?

Cheers.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Yeah it has always been discussed and opinionated in forums so I thought I would bring some level of data to the table :)

I still think you need a combination of them though really

Not used Traffic Travis – worth a play?

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Ash Reply:

I have been using TT (free version though) and it seemed to be a decent application to try on.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Will give it a whirl thanks!

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1.13.2013

awesome comparison post, thanks. our head coach, Matthew Hunt uses ahrefs, majestic & seomoz because he believes that no tool is perfect and you need many to get a clearer picture with areas that each tool misses. agreed, ahrefs is awesome!! what do you use for best citation checker? another comparison post coming ; )

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Yes I have to agree with Matt on that! I hadn’t considered a citation checker post but will add it to the ideas notebook thanks :) Any you would like to see featured?

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1.14.2013

Thanks for the test! I didn’t know Raven and SEO SpyGlass had their own indices. I thought they were using someone else’s APIs

As for Majestic, have you tried using their “Historic” index as well? It returns much more data in my experience.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Ann,

As someone that has read a lot of your stuff (its hard not to!) its great to see you’ve found your way over to my little corner of the web :)

Perhaps I need to treat the ‘fresh’ and ‘historic’ indexes of Majestic as separate entity’s almost like they are competing services.

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1.14.2013

wow!

I am very surprised by this comparison! Iv never tried ahrefs paid account but when ever I do a comparison of seomoz vs majestic vs ahrefs. ahrefs is always the loser by a HUGE margin!

I know services would obviously not give their complete data set on the free account but does it also show different overview stats on the free vs paid accounts?

In my numerous comparisons I’v always found that Majestic and Seomoz go head to head but ahrefs is always way behind….

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Well the free account still shows you the same numbers on the front end – it’s just what you can download/actually see that it holds back on so your observation is a welcome one!

Would you be willing to mail me a couple of samples you have seen that with?

Reply

Serg
1.14.2013

on February 28, 2012 Ahrefs wrote in Facebook
“After two remarks SEO SpyGlass still passes off our data as their own posing it as SEO SpyGlass Backlink Explorer breaking Ahrefs API rules”
http://www.facebook.com/Ahrefs/posts/333160286720901

So are you sure that they have their own database?

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Given how much a month Ahrefs costs and the number of reports that gives you, and that SEO Spyglass is a one time fee for the most part – I don’t think it would be cost efficient for that to be the case.

Reply

1.14.2013

Hi Matthew, thank you for coming up with this research, we can see how it can be helpful to your industry peers. You can imagine we’re now having hard times here at Link-Assistant.Com, explaining what has gone wrong with good ol’ SEO SpyGlass. :)

We’re constantly running quality tests in house to compare the performance of SEO SpyGlass with that of competitors. What we have noticed over the years, the number of links different tools find varies drastically from site to site. But we’ve never detected such a poor performance, so we’d like to look closer into the possible problems.

Matthew, we’d really appreciate if you disclosed the three domains you’ve been testing – either privately or publicly. We’d like to run the tests in-house to look into the ways we can improve the performance of SEO SpyGlass.

Thank you!

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

I will speak with Olga directly about the issue.

The huge advantage that SEO Spyglass does have over the others is the data it gets for the links it does find is current/right now. E.g. if a bunch of link got removed since the latest time ahrefs/majestic/seomoz updated they would still report them live, but with SpyGlass the data is real time.

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Kathy Alice Brown
1.28.2013

Thanks for this great comparison! I’ve just started using ahrefs and it is growing into being my favorite tool to look at a site’s backlink profile. The data is well laid out and back links seem to show up there quicker than in the others. MajesticSEO is also accurate but it is not as intuitive. Links take longer to show up in OSE but as you point out SEOmoz has a wonderful suite of tools.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

The problem with all of those services is that data isn’t ‘live’ and a lot of things change which is why I use Inspyder to monitor the URL’s regularly.

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1.28.2013

Great post, I have personally always used Seomoz.org. I like how it shows the PA of the site at the same time. This will cut your time down on researching which links are quality and which aren’t. I have never used ahrefs, but I like the layout and it still has the lost links. I can’t tell you how many times someone will come to us and ask “why are my rankings gone, can you help me” I quickly analyze the lost links over the past month with majesticSEO and realize they lost 20k links due to a Google update. This leads me to realize what happened and what I need to do. This also tells me that generally they had some pretty low quality link types used if this happened.

Anyways, I may try the ahref when I am really searching in depth and digging deep to try to top someone to compete against my competitors but will always use Seomoz.org, because I personally like to go by PA. I am ranking for very competitive terms in many countries due to following Seomoz and I feel that there is much more there then just a tool to give an analysis. There is a community of people there that will give you the answers if you just listen and ask. There are enough answers and very smart individuals there that can increase your business by a lot.

I was stuck many years ago on my way of tactics and sure it worked, but when I got over what I thought was the best and started with Seomoz.org. My keywords increased even better and I am now ranking for very good terms like payday loans, cash loans, affordable SEO, cheap SEO, and 100′s of other competitive terms. I give Seomoz.org the credit for this, because their tactics truly do work.

Have a great night everyone.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

The problem with relying on PA etc is well, it is actually irrelevant where Google is concerned – they certainly aren’t using PA to determine rankings so I don’t use it to determine link quality.

In my opinion if a link/domain is good enough to be in Google’s index, its good enough to link to my website. It really isn’t any more complicated than that for the most part.

However PA aside your right that SEOMoz do provide a superb suite of tools that is only going to get better!

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kmm2908 Reply:

Hi Matt
On the basis that “if a link/domain is good enough to be in Google’s index, its good enough to link to my website”, and considering how low the % of total links found was across all of the products, don’t you think this strengthens the idea of using ScrapeBox to scrape the links for a site then analyzing them in Inspyder Backlinks Monitor?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

No because Scrapebox can’t scrape the backlinks for a site – well it can but its shit and barely returns anything. Not like the old days when you could scrape Yahoo Site Explorer!

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1.29.2013

Great post! I really love this post because it as data to support the conclusions. Keep on going dude!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks very much – plenty more to come!

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1.30.2013

That is an excellent comparison . I am quite comfortable with seomoz and majesticseo. Tried raven 1 month trial but it didn’t convince me to buy the product.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

What was it you didn’t like about Raven? For me it was the anti climax of the really clean/professional sales/front end and the really disgustingly poor backend once you’ve forked out the cash.

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Dan
1.31.2013

That was a wonderful article put together there. Our company has recently subscribed to MajesticSEO. I like detailed their analysis is.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Glad you enjoyed it :)

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2.1.2013

Hey Matthew,

Thanks for the mention of Raven Tools. Just wanted to let you know we’ve made some big additions to our Research Central tool, including visualizations and data mashups of backlink data that help users take action and report to clients. We’d love to have you check it out. We also have a partnership with Link Prospector, so users can import prospective backlinks, too.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

I’ll be revisiting this with some much more detailed & brutal analysis measuring how accurate and upto date every point of data is :)

p.s. you guys need to do a round of affiliate approvals on SaS ;)

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Jay
2.4.2013

After reading this post I did my own test on a site that ranks well but has very little backlinks. I was shocked to find that ONLY ahrefs found the backlinks, the other three didn’t even find one!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Which were the other 3? Is it a new site or an old site?

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2.5.2013

I had a professional account on Open Site Explorer which was at the time, the reference of backlink analyzis. This subscription has ended and I’m willing to take a ahrefs account. I have tested the free version (with account) and the data it gave me is a real blast. (40% of the data wasn’t found by OSE)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Good to hear your findings correlate with my own tests :)

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2.11.2013

SEOMOZ ‘used’ to be the best and but in the last couple of years, these other tools have really come on leaps and bounds. Yes, SEOMOZ has other tools, but they are basic and not really what you’d use for larger or more difficult SEO projects; it’s all a bit N00b-ish. Ahrefs is great, yes the lack the tools that SEOMOZ does, but they are coming and the interface is more intuitive than Majestic. I’ve not used Majestic for a year or so and I guess they are improving all the time, but it wasn’t ever ‘obvious’ to me and so I cancelled. Yes, I could use it, but it was like writing with my left hand.

The main issue with SEOMOZ is that they take days or even weeks to send reports through, their site crawls are slow and their tools and interfaces lack the granular adjustments required by advanced SEO’s. I know that Amazon AWS has been their Achilles heel; however, users don’t care. They just want their reports and they want them fast.

Furthermore, SEOMOZ doesn’t have the Freshest index by weeks and sometimes months. Ahrefs checkes the header files so their freshness is immediate for the most part. Sure they miss stuff when the web-servers don’t report changes, but I’d rather be covered by Ahrefs, than be using data that is 4 – 8 weeks old from SEOMoz.

I’ve not used Raven or SEOSpy Glass enough to comment. However, I have used Cognitive SEO (not reported here) and they have produced some amazing magic off the back of Majestics data. The downside for us here was the speed, we need data and we need it fast, we can’t wait seconds between requests. However, it’s a fantastic tool, if you’re looking after just one or two sites and you don’t mind the lag.

SEOMoz is the worst by far in my experience, it’s shallow, expensive and the reporting sucks. Hard. I think it’s the worst value suite of tools available on the market at the moment.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your detailed and insightful feedback.

I have to agree with you that the tools SEOMoz offer or on the more entry level end of things – personally I do not think there is a tool/service that exists that can meet the demands of professional SEO’s. I find myself forced to use a combination of tools and my own custom reporting to get the desired result.

Are there any tools of this nature that you do recommend based on your experiences?

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Tyler
2.19.2013

Good post but would have made me subscribe and bow down to you if you had found a good way to cross-reference Majestic Trust Flow, Ahrefs Domain Rank, Moz PA/DA and figure out which one is more accurate in terms of ranking through comparing them based on keyword difficulty and competition metrics. Actually as I typed that out I realized the ridiculsous case study that would probably require. But regardless I’d love to know the accuracy of each measure of authority/trust/power.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Tyler,

The reason I didn’t look at that is because I dont rely on what they ‘reckon’ is an authorative link/domain. I have always ignored trust flow, domain rank, PA/DA etc and always will do.

I am however publishing a more detailed follow up looking at majestic and ahrefs, the amount of data behind this will blow your mind!

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3.5.2013

My website got hacked a couple of years ago and has recently plummeted from page 1 to page 4. At first I thought it was overuse anchor text, but I’ve now discovered that hackers have posted hundreds of links from other sites to the dodgy files they uploaded onto my site (which were all deleted and fresh installed last year).

Which tool would you recommend for putting together a list of all the dodgy links I need to get removed or disavow (e.g. allow a keyword search on backlink text)? Or will I need to amalgamate reports from all of them?

I’d like to get some insight on the best way forward before I embark on a task that could take weeks, but my business is suffering until I get these links removed.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Matt,

You’ll probably find that these links are dynamically inserted with some dodgy base64 code.

If you have a look at key files such as index.php and wp-config.php in the root folder for any dodgy code, make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom.

This plugin might help you out as well http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/exploit-scanner/

I’ve dealt with this a number of times, its a right ball ache! A good host will help protect you and even clean up any hacks for you!

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Matt Ambrose Reply:

Thanks for the plugin info, will come in useful.

Have you any experience using Disavow? Does it work or am I best off going down the manual route of emailing webmasters to get the dodgy backlinks removed?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Matt,

Your much better of emailing them and getting them removed directly.

Please see http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tips/why-google-disavow-is-bad-news-for-seo/

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3.7.2013

Retwitted this!
Very interesting comparison.

I use another tool that is called Seoprofiler. I do not need an expensive tool since my customers have simple websites.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks for the retweet – will check out the other tool as well thanks!

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kmm2908
3.13.2013

Matt hi

Great review, love your detailed comparisons.

Aside from the shockingly low level of discovery could you also give a brief outline of how you use this information?

Maybe a topic for another post?

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hmmm cant comment on that just yet :)

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3.15.2013

Fantastic post. I have been using Ahrefs a bit more lately, mainly because I find it easier to use than the others.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Yeah the interface is much simpler to use I’ll give you that!

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Sam
3.18.2013

Informative post, thanks for sharing these tools are very useful for seo…….

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

No worrys, cheers Sam :)

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Zain
3.20.2013

Hi Matthew,

Your analysis is spot on. I have used all the tools quite extensively and ahrefs is no doubt the best (strictly from a backlink analysis tool). SpyGlass is in fact, the worst for backlink analysis. It was probably the first tool I used a few years back. Not only does it not provide enough backlinks, but its also desktop based, which means its slow and clogs up my system. Hope the guys at link assistant can step up their game.

Keep up the good product reviews!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Zain,

Thanks very much – I’m going to be posting a more detailed analysis of Ahrefs and Majestic soon.

SpyGlass was much better when Yahoo Site Explorer was operating – but don’t forget this provides live/real time data on things like anchor text, if the link is still active etc where as the others are just when they last updated their databases.

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Jim
3.20.2013

I find this a really helpful analysis, but I am still in a bit of a quandary. I found your site through a search for such a comparison but my problem is that Google Webmaster Tools, under Total Links” is only reporting roughly 1/3 the number of links that Ahrefs does.

Have you seen anything like that before? Seems very strange to me and I thought maybe I was looking at webmaster’s sampling, but it is Total Links under Links to your site!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Jim,

Perhaps you have a high percentage of low qualtiy links that Google discounts/doesn’t value?

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3.27.2013

i using ahrefs.com . and i feed its so good. dont need to change other tools

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Its definitely the best turd at the moment!

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Saanvi
4.17.2013

Thanks! This is probably the most useful post I’ve read on any blog. I guess I know who I’m going to start following.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Then you obviously haven’t got round to this yet http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/experiments/ahrefs-majestic-seo-1-million-domain-showdown/

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extremeluck
4.18.2013

Hi Matt,

I was really wondering which product should I pick so I read the entire post and comments on this page and I`m looking forward in reading the more complex experiment that you`ve done!

Keep up the good work!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Its over at http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/experiments/ahrefs-majestic-seo-1-million-domain-showdown/ if you haven’t found it already :)

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extremeluck Reply:

This article you pointed me at was the first one found. But I couldn`t just read it without taking a look at this one first. :D

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Ahhh I see =D Hope they helped you out!

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Great post Matthew. It would be very interesting to know what % of the the links in GWT were found in a consolidated list of the top tools. In other words, if you de-dupe a master sheet, how close do you get to 100% of the links that Google has? Really trying to understand the level of overlap between the tools so as to make a decision on the value of subscribing to multiple services. Thanks!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Ted,

That is not something I have put a lot of effort into measuring but I agree the crossover is important.

Will have a think how I can analyse and present that data for you.

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5.23.2013

Ahrefs results are the best it gives you actual results. But it is paid tool for in-depth Back-link check.
Thanks for the comparison it amazing..

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well you always get what you pay for =D

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8.7.2013

LOVE the side by side comparison! I was curious if you heard about or tried Shane Melaugh’s (SwissMadeMarketing) new backlink checker. I just watched a video on it about a week ago. Seemed very thorough so again, curious if you’d heard anything yet–

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Haven’t heard of it sorry =\

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8.16.2013

Hey Matt!

You hit the nail in the head with ahrefs. They’re just hands down the best backlink checker out there.

Can you make the same analysis but on the social media platfrom management next time?

Thanks for sharing the post. Cheers!

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Which ones would you like to see tested and what should they be tested for?

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8.28.2013

I ran two tests today. Here are the results:

Site #1: http://www.musicinst.org

raven: 9.5K
seospy: 1.5K
Moz OSE: 2.5K
Ahrefs: 4K
Maj SEO: 7.5K

Site #2 (confidential):

raven:7.5K
SEO Spyglass: 5K
Moz OSE: 2.5K
Ahref: 7.5K
Maj SEO: 9.5K
GWMT: 7K

Comments: I used the free trial on most of those.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks for your mini experiment but majestic is only showing 3.3k for site #1

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9.4.2013

Hi Matthew, another downside to SEO Spyglass is that it needs some serious tweaking and does not work very well out of the box.

Also you can’t use any other software from SEO Powersuite while it’s running.

I had to get Yuri, who was extremely helpful and patient, to go through all of the settings. Things have to split up into groups as otherwise you get blocked, and if it crashes halfway through you are goosed and have to start the painful process all over again.

The other programs you analysed take a while to run (SEOmoz inparticular) but you can just forget about them and leave them running. SEO Spylgass does give you results when you want them if it doesn’t crash.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

What do you mean by tweaking?

I haven’t had problems with things getting blocked but I have a whole bunch of proxies to ensure thats never an issue in any software. The small cost of proxies saves a lot of headache in that respect.

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Martijn van Dooren
9.25.2013

In response to this article, Link-Assistant (the company behind SEO SpyGlass) claims to have “the world’s fastest growing backlink index”. News from yesterday, september 24 – 2013: http://www.link-assistant.com/news/largest-backlink-index.html

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Don’t worry, I’ll be putting that claim to the test.

Majestic also made the same claim, look how that turned out http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/experiments/ahrefs-majestic-seo-1-million-domain-showdown/

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10.9.2013

The issue with this post Matt is that even though one index might show more links for a site than another is how many of links are actually still found.

If an index is showing fewer links it still might be showing more live links. It’s better to have a report with 30k live links than a report that has 35k links but 10k of them are not found.

You should of run them through Backlink Checker by Inspyder first to see how many of the links are actually still found :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

That is very true indeed and is something I should of covered properly the first time round.

I’ll be doing another post on this soon though ;)

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10.23.2013

SEO moz link not Working

showing this URL in browser http://go.seomoz.org/aff_c?offer_id=1&aff_id=6846

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Yeah they killed the affiliate program :(

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kamruzzaman royal
10.31.2013

excellent comparison has done.

Thanks for your effort

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks :)

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11.6.2013

Hi Matt I love your website! Just a couple of things…why don’t you also compare Link Research Tools by Cemper (expensive though I know)? Also, whilst I’ve always prefered Ahrefs compared with Majestic SEO, I notice that they discontinued their affiliate scheme (still available to existing affiliates) but also stopped their keyword position checker (which I liked a lot). I understand their reasons for doing this but what type of features do they have instead of these. I don’t mean to replace them directly but just to make the package worth it. So, with this in mind, I’d like to suggest that you perhaps write a comparison of how each tools evolved or changed over time…if you want :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

So you would like to see a more comprehensive comparison of what they can do other than checking backlinks?

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kk
11.8.2013

I use SEO Spyglass Check Backlinks.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

That now has access to a bigger database :)

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11.8.2013

As always great stuff, I’m using Majestic SEO for my projects. I really love Ahrefs and Majestic SEO. Ahrefs is bit costly that’s why I prefer Majestic SEO.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I’ll be updating the test soon :)

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11.27.2013

With the SpyGlass data – was the tests run before they incorporated the webmeup database ?

If yes – then you need to run the spyglass test again
If no – then I’m very surprised

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Yes it was – check this out http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/experiments/backlink-checker-tools/

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11.28.2013

Nice report on the backlink checker. I’m curious on your opinion on the best tools to use not just for backlink reports but for overall campaigns, finding niche sites and link opportunities, social monitoring, research etc..

I have been looking for an all in one tool to help manage and monitor campaigns and think Raven would have to be up there as a total package. Would you agree?

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JJ
12.3.2013

Great post…… Have you done comparison on desktop + web based services for overall backlink/campaign SEO tools? Specifically it seems on top are Traffic Travis, SEOPowerSuite, WebMeUp, SerpFox, etc…

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Can you explain that a little more please?

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JJ Reply:

Was wondering if u have done any reviews/comparisons of my listed options above…. from my research these seem to be 4 of the top SEO tools for checking backlinks, Google rankings, and suggestions to enhance each project’s SEO…. I cannot afford to buy like 3-4 different tools so I am just trying to do as thorough a research as possible from the best in the biz…..

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Ahh so are you talking about a more completed tool for general SEO management, rather than a post that focuses purely on the backlink checker side of things?

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JJ Reply:

Yes, thats correct… I know there is a lot out there, but I was trying to narrow it down a bit… I am trying a couple already but they each have their little perks it seems, and I am not experienced enough to determine whats better in the long run.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well personally I like SEOMoz – whether that is actually the best one or not I dont know lol

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12.5.2013

Yep I am after that same information actually. A complete tool for SEO management (not just back links). Interested to hear your opinion.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

SEOMoz is my favourite but I haven’t put every solution to the test so =\

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12.15.2013

thanks this is really a very helpful article

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

No worrys :)

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Jason
12.22.2013

Great analysis Matthew. Now at least I know how to get as many of my backlinks as possible. Unfortunate that there doesn’t seem to be a way to get a comprehensive list of links to my site.

WMT shows I have 50k links, but the sample they provide is only 10k. Right now one of my sites is suffering from an algorithm penalty so I’m looking to gather as many as possible to try and remove toxic links, but It looks like i’ll be significantly handicapped in identifying all of them which will likely leave many bad links pointing to the site untouched. If the best I can hope for is knowing 20% or so of my total back links seems like it would boil down to plain luck if i bother removing toxic links then wait for the next Google update. Pretty disappointing. My only hope i guess is that Googles sample of my links happens to also include the toxic links and that doesn’t seem very likely.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Just clean up as much as you can, but most importantly keep a spreadsheet logging everything you’ve done, dates tried to get links removed, dates they were removed etc.

As long as they can see you have made an active effort to get it sorted, your golden :)

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1.4.2014

Hello Guys,

I was really wondering which product should I pick so I read the entire post and comments on this page and I`m looking forward in reading the more complex experiment that you`ve done!

Regards :)

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

It’s already done :)

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1.10.2014

That was a wonderful article put together there. Our company has recently subscribed to Ahrefs. I like detailed their analysis is.

Thanks

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

No worrys :)

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Great article and extreme detail in the analysis, Matthew. I’ve been reading your stuff each month and glad I stumbled across this one. I’m a Moz member and subscriber to Majestic and Ahrefs as well. But, a new software you should check out is WebMeUp. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one as well since they do provide an indepth backlink profile for any site. Nonetheless, thanks for creating more valuable content we can all read, learn from and share with our clients and team members. Cheers! – Patrick

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

You mean like this http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/experiments/backlink-checker-tools/ ?

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seo
1.17.2014

I think it’s great!

backlinkwatch.com

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Not bad for a freebie!

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Maya
2.3.2014

Wow, this 5 best backlinkchecker, and I now use Ahrefs,

Thank you for recomendation

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

No worrys :)

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2.4.2014

Very good article! We are linking to this great post on our site. Keep up the great writing.

My favorite tools link building GSA search rangker..
thanks..
Regards
sutopo

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks very much :)

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2.5.2014

I really like the way you presented these powerful SEO applications. So far, I haven’t used only Ahrefs, while Moz, Majestic and SEO Power suite are MUST HAVE tools for my daily work.
Recently, SEOMoz is doing nice things with their Moz Analytics, however each tool provide a special feature/s, and it’s hard to make a choice of one.
If you ask me, a combination of Moz and Spy glass is the perfect choice for an average marketer.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Yeah Moz Analytics is quite nice, I just wish it tracked commisions through email parsing!

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2.14.2014

Thank You….i like this article, i hope my seo come good..

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

All we can do is hope :)

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Alfred
3.17.2014

Hi Matthew, do you know what is that Google Backlink that some sites have, shown on majestic? THanks

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

I don’t understand sorry

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3.28.2014

i’ve been using Ahrefs OSE for a long time, i guess now i should try SEOmoz as well. thank you for the indepth analysis Matthew.

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

No worrys :)

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3.28.2014

It’s 5 best backlink checker, and my favorite use Ahrefs.

Thanks

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

Same ^^

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Khairul Nizam
4.3.2014

Great analysis Matthew. Now at least I know how to get as many of my backlinks as possible. By the way, i use spy glass. now will consider Ahrefs

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Matthew Woodward Reply:

If your building your links you probably have a list of all the ones created anyway :)

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