Search engines uses a variety of factors like domain age, unique content, page rank, etc to rank a website or keyword phrase. However throughout all the years, backlinks is a big factor in determining whether you appear on page 1 or page 97 of the search results. Having more backlinks then your competitor will rank you higher. But having more doesn’t mean you will automatically rule the competition. You must ensure that your links are of quality, and not coming from spammy, gambling, or p0rno sites. For the last 2, probably it may work for you if your site belong to the same niches. There are many ways to get backlinks, and you may want to check out this post where I discussed 10 basic ways to build your links.

Finding Backlinks

Another interesting and effective way is to find where your competitors are getting their backlinks from. Within or outside of your niche works fine since variety of links is one of the factors. However the former is deem more important. Previously most of the site owners used Yahoo Site Explorer (YSE) as a free way to find out the backlinks of competitors and their own site(s). Unfortunately YSE retired last year 2011, and forced many webmasters as well as software using YSE to look for alternatives.

We will take a look at the various tools, both free and paid, that we can use for our SEO tasks. As per norm, free applications are usually not as accurate as paid ones, and features are always very limited. For accurate analysis and concrete link building, you should always look into getting paid versions once your use or requirements have outgrown of the free version. For beginners, non-profit organizations or individuals who are not looking to profit from their blogs, the free version will suffice.

1. Majestic SEO

As a registered user, you will be able to generate a report that includes your backlinks, referring domains, ACRank (a Majestic metric that is similar to PR), anchor texts, flags (i.e. redirect, nofollow, images), target URLs and dates. Majestic SEO claims that all their data are compiled by them with their own robots crawling and indexing the WWW. Their level of accuracy is something that I’m testing currently. Unless they are able to crawl as much and as faster as major search engines (Google, Bing), I’m not exactly how much emphasis show I place on the data chunked out. There are 4 types of plans available. The free plan allows users to generate report for their own website only. If you want to analyze, and use data to outrank your competitors, you will need to subscribe to one of the 3 paid plans: Silver, Gold or Platinum. To sign up for the free plan, go here.

One unique and interesting feature is the “Neighbourhood Checker”. The tool checks neighbourhood based on the domains or IP address you input. It helps you to determine is the IP spammy and/or are there potentially dangerous neighbour, or sites hosted on the same IP or even subnet.

Majestic SEO backlinks tool

 2. SEO SpyGlass

SEO PowerSuite consists of a range of SEO tools: Rank Tracker, Website Auditor, SEO SpyGlass and LinkAssistant. To remain on topic, only SEO SpyGlass will be discussed here. The software works on any operation system and empowers you to track and analyze your top-ranking competitors and obtain detailed information on how they managed to rank higher than you, what types of links they are building, and why better than you. Currently, SpyGlass can analyze your competition in 412 local and international search engines. That means for site owners that want to rank in their country or locally, you get even more specific data for your analysis. The backlinks analyzation software is available in free and paid version. To download the free version for SEO SpyGlass, go here.

SpyGlass - New research project
SpyGlass - Selecting the search engines
SpyGlass - collecting and analyzing backlinks
SpyGlass - Backlink details

The paid version (SpyGlass Pro) allows you to uncover unlimited backlinks of any website you choose, whilst the free version only calculates the total number of backlinks the site has, and only 1100 links per project are shown.

Other notable paid features include

  • scheduling tasks automatically, getting step-by-step instructions on how to improve your SEO and outrank your competitor (great for users new to SEO),
  • keeping a history of backlinks, exporting/copying your data to spreadsheets for further anaylsis, printing, or sharing.
  • For users or companies that provides SEO services to clients, SpyGlass Pro allows you to customize the backlinks report with your company’s log, name, header, footer and defining which sections or search engine data to display.

Check your backlinks

3. Open Site Explorer & SEOmoz Pro

Open Site Explorer (OSE) is a free online application from SEOmoz that provides link metrics for any given website such as:

  • Inbound Links
  • Total Pages
  • Linking Domains
  • Anchor Text
  • Page Authority
  • Domain Authority
  • Linking Root Domains
  • Total Links (all links to the page including internal, external, followed ,and nofollowed)
  • Social Media Metrics – Facebook Shares, Facebook Likes, Tweets and Google+1
Open Site Explorer - Find backlinks
Open Site Explorer Backlinks stats
You can also add up to 5 URLs to compare the pages further. The learning curve for using OSE is very low because it’s interface is very simple and intuitive. With different tabs, you can find out what are the anchor texts that your competitors are using, the Inbound links, and the most popular pages on their sites. The links are all active, and you can just click and visit that URL. Other alternatives, require you to copy and paste the link to your browser – pretty troublesome. Or you can register as free trial user, and have all the data in a CSV file send to you via email. As a registered user, you will unlock features such as campaign manager, keyword anaylsis, link analysis, rank tracking, on-page analysis, crawl test and social media monitoring.

In all likelihood, there are definitely more software out there that can find backlinks and analyze the links for you. However this are the 3 tools that have given decent accuracy and impressed with their good presentation of data.

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lincoln

Lincoln is a fan of Apple products, loves red wine and traveling. He blogs on internet marketing, social media, wordpress tips & guides, and using technology to maximize efficiency. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook for regular updates.
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