Which Software Best Determines the Percentage of Live Links?

Edited by Julia Voloshchenko

November 15, 2021

Link building is an important part of search engine optimization, and it’s something that you should take seriously if you are trying to get your website to rank high. One of the most popular ways to track backlinks to your site is through link-building software – but how do these tools work? And which do the experts choose?

Movavi has conducted a survey on this topic and is pleased to bring you the results, summarized below in our brief overview of link-building software, supplemented with the opinions of some leading industry experts. The list includes both free and commercial solutions, as many professionals like to use multiple tools simultaneously.

The tools mentioned below have served SEO specialists for years. However, there is still no unanimous decision as to which tool is the best. As our research has shown, Ahrefs wins the popularity contest, although it still lacks some features that SEO specialists find in other software options:

“Ultimately the best possible results are achieved when several data sources, including the ones mentioned below, Semrush, Ahrefs, and others, are combined, deduplicated, and audited by an independent third party expert.”

The discussion of the best SEO software can go on almost forever, but experts do agree on one thing. Each tool may use different databases and crawling approaches, so the best solution is to use a combination of multiple tools to make sure you’re not missing a single link.

Free link-building tools

In order for your SEO efforts to succeed, you need to know whether or not your site is optimized for search engine crawlability. You can often get the essential information right from the search engine consoles, depending on which one you’re using.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is the essential tool to help you implement a successful SEO strategy. It will show you how well your website performs compared with your competition by offering rich insights into its performance, health, and quality data content for your users’ queries. Plus, it offers key tools like analytics reports on traffic sources and shows trending organic keywords within which competitors are ranking high with many impressions.

Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing Webmaster Tools will let you see exactly what your visitors are looking for and give you a way to make sure they find it. You can use the reports and free SEO tools to analyze insights from your website that can help you identify which traffic is converting into actual leads. You can also get personalized notifications about the search terms people use to get in touch with you and check the links via the handy dashboard.

“Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools are excellent and free sources for samples of live backlinks. Albeit the respective sample limits of 100 thousand for Google Search Console and 250 thousand for Bing Webmaster Tools can be overcome when the data is downloaded and deduplicated on a regular basis, something I strongly recommend as a best practice for any website owner to do.”

The most popular paid link-building software

Google’s search engine is getting more and more sophisticated, so it makes sense that the algorithm has become increasingly difficult to figure out. Third-party software usually provides a good selection of features to solve your SEO-related problems.

Ahrefs, as our survey showed, is the most popular tool for tracking backlinks and conducting SEO audits in general. Ahrefs evaluates your website to identify what you need to do to optimize it. It also provides detailed reports on your competitors, gives you data about what people are searching for in regards to your industry, and has an analytic system that tracks the progress of your rankings.

“In order to check the percentage of live links, I’ve always used Ahrefs. If you type your website into the Site Explorer and then click Backlinks on the left-hand side, this will show you which links are live. Following this, there is much more you can do, such as analyze the authority of the websites your links are coming from, whether it’s dofollow or nofollow link, what the referring page is, and much more. When it comes to backlink analysis, Ahrefs is and always will be my go-to software.”

Aaron Anderson,
founder and lead link builder at Linkpitch.io

“I’d definitely say that Ahrefs.com is the best tool for seeing your backlink profile and which links you have that are live. I’ve been in the SEO industry for around 10 years, and for as long as I can remember, Ahrefs has always had the best backlink data of all of the competitors. If you ask any link builder, like me, who relies every day on backlink data, you’ll see that most link builders almost exclusively use Ahrefs. So yeah, I would definitely say that Ahrefs is the best in this regard.”

Ian Carroll,
company founder & SEO expert at Digital Funnel

“If you’re looking to monitor backlinks to a certain website, you cannot go wrong with Ahrefs. Here at Digital Funnel HQ, we use Ahrefs backlink checking tools on a daily basis, and it offers a comprehensive analysis of an entire backlink profile, including dofollow,nofollow links, anchor texts, image backlinks, and more. Ahrefs is actually the second most active web crawler in the world behind Google, which means that they have the most updated and most extensive backlink database in the entire industry.”

“My own personal preference has been Ahrefs for many years now, as backlinks are what they specialize in. I have always found their data to be more accurate when compared to other tools. However, I am hearing good things about Semrush recently, and although I don't have a live Semrush account, it seems that this is fast becoming a favorite with some of the SEO community. For the time being, I will stick with Ahrefs until there comes the point where it makes sense to look at alternatives.”

Semrush is a leading online visibility management SaaS platform that enables businesses globally to run search engine optimization, pay-per-click, content, social media and competitive research campaigns and get measurable results from online marketing. Semrush offers insights and solutions for companies to build, manage, and measure campaigns across various marketing channels.

Neal Schaffer,
CEO, PDCA Social,
digital & social media marketing consultant, speaker & author

“In the digital marketing community, Ahrefs has an excellent reputation for backlink crawling, but with Semrush’s latest backlink technology update, I am not sure how much of a difference there might be. I am currently a user of Semrush, and I don’t feel the need to invest in a separate tool just to get a slightly higher percentage of live links. If I was a professional SEOer, I would want to regularly audit tools for live link analysis, but for general digital marketers, I honestly don’t think that that level of granularity is necessary and that if you are invested in 1 of the Big 3, the data will be sufficient for general needs.”

Majestic is a web-based link investigation tool that helps marketers track and analyze backlinks, compare website metrics, and see any link opportunities across the internet. You can use Majestic to evaluate links for their quality, trustworthiness, and competitiveness, measure how much traffic they bring in, and search for mutual links between two websites.

Marie Haynes,
founder of Marie Haynes Consulting Inc.

“At MHC, we conduct a lot of manual link audits. To do this, we gather links from as many sources as we can, including a number of third-party tools such as Ahrefs, Majestic, and Moz. It might seem like overkill to pull links from so many sources, but we have found that is the only way to get a comprehensive profile of the live links pointing to a site.

Crawling and discovering live links reliably is a very difficult task, and while the tools are much better than they used to be, none of them so far manage to get them all! For perspective, anecdotally, we would say that Ahrefs is perhaps the most “reliable,” but the number of domains listed in a full backlink profile is often 3 times as many as what Ahrefs will be reporting as the total number of backlinks to a site. So, in this case, “reliability” is quite a subjective concept!”

Moz Pro offers insights reports about content performance, SEO competition analysis, and contextual targeting opportunity assessments. Keyword and link research helps you find keywords that have great search volume but have been overlooked. The technical audit feature investigates digital marketing problems on a website and ascertains what’s keeping it from ranking well.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider is perfect for crawling and analyzing. It helps you build up onsite SEO by extracting important data – what content is popular, where the most links are pointing to, and what titles are getting the most attention. This crawler can also audit your site for some of the most common SEO issues like duplicate titles and missing meta tags.

Lily Ray,
senior director of SEO and head of organic research at Amsive Digital

“I like Screaming Frog because it’s the fastest, but it doesn’t work as well for large sites or sites with tons of JavaScript or other resources because it slows down your machine. That said, it’s the best way to quickly see about live/broken links. Ahrefs is also useful if you want to look at inbound broken links.”

LinkResearchTools is a comprehensive suite of link auditing tools that comprise a powerful competitive SEO audit and reporting platform for both agencies and in-house marketers. LinkResearchTools delivers a clear strategy to create a robust foundation by analyzing all links from any URL on the internet.

Gareth Simpson,
CEO of Seeker Digital

“Ahrefs, Majestic, and other tools have their strengths, but Ahrefs seems to have the biggest dataset. I like to use LinkResearchTools, which extracts data from multiple backlink profiling tools and consolidates them into a single platform. This gives a more complete picture of the backlink profile than using a single tool.”