Unfortunately, automated link building is all but a humble memory for those that have been in the game long enough.. The days of spamming comments, dropping wiki bombs and setting up those pretty icon graphs for SENuke to rank a fresh domain are pretty much behind us..
Of course, there are exceptions, but if you’re wanting to go out and do a churn and burn site, it requires a lot more effort, money and monthly subscriptions than it ever did before.
In this post, I’ll be covering the tools I (and my agency) use to track, monitor, create and power up links in 2016.. And beyond.
Table of Contents
This post will cover every type of link building tool, I don’t discriminate when it comes to the types of links I build, some may be black hat, some may be white hat.. Some may not actually build links what so ever. So sit back, and see if I can add to your proverbial SEO pen knife with some epic link building tools.
Before I get into the post, I did want to give a big shout out to a tool I recently picked up and have started to love.. A Ukranian startup (Same as how Ahrefs started) called SERPStat has been making my SEO hairs stand up with the amount of awesome new tools they’ve been adding, alongside previous seen before tools like link checkers, rank tracking and OnPage audits. They’re trying to compete with Ahrefs in a brilliant way, and though they don’t quite have the data to match yet.. Their clever new tool ideas (such as the Missing Keywords tool, which analyzes competing pages in your SERPs for additional keywords) and way cheaper pricing points (Plans start at just $15/mo) have made them a serious force to be reckoned with. I highly suggest checking them out now.
Note: I may put certain tools in more than one category, as they have multiple functions.
Google’s always trying to combat ways to accurately track the traffic you’re getting, and as rank obsessed SEOs, we need to refresh our rank checkers on an hourly basis just to have peace of mind.
I’ve used SB for the better part of 5 years now, and though it’s had it’s ups & downs.. It’s always been fairly reliable in the rank it shows. Their recent YouTube & local map tracking additions have made it even better.
They also offer white label viewkeys, which you can insert into any webpage of your own via an iframe (allowing customers to view the rank tracker on your site) and a hidden viewkey link which makes it great for case studies that you don’t want to reveal the domain or keywords for.
Pro Rank Tracker
PRT has been the better alternative to SB for a number of months now.. They did update their interface which actually made it worst, but for cost/design etc.. it’s better than SB.
The only reason I like SB so much is because of how long they’ve been around and the fact that I don’t want to manually move 5,000 keywords to PRT.
Looking to find keywords you aren’t doing too well for? Or perhaps want to find keywords that your competitors are ranking for? I don’t personally use any keyword tools such as Longtail Pro because I feel they’re pretty shit*y for giving you good results, however there are certain tools out there that do a great job in other ways.
SEMRush was the original Google competitor spying tool, and has been making large database updates ever since a lot of competition started springing up. The Russian based marketing tool offers simplicity in their research dashboard, which shows a 550+ million keyword database for multiple Google TLDs, showcasing both the paid ads and organic listings – Making it a great tool for SEOs and PPC Marketers looking to find lucrative keywords their competitors are utilizing.
SEMRush also has a load of additional tools such as a link checker which help balance off the pretty costly monthly subscription.
Ahrefs Organic Explorer
Ahrefs is one of the tools that took SEMRush by surprise when they released their own organic & paid research tool, often offering a lot more keywords & data than SEMRush had offered previously, and with a quicker export time. Though SEMRush has been fighting back, it’s likely Ahrefs will have the better data over a longer period of time due to their huge infrastructure and customer growth over the past few months.. As well as a lack of affiliate program which means the money Ahrefs earn off subscriptions doesn’t get paid out to anyone but them.
With the fall of Moz, and their link data sucking more than Rand’s style choices.. There leaves really only 2 major players in the game, with the exception of SERPStat’s data getting increasingly better.
Unfortunately, Ahrefs pricing updates have caused me to move further & further away from their fantastic tool suite, and rely on other tools in different places:
That being said, from my research Ahrefs still has the biggest and best link index on the planet.. Rivalled on certain niches/TLDs by Majestic’s database, but from overall tests they’re winning hands down.
Their range of extra tools such as keyword research, organic explorer and content explorer mean they’re becoming more of an all in one SEO tool suite than just a link checker now-a-days.
The oldest link checker in the game, and it just so happens that this week they decided to update their previously rather web 1.0 (get the joke?) interface to a shiny new and improved version. Their database and pricing means they rival Ahrefs by a significant amount, purely on the basis that you get more data for your buck, however they don’t necessarily have as good data formatting options and definitely don’t have all the additional tools Ahrefs provide.
At the end of the day, if you can afford it.. I suggest picking up both of these badboys.
Finding potential backlink opportunities, especially in smaller niches can be really difficult. Luckily for you, there are a few great tools out there that do this completely for you.
The literal SEO pen knife.. ScrapeBox is now on version 2, and offers a bunch of all inclusive tools for a desktop based application that has a one time fee, rather than most monthly subscription tools. You’ll likely need a couple proxies and possibly some premium addons depending on what you want to do.
ScrapeBox for link prospecting requires knowledge of Google footprints (aka operators) and a few (likely paid) proxies to accurately find pages you can build links to your site on.
Join Here (Discounted Rate URL @ $67 instead of $197)
Link Prospector by Citation Labs
If you don’t want to spend hours learning how to use ScrapeBox, setting up proxies and figuring out the best footprints to use.. Then just drop a small monthly fee and get a credit based system from Citation Labs which has it all built in for you.
Though you’ll likely need to do some advanced setting tweaks, and make sure you’re running “Very Strict” every time, the turn around time is extremely quick and the link reports can be ran through a few bulk link checking services (MozCheck.com for example), sorted and handed off to a VA.
There’s a ridicolous number of outreach SaaS startups out there, but only a few do an actually good job.. In fact, I can boil those down to the 2 I’m about to show you.
As recommended to me by both Gareth Simpson & Ryan Stewart, 2 of the biggest outreach buffs on the planet.. I quickly fell in love with the dashboard, configurations and ease of use that Pitchbox has.
You can find prospects, outreach and link build all within the one tool. It’s literally the ultimate outreach tool, and is a lot better on the eye than any others on the market. The pricing is fairly high if you’re a freelancer/small agency, but will save you a whole heap of time in the long run.
BuzzStream is the cheaper alternative to PitchBox, and though it’s great and used by a lot of big SEOs.. I feel it lacks in quality of service, design & speed in comparison to PB.
That being said, if money is an issue, pricing plans start at just $24 per month with BuzzStream.
Automated Link Building
I know I said at the top of this post that automated link building is dead, and to an extent it is.. Though there are still uses for some of the tools I’m going to mention here, and require almost no effort to create awesome links. I’m not going to be showcasing tools like Magic Submitter or SENuke here, they just simply aren’t relevant in 99% of SEO cases anymore and will likely do more harm than good unless you really know what you’re doing.
GSA Search Engine Ranker
GSA is still useful for several things, as I said in my last post, however if you don’t already know how to use it and aren’t already doing parasites on a large scale then it’s probably not going to be too helpful for you to learn. Just use a service instead, or consult an expert in the software and do a custom order.
SAPE is the most powerful link network on the planet. With over 800,000 sites you can buy links off, thousands of sites being added and removed daily, and prices as low as (literally) 5 cents per link.. Learning how to use this system to create links on tap is a fantastic way to help boost your short term sites or power up your longer term sites via tier 2 links.
It’s all based in a browser application that’s pretty easy to use once you get past the whole Russian bit and for the tiny amount of investment you have to put in, you’ll get a whole lot back from a bit of time spent filtering.
Join Here (This is a link to my SAPE Guide, as the actual site is in Russian and most of you reading this won’t be able to read Cyrillic Russian)
I will admit that I haven’t used proxies in a long time, so this post is based off some advice given to me by those that use them on a more daily basis than my yearly.
If your budget is super tight, then you can always use ScrapeBox’s built in proxy finder every day, rather than buying some set proxies to use at a monthly fee.
Rather than buying a set list of private proxies, why not get access to a massive pool of private proxies? Storm allows you to have access to a pool of over 15,000 for a pretty fair monthly price – It integrates into a bunch of different software as well, for added benefit.
If you’re looking for your own, dedicated proxies then Blazing SEO has a range of options you can choose from for as little as $2.50/mo for 5. They also offer multiple locations, in case you wanted to build links in specific TLD ranges.
Their rotating proxy pack is probably the best, you’re likely going to burn through proxies quite quickly every day, so having the option to get fresh ones from their 6,000+ pool (like Storm) is always a great option.
There are 2 programs I use and have done for several years now to solve my captcha issues.
GSA Captcha Breaker
I previously used Captcha Sniper but when this hit the market it had a way higher success rate for me. Though it’s not going to be as good as the subscription/credit solutions, this one time fee product will break most basic captchas for you via a desktop application – It’s good to have it as the initial option, with a premium solution as a secondary in case it fails.
Death By Captcha
One of the oldest services in the SEO game, DBC has been continually successful with every new captcha technology added and provides a way to circumvent tons of captchas on top of a desktop tool like GSA or Captcha Sniper. Though the credit costs can wrack up pretty quickly if left alone with default settings.
Content is probably the most important thing when it comes to SEO, and it’s one of the biggest costs in the game, especially when it comes to being a black hat – Even 25 solid PBN links require 25x 300+ word articles.. That can get expensive. I’ll give you a few options for great content creation tools, software and services here that’ll hopefully brighten up your budgets.
Hands down the best automated spinner of all time, I’ve been using WordAi from the day it came out and know the owners behind this incredible bit of kit.. They’re awesome by the way!
If you want to produce readable content en masse, then WordAi is a fantastic option – Grab an article, run it through and have a VA (or yourself, depending on budgets) go through and make any quick manual changes.. What would normally take hours and hours of hand spinning, will take 5 minutes of edits per article.
Join Here – 3 Day Free Trial for those wanting to test before buying.
iWriter does require a bit of manual work to locate the best writers for a job, but the benefit of being able to accept or decline a post before paying a writer is what makes it so great for finding a small army of writers without having to use an annoying service like “UpWork” – I hate their rebrand, redesign, redev.. I just hate the entire service that I used to love now.
You will encounter writers who try to pull a fast one, but a proper project letter and a couple declines will find you ones you can request further work from over and over.
The Best Spinner
I only really use TBS for manual spinning now, and when I say that.. I mean I get a VA to manually spin for me. It’ll likely take you hours and hours to create even 1 highly detailed piece of spun content, but generally you can use that spun post across a PBN (for example) at least 20 times without losing much uniqueness.
Learning how to use TBS is really easy as well, and their interface makes it very easy to locate and edit any mistakes made.
If you just want to register domains then my preferred provider is NameCheap, ever since they did a massive campaign against GoDaddy’s support of censorship.
However if you want to find expired domains, then I’ve got a few options for you here.
This is the crawler we’ve used for over 2 years now, with it’s extremely simple and non-resource intensive GUI it can scrape domains at incredible speed. It has got competition for alternatives such as Expired Domain Hunter (which also includes a 2.0 finding feature) but the alternatives all seem to run a lot slower and/or require more resources to run, and when you’re searching through millions of potential domains, you want speed over everything.
A tool produced by one of SEOs longest historians, Jason Duke, TDN offers the biggest expired domain database in the entire world.. Their recent pre-reveal update has made it 100x better, though be wary due to it not having any spam filters in place, it does require manual searching.
I did make Jason aware of the need for optional spam filtering, and he did say it was in the works.
Whether you’re looking to host a PBN or a SEO based VPS, here’s a bunch of providers that’ll help you, for a decent price.
You can check out my SEO Hosting reviews here, but I’ve used, abused and loved one in particular for 2+ years now:
Easy Blog Networks
All it requires is adding your install in EBN, configuring your Nameservers and you’ll have a completely setup WordPress install ready to add themes, plugins and just about anything you want.
They also have built in monitoring systems for DA, TF, domain health and indexation. They also do index checking in a really clever way which prevents Google from deindexing you due to exact match domain lookups in the SERPs.
If you need to host an array of tools to save space, energy, computer resources and bandwith on your own comp.. Then there are several great providers out there for windows VPSs.
If you’re in Europe, I’d suggest:
I’ve used these guys for years, and the spec may not be too great for the money but the speed is where it’s all at.. I’ve had guarenteed 1gbps lines from Mega RDP for the past 3 years now, with pretty much 0 downtime, aside from scheduled maintenace.
If you’re in North America, I’d suggest:
With Canadian based servers and pretty awesome prices, it also means you won’t get DMCA’d for certain link building types.
If you’re in Asia, I’d suggest:
Decent prices and based in a huge ass datacentre in Singapore with great uptime.. I used this when I was operating in Asia for 2 months in 2014.
If you’re looking for WordPress hosting, then there’s only really one route to go down.
I’ve already done a really detailed review of WPEngine, so no real need to repeat myself.
If you’re looking for providers that have cPanel, PHPMyAdmin and email account options.. Then I suggest going with either SiteGround or MDDHosting – I use both, and specifically SG has been fantastic in terms of speed, ease and price. I’ll get around to doing a detailed review & tutorial at some point.
Thanks For Reading
I hope you enjoyed this post, and it gave you an insight into some of the tools I’ve used and found over the last 8 years I’ve been in SEO.
If you have a tool recommendation that I’ve missed or a piece of software that’s doing some awesome stuff for you.. Then drop it in the comments section
Have an awesome day, and don’t forget to join my FREE 7 day SEO email course down below!