The Only 8 Link-Building Tools You Need in 2021 (Free & Paid)

Hyperlink constructing has been my ardour for almost a decade. Earlier than working for Ahrefs, I labored as a link-building marketing consultant, serving to dozens of shoppers construct tons of of hyperlinks.

What I realized throughout this time is that you just don’t want dozens of link-building instruments. You simply want a couple of of the most effective ones.

And in 2021, I’m satisfied that there are solely eight of them.

Listed here are these eight link-building instruments:

  • Ahrefs
  • Google
  • NeverBounce
  • Buzzstream
  • HARO
  • URL Profiler
  • SEO Toolbar
  • The business’s favourite hyperlink analysis device

    Let’s face it: You can construct hyperlinks with out Ahrefs, however you most likely wouldn’t need to. Ahrefs’ crawler is the second most active after Google’s, and our backlink index incorporates over 3 trillion reside backlinks. This makes it arguably the most effective device on the planet for backlink analysis—an important on a regular basis process for any hyperlink builder price their salt.

    That is most likely why web optimization professionals persistently vote Ahrefs their link-building device of selection, like in Aira’s 2021 State of Link Building report:

    My favourite distinctive characteristic: Content material Explorer

    Content material Explorer is a searchable database of over 9 billion pages. It’s incredible for content material analysis, nevertheless it’s additionally an amazing supply of hyperlink prospects.

    For instance, let’s say that you just’re searching for hyperlink prospects for a weblog submit entitled “greatest routers for 2021.” One supply of potential hyperlink prospects might be individuals linking to comparable posts that haven’t been up to date for years—as no person needs to hyperlink to an outdated record of routers, half of which most likely aren’t even obtainable anymore.

    You can simply discover posts that match the invoice in Content material Explorer:

  • Enter a search time period like “greatest wifi routers”
  • Swap the search mode to “In title”
  • Filter for pages printed earlier than 2018
  • Filter for English pages
  • Filter for pages with 10+ referring domains
  • Now you see comparable pages to yours, with backlinks, that haven’t been up to date since 2017:

    Content Explorer search results showing 216 pages that haven't been updated

    You can simply obtain these pages’ backlinks from Web site Explorer, then attain out and recommend that these websites hyperlink to your up-to-date record as an alternative of the outdated one from 2017.


    Free to see backlinks to the web sites you personal utilizing Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT). If you wish to analysis and think about different web sites’ backlinks and use Content material Explorer, you’ll want a paid plan beginning at $82/month (though you’ll be able to take a seven-day trial for $7).

    The world’s largest supply of hyperlink prospects

    Most individuals don’t consider Google as a link-building device, nevertheless it’s probably the greatest methods to search out hyperlink prospects. That’s as a result of it has the most important index of net pages on the planet and arguably the most effective search algorithm. So if you know the way to make use of it successfully, you’ll be able to simply discover 1000’s of related hyperlink prospects for free.

    My favourite distinctive characteristic: Search operators

    Search operators are instructions that show you how to refine and filter search engine outcomes. Some are distinctive to Google, however not all of them (as you should use the identical or comparable ones in Bing or Content material Explorer). However even those that aren’t completely distinctive to Google appear particularly highly effective there as a result of you’ll be able to mix them to tug precisely what you want from its insanely huge index.

    For instance, you’ll be able to mix the intitle:, inurl:, and OR operators to search out related useful resource pages to pitch your hyperlink:

    (intitle:sources OR intitle:useful resource) (inurl:sources OR inurl:useful resource)

    Google search results with search operators applied

    You may also mix intitle:, inurl:, and the – operator to search out authorship pages for prolific visitor bloggers in your business and doubtlessly write for these websites your self:

    intitle:”tim soulo” intitle:creator inurl:creator

    Google search results with search operators applied

    The solely draw back of utilizing Google for hyperlink prospecting is that there isn’t any solution to obtain the outcomes. You can clear up this with a Chrome add-on like Ahrefs’ web optimization Toolbar, which has a button to obtain SERP knowledge.



    Highly effective e mail deal with finder can discover all emails related to a website or a selected individual’s e mail deal with in seconds. For instance, right here’s how briskly it finds my e mail deal with:

    Hunter quickly finding Joshua's email address

    In response to our testing, it’s not probably the most correct e mail lookup service, however one characteristic greater than makes up for this in relation to hyperlink prospecting at scale: the Google Sheets add-on.

    My favourite distinctive characteristic: Google Sheets add-on

    Let’s say that you just’ve exported some hyperlink prospects from Content material Explorer and imported them into Google Sheets. You’ll discover that the export file consists of the related creator identify (the place we are able to discover it).

    List of link prospects with some author names

    Utilizing Hunter’s Sheets add-on, you could find matching emails for these prospects with one click on:

    Hunter finding matching emails and adding them in the list

    This received’t discover a matching e mail deal with for each prospect, nevertheless it often finds one for an honest proportion of them. You can then use these prospects as your preliminary “hit” record to check the viability of an outreach marketing campaign. If profitable, have somebody discover emails for the remainder of the prospects to construct extra hyperlinks.


    Free as much as 25 searches per 30 days, then from $49 per month.

    Electronic mail verification and cleansing service

    You ought to all the time confirm the deliverability of your prospects’ e mail addresses earlier than sending outreach emails. Fail to take action, and the deliverability of your complete marketing campaign could possibly be negatively affected by bounces. It’s additionally a waste of time to personalize outreach emails just for them to bounce.

    NeverBounce makes e mail verification tremendous simple. Simply add a listing of prospects, and it’ll inform you whether or not every e mail is “legitimate,” “invalid,” “settle for all,” or “disposable.”

    NeverBounce page showing validation results for email addresses

    It additionally mechanically de-dupes the record, so that you’ll solely pay for every e mail verification as soon as.

    My favourite distinctive characteristic: Zapier integration

    All the pieces revolves round Google Sheets once I do e mail outreach, which is why NeverBounce’s Zapier integration is such a godsend. You can rapidly arrange a multi-step zap in order that once you enter an e mail deal with right into a Google sheet, it pings NeverBounce, verifies the e-mail, and logs the verification standing of that e mail in the exact same Google sheet.


    Magic, proper?

    However there’s one draw back to this technique: the expense. In case you go for Zapier’s $49/month plan, it’ll value you simply shy of an additional $0.025 every time the zap runs. This makes it no less than 10x costlier than doing it manually.

    Fortunately, there’s an answer: create a JSON importer in Google Apps Script to import knowledge from NeverBounce webhooks. That will sound onerous, nevertheless it’s fairly easy. Ping me on Twitter if you need directions for doing this.


    From $0.003 per e mail verification.

    Outreach device and prospect supervisor

    Gmail is nice in case you’re solely planning to ship a couple of outreach emails, however you want a devoted device to scale your e mail outreach. That’s the place Buzzstream comes in. It enables you to handle, arrange, personalize, monitor, and ship emails all in one place. You may also add a number of customers to your account and assign duties between them.

    It seamlessly imports Ahrefs CSV exports too:

    Buzzstream page showing Ahrefs as one of the import options

    My favourite distinctive characteristic: Buzzmarker

    Buzzmarker is a Chrome extension that helps pace up hyperlink prospecting. You can use it to search out contact data, add prospects to campaigns, and even compose emails from templates as you browse the net.

    Right here’s an instance to know how this may be helpful in apply: Let’s say that you just had been shopping the online and got here throughout a useful resource web page or different related prospect. Hit the Buzzmarker, and also you’ll see any contact particulars it discovered for the web site. You may even add the prospect to an outreach marketing campaign in one click on:

    Buzzstream's list of identified contacts taken from ProPublica page

    You even have the choice to compose and ship an e mail utilizing templates out of your Buzzstream account proper in the browser window:

    Email template from Buzzstream account


    From $24/month.

    Connects journalists with sources

    Journalists typically want insights, recommendation, or opinions from business consultants for his or her articles. HARO (Assist A Reporter Out) solves this drawback by connecting journalists with business consultants by way of every day emails.

    Right here’s the way it works in a nutshell:

  • Journalists submit the supply requests to HARO.
  • HARO sends three emails per day to its 800,000+ customers with these supply requests.
  • HARO customers pitch the related requests to achieve media protection (and often backlinks).
  • For instance, right here’s a latest request from (DR 91) looking for “nice IKEA hacks from inside designers” for a roundup:

    Email of the request from

    In case you submit a tip and it will get chosen for inclusion, you’ll often get a point out and backlink from the web site.


    It’s price checking the exterior hyperlink coverage on the web site in query earlier than submitting a tip, as not all websites hyperlink to sources. You can do that by checking a couple of of their latest posts for exterior hyperlinks.

    My favourite distinctive characteristic: Key phrase alerts

    HARO divides its requests into a couple of classes so you’ll be able to subscribe solely to those that make sense for you. The solely drawback is that these classes are type of broad:

    Haro categories

    For instance, requests in the “Enterprise and Finance” class cowl varied subjects from Bitcoin to bank cards to web optimization.

    HARO solves this drawback with its paid plans, all of which let you filter for alternatives by key phrase:

    Three different Haro paid plans

    However the actuality is which you can obtain one thing comparable without cost utilizing Gmail filters.

    Right here’s methods to set that up:

    Various filters on Gmail


    Free with paid plans from $19 per month.

    Bulk web optimization metric and knowledge puller

    URL Profiler is a robust device that means that you can pull a big selection of metrics and knowledge related to URLs. Simply paste in your URLs, tick the bins for the information you need to pull, and hit “go.”

    URL Profiler menu options with box to paste URLs

    My favourite distinctive characteristic: Contact scraping

    Earlier, I defined that Content material Explorer pulls authors’ names the place it could actually, which is tremendous useful for hyperlink prospecting when mixed with Hunter and NeverBounce. However in case you’re pulling hyperlink prospects from elsewhere, you received’t have this data.

    That is the place URL Profiler comes in helpful. In case you tick the “readability” checkbox, it makes an attempt to tug creator names from the record of URLs:

    Options under

    It’s removed from good, nevertheless it’s sensible for enriching hyperlink prospects pulled from Web site Explorer or Google with creator names.

    URL Profiler can be one in all our software companions, so you should use the information allowances included in your subscription to tug Ahrefs’ metrics for 1000’s of URLs without delay. That is helpful for when you may have discovered your preliminary record of hyperlink prospects with Google or one other device that lacks web optimization metrics and knowledge.


    Free for 14 days, then from $19.95 per month.

    Useful web optimization assistant on your browser

    The web optimization Toolbar is a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. It’s technically a part of Ahrefs, however I’m mentioning it individually right here because it has some utterly free options which can be tremendous helpful for hyperlink prospecting.

    My favourite distinctive characteristic: Inside and useless hyperlink highlighter

    Neither of those options is independently distinctive. Many web optimization browser extensions do each issues, however I’ve but to come back throughout one other that highlights useless and inner hyperlinks on the similar time.

    This mixture is especially helpful when prospecting for useful resource web page alternatives as a result of the perfect hyperlink alternative has two attributes:

  • It hyperlinks to exterior URLs. There’s no level pitching useful resource pages that solely hyperlink to inner sources.
  • It has damaged hyperlinks. This offers you an additional worth proposition in your outreach e mail.
  • For instance, let’s say that we have now this resource page on our record of potential hyperlink prospects. Utilizing Ahrefs’ web optimization Toolbar, we are able to spotlight inner and useless hyperlinks in only a few clicks:

    Highlighted internal and dead links on resource page using Ahrefs' SEO Toolbar

    Now we are able to see that the web page hyperlinks to many exterior sources (as most hyperlinks aren’t highlighted) and no less than one useless hyperlink. This makes it fast and simple to identify good prospects and create related, customized outreach emails like this one:

    Email draft containing personalized message to good prospect


    Free, though it reveals further knowledge for Ahrefs prospects.

    Ultimate ideas

    Hyperlink-building instruments make life simpler. So though it’s attainable to construct hyperlinks with out them, I wouldn’t suggest it as a result of pace and effectivity matter. The longer it takes you to construct hyperlinks, the longer it’ll take to rank.

    If you wish to be taught extra about scaling your link-building efforts, these sources ought to assist:

    Give me a shout on Twitter when you’ve got any questions.

    Related Articles

    Leave a Reply

    Back to top button