Link-building tools can cost a lot. If you were to use a few basic link-building tools that are not free, the tech stack would cost you well over $1000 per month. So if you’re a bootstrapped startup on a budget, a freelancer, or are just starting a link building agency – you may be looking for FREE link-building tools. You’re in luck then – in this post, we are going to cover exclusively FREE forever tools for all the major link-building use cases:
- researching link building opportunities – so free alternatives to Ahrefs or SEMrush
- Link-building outreach campaigns – so free Hunter.io alternatives
- Managing the link-building contacts through a CRM – free Buzzstream alternatives.
- Monitoring and tracking links built – so free RankTracker or Ahrefs alternatives.
- free tools for guest posting and link exchanges.
Let’s dive in!
Here are the top-free tools for different link-building JTBDs:
- FREE tools for Researching Link-Building Opportunities:
- Ahrefs and SEMrush are popular tools, but there are free alternatives available.
- Free Competitor Backlinks Checkers:
- Ahrefs’ free backlinks checker
- Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest
- SEO review tools free link checker
- Free Broken Links Checking Tools:
- Ahrefs’ broken links checker
- Google Search Console
- Reverse Image Search:
- Use Google Images to find where an image appears on the web.
- Using Advanced Google Search Operators:
- Utilize operators like “inurl:”, “intitle:”, and “intext:” for targeted research.
- Link-Building Outreach Campaigns:
- Apollo.io is an all-in-one email address finder and outreach tool.
- Managing Link-Building Contacts with a CRM:
- BacklinkManager is recommended for managing link-building contacts.
- Link Monitoring and Tracking:
- Monitoring and tracking the links you’ve built is essential for assessing the effectiveness of your link-building efforts.
- Free Tools for Guest Posting and Link Exchanges:
- The post emphasizes the importance of guest posting and link exchanges and suggests using advanced Google search operators to find opportunities.
- BacklinkManager for Link Crawler:
- BacklinkManager offers features to track links built per partner/vendor/client, making it easier to manage and report on link-building efforts.
Researching link-building opportunities – free alternatives to Ahrefs or SEMrush
To do link building, you first need to identify the right placements for your links: websites that have high authority and relevant content. You can find the right placements by either looking at competitors’ links, finding broken links, or reverse image search. Yes, Ahrefs or SEMrush can help you do all that without the knowledge of advanced search operators, but this comes at a price – from $99 (for Ahrefs) to $129 (for SEMrush) for the lowest-tier starting plan, to be precise!
The good news is – there are plenty of free tools for competitor backlink checking, and you can easily find relevant websites in Google with search operators and reverse-image search for free!
Free competitor backlinks checkers
Looking at your competitors’ backlink profiles can provide valuable insights for your own SEO and digital marketing strategies. Here are some key reasons why analyzing your competitors’ backlink profiles and keyword research is beneficial:
- Identify Link Building Opportunities: By examining where your competitors are getting their backlinks from, you can identify potential websites or platforms that might also be willing to link to your content.
- Understand Link Quality: Not all backlinks are created equal. By analyzing the quality of your competitors’ backlinks, you can prioritize obtaining links from high-authority websites and avoid low-quality or spammy ones.
- Discover Content Ideas: The content that earns backlinks for your competitors can inspire your own content creation. If a particular topic or format is attracting a lot of backlinks for them, it might be worth exploring for your own site.
- Uncover Partnership or Collaboration Opportunities: Some backlinks might come from partnerships, guest posts, or collaborations. Identifying these can give you ideas for potential partnerships or collaborations of your own.
- Benchmarking: By comparing your backlink profile with that of your competitors, you can gauge where you stand in terms of link quantity and quality. This can help set realistic goals and KPIs for your link-building efforts.
- Identify Negative SEO Attacks: If you notice a sudden surge of low-quality or spammy backlinks pointing to a competitor’s site, it might be an indication of a negative SEO attack. Being aware of such tactics can help you take preventive measures for your own site.
- Understand Industry Trends: The type of content and sources that are linking to competitors can provide insights into industry trends and shifts, helping you stay ahead of the curve.
- Refine Your SEO Strategy: By understanding the backlink strategies that are working for competitors, you can refine your own approach, focusing on tactics that yield results and discarding those that don’t.
- Avoid Google Penalties: By studying competitors’ backlink profiles, you can identify tactics that might lead to Google penalties. This can help you avoid similar pitfalls.
- Measure the Effectiveness of PR Efforts: If your competitors are getting backlinks from high-profile publications or industry influencers, it can give you a sense of the effectiveness of their PR or outreach campaigns.
In essence, analyzing competitors’ backlink profiles is a proactive approach to enhancing your own SEO strategy, allowing you to learn from both their successes and mistakes.
Now let’s look at tools that will allow you to perform competitors’ link analysis for free!
Ahrefs offers a free limited version of their own backlinks checker tool:
You can use it to uncover up to 25 backlinks of each of your competitors at a time, without signup or registration of any kind:
While Ahrefs’ doesn’t offer a lot in their free version, Neil Patel is more generous – you can use the free version of Ubersuggest’s link checker to uncover up to 100 competitive backlinks. There’s also a lot more functionality – with CSV exports as one.
Ubersuggest also offers several other metrics like average DA of the links, links lost and won over time:
All this without having to sign up! Neil Patel’s tool would defo be my free link-checking tool of choice!
But there is one more free tool worth mentioning:
LinkAssistant’s free link checking tool also offers 100 links and metrics without having to sign up, but no exports in the free plan.
Seo tools review’s free backlinkchecking tool also allows you to look up to 100 links on a really need table with DA and dofollow/nofollow information.
Seo tools review’s free backlinkchecking tool also allows you to look up to 100 links on a really need table with DA and dofollow/nofollow information.
Free broken links checking tools
Why should you care about broken links?
Broken link building is a tactic where you find broken links on other websites, especially those relevant to your niche, and then suggest your own relevant content as a replacement. Here’s how it can be a good link-building strategy:
- Identify Broken Links: typically using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Screaming Frog to find broken outbound links on websites relevant to your niche – I will show you the free broken links building tools in a second below!
- Analyze the Content: Check what the broken link originally pointed to. You can use the Wayback Machine to see the content of the now-defunct page.
- Create/Match Content: If you already have content that matches the topic of the broken link, great! If not, consider creating high-quality content that can serve as a replacement.
- Reach Out: Contact the website owner or webmaster, informing them about the broken link and suggesting your content as a replacement. Ensure your outreach is polite, helpful, and provides value.
- Build Relationships: This tactic is not just about gaining a backlink but also about building relationships with other website owners or bloggers in your industry. A positive interaction can lead to more collaboration in the future.
- Beneficial for Both Parties: The website owner gets to fix a broken link, improving their site’s user experience and SEO, while you gain a valuable backlink.
- High Success Rate: Compared to other outreach methods, broken link building often has a higher success rate because you’re providing a solution to an existing problem.
In conclusion, while broken links can be detrimental to a website, they also present an many link opportunities and opportunity. By adopting a proactive approach and leveraging the broken link building tactic, you can turn potential pitfalls into valuable link-building opportunities.
Now, let’s see which free tools you can use for it!
Again, if you’re looking for free broken link checking tools – Ahrefs comes to the rescue with their free version of their tool. It allows you to quickly check both outbound (links that are broken on your site) and inbound (broken links on other websites pointing to your – a great candidate for outreach and link reclamation!) broken links:
Dead link checker allows you to search up to 2000 broken links – unfortunately, it offers only outbound broken links (= the broken links on your own site) – so it’s useful more for technical audits and improving your site’s quality.
Google Search Console – for your own broken links
Google Search Console (GSC) is a valuable tool for website owners and SEO professionals. One of its uses is to help uncover broken links on your website. Here’s how you can use Search Console to find and fix broken links:
- Log in to Google Search Console:
- Go to Google Search Console and select the property (website) you want to check.
- Coverage Report:
- In the left sidebar, click on “Coverage.”
- This report will show you errors, valid pages with warnings, valid pages, and excluded pages.
- Look for errors related to “404 Not Found” or “Soft 404.” These indicate broken links or pages that Google tried to crawl but couldn’t find.
- Details of Errors:
- Click on the specific error type to get a detailed list of URLs that are affected.
- You can then investigate each URL to determine the cause of the error and fix it.
- Internal Links Report:
- In the left sidebar, click on “Links” and then “Internal Links.”
- This report shows pages on your site that receive the most internal links. If any of these pages are broken or have been removed, it’s crucial to address them since they might be important for your site’s navigation and user experience.
- Inspect URL:
- If you suspect a specific URL might be broken or if you want to check the status of a fixed link, use the “URL Inspection” tool at the top of the Search Console dashboard.
- Enter the URL, and GSC will provide information about the last crawl, any detected issues, and the canonical URL for that page.
- Addressing the Broken Links:
- Once you’ve identified broken links, take action to fix them. This might involve:
- Redirecting the broken URL to a relevant live page using a 301 redirect.
- Updating the link to point to the correct URL if it’s an internal linking issue.
- Removing the link altogether if it’s no longer relevant.
- Restoring a mistakenly deleted page.
- Once you’ve identified broken links, take action to fix them. This might involve:
- Mark as Fixed:
- After addressing the issue, you can mark it as fixed in the Search Console. Google will then re-crawl the page to verify the fix.
- Monitor Regularly:
- Regularly check the Coverage report in GSC to ensure new broken links don’t emerge. Websites are dynamic, and issues can arise from updates, changes, or even external factors.
- Additional Tools:
- While Google Search Console is a great starting point, consider using additional tools like Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, or SEMrush for a more comprehensive broken link check, especially for larger websites.
Remember, broken links can harm user experience and potentially impact SEO. Regularly monitoring and addressing these issues ensures a smoother experience for your visitors and can help maintain your site’s search performance.
Reverse image search
Performing a reverse image search in Google allows you to find where else an image appears on the web, discover visually similar images, or track down the original source of an image.
Here’s how you can do it:
Go to Google Images: Open your web browser and navigate to Google Images.
- Click on the camera icon in the search bar, which says “Search by image.”
- You’ll see two options: “Paste image URL” and “Upload an image.”
- Paste image URL: If you have the URL of the image, you can paste it here.
- Upload an image: Click on “Choose File” to select an image from your computer to upload.
- Review the Results: After uploading the image or pasting the URL, Google will display the search results, which might include:
- Web pages that include the image.
- Visually similar images.
- Different sizes and resolutions of the same image.
Finding relevant sites to pitch using Google Search
Don’t be afraid to use advanced search operators as a completely free link building tool – they are not as hard as they sound! 🙂
Google search operators can be invaluable tools for link building, as they help refine and target your search queries. Here are some advanced Google search operators that are particularly useful for link building and how to use them:
- Usage: Finds pages with a specific word in the URL.
- Link Building Application: Helps find guest post opportunities in your niche.
- Usage: Searches for a specific word or phrase in the page title.
intitle:"write for us"
- Link Building Application: Finds websites that have a “Write for Us” page, indicating they accept guest posts.
- Usage: Searches for a specific word or phrase within the content of a page.
intext:"this is a sponsored post"
- Link Building Application: Identifies sponsored post opportunities.
- Usage: Limits the search to a specific website.
- Link Building Application: Check if a particular website has mentioned your brand or keyword but hasn’t linked to you.
- Usage: Finds websites related to a specific domain.
- Link Building Application: Discover potential websites in your niche that you might not be aware of.
- Usage: Searches for specific file types.
- Link Building Application: Find e-books, whitepapers, or reports related to your niche where you might be able to get a link.
- “-” (Minus)
- Usage: Excludes a specific word or site from the search results.
- Link Building Application: Find guest post opportunities excluding specific sites.
- Usage: Finds pages that link to a specific URL. However, note that this operator is not always comprehensive.
- Link Building Application: Check which websites are linking to a particular domain.
- Usage: Shows the cached version of a specific page.
- Link Building Application: View the last cached version of a page by Google, which can be useful if a site is currently down or has changed.
- Usage: Provides a definition of a word.
- Link Building Application: Understand industry-specific terms that can be used for content creation and outreach.
- Usage: Provides information about a specific URL.
- Link Building Application: Get a quick overview of how Google views a particular site.
- Wildcard (*)
- Usage: Acts as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms.
intitle:"* guest post guidelines"
- Link Building Application: Find various guest post guidelines pages where the exact keyword might vary.
By mastering these search operators, you can streamline your link-building research, uncover hidden opportunities, and make your outreach efforts more targeted and effective.
Link-building outreach campaigns – so free Hunter.io, Pitchbox or Respona alternatives
Now that you have found your potential link placements – you will need tools to a) find the email addresses for your link building outreach b) run the email outreach campaigns. Hunter.io (a) and Pitchbox or Respona (b) are great – but also very very expensive. Now, do you think there are some free alternatives? 🤔 You might be surprised but yes, there are!
Apollo – an all-in-one email address finder + email outreach tool
Apollo.io is a tool that combines two key functions: a database of contacts and the capability to run full outbound campaigns. It has a vast database of over 200 million contacts across 10 million companies. This feature is especially useful for smaller link building teams who can’t afford more expensive contact database offerings. Apollo.io guarantees accurate emails and phone numbers, and even offers mobile numbers, which is particularly useful with the shift to remote work.
The workflow feature of Apollo.io is the core of their outreach tool. It allows users to easily create custom sequences, which is crucial for any modern outbound sales organization. It includes standard features like A/B Testing, Automated Emails, Custom Field Personalization, and Out of Office Detection.
Apollo.io also integrates with popular CRM systems like Salesforce and HubSpot. It offers different pricing plans to suit different needs, starting from a free plan to a custom plan for larger businesses with more robust outbound sales needs. The professional plan, priced at $99 a month, includes access to the full database of contacts and important features such as A/B testing, the dialer, and custom stages.
In short, Apollo.io is a tool that can help you find the right contacts and reach out to them effectively, all in one place.
Apollo offers a generous free (!) plan with unlimited email credits, which means you can pretty much use it for link building outreach for free. It has a limit of 250 emails per day (which is more than enough for link building outreach, to be fair). The only downside of the free plan is that it only allows you to plug in only gmail addresses. But the basic plan is still extremely affordable at $39 per month.
Managing the link-building contacts through a CRM – free Buzzstream alternatives
Ok, now you’ve started reaching out to potential link building partners, and getting responses – you will need to manage these relationships somehow. While Apollo offers a general CRM functionality for managing contacts and emails, what it’s missing is a link crawler to track the links built per partner/vendor/client – so you won’t be able to add the links build to the system, know the status of the links, and get notified when a link is down/ is no-followed.
Luckily – there is a dedicated and FREE link building CRM with a link monitoring crawler out there – Meet BacklinkManager!
BacklinkManager – the best platform for link-building partnerships and CRM for SEO agencies
BacklinkManager is a tool used to monitor and analyze the backlinks of a website. It helps to identify the quality of the backlinks, detect any malicious links, and track the progress of the website’s backlink profile. It can also be used to generate reports and track the performance of the website’s backlinks.
BacklinkManager pioneers as the first Link Building CRM on the market, providing an efficient platform for managing relationships with clients, freelance link builders, and vendors.
- Linkbuilding Client Relationship Management: The tool allows users to monitor links built for a specific client and delegate client management to different team members, ensuring effective organization and tracking.
- Link Vendor & Freelance Link Builder Relationship Management: BacklinkManager simplifies the management of link exchanges and guest posting partnerships, eliminating the need for multiple link exchange sheets and allowing goal setting for each party involved.
- Chat and Comments: The tool includes a live chat and comments feature, allowing users to communicate directly with link-building partners and vendors on specific partnership and link-building target pages.
- Link Partnership Scorecard: BacklinkManager’s partnership scorecard automatically tracks the status of link exchanges, providing a clear view of link contributions and enabling users to request owed links directly through the live chat.
- Link Matchmaking Tool (Coming Soon): BacklinkManager plans to introduce a Link Matchmaking Tool, which will enable users to match with other link builders who offer link exchanges on domains related to their niches.
BacklinkManager, as a full solution for link-building operations, provides more than just CRM functionalities. It equips users with comprehensive tools to monitor links, generate reports, set goals, and share interactive dashboards, making it a powerful asset for effective link-building strategies.
Try BacklinkManager and see how it can help you efficiently manage your link-building relationships with its Link Building CRM feature. The Link Building CRM for Link Partnership Management enables you to keep track of all your link exchange and guest posting partnerships in one place, making it easier to communicate and manage link-building goals with your partners.
BacklinkManager also makes it easy to report on your link building campaigns to your clients:
The tool is completely free up to 250 links!
Monitoring and tracking links built – so free RankTracker or Ahrefs alternatives.
Again – to make sure your link building efforts are not going in vain, you need to periodically check the status of the links you’ve built. This includes whether the links are do-follow or no-follow, and whether the page is responding or not.
Again, most link-building tools have that functionality. But are there any free link building tools for link monitoring/tracking? Again, BacklinkManager has that option:
BacklinkManager for link monitoring
BacklinkManager provides a powerful platform for seamless link monitoring, offering a range of features to ensure the effectiveness of link-building operations.
- 24/7 Link Monitoring: BacklinkManager allows users to check the current status of their links (do-follow, no-follow, server not responding) at any time, enabling immediate action in case of mislabeled links.
- Reliable Link Crawler: The platform uses a reliable crawler for tracking link statuses, eliminating the need for makeshift solutions. It performs a two-factor check on every link to ensure data accuracy.
- Link Status Notifications: Users receive instant notifications in-app or via email when the status of a link changes, such as when a paid link is removed or a page goes 404. This helps to prevent vendors from unjustly removing links.
- Linkbuilding Targets, Goals & Target Groups: BacklinkManager allows users to manage their link-building efforts by setting link-building goals for target pages, grouping target pages by various parameters like projects, domains, or clients, and easily monitoring link-building progress and goal completion.
- Backlink Monitoring by Status: Users can easily switch between their do-follow and no-follow links, and find specific links using the search bar.
As a comprehensive solution for link-building operations, BacklinkManager extends beyond CRM functionalities, offering powerful tools for link monitoring, report generation, goal setting, and interactive dashboard sharing. This complete package of features makes BacklinkManager an ideal choice for professionals seeking efficient link monitoring tools.
Free tools for guest posting and link exchanges
Finally, after finding your link placements, editors’ contracts, and sending your pitches, you may need to write some guest posts. Here are some FREE tools that will help you with that:
Let’s look at tools that will help with guest posting and link exchanges!
HARO – for getting linked mentions in big publications
While not a tool per se, Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a unique platform that serves as a bridge between journalists and experts in various fields. It’s a goldmine for guest posting and link exchanges, offering a unique approach to these traditional SEO strategies. When a journalist needs information, statistics, or perspectives for their articles, they post a query on HARO. Experts, like yourself, can respond to these queries with relevant information. If the journalist finds your response valuable, they may quote you in their article and often provide a backlink to your site. This not only helps you gain high-quality backlinks but also enhances your brand awareness and media coverage.
The process is simple. You sign up on HARO and provide some basic information about your expertise and industry. Then, you customize your preferences to see requests specific to your area of expertise. You receive daily emails filled with opportunities across various topics. You browse through these emails and find relevant topics that you can contribute to. Responding to these queries promptly and professionally increases your chances of being selected by the journalist.
HARO is not just about getting backlinks; it’s also about building relationships with journalists and establishing your authority in your field. By providing valuable content to journalists, you can position yourself as an expert in your field, reach a new audience, and improve your SEO through backlinks.
As for the pricing, HARO offers both free and premium plans. The free plan allows you to respond to journalist queries, while the premium plans offer additional features like keyword alerts, profile/bio that gets automatically inserted into your pitches, and early access to media opportunities. The premium plans range from $19/month for the Standard plan to $149/month for the Premium plan. The Standard plan is usually sufficient for most users, offering a good balance between cost and features.
BacklinkManager Link Matchmaking
In the ever-evolving landscape of SEO, link building remains a cornerstone of a robust digital marketing strategy. While there are numerous premium tools available that offer advanced features, it’s heartening to see a plethora of free link building tools that cater to the needs of beginners, budget-conscious businesses, and even seasoned professionals looking for supplementary utilities. These free tools, ranging from backlink analyzers to outreach platforms, not only democratize the process of link acquisition but also underscore the importance of organic growth and genuine relationships in the digital realm. As with any tool, the key lies in how effectively one uses it. So, whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned SEO veteran, these free tools offer a valuable resource to enhance your link-building efforts without breaking the bank. Remember, it’s not just about the quantity of links, but the quality and relevance that truly make a difference. Happy link building!
Hopefully you’ve found this post helpful with choosing the right link building tool for your SEO agency!
FAQs on Free Link Building Tools
- What are link building tools?
- Link building tools are software or online platforms designed to help users identify, acquire, and manage backlinks to their websites. They can range from backlink analysis tools to outreach platforms.
- Why are backlinks important?
- Backlinks, or inbound links from other websites, are considered votes of confidence in the content of a website. They play a crucial role in SEO, influencing search engine rankings, website authority, and organic traffic.
- Are free link building tools as effective as paid ones?
- Free tools often offer basic features that are suitable for beginners or small-scale link-building campaigns. While they can be effective, paid tools generally provide more advanced features, comprehensive data, and better integration options.
- How often should I check my backlinks?
- Regular monitoring is essential. Depending on your website’s size and the nature of your industry, checking your backlinks weekly or monthly is a good practice. This helps in identifying and rectifying any potentially harmful links quickly.
- Can I rely solely on free tools for my link-building campaign?
- While free tools provide valuable insights and can be a great starting point, for larger websites or more intensive campaigns, it might be beneficial to invest in premium tools or services to ensure a comprehensive approach.
- Do all backlinks have the same value?
- No, backlinks from high-authority, relevant, and trustworthy websites are more valuable than links from low-quality or unrelated sites. The context, placement, and anchor text of the backlink also play a role in its value.
- Is it possible to have too many backlinks?
- It’s not about the quantity but the quality. Having a large number of low-quality or spammy backlinks can harm your SEO. It’s essential to focus on acquiring high-quality, relevant backlinks.
- What is a “nofollow” link, and does it have value?
- A “nofollow” link is a link that doesn’t pass SEO value or “link juice” to the linked website. While it might not directly influence rankings, “nofollow” links can still drive traffic and enhance online visibility.
- How can I prevent spammy or harmful backlinks?
- Regularly monitor your backlink profile. If you identify any unwanted or harmful links, consider reaching out to the website owner for removal or use the disavow tool in Google Search Console.
- Are link building tools safe to use?
- Most reputable link building tools are safe. However, always ensure you’re using tools from trusted sources, read user reviews, and be cautious about sharing sensitive information.