Backlink checkers are useful tools for analyzing links to your own or your competitor’s website. They give you more information about the quantity, and often also the quality, of links pointing to particular websites. Two popular free backlink checkers are Link Diagnosis and Open Site Explorer offered by software development company Moz. To use them, you need the Firefox browser, Bing offers Bing Link Explorer, which can be used in Internet Explorer. So, how do these three tools differ In the backlink profiles that they show?
The backlink checker Link Diagnosis is free to use, and you don’t need to create an account. When you enter a URL, or web page address, the tool will retrieve all the backlinks to that website. This process can take a long time if the site has a large number of backlinks. This can be a disadvantage if you want to check multiple websites for their backlinks. Having said that, for a free tool Link Diagnosis gives plenty of valuable data. For example, for each link the tool displays the URL, the title of the web page and the anchor text. You can sort the links on one of the desired criteria, and you can add or remove columns in the backlink report. The report can be exported as a CSV file. If you have a free account, you can also save the report online.
To view the full reports, you will need to install the free Link Diagnosis extension for Firefox. While this causes the speed of the tool to decrease, a great deal more backlinks are shown and this is especially helpful for websites with a large number of backlinks in addition, the tool tells you if a link is a good link, a nofollow link or a missing link. Other useful statistics that are shown are the number of outbound links, PageRank, MozRank, Page Authority and Domain Authority based on Moz’s formulas. Below the table showing backlinks, a second table is displayed containing information on outbound links. A third table displays the anchor texts used in links, with a count of how often an anchor text appears. This information is very useful for link building.
Bing Link Explorer
Bing’s Link Explorer is the successor of the Yahoo! Site Explorer. The Bing Link Explorer isn’t immediately accessible, like Link Diagnosis and Open Site Explorer. You need a Bing Webmaster Tools account and a free @hotmail or @live email address. Once you are logged in you need verify at least one website in Bing Webmaster Tools to get access to Link Explorer. The biggest advantage that Link Explorer offers is speed. Whereas other tools as Link Diagnosis and Open Site Explorer take a long time to load, Link Explorer is super fast, no matter how long the list of backlinks.
A disadvantage is that Link Explorer shows less data than the other tools. Only the URL and the page title are shown. However, the tool does has a filter for anchor text and the ability to check internal or external links. You can use the export function to save URLs and page titles to a CSV file. It seems that the lack of detailed data is a trade-off for speed in this case. But Link Explorer is still young, and developers might add more functionality to the tool in the near future. A second disadvantage of the tool is that some users have reported an error. After an hour or so of intensive use an error message appears, which prompt users to wait a short while before trying again.
Most users received a second error message reading “sorry, an error occurred while processing your request.” They were no longer able to use Link Explorer that day.
Another popular tool is Open Site Explorer. The free version of this backlink checker can be used 3 times a day, and it shows up to 200 backlinks. With a PRO membership the limit is lifted, but it will cost you $99 per month.
Without logging in, Open Site Explorer only show the anchor text, page authority and domain authority for live backlinks. With a PRO membership you can see information for all the backlinks. Results can be filtered by anchor text, domain authority of backlinks and popular web pages. However, both versions show information on whether links are dofollow or nofollow. Open Site Explorer shows more backlinks than both Link Explorer and Bing Link Diagnosis. In the free version, however, you can’t export backlinks.
A PRO membership also gives you access to the number of Facebook shares, Facebook likes, Tweets and Google +. Open Site Explorer is the only backlink checker that displays this kind of information. Because the influence of social media on search rankings is slowly increasing, this could be valuable information for website owners. You can try the PRO version of Open Site Explorer for free for a 30 day period. To gain access you must first enter your credit or debit card details.
To sum up, if you want to analyze backlinks from multiple websites and export them quickly and efficiently then Bing Link Explorer is the tool for you. If you need more detailed information about your own backlinks or the backlink profile of competitors, then it is better to use Link Diagnosis. If you manage several large SEO projects, however, you might want to dispense with free tools and opt for the PRO version of the Open Site Explorer instead.