SEO Tools – Backlink Checkers, What We Use In The Industry

29th November, 2016 - 11 minutes read

Let me start this post with a small admission.

In popular culture terms, I’m always last to the party.

Let me give you a few examples: I signed up for Twitter 18 months ago to see what all the fuss was about, I only started Breaking Bad at the beginning of this year, and has anyone read these books about a young wizard by an up and coming author called Ms. Rowling?

With all these examples in mind, it will come as no surprise to you that I found an awesome blog post from 2013 about which Backlink Tool checker is the best. Matthew Woodward’s post, entitled “Which Is The Best Backlink Checker Tool? The Results Are In!”, has been updated throughout the years to keep the information up-to-date, so it is still very much relevant today.

The article is a fantastic read, although it can lead you down a somewhat time-consuming rabbit hole, especially if you start going through the comments section and reveal some of the fallout from the post.

Matthew’s article named Ahrefs as the winner for best backlink checker on the market, which got me thinking about what we use here at Miromedia. We’ve actually got subscriptions to both Moz and Majestic, although it is primarily the latter that we use for checking links on a site.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have previously used Ahrefs but never experienced Raven Tools or SEO Spyglasses which, along with the two in the previous paragraph, complete the set of five tools that Matthew compared.

I thought it might be interesting, based on this article, to see what tools other digital marketers and agencies were using and whether they had a preference.

It Started With A Survey

I set about assembling a survey and sent it out to several friends and agencies in the digital world to see what others were using. My sample size was fairly small with 20 respondents, primarily from Midlands-based digital marketing agencies, as I wasn’t sure what the data would return.

In order to satisfy a more thorough testing method and to draw significant conclusions from the results, the survey would need to be scaled up considerably. However, with that said, the data did draw some interesting answers which can be seen below.

So, What Have We Learnt?

The opening question of my survey looked at the type of marketing agency the respondent comes from; two-thirds were part of a medium/small digital agency like Miromedia, around a quarter were individual consultants, and the remaining replies came from marketers at a large digital agency.

Once we had been established where the respondents had come from, we dived right in, looking at what tool they were using at their agency.

Which Backlink Checker Do You Primarily Use?

From the agencies that we surveyed, we can see that Ahrefs is currently the most used tool, with Majestic and Moz the only other two tools used from the original five that we looked at. Those that answered “other” were users of Cognitive SEO.

Seeing which tools others are using is interesting, but are they happy with them?

Well, seemingly yes, as around 60% answered they were either “extremely” or “very” satisfied with the tool they have access to. Everyone else was at least moderately satisfied, with no one stating “not at all satisfied”, which is somewhat strange considering the result of the next question:

Are You Likely To Switch To Another Tool In The Next 3-6 Months?

Half the respondents claimed they are undecided about whether they would switch to another backlink checker tool in the next 3-6 months – just over 40% claimed that they wouldn’t.

If most people are satisfied with the tool that they are using, then it is very interesting that they may consider changing it next year. Maybe they are not the sole decision maker at their agency, or it could be that 3-6 months is a long time in the SEO world and things can drastically change.

Still, this seemed like an odd response to me, if people were happy, why not stick with what you’ve got?

The next question focused on what tool people would like to use.

If Price Was Not A Consideration, Which Tool Would You Prefer To Use?

The answer overwhelmingly lies with Ahrefs, which received 60% of the votes. Moz and Majestic were the only other two tools that were chosen as an answer. So much like Matthew Woodwards findings that Ahrefs was the best tool, people in the industry seemingly want to use it.

Finally, I asked what is the most important factor to consider when it comes to the backlink checker tool that you use. 90% of respondents stated that the accuracy of the results was the number one thing they look for. The other two said it was the other SEO tools that are part of the package.

Interestingly, the other two options available on this question, price and user interface, did not seem to be something that people were bothered about. However, it could be entirely possible that this question would yield very different results if it were filled in by accountants or CEOs of these agencies.

The very last part of this survey was for people to leave any comments and thoughts that they had, and there were some interesting insights left here, most notably:

“I would never recommend sticking to one tool. For instance, I find Ahrefs is great for CLAs but cognitive is better for a disavow. If money wasn’t an issue, use both, if it is, then you have to pick the best all round tool available (even if it makes your processes longer).”


“I think the chrome plugin option is also very important with these tools – some seem to slow your browsing speed down a lot which really isn’t helpful when you are trying to quickly scour links.”

Using two different tools to check backlinks probably isn’t uncommon, as I mentioned previously. At Miromedia, we have full access to two different tools, and it appears we aren’t alone. Getting a complete view of your backlinks is important if you want to improve your online marketing and it is certainly interesting to see if one tool finds a link that another didn’t.

I will also admit that the second comment does raise a potential issue that I didn’t even consider – the extensions and plugins available. I know many digital marketers use Chrome for their web browsing, as there are many extensions that can be installed to speed up certain processes, but I didn’t think this would be part of the judging process for the tool, despite the comment above being a valid issue.

What Do You Use?

Do you use one of these tools? Or do you use something completely different? Let us know on Twitter:

[bctt tweet=”My favourite backlink checker tool is…”]