Link Research Tools Review

 

This review was updated in April 2019 and  is part of the SEO tools comparison report. View the entire report here.

Introducing the tool

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We’ve been using Link Research Tools for link building projects for many years, so it’s well deserving of its place in our  SEO Tools comparison report.

Link Research Tools, as the name suggests, is a toolset for conducting link research on your own website and competitors’ websites, as well as including tools for market research to find link building opportunities.

Link Research Tools (LRT) is a hosted SaaS solution with no software to install. That means you pay a recurring monthly subscription to use the tools online. The product is designed the professional SEO market, particularly agencies, although experienced in-house SEO’s can also benefit from its capabilities.

In all there are about 20 individual tools within the LRT toolset – more than we can cover in one article. We’ll tell you about some of the most important tools in this review, before finishing off with our overall conclusions about the product.

Link Detox

Link Detox was introduced to the Link Research Toolset after the onslaught of Google Penguin updates, which have repeatedly shaken up the link building game since 2012. Link Detox is designed to audit the links which point to your website for potential spam signals that could trigger Google penalties. Each link is given a “risk” score, and you get a snapshot figure of the risk profile of your website to give you an indication of whether you’re in the “probably okay” category or whether you need to remove some of those dodgy SEO backlinks you built back in the day.

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The process for link analysis and clean-up is intuitive. You put in your domain, configure a few settings and – optionally, but advisably – upload a backlink file from Google Webmaster Tools so LRT can analyse every link which Google is reporting. You’ll see your links categorised by risk, with a whole host of other data pulled in such as link type and domain theme. You can then go through these links manually to remove the worst offenders. Alternatively, you can use the export tool to create a “disavow” file to upload to Google. The latter approach may in some cases help speed up your link clean-up efforts.

The Link Detox tool underwent a noteworthy improvement in April 2017, with the implementation of a new and improved Link Detox Screener, built to help SEOs identify and understand the links that matter quicker. Link information is now automatically highlighted within the URL view, so you can spot links and their attributes quickly, and you can scroll through the links on a page by simply pressing up and down on your keyboard. Furthermore, loading/caching has been sped up, and larger link profiles can now be audited, thanks to the addition of a new data source to LRT’s back-end.

If you like the sound of Link Detox but not the rest of Link Research Tools’ offering, you can buy it as a standalone product without the rest of the LRT toolset.

Competitive Landscape Analyzer

This is one of our favourite tools for competitor research. Its reports are ideal to show to clients or prospects because they really speak to their competitive nature. The Competitive Landscape Analyzer compares the strengths and weaknesses of your link profile vs. competing websites. Simply enter your URL along with competitors’ URLs to see the areas where you’re ahead, and where you’re behind. This can be extremely useful at the outset of an SEO campaign, because it gives you a true picture of the amount of link building work that’s likely to be required to rank for those big industry keywords.

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If you run link building campaigns for clients, you’ll almost always find they ask about numbers – “how many links do we need?” – and its usually an impossible question to answer. This tool, while never giving you a magic number, gives your client a detailed and realistic assessment of the market. We’ve landed several link building projects off the back of this report alone, so it comes highly recommended.

The only drawback to the Competitive Landscape Analyzer is it can take some time to run, and so is not ideal for really quick analysis. If you’re in a hurry to get your intel, we advise using the associated “Quick Domain Compare tool, which gives a fast, useful summary of how your link profile compares to the competition. It’ll show you top-line stats like number of links, Google PageRank, domain authority and social shares for your domain and up to 4 competitors, displaying the results side-by-side in a handy grid.

Backlink Profiler

Backlink Profiler is one of the core tools in the LRT toolset, and probably the one we’ve used most often when running full-on link building campaigns for clients. If you’ve used other backlink analysis tools like Open Site Explorer, MajesticSEO or Ahrefs the LRT backlink profiler will feel very familiar. Put in your domain or your competitor’s domain, run the report and you’ll get a really comprehensive list of the pages which link to that page or domain.

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The main strength of the backlink profiler compared to those other backlink research tools is the sheer volume of data it can pull down into a single report, and the inline filtering tools which make it easy to identify the most important links within a link profile. Another useful feature is the “theme” metric, which shows you the type of site the link is from (e.g. a blog), and the “LinkLocation” metric which shows the location of links within a page (e.g. in a paragraph of text or in the footer). This is a god-send when link building, because you know without having to visit a page that if a link is located in the footer or sidebar it is probably a paid link or some other type of link which will be hard to replicate.

The company behind Link Research Tools started life as a link building agency, and you really get the sense when using these tools that they have been created within the trenches link builders in mind, with an interface that is functional rather than aesthetically pleasing. One word of warning: you really need a large monitor to make the most of Backlink Profiler reports with all the data displaying side by side.

Link Alerts

Link alerts are best described as ‘Google Alerts for links’. You set the tool up to monitor a domain – usually your own, but you could also use a competitor’s domain – and you’ll get regular alerts as and when the tool finds new links pointing to that domain. In this day and age, there are 2 potential applications of this-

·      Find out when a new ‘good’ link has been found so you know your link building efforts are paying off

·      Identify negative links which could harm your rankings and work to remove them before it’s too late.

We can see this type of report being really useful for anyone doing PR style link building, where you don’t necessarily know where and when links to your site are going to be created.

Other tools

As mentioned, there are about 20 tools in the LRT toolset, with new ones added regularly. Realistically, it’s unlikely you’ll ever use them all. We were LRT subscribers for 4 or 5 years and never used several of the tools they offer. You might consider this a downside, as in a sense, you’re paying for some tools you won’t use – but the same thing goes for other larger SEO tools like Raven too. There are also a few tools, like the contact finder and the strongest subpages tool, which we’ve never felt work particularly well.

That said, Link Research Tools gives you a huge range of tools for pretty much every conceivable link building task. In the hands of a pro user, this will be an invaluable resource.

Link Research Tools PowerTrust Chrome Extension Tool

An interesting recent addition to the LRT toolkit is LRT Power*Trust™ Extension – a bespoke replacement for Google’s PageRank toolbar, which was deactivated in 2016. The tool shows at-a-glance details on webpage trust score and inbound links, which could come in handy for activities such as link building outreach prospecting. It’s available as a Chrome of Firefox extension,  free of charge, here.

Price

Link Research Tools comes with 4 subscription levels ranging from €359 to €2.499/ month (approx. £307 to £2,140/ month). 7-day trials are now being offered for €77 on the lowest-level LRT subscription, with export functionalities deactivated in order to prevent bad-faith uses of the software.

The Small Business (€359/ month) and Startup (€599/ month) plans are suitable for in-house SEOs or freelancers with a few clients, while Plus (€1.499/ month) and Brand (€2.499) plans are designed for small to mid-sized agencies or larger companies. You can also get a custom plan if you’re a large agency and need more logins.

The pricing here reflects the fact LRT is (in our opinion) the market leader among specialist link research tools, although it should be noted that you’re probably going to need other tools to complement your link building efforts alongside LRT, for example, something link BuzzStream or Raven Tools for link outreach and management. And if you want to use additional data sources like Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs, you’ll also need paid subscriptions to those API’s (although this isn’t required for the tools to be fully functional).

Link Research Tools is priced relatively high for a set of tools with a limited function. However, if you’re an SEO agency, you really can’t put a price on quality link data and research tools, and I’m sure you’ll get good value from LRT.

Part of what makes Link Research Tools a worthwhile investment, beyond its functionalities, is the training that comes with it. LRT is big on up-skilling their clients, some of whom get flown out to Vienna for in-person training. The outcome of this is that LRT users are given a good grounding in using the tools for themselves, which creates efficiencies on both sides of the relationship.

Conclusions

Link Research Tools is in our opinion the best tool for researching links opportunities and auditing competitor backlinks. In this respect, it’s difficult to compare it with any of the other tools we’ve looked at in our comparison report, particularly because it doesn’t really replace or get replaced by anything else we’ve looked at. The closest comparisons probably come with the Majestic SEO powered competitor backlink reports in Raven Tools – but in all honesty, LRT is in a league of its own when it comes to this particular function.

Link Research Tools has imperfections. The interface is a bit clunky, but functional once you get used to it. We’ve had problems with reports stalling at 99% and never completed in the past, and at times you’ll find link reports on very large sites can take several hours to run, particularly if you’re on a lower subscription level. For large scale, data-driven link building projects, though, it comes highly recommended.

Go back to  SEO tools comparison report.

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