Link Research Tools Review

 

This review is part of the SEO tools comparison report. View the entire report here.

Introducing the tool

 

linkresearchtools-wlogo01

I’ve been using Link Research Tools for link building projects for several years and its long overdue as a contender 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 on competitors sites 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 a recurring monthly subscription to use the tools. Its aimed at the professional SEO market and is really designed for agencies, although experienced in-house SEO’s would also benefit.

In all there’s about 20 individual tools within the LRT toolset so we’ll cover some of the main ones in this review with our usual conclusions at the end.

Link Detox

Link Detox wasn’t included in the original Link Research Toolset but they introduced it after the onslaught of Google Penguin updates which shook up the link building game. Detox is designed to audit the links which point to your website for potential spam signals which 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 ok” category or whether you need to remove some of those dodgy SEO backlinks you built back in 2005!

Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 14.13.22

The tool is intuitive, you put in your domain, control a few other 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 like the theme of the domain and the type of link it is. You can then go through these links manually and try and remove the worst offenders. Or you can use the export tool to create a “disavow” file which can be uploaded to Google which may in some cases help your link clean up efforts.

You can also purchase Link Detox as a standalone product without the rest of the LRT toolset.

Competitive Landscape Analyzer

This is one of my favourite tools for competitor research and it’s a great report to show to clients or prospects because it really speaks to their competitive nature. The Commpetitive Landscape Analyzer lets you enter your domain and your competitors and see the areas where their link profile is stronger than yours. This is ideal at the outset of a 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.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 10.01.49

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. I’ve landed several link building projects off the back of this report alone so it comes highly recommended.

The only drawback of the Landscape Analzer is it can take some time to run so its not ideal for really quick analysis. Also of note is the “Quick Domain Compare” tool which gives you a really useful (and fast) 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 and display them side by side in a handy grid.

Backlink Profiler

The backlink profiler is one of the core tools in the LRT toolset and probably the one I’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 competitors domain, run the report and you’ll get a really comprehensive list of the pages which link to that page or domain.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 10.05.22

The main strength of the backlink profiler compared to those other backlink research tools is the sheer volume of data which 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. I also find very useful the “theme” metric which shows you the type of site the link is from i.e. a blog and the “LinkLocation” metric which shows where abouts on the page the link is located i.e 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 its 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 with in the trenches link builders in mind and the interface is functional rather than aesthetically pleasing. One word of warning, you really need a large monitor to make the most of these reports to get 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 competitors 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 its too late.

I 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 are going to come into your site.

Other tools

As mentioned there’s 20 tools in the LRT toolset now and new ones regularly added so we haven’t covered them all. In reality you’re unlikely to use every tool in the toolset. I was an LRT subscriber for 4 or 5 years and never used several of the tools they offer. This could be a criticism I guess as you’re paying for some tools you don’t use, but this is no different to other larger tools like Raven where there’s features which sit unused. There are also a few tools like the contact finder and the strongest subpages tool which I’ve never felt work particularly well. Overall though you’ve got a huge range of tools here for pretty much every conceivable link building task and in the hands of a pro user they’re going to be an invaluable resource.

Price

Link Research Tools comes with 4 subscription levels ranging from €99 to €1299/ month (approx. £72 to £950/ month). There was no free trial being advertised at the time of writing.

The Starter (€99/ month) and Expert (€299/ month) plans are suitable for in-house SEO’s or freelancers with a few clients while Superhero (€469/ month) and Agency (€1299) plans are designed for small to mid-sized agencies. You can also get a custom plan if you’re a large agency and need more logins.

The price here is reflective of the fact that LRT is (in my opinion) the market leader in terms of specialist link research tools, although it should be noted that you’re probably going to need other tools to compliment your link building efforts alongside LRT, for example something link BuzzStream or Raven Tools for link outreach and management. 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).

Although these prices are relatively high for a set of tools with a limited function 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.

Conclusions

Link Research Tools is in my opinion the best tool for researching links opportunities and auditing competitor backlinks. In this sense its 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 from the Majestic SEO powered competitor backlink reports in Raven Tools but in all honesty LRT is in a league of its own in this respect.

Its not perfect. The interface is a bit clunky but functional once you get used to it. I’ve had problems with reports stalling at 99% and never completing 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.

For more like this sign up to our Newsletter
Sign up now for the latest digital marketing best practice, trends and news. You will also get our Digital Marketing Toolkit when you sign up. We will not email you more than twice a month and we will never pass on your details to anyone else. You can read our full Privacy Policy here.
* = required field
Interested in Digital Marketing Elearning - Start Free 14 Day Trial >