In many ways, links are the lifeblood of the internet. Links send people from one site to another. Links determine your search engine rankings. Links allow you to endorse other sites and allow other sites to endorse you.
Having good link tracking tools will allow you to make sure your link are working, to see who’s linking to you and to track how any clicks your links are generating.
A lot of these things are things that you can check yourself, by hand. Using the right tools however allows you to save a lot of time and get more accurate results.
Tool #1: Majestic SEO
Majestic SEO is a link research tool that can tell you what sites are linking back to your site. Tools like Majestic SEO have become increasingly important as Yahoo’s old site explorer data gets older and older.
Unlike previous backlink tracking tools, Majestic SEO doesn’t use data from any other search engine. Instead, they’ve built their own web spider / crawler that goes and finds link data on its own. This is one of the best possible ways of finding who’s linking to you.
Tool #2: Open Site Explorer
Open Site Explorer (OSE) has their own web spider that goes out and builds their own composite of the web that they use to generate backlink data.
There are a couple differences between OSE and Majestic SEO.
First, OSE has what’s called Page and Domain Authority. These work much like PageRank should in the real world. Increases in Page and Domain authority are exponential, meaning it’s much easier to go from 20 to 30 than 60 to 70.
OSE’s authority rankings are updated regularly, unlike PageRank. PageRank is updated more or less at Google’s whim, which could be every 3 months or it could be over a year. OSE’s page and domain authority are updated a lot more regularly, which can give you a better sense of your site’s authority than PageRank can.
You’ll generally notice fewer results with OSE than Majestic SEO. For discovering the maximum number of links, OSE isn’t as good as Majestic SEO. However, to get real data on which links are valuable and which ones aren’t, OSE is far better.
Tool #3: Bitly
Bitly is one of the most popular link shorteners on the web. Because of its “.ly” extension, the actual TLD is actually only three characters long. As a result, links on Bitly’s service are extremely short, which makes it ideal for Twitter and other social networking sites.
One feature that Bitly brings to the table is click tracking. Every time someone clicks on your Bitly link, it’ll track that click. This allows you to track your visitors and the popularity of each link.
Best of all? Bitly is 100% free.
Tool #4: Goo.gl
Goo.gl is Google’s link shortener. It works a lot like Bitly. You can shorten your links, as well as track all your clicks through Google’s system. Whether you use Bitly or Goo.gl is largely a matter of personal preference.
Tool #5: Link Assistant
Link Assistant is a tool that’ll help you both find new linking partners and track your backlinks. You can use Link Assistant to locate potential link partners through a number of different methods. It can find partners by keyword, by websites, by scraping a forum, etc.
Once someone agrees to link to you, Link Assistant can then help you verify whether or not the link is up and monitor the link to make sure it’s still up a few months down the line.
The basic version of Link Assistant is free.
Tool #6: Backlink Watch
Backlink Watch is a simple and easy way to find people who’re linking back to your website. Just type the domain or page URL that you want to lookup in Backlink Watch and it’ll generate a long list of sites that linked to your page.
There are no subscriptions and no fees. You don’t get just partial results. It’s just a 100% free tool to help you find the people who’re linking to you.
Tool #7: Broken Link Checker
Broken link checker allows you to type in a domain name to quickly check to see if that domain is linking to any broken links. Linking to broken links is not only bad for your user experience, but bad for SEO as well. Google figures that anyone who’s linking to broken sites probably isn’t all that credible.
Instead of checking your links by hand, using a tool link Broken Link Checker makes finding broken links a whole lot easier.
Tool #8: Linkchecker Submit Express
Much like Backlink checker, Linkchecker will scan a website for all its links and make sure that none of them are broken.
What’s great about Linkchecker is that you can watch its progress in real time. It scans both internal and external links. It also scans images, to make sure that you aren’t linking to any pictures that don’t exist anymore.
Tool #9: SEO Status, SEO Quake
SEO Status and SEO Quake are both plugins for Chrome and Firefox that can tell you the Alexa ranking and the Google PageRank of any page that you’re on.
This can allow you to quickly get stats on any page you’re on, whether it’s your own website or someone else’s website. It’ll help you quickly evaluate a page to determine whether or not it’s worth trying to get a link from them.
It can also help you gauge how authoritative a certain page on your website is in Google’s eyes. That’ll help you figure out how well that page is doing and whether it warrants more effort to try to get that page to rank.
These are 9 link tracking tools on the web, from URL shorteners to rotators to browser plugins to backlink checkers. What other tools do you use for checking backlinks?