Friday, July 22nd, 2011...5:44 pm

So How Do You Check Your Backlinks Now?

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Yahoo has just killed its old API. They said they would so this is not really a surprise. All the tools dependent on it are now down. Bad news is that I, like many other tool developers, will now have to rewrite my tools like this one. Good news is that there is a bunch of alternatives. Below are some of them with my notes and comments.

1. Google Webmaster Tools “Links to your site” report
Who am I kidding? Google is notorious for not letting you know much about a site’s backlinks. Even for your own verified sites, it only gives you a little bit, and the links go in no particular order (alphabetical order doesn’t count). No competitive research is possible at all.

2. Yahoo Site Explorer is still available if you want to check a site’s links manually, and the first 1,000 links can be downloaded as a TSV. Not for much longer though, as Bing which now powers Yahoo does not even support the linkdomain operator. Yahoo BOSS V2 API does not offer any functionality related to backlinks and commenters on that post have called it “a paid rebranding of Bing API”.

3. Blekko is my personal favorite. Not only do they have an extensive set of SEO related slashtags, they also can sort a site’s backlinks either by relevance or by date discovered, the latter option giving you a nice picture of a site’s link acquisition progress. Besides, Blekko uses host rank which can effectively be regarded as some sort of a link power measurement. I wish Blekko’s index was larger – but hopefully that can improve with time. On the bright side, Blekko offers an API that developers can use for their solutions.

4. Majestic SEO – they realize all the importance of the chance given to them with the closure of Yahoo’s API and have even done a post about migrating from Yahoo to their API. However, if you want to use Majestic SEO for anything more than just keeping an eye on your own site, you will have to pay for it – the subscriptions start from £ 29.99 per month and the one with API is as much as £ 250.00 per month.

5. Ahrefs – a lesser known alternative. To be honest I haven’t had a chance to look at it much yet as their limit of queries for an unregistered user is only 5 – however even a free accounts expands the number of daily queries to 15 and the highest priced paid option is only $39.99 per month. The tool runs on its own crawler and what is really nice is that it fetches not only backlinks but also anchor texts.

As long as links remain one of the ranking factors (even a small one), link checking tools will remain the key competitive research aid. There may be all sorts of approaches to analyzing them -  but the need to do it is unquestionable. Now I just hope Aaron finds a way around for his SEO4Firefox plugin soon.

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