Hyperlink constructing has been my ardour for practically a decade. Earlier than working for Ahrefs, I labored as a link-building marketing consultant, serving to dozens of shoppers construct tons of of hyperlinks.

What I discovered throughout this time is that you simply don’t want dozens of link-building instruments. You simply want a couple of of the very best ones.

And in 2021, I’m satisfied that there are solely eight of them.

Listed below are these eight link-building instruments:

  1. Ahrefs
  2. Google
  3. Hunter.io
  4. NeverBounce
  5. Buzzstream
  6. HARO
  7. URL Profiler
  8. website positioning Toolbar

The trade’s favourite hyperlink analysis device

Let’s face it: You’ll be able to construct hyperlinks with out Ahrefs, however you most likely wouldn’t wish to. Ahrefs’ crawler is the second most energetic after Google’s, and our backlink index accommodates over 3 trillion dwell backlinks. This makes it arguably the very best device on the planet for backlink analysis—a vital on a regular basis activity for any hyperlink builder price their salt.

That is most likely why website positioning professionals persistently vote Ahrefs their link-building device of selection, like in Aira’s 2021 State of Hyperlink Constructing report:

Poll where 137 people rated Ahrefs as most trusted link-building tool

My favourite distinctive characteristic: Content material Explorer

Content material Explorer is a searchable database of over 9 billion pages. It’s incredible for content material analysis, nevertheless it’s additionally an ideal supply of hyperlink prospects.

For instance, let’s say that you simply’re on the lookout for hyperlink prospects for a weblog submit entitled “finest routers for 2021.” One supply of potential hyperlink prospects will probably be folks linking to related posts that haven’t been up to date for years—as no person needs to hyperlink to an outdated record of routers, half of which most likely aren’t even obtainable anymore.

You’ll be able to simply discover posts that match the invoice in Content material Explorer:

  1. Enter a search time period like “finest wifi routers”
  2. Swap the search mode to “In title”
  3. Filter for pages printed earlier than 2018
  4. Filter for English pages
  5. Filter for pages with 10+ referring domains

Now you see related pages to yours, with backlinks, that haven’t been up to date since 2017:

Content Explorer search results showing 216 pages that haven't been updated

You’ll be able to simply obtain these pages’ backlinks from Web site Explorer, then attain out and counsel that these websites hyperlink to your up-to-date record as an alternative of the outdated one from 2017.


Free to see backlinks to the web sites you personal utilizing Ahrefs Webmaster Instruments (AWT). If you wish to analysis and think about different web sites’ backlinks and use Content material Explorer, you’ll want a paid plan beginning at $82/month (though you’ll be able to take a seven-day trial for $7).

The world’s largest supply of hyperlink prospects

Most individuals don’t consider Google as a link-building device, nevertheless it’s among the best methods to search out hyperlink prospects. That’s as a result of it has the most important index of net pages on the planet and arguably the very best search algorithm. So if you understand how to make use of it successfully, you’ll be able to simply discover hundreds of related hyperlink prospects for free.

My favourite distinctive characteristic: Search operators

Search operators are instructions that allow you to refine and filter search engine outcomes. Some are distinctive to Google, however not all of them (as you should utilize the identical or related ones in Bing or Content material Explorer). However even those that aren’t completely distinctive to Google appear particularly highly effective there as a result of you’ll be able to mix them to tug precisely what you want from its insanely huge index.

For instance, you’ll be able to mix the intitle:, inurl:, and OR operators to search out related useful resource pages to pitch your hyperlink:

(intitle:sources OR intitle:useful resource) (inurl:sources OR inurl:useful resource)

Google search results with search operators applied

You can even mix intitle:, inurl:, and the - operator to search out authorship pages for prolific visitor bloggers in your trade and doubtlessly write for these websites your self:

intitle:"tim soulo” intitle:creator inurl:creator -ahrefs.com

Google search results with search operators applied

The one draw back of utilizing Google for hyperlink prospecting is that there isn’t any strategy to obtain the outcomes. You’ll be able to clear up this with a Chrome add-on like Ahrefs’ website positioning Toolbar, which has a button to obtain SERP information.



Highly effective electronic mail tackle finder

Hunter.io can discover all emails related to a site or a selected particular person’s electronic mail tackle in seconds. For instance, right here’s how briskly it finds my @ahrefs.com electronic mail tackle:

Hunter quickly finding Joshua's email address

Based on our testing, it’s not probably the most correct electronic mail lookup service, however one characteristic greater than makes up for this relating to hyperlink prospecting at scale: the Google Sheets add-on.

My favourite distinctive characteristic: Google Sheets add-on

Let’s say that you simply’ve exported some hyperlink prospects from Content material Explorer and imported them into Google Sheets. You’ll discover that the export file consists of the related creator identify (the place we will discover it).

List of link prospects with some author names

Utilizing Hunter’s Sheets add-on, you will discover matching emails for these prospects with one click on:

Hunter finding matching emails and adding them in the list

This gained’t discover a matching electronic mail tackle for each prospect, nevertheless it normally finds one for a good share of them. You’ll be able to then use these prospects as your preliminary “hit” record to check the viability of an outreach marketing campaign. If profitable, have somebody discover emails for the remainder of the prospects to construct extra hyperlinks.


Free as much as 25 searches per thirty days, then from $49 per month.

Electronic mail verification and cleansing service

It is best to at all times confirm the deliverability of your prospects’ electronic mail addresses earlier than sending outreach emails. Fail to take action, and the deliverability of your complete marketing campaign could possibly be negatively affected by bounces. It’s additionally a waste of time to personalize outreach emails just for them to bounce.

NeverBounce makes electronic mail verification tremendous straightforward. Simply add a listing of prospects, and it’ll inform you whether or not every electronic mail is “legitimate,” “invalid,” “settle for all,” or “disposable.”

NeverBounce page showing validation results for email addresses

It additionally routinely de-dupes the record, so that you’ll solely pay for every electronic mail verification as soon as.

My favourite distinctive characteristic: Zapier integration

The whole lot revolves round Google Sheets once I do electronic mail outreach, which is why NeverBounce’s Zapier integration is such a godsend. You’ll be able to shortly arrange a multi-step zap in order that once you enter an electronic mail tackle right into a Google sheet, it pings NeverBounce, verifies the e-mail, and logs the verification standing of that electronic mail in the exact same Google sheet.

Email verification status logged in the Google Sheet

Magic, proper?

However there’s one draw back to this technique: the expense. For those who go for Zapier’s $49/month plan, it’ll value you simply shy of an additional $0.025 every time the zap runs. This makes it a minimum of 10x dearer than doing it manually.

Fortunately, there’s an answer: create a JSON importer in Google Apps Script to import information from NeverBounce webhooks. Which will sound onerous, nevertheless it’s fairly easy. Ping me on Twitter if you need directions for doing this.


From $0.003 per electronic mail verification.

Outreach device and prospect supervisor

Gmail is nice when you’re solely planning to ship a couple of outreach emails, however you want a devoted device to scale your electronic mail outreach. That’s the place Buzzstream is available in. It helps you to handle, arrange, personalize, monitor, and ship emails multi functional place. You can even add a number of customers to your account and assign duties between them.

It seamlessly imports Ahrefs CSV exports too:

Buzzstream page showing Ahrefs as one of the import options

My favourite distinctive characteristic: Buzzmarker

Buzzmarker is a Chrome extension that helps velocity up hyperlink prospecting. You need to use it to search out contact data, add prospects to campaigns, and even compose emails from templates as you browse the net.

Right here’s an instance to know how this may be helpful in observe: Let’s say that you simply had been looking the net and got here throughout a useful resource web page or different related prospect. Hit the Buzzmarker, and also you’ll see any contact particulars it discovered for the web site. You’ll be able to even add the prospect to an outreach marketing campaign in a single click on:

Buzzstream's list of identified contacts taken from ProPublica page

You even have the choice to compose and ship an electronic mail utilizing templates out of your Buzzstream account proper within the browser window:

Email template from Buzzstream account


From $24/month.

Connects journalists with sources

Journalists typically want insights, recommendation, or opinions from trade specialists for his or her articles. HARO (Assist A Reporter Out) solves this downside by connecting journalists with trade specialists by way of day by day emails.

Right here’s the way it works in a nutshell:

  1. Journalists submit the supply requests to HARO.
  2. HARO sends three emails per day to its 800,000+ customers with these supply requests.
  3. HARO customers pitch the related requests to realize media protection (and normally backlinks).

For instance, right here’s a current request from Realtor.com (DR 91) in search of “nice IKEA hacks from inside designers” for a roundup:

Email of the request from Realtor.com

For those who submit a tip and it will get chosen for inclusion, you’ll normally get a point out and backlink from the web site.


It’s price checking the exterior hyperlink coverage on the web site in query earlier than submitting a tip, as not all websites hyperlink to sources. You are able to do this by checking a couple of of their current posts for exterior hyperlinks.

My favourite distinctive characteristic: Key phrase alerts

HARO divides its requests into a couple of classes so you’ll be able to subscribe solely to those that make sense for you. The one downside is that these classes are sort of broad:

Haro categories

For instance, requests within the “Enterprise and Finance” class cowl varied matters from Bitcoin to bank cards to website positioning.

HARO solves this downside with its paid plans, all of which let you filter for alternatives by key phrase:

Three different Haro paid plans

However the actuality is that you may obtain one thing related totally free utilizing Gmail filters.

Right here’s the way to set that up:

Various filters on Gmail


Free with paid plans from $19 per month.

Bulk website positioning metric and information puller

URL Profiler is a robust device that permits you to pull a big selection of metrics and information related to URLs. Simply paste in your URLs, tick the bins for the info you wish to pull, and hit “go.”

URL Profiler menu options with box to paste URLs

My favourite distinctive characteristic: Contact scraping

Earlier, I defined that Content material Explorer pulls authors’ names the place it could possibly, which is tremendous useful for hyperlink prospecting when mixed with Hunter and NeverBounce. However when you’re pulling hyperlink prospects from elsewhere, you gained’t have this data.

That is the place URL Profiler turns out to be useful. For those who tick the “readability” checkbox, it makes an attempt to tug creator names from the record of URLs:

Options under "Content Analysis"

It’s removed from good, nevertheless it’s good for enriching hyperlink prospects pulled from Web site Explorer or Google with creator names.

URL Profiler can be one in all our software companions, so you should utilize the info allowances included in your subscription to tug Ahrefs’ metrics for hundreds of URLs without delay. That is helpful for when you might have discovered your preliminary record of hyperlink prospects with Google or one other device that lacks website positioning metrics and information.


Free for 14 days, then from $19.95 per month.

Helpful website positioning assistant to your browser

The website positioning Toolbar is a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. It’s technically a part of Ahrefs, however I’m mentioning it individually right here because it has some utterly free options which can be tremendous helpful for hyperlink prospecting.

My favourite distinctive characteristic: Inside and lifeless hyperlink highlighter

Neither of those options is independently distinctive. Many website positioning browser extensions do each issues, however I’ve but to return throughout one other that highlights lifeless and inner hyperlinks on the identical time.

This mixture is especially helpful when prospecting for useful resource web page alternatives as a result of the best hyperlink alternative has two attributes:

  1. It hyperlinks to exterior URLs. There’s no level pitching useful resource pages that solely hyperlink to inner sources.
  2. It has damaged hyperlinks. This provides you an additional worth proposition in your outreach electronic mail.

For instance, let’s say that we’ve this useful resource web page on our record of potential hyperlink prospects. Utilizing Ahrefs’ website positioning Toolbar, we will spotlight inner and lifeless hyperlinks in only a few clicks:

Highlighted internal and dead links on resource page using Ahrefs' SEO Toolbar

Now we will see that the web page hyperlinks to many exterior sources (as most hyperlinks aren’t highlighted) and a minimum of one lifeless hyperlink. This makes it fast and straightforward to identify good prospects and create related, customized outreach emails like this one:

Email draft containing personalized message to good prospect


Free, though it reveals extra information for Ahrefs prospects.

Remaining ideas

Hyperlink-building instruments make life simpler. So though it’s attainable to construct hyperlinks with out them, I wouldn’t suggest it as a result of velocity and effectivity matter. The longer it takes you to construct hyperlinks, the longer it’ll take to rank.

If you wish to be taught extra about scaling your link-building efforts, these sources ought to assist:

Give me a shout on Twitter in case you have any questions.

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