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Analytics 5 min read September 8, 2016

Backlink Analysis: side-by-side comparison of SEO multi-tools

We compared backlink databases of the most popular SEO tools. We used the size of the database as a point of interest and compared the number of results.
What services were included in the research
In our study we didn't include services that focus only on backlinks, we were interested mainly in comparing multi-tools. Backlink Watch, Majestic, Link-Assist and other tools that serve just the purpose of checking backlinks are usually a better option if that's the only task you plan to accomplish, but we want to find the best tool that can do more than just one thing.
Ahrefs: Ahrefs in a leading force when it comes to backlinks. Ahrefs launched their backlink analysis tool back in 2011.
Searchmetrics: Another tool for SEOs that can accomplish more than just one task. Searchmetrics started working on their backlinks in 2005.
Semrush: one of the most used SEO tools thatcan accomplish a lot of tasks. Backlinks were added to SEMrush in 2008.
MOZ: a multi-tool that is currently refocusing on SEO, after discontiuing the Moz Content tool. Backlinks on MOZ became available in 2014.
Serpstat: we've added backlink analysis tool in August and decided to see how well it compares to those who have been in business for a long time.
How we did the research
We took 7 random websites that differ in size and popularity:

1. reddit.com
2. snopes.com
3. amazon.co.uk
4. vimeo.com
5. nike.com
6. liveyourdream.org
7. kmart.com


Then we checked how many backlinks and referring domains we could find with the services that we tested.

Here's what we got:
Color-coding was used to highlight the results:

  • Dark green — best result (most data);
  • Light green — 2nd place;
  • Red – worst result;
  • White – no data.
    We used yellow to fill in the rest of the cells.

We used free trial versions of the products to get the data. Unfortunately, Searchmetrics doesn't show the number of referring domains in free trial. We still decided to keep it in our research as it was showing number of backlinks.
Rating the services by the size of their database
We decided to give scores based on the number of results taking a leader for each domain as a benchmark. If 1st place shows 400 backlinks, second shows 300 backlinks and third shows 200 backlinks and we set the score of the first place to 100% – 2nd and 3rd will receive a score of 75% and 50% respectively. This allowed us to measure the efficiency more accurately, as some tools may fall behind just by a couple of backlinks, so instead of losing by points they will just fall behind by 1%.

Results:
Based on the number of results or, in other words, size of the database we have the following results:

1st — Ahrefs (1317);
2nd — Serpstat (1052);
3rd — SEMrush (251)
4th — Searchmetrics* (142);
5th — MOZ (102).

Searchmetrics' results were calculated without the number of referring domains, this result can roughly be doubled, which would put Searchmetrics into the 3rd place.
Always account for multiple factors when picking a backlink analysis tool.
Make sure that terms, limits and price are what you're looking for. Our research has shown that there is no universal leader, so you should always test before you buy. Who knows where you will find more data for your specific niche or your website.If you think this research is biased, you are welcome to repeat it with any other domains and share your results.
Check out our vlog episode to learn how to use Serpstat's backlink analysis tool:

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