The Solely 8 Hyperlink-Constructing Instruments You Want in 2021 (Free & Paid)


Hyperlink constructing has been my ardour for almost a decade. Earlier than working for Ahrefs, I labored as a link-building guide, serving to dozens of purchasers construct lots of of hyperlinks.

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

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

Listed here are these eight link-building instruments:

  1. Ahrefs
  2. Google
  4. NeverBounce
  5. Buzzstream
  6. HARO
  7. URL Profiler
  8. search engine optimisation Toolbar

The trade’s favourite hyperlink analysis instrument

Let’s face it: You possibly can construct hyperlinks with out Ahrefs, however you in all probability wouldn’t wish to. Ahrefs’ crawler is the second most lively after Google’s, and our backlink index comprises over 3 trillion dwell backlinks. This makes it arguably the most effective instrument on the planet for backlink analysis—an important on a regular basis job for any hyperlink builder price their salt.

That is in all probability why search engine optimisation professionals persistently vote Ahrefs their link-building instrument of alternative, like in Aira’s 2021 State of Hyperlink Constructing report:

My favourite distinctive function: Content material Explorer

Content material Explorer is a searchable database of over 9 billion pages. It’s implausible for content material analysis, however it’s additionally a terrific supply of hyperlink prospects.

For instance, let’s say that you simply’re on the lookout for hyperlink prospects for a weblog submit entitled “greatest routers for 2021.” One supply of potential hyperlink prospects can be folks linking to comparable posts that haven’t been up to date for years—as no one needs to hyperlink to an outdated listing of routers, half of which in all probability aren’t even obtainable anymore.

You possibly can simply discover posts that match the invoice in Content material Explorer:

  1. Enter a search time period like “greatest wifi routers”
  2. Change 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 comparable 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 possibly can simply obtain these pages’ backlinks from Website Explorer, then attain out and counsel that these websites hyperlink to your up-to-date listing 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 look at 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 instrument, however it’s among the finest methods to search out hyperlink prospects. That’s as a result of it has the biggest index of internet pages on the planet and arguably the most effective 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 function: Search operators

Search operators are instructions that make it easier to refine and filter search engine outcomes. Some are distinctive to Google, however not all of them (as you should utilize the identical or comparable 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

It’s also possible to 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

Google search results with search operators applied

The one draw back of utilizing Google for hyperlink prospecting is that there isn’t any technique to obtain the outcomes. You possibly can resolve this with a Chrome add-on like Ahrefs’ search engine optimisation Toolbar, which has a button to obtain SERP knowledge.



Highly effective electronic mail handle finder can discover all emails related to a site or a particular particular person’s electronic mail handle in seconds. For instance, right here’s how briskly it finds my electronic mail handle:

Hunter quickly finding Joshua's email address

Based on our testing, it’s not essentially the most correct electronic mail lookup service, however one function greater than makes up for this in terms of hyperlink prospecting at scale: the Google Sheets add-on.

My favourite distinctive function: 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 contains 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 could find matching emails for these prospects with one click on:

Hunter finding matching emails and adding them in the list

This received’t discover a matching electronic mail handle for each prospect, however it often finds one for a good proportion of them. You possibly can then use these prospects as your preliminary “hit” listing 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 30 days, then from $49 per month.

Electronic mail verification and cleansing service

It’s 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 may very well 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 an inventory 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 listing, so that you’ll solely pay for every electronic mail verification as soon as.

My favourite distinctive function: Zapier integration

Every part revolves round Google Sheets once I do electronic mail outreach, which is why NeverBounce’s Zapier integration is such a godsend. You possibly can shortly arrange a multi-step zap in order that once you enter an electronic mail handle 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. When you 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 at the least 10x dearer than doing it manually.

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


From $0.003 per electronic mail verification.

Outreach instrument and prospect supervisor

Gmail is nice if you happen to’re solely planning to ship a couple of outreach emails, however you want a devoted instrument to scale your electronic mail outreach. That’s the place Buzzstream is available in. It allows you to handle, set up, personalize, monitor, and ship emails multi functional place. It’s also possible to 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 function: Buzzmarker

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

Right here’s an instance to grasp how this may be helpful in follow: Let’s say that you simply had been shopping the online 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 possibly can 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 usually want insights, recommendation, or opinions from trade consultants for his or her articles. HARO (Assist A Reporter Out) solves this drawback by connecting journalists with trade consultants through every 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 often backlinks).

For instance, right here’s a current request from (DR 91) looking for “nice IKEA hacks from inside designers” for a roundup:

Email of the request from

When you submit a tip and it will get chosen for inclusion, you’ll often 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 function: 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 drawback is that these classes are form of broad:

Haro categories

For instance, requests within the “Enterprise and Finance” class cowl varied subjects from Bitcoin to bank cards to search engine optimisation.

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

Three different Haro paid plans

However the actuality is which you could obtain one thing comparable totally free utilizing Gmail filters.

Right here’s methods to set that up:

Various filters on Gmail


Free with paid plans from $19 per month.

Bulk search engine optimisation metric and knowledge puller

URL Profiler is a strong instrument that means that you can pull a big selection of metrics and knowledge 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 function: Contact scraping

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

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

Options under "Content Analysis"

It’s removed from excellent, however it’s good for enriching hyperlink prospects pulled from Website Explorer or Google with creator names.

URL Profiler can be one in every of our utility companions, so you should utilize the info allowances included in your subscription to tug Ahrefs’ metrics for hundreds of URLs directly. That is helpful for when you have got discovered your preliminary listing of hyperlink prospects with Google or one other instrument that lacks search engine optimisation metrics and knowledge.


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

Helpful search engine optimisation assistant in your browser

The search engine optimisation 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 fully free options which can be tremendous helpful for hyperlink prospecting.

My favourite distinctive function: Inside and useless hyperlink highlighter

Neither of those options is independently distinctive. Many search engine optimisation browser extensions do each issues, however I’ve but to return throughout one other that highlights useless and inside hyperlinks on the identical time.

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

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

For instance, let’s say that we have now this useful resource web page on our listing of potential hyperlink prospects. Utilizing Ahrefs’ search engine optimisation Toolbar, we will spotlight inside and useless 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 at the least one useless hyperlink. This makes it fast and simple to identify good prospects and create related, personalised outreach emails like this one:

Email draft containing personalized message to good prospect


Free, though it exhibits extra knowledge for Ahrefs clients.

Last ideas

Hyperlink-building instruments make life simpler. So though it’s doable to construct hyperlinks with out them, I wouldn’t advocate 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 study extra about scaling your link-building efforts, these sources ought to assist:

Give me a shout on Twitter when you have any questions.