Back in January of last year, I wrote about a free tool called Blue Backlinks that allowed you to check your website’s backlinks in your browser and examine the various SEO factors associated with those links such as anchor text and nofollow tags. Blue Backlinks gathered its information from the Yahoo! Site Explorer, which went offline and left many webmasters such as myself without a good free backlink checker. I’m pleased to report that after months of searching, I have found a Blue Backlinks alternative that’s completely free to use. The program is SEO SpyGlass, and hardly a day goes by in which I don’t use it.
If you’re here, you probably already know why checking your website’s inbound links is so important. It allows you to gauge the popularity of your website with other webmasters and find out who is talking about you and what they’re saying. It also allows you to monitor the success of your link building campaigns and can even help you detect people who are scraping your content without permission.
However, the most important reason to use a backlink checker is that is allows you to see what your competitors are doing. Do you have a competitor who consistently outranks you for your most desired keywords? Using a backlink checker allows you to find out exactly where your competitor is getting his links. Often, you’ll find that you can use the exact same strategy — along with whatever you’re already doing to get backlinks — to compete on more even terms.
Quite simply, SEO SpyGlass is a free program that uses a variety of different search engines to scan the Internet for inbound links pointing to your website, or a website owned by a competitor. After finding links, SEO SpyGlass analyzes each one to find the anchor text, see which page it points to and determine whether it has a nofollow tag. In addition, it checks the PageRank of the referring page and domain and estimates the value of each link based on these and other factors. When you scan a competitor’s website, the link value given by SEO SpyGlass can tell you at a glance where his most important links are coming from. All of these features are in the free version of Spy SpyGlass; the only limitation is that you can’t save the information you collect. You’ll need to scan for backlinks again each time you use it.
Above, we see a portion of the SEO SpyGlass backlink analysis for my favorite WordPress security service, Code Garage. However, this is only a portion of the information displayed; as you scroll to the right, you’ll see a variety of other factors including the age of the linking domain and the number of other outbound links on the same page.
If all you ever do is use SEO SpyGlass as a free backlink checker for your own website and those owned by your competitors, I think you’ll be extremely happy with all of the things it can do. However, it also has a wealth of advanced features, a few of which bear mentioning in this review. The first of these is a really cool feature for SEO professionals. After analyzing a website’s backlinks, you can export the data to an attractive PDF report in just a couple of clicks. Take a look at this sample report — this is just a quick report that I threw together for this SEO SpyGlass review. Because the website has thousands of backlinks, I didn’t bother analyzing them all. However, the report certainly gives you an idea of what SEO SpyGlass can do to help you report your progress to your clients, not to mention win a few new ones. You can imagine the impact one of these backlink reports might have if you attached it to your email when contacting a potential client for the first time.
The second feature I really like is the ability to import your backlinks from Google Webmaster Central. You may have noticed when looking at the Links to your site area in Webmaster Central that Google actually shows you all of the links it has found pointing to your website. However, it’s virtually impossible for you to do anything with this information manually if you have hundreds or even thousands of backlinks. With SEO SpyGlass, you can analyze those links automatically and gauge their true SEO value.
I’ve written hundreds of words here and barely scratched the surface of all that SEO SpyGlass can do. SEO SpyGlass is an incredibly powerful SEO tool that scales incredibly well with your level of knowledge. If all that you need is a free backlink checker, it’s certainly the best that I’m aware of. However, as your knowledge grows and you need more advanced SEO features, SEO SpyGlass will grow with you as you discover more and more of what it can do. SEO SpyGlass gets my highest recommendation. SEO SpyGlass is compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Download your free copy now.