Value for Money and Backlink APIs [DataForSEO vs Competitors]

backlink api cost value

Value for Money and Backlink APIs [DataForSEO vs Competitors]

Finding a quality backlink API on a budget is no easy feat. For one, you have to thoroughly consider the pricing and features offered by the API vendors. However, we understand that this process takes too much time and must be far from enjoyable.

That’s why we set out to compare the most known backlink APIs on the market and the new DataForSEO product – Backlinks API. Our goal was to make it easier for you to choose the best option in terms of value for money. As a result, we’ve collected all essential information and comparison points into a single table. The data providers we’ve analyzed are DataForSEO, Ahrefs, Majestic, Moz, and Semrush.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the summary of cost-efficiency factors of backlink APIs, and will further explain the details.

Key findings

We’ve tried to collect the most comprehensive comparative dataset on backlink API vendors. The table below contains our findings broken down by the main comparison points that are usually considered when choosing a backlink data provider. Yet, we do not argue all of them are worth considering.

In fact, some points in this table may look obscure without further explanation. In particular, the table won’t tell you why:

• Units and rows shouldn’t be confused with a data row
• Your cost estimations should account for additional charges
• Some APIs may not be suitable or affordable for specific use cases
• Everything related to index volume is a marketing trick (and what to consider instead)

So, we encourage you to look through and keep on reading for the full story.

Comparison point DataForSEO Ahrefs Majestic Moz Semrush
Pricing model Minimum monthly commitment + PAYG Monthly subscription Monthly subscription Monthly subscription Monthly subscription + PAYG
Starting price $100/mo $500/mo $399.99/mo $250/mo $449.95/mo + $50 for API package
Cost of 1,000 backlinks $0.05 $0.211 $0.036 $2.08 $2
Cost of 100 backlinks for 100 targets $2.3 $3.1 $3.36 $20.8 $20
Filters & sorting Free Paid Paid Free Free
Live index volume
(as stated)
Less than 1 Tn backlinks
(see more)
3.1 Tn external backlinks 1.1+ Tn unique URLs found 40.7 Tn links (internal + external) 43 Tn links (internal + external)
Index growth rate
(as stated)
“Over 10 Bn backlinks & around 1 Bn pages a day” “Every minute we crawl 5 million pages” n/a “Billions of pages … every day” “Daily, our bot crawls over 25 billion links”
New links made available Every second Every 15 mins Daily Daily Hourly

Note: indicated costs of backlinks are calculated based on the starting plan or price.

Pricing models of backlink data providers

When looking for a data provider for your backlink analytics project, one of the crucial points is making sure you will get a reliable and cost-efficient solution. However, it’s impossible to make an accurate cost estimation without first understanding the providers’ pricing model. So we’ll begin our journey from here.

First things first, all data providers we’ve analyzed have seemingly similar, yet distinct pricing models. While Ahrefs, Majestic, and Moz offer their API on a monthly subscription basis, DataForSEO and Semrush apply somewhat mixed pricing strategies.

Comparison point DataForSEO Ahrefs Majestic Moz Semrush
Pricing model Minimum monthly commitment + PAYG Monthly subscription Monthly subscription Monthly subscription Monthly subscription + PAYG

Here at DataForSEO, we do not charge any monthly fees. While access to our backlink index is provided based on a monthly subscription, the funds will remain on your account balance and can be spent on any DataForSEO API. As for the API pricing, we offer a pay-as-you-go model, where you pay only for the services you use. With Backlinks API in particular, your account balance will be charged a fixed price per each API request ($0.02) and per each retrieved row of data ($0.00003).

The cost of the Backlinks API subscription is $100 or $30 if you grab a discount until December 8, 2021. You can learn more about the pricing of Backlinks API here. For more information on our pricing model and bonus options, please refer to our pricing page.

As for Semrush, they combine a monthly fee with a pay-as-you-go pricing model. Simply put, API access is provided for platform users with a Business Plan subscription ($449.95/mo). However, the plan does not include API units necessary to make requests. An API package has to be purchased separately but the pricing model for packages is pay-as-you-go which does not require making regular payments. The packages start from $50 for 1,000,000 API units.

Worth noting, a unit at Semrush and Majestic shouldn’t be confused with a data row, as a unit is used to describe the cost of particular functions or endpoints. For example, using the Backlinks endpoint of Semrush API, one line of data will cost 40 API units. Likewise, Ahrefs and Moz use a row as an internal measurement unit, and one actual line of data can cost more or less than one row.

At the same time, at DataForSEO, USD is used to measure the cost per an API request and per retrieved row of data (an object containing data on a single backlink, referring domain, etc).

Comparison point DataForSEO Ahrefs Majestic Moz Semrush
Internal unit of measure USD API Row Unit Row API unit

Now that you know the basics of the vendors’ pricing, we can move on to calculating the costs.

Estimation of backlink API cost

In this part, we’ll help you to answer two questions about each backlink API provider:

• How much will the data cost me per month?
• Is that data expensive?

Let’s first consider the monthly expenses you can anticipate. As you can see, every vendor has its starting price, and basically, it’s the minimal paycheck your monthly budget should be ready for. On the other hand, these sums alone limit your understanding of the cost-efficiency perspective.

Comparison point DataForSEO Ahrefs Majestic Moz Semrush
Starting price $100/mo $500/mo $399.99/mo $250/mo $449.95/mo + $50 for API package

To help you evaluate the affordability of each solution, we’ve taken 1,000 backlinks as a common denominator and calculated the cost of retrieving this amount with different APIs based on the starting price or plan.

Yet, at first glance, you may get a wrong impression. The thing is, with even slightly increased volume, the difference between costs becomes more vivid. To illustrate it, we’ve additionally calculated the cost of getting 100 backlinks for 100 domains, that is making 100 requests and retrieving 100 rows of data with each.

Comparison point DataForSEO Ahrefs Majestic Moz Semrush
Cost of 1,000 backlinks $0.05 $0.211 $0.036 $2.08 $2
Cost of 100 backlinks for 100 targets $2.3 $3.1 $3.36 $20.8 $20

Note that we calculated these costs based on the prices per 100 API requests returning 100 results. Also, given that DataForSEO, Moz, and Semrush do not charge for the usage of filtering or sorting rules, we’ve included the price for this functionality when calculating Ahrefs’ and Majestic’s cost. In the following part, we’ll explore all additional fees in more detail.

Hidden costs of backlink APIs

As we’ve already mentioned, some backlink API providers offer filtering and sorting for free, while others don’t. However, this is not the only hidden cost you may discover. To give you the full picture of possible additional charges, we’ve tried to summarize them in the table below.

Comparison point DataForSEO Ahrefs Majestic Moz Semrush
Filters & sorting Free Paid Paid Free Free
Additional information and other charges The cost of requests and results does not vary by endpoint. Filters cost around $0.01 per request. The cost of requests and results varies by endpoints. Filters and sorting almost double the cost per request. The cost of requests and results varies by endpoints. The cost of requests and results varies by several endpoints. Charge for results only. The cost of results varies by several endpoints.

In addition to this, we’d like to give you an example based on an actual use case.

Let’s say you need to get 100 dofollow backlinks for a target, and you’re also interested in only one backlink per referring domain. The rank (rating, score, etc) of these domains should be no less than 30. Also, you’d like to sort the dataset by the rank of backlinks in descending order.

Here’s what you’ll be charged.


DataForSEO

One request to /backlinks/live endpoint costs $0.02.
One row of data in the response costs $0.00003.
One backlink per domain is requested with a free parameter.
Filters and sorting are free.

So, your request and 100 filtered backlinks will cost:

$0.02*1+0.00003*100 = $0.023


Ahrefs

To get one backlink per domain, you should use a separate endpoint. One request to backlinks_one_per_domain costs 10 rows.
Each data row in the response costs 2 rows.
To get backlinks with “nofollow”: false, you should use ‘where’ as a filter. It costs 5 rows per request.
To get backlinks from domains with a rating of 30 or more, you should use ‘having’ as a filter. It costs 5 rows per request.
There’s no charge for sorting.

1 row for Ahrefs’ starting plan costs around $0.001 ($500/500,000 rows). The cost of getting 100 filtered backlinks will be:

(10+2*100+5+5) * $0.001 = $0.22


Majestic

One request to GetBackLinkData costs 5000 AnalysisResUnits.
Each data row in the response costs 1 RetrievalResUnit.
One backlink per domain is requested with a free parameter.
To sort the data and apply filters, you should set ConsumeResourcesForAdditionalProcessing to 1. It costs 5000 AnalysisResUnits, but the cost increases with greater filtering depth.

1 Unit for Majestic’s starting plan costs around $0.000003325 ($399.99/120,000,000 Units). As a result, your request and data should cost:

(5000+1*100+5000) * $0.000003325 = $0.0336


Moz

No charge for making a request.
Each data row in the response costs 1 row.
One backlink per domain is requested with a free parameter.
No charge for sorting and filtering.

1 row for Moz’s starting plan costs around $0.00208 ($250/120,000 rows). So, the requested filtered data will cost:

100 * 1 * $0.00208 = $0.208


Semrush

No charge for making a request.
1 data row in the response costs 40 API units.
Impossible to request one backlink per domain.
No charge for sorting and filtering.

1 API unit at Semrush costs around $0.00005 ($50/1,000,000 units).

Given all this, the final cost of 100 backlinks will be:

40 * 100 * $0.00005 = $0.2


As you can see, depending on a specific use case, the cost of data will vary with some API providers. Given this, you should pay attention to all features you might need, as some of them may turn out paid, as may be the case with filters and sorting. However, data refinement is a must-have functionality for API users. We’ll tell you why in the following part.

Index volumes, growth rate, and update frequency

It’s always more reasonable to have the right data than lots of data. The thing is, “gazillions of backlinks” doesn’t mean they’re all worthy to even include in the index. There are such things as long-removed links and domains with 0 backlinks that should be somehow filtered out since they convey no value.

In essence, there’s no point in comparing backlink indexes as the numbers are often used as a marketing hook. In reality, you can accurately evaluate a website’s link-building progress using a minimum set of backlink data, if properly determined.

Furthermore, every vendor paints its index volume differently. For example, here’s what you can find on the providers’ websites.

Comparison point DataForSEO Ahrefs Majestic Moz Semrush
Live index volume
(as stated)
Less than 1 Tn backlinks
(see more)
3.1 Tn external backlinks 1.1+ Tn unique URLs found 40.7 Tn links (internal + external) 43 Tn links (internal + external)

The details in this table could be more granular, yet we didn’t find any more exhaustive data shared with the public.

Worth noting, the product pages of Moz and Semrush do not state they include both internal and external links, yet the vendors do explain it in some of the related articles and learning resources. So, we’ve added this information for clarity.

Another point we’d like to elaborate on is the DataForSEO’s statement.

First off, here’s what DataForSEO considers a backlink – a link from one page on one domain to a different page on a different domain. Some refer to this type of link as inbound link, external backlink, or citation. The main idea is that a backlink at DataForSEO is not an internal link, it is an external link from a different domain. Currently, we have over 562 Bn backlinks.

In addition to that, at DataForSEO, we’re collecting the Backlinks database based on two main principles:

• Only domains that have at least 1 backlink
• Only fresh backlinks (no backlinks that were removed longer than 2-3 years ago)

Further on the backlink indexes, we’ve tried to extend our comparison to the aspects that matter from a user’s standpoint. We’ve taken index growth rate and update frequency as such critical points. This information should help you to make two estimates:

1 How fast the providers’ crawler can discover new backlinks to the websites you’re interested in.
2 How fast newly discovered backlinks will be made available to you.

Below you can review what we found out based on the information from the providers’ websites. Unfortunately, the stated indexing speed comes in different measurements which complicates the comparison. However, you can consider the speed of making new backlinks available through API as a common denominator.

Comparison point DataForSEO Ahrefs Majestic Moz Semrush
Index growth rate
(as stated)
“Over 10 Bn backlinks & around 1 Bn pages a day” “Every minute we crawl 5 million pages” n/a “Billions of pages … every day” “Daily, our bot crawls over 25 billion links”
New links made available Every second Every 15 mins Daily Daily Hourly

Finally, the best option is of course actually testing the functionality of an API before committing to any meaningful expenses. The main limitation here is that not all data providers offer a trial or provide it free of charge. That being said, at DataForSEO you can simply register and use the API Explorer to try Backlinks API for free.

Conclusion

When you’re looking to automate backlink analytics, you obviously spend a fair amount of time researching for the right API provider. We hope our comparison has helped you to speed up this process and properly prioritize the aspects worth taking into account.

Basically, when selecting your backlink data provider you should consider the cost, quality, and functionality of an API. Make sure it has all the features that are crucial for your case or project, and double-check if there’s any additional charge for these features.

In the end, we recommend favoring those data providers who are willing to build trust with their potential customers rather than divert your attention from critical points to an eye-catching number.

Here at DataForSEO, you can always expect transparency and round-the-clock assistance with API integration, testing, or any other matter. By the way, if you’d like to put our API to test using the API Explorer, don’t hesitate to register for a free trial.

If you want to explore the functionality of our Backlinks API and review some practical use cases, we invite you to read a detailed article on this topic.
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Irene T.

Content Writer at DataForSEO. Irene’s linguistic background and hands-on customer support experience help her brilliantly interpret the most intricate tech topics for any audience. Together with the DataForSEO Content Team, Irene also conducts in-depth researches of the martech industry. Sign up for our newsletter to never miss the latest pieces.

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