Finding a trustworthy link building agency that generates real results can be hard.
One of our clients said it best:
Developing our client-focused link building strategies has been a journey of trial and error.
After founding my first SEO agency, I learned the difficulties of link building and discovered 2 common themes regarding many SEO agencies.
Common theme #1: Outreach-focused link building is something many agencies try to avoid due to how difficult it can be to execute properly.
Common theme #2: Far too many agencies offer link building services that are outdated, ineffective, and can be just plain risky for their clients.
This is what led me to the following conclusion:
High-quality link building agencies are hard to find.
This was the gaping hole in the industry that inspired me to found our agency LinkPitch 4 years ago.
Since then, we’ve proudly landed more than 6,000 high-quality links for our clients.
Which has led to drastic increases in traffic, revenue, and happy clients.
I wrote this post to help people navigate the link building industry better — so they can know what to look for in an agency and what to avoid.
But first, let’s discuss why good link building agencies are hard to find.
Reason #1: If you want to hire a good link builder, you have to understand what constitutes a “good” link
Before you partner with a link building agency, you first need to understand how to evaluate the quality of a backlink.
I’ve found that many companies that sell lower-quality link building services try and oversimplify link quality instead of being honest and transparent about what they’re delivering.
This creates a misunderstanding of clients believing they understand link quality, when in reality, this just makes it easier for companies to sell poor quality links.
What Is Low-Quality Backlink Building, and Why is it Only Profitable for the Agency and Not the Client?
A low-quality backlink is a link from a low-authority website that, at best, has no positive effect on your domain’s SEO and, at worst, actually harms it.
Nowadays, many profit-focused agencies sell these links because acquiring them is easy.
For example, one common low-quality backlink building strategy is when companies compile a database of low-quality websites that charge money for backlinks.
These companies can then send automated emails offering cash in exchange for a backlink.
It’s very profitable for the agency, but it’s not for you.
You’ll likely, get little-to-no results (because the backlinks have no real value), potentially put your domain at risk of a Google penalty, and ultimately — you’ll be wasting away your budget.
Low-quality websites are often involved in unethical SEO practices such as link farming.
Link farms are websites built with the main purpose of selling links and will accept almost any offer for an exchange of cash.
A backlink from a website involved in these practices won’t lead to increased search rankings.
And if your website constantly acquires these toxic links over an extended period of time, you risk your website being penalized by search engines.
It’s very common for these types of sites to have content on just about anything, making them less relevant to any particular niche — including yours.
Here’s an example of one of these sites that was marketed by one of these low-quality link builders:
As you can see from the main menu, this website will post just about anything, making it a poor candidate to acquire a backlink from.
If everyone knew that getting a backlink from these types of sites wouldn’t positively impact your SEO, no agency would be able to sell these links.
But the use of misleading metrics can give a false impression that these are high-quality links.
Why You Can’t Overly Rely on Domain Rating, Domain Authority, or Any Metric
You can’t overly rely on any metric when determining the quality of a domain to get a backlink from.
Let’s take DA/DR as an example:
Domain Authority (DA) and Domain Rating (DR) are 2 similar metrics that are often used to assess the quality of a domain.
Domain authority is a metric that was developed by Moz. It’s calculated by taking into account factors such as linking root domains and combining them into a score.
Domain rating is a metric developed by Ahrefs that’s calculated according to the strength of a domain’s backlink profile.
These metrics offer a good reference point, but by themselves, they cannot accurately represent the trustworthiness of a website that’d be a good candidate to get a link from.
Low-quality websites can have high DA and DR since there are ways to manipulate these scores.
Here’s another link farm website that has a decently high DR, but wouldn’t be a quality website to get a backlink from:
This website might have a decently high DR, but if you dug deeper, you would see that it’s another link farm with random content that’s completely irrelevant to its niche.
Unfortunately, many people are misled by this — they think a higher DA or DR are the only factors to consider, so they take them at face value.
This is why you can’t just look at any metric for a website and make an intelligent decision on whether a website is trustworthy and valuable enough to get a link from.
(This goes for any metric, regardless if it’s DR, organic traffic, amount of referring domains, etc..)
What is High-Quality Backlink Building?
True high-quality backlinks can give you benefits such as improved search engine rankings, more traffic, and real authority on Google (assuming the rest of the website is healthy and has valuable content).
They signal to Google that your domain is trustworthy and valuable enough to be referred back to, which in turn can improve your search rankings.
And as you now know, not all backlinks provide these benefits.
There are numerous factors we analyze before considering a backlink worth it for our client, but here are some of the most important ones:
- Relevancy to your industry or niche
- Valuable content in a specific niche
- Organic traffic relevant to its own niche (the more relevant traffic, the better)
- Other (relevant) trustworthy domains refer back to the website’s content
These are all crucial characteristics to consider.
However, not just one can necessarily prove that a website will be valuable for you to get a backlink from.
Also, due to the various factors, there’s a vast range of quality for backlinks, ranging from absolutely worthless links — and links that are powerful in increasing your search rankings.
Getting a backlink from a site that can actually benefit your SEO is not easy.
Because, unlike a link farm, whoever manages them truly cares about quality and reputation, so they have high standards for who they link to.
One of the most effective ways to manually acquire these higher-quality backlinks is through value-focused outreach.
A lot of effort goes into implementing and mastering these successful outreach campaigns.
Which is why many agencies avoid it and settle for easier strategies that generate lower-quality results.
Reason #2: There Are SEO Agencies That Struggle with Being Transparent to Clients About Link Building
It’s quite common to find agencies that refuse to disclose their link-building strategies and sometimes the links they create.
This makes it easy for them to hide ineffective practices and low-quality backlinks.
And it gets worse.
Sometimes clients may be dragged on for months on end with expectations that can’t possibly materialize.
Not because it takes time, but because they’re unknowingly paying for low-quality backlinks.
Fortunately, it’s still possible to acquire higher-quality backlinks and to find link building agencies that are transparent about how they acquire their backlinks.
Reason #3: The Most Effective Link Building Strategies Are Also the Hardest
Everyone knows they need links.
But not many people want to put in the work to acquire high-quality links because link building is simply hard.
Back before I mastered link building when I co-founded my first SEO agency, we simply avoided link building at first.
However, during my time with my first SEO agency, I realized that there’s a massive demand for high-quality backlink builders but not enough supply.
And as I dug deeper, I realized why.
There are easier ways to build backlinks that don’t generate valuable links.
Then there are harder ways to manually build backlinks that can generate real SEO value.
The easier ways involve companies over-simplifying how they determine link quality and building links to low-quality domains, which leads to little-to-no positive impact on SEO.
Yet some agencies are thriving with this approach because their clients don’t know how to assess link quality.
Very few succeed in the harder way of building high-quality links through outreach because it involves sales and detailed project-management skills that many SEO professionals prefer to avoid altogether.
And since it requires manual outreach to organizations with high editorial standards, agencies struggle for it to be profitable to implement because it’s not easy to scale.
But it’s not impossible either.
At LinkPitch we get into the weeds and do things the hard way with value-focused outreach.
How Our Link Building Services Work to Consistently Generate High-Quality Links for All of Our Clients
As we’ve discussed previously, effective link building requires manual outreach and the application of sales skills in order to acquire a backlink.
Of course, strategic outreach is not the only aspect of a successful campaign.
Quality evaluation and customized strategies play an important role in maximizing efficiency, which allows for enhanced results and scalability.
So what do these considerations look like in practice?
Ultimately, we’ve broken them down into 9 main steps.
Step #1: Find Your Linkable Assets
The first step is to evaluate your website and industry in order to find your linkable assets.
The first thing we look at is content-based assets in the form of blog posts since these are the most efficient for long-term success.
If we’re working with a company that has already invested in producing high-quality written content, we have a good starting point for link building.
If we find that the company lacks content-based assets, we offer strategic suggestions on how to approach the creation of new content and improvement of existing pieces.
That being said, our evaluation process goes beyond the typical linkable assets.
We have a creative approach that allows us to find additional opportunities to create backlinks.
The goal is for our clients to have content that is altruistic in nature and is all about providing free value to the internet.
We can then use our client’s altruistic content to find ways to capitalize on that because it’s easier to build backlinks for content that genuinely helps people.
One of our previous clients owned a content-mill website.
We knew that the website’s commercial nature and lack of linkable assets would make it challenging to build links for it.
We suggested to this client that they build a thesis generator tool for their website, as it could be used as a linkable asset.
Then, we reached out to industry-related businesses that could share this tool with their target audience.
As we expected, the campaign was successful.
Step #2: Decide on the Best Strategies to Implement
In order to choose which strategy to use, we individually assess which backlinking strategies would yield you the most success.
While there are numerous backlinking techniques that can be used, we’ve chosen to focus on 4 core strategies.
These strategies are highly effective by themselves, and they’re enhanced by our system of continuous execution and improvement.
The unlinked brand mention strategy involves finding websites that refer to your brand but are not linking back to it and then kindly asking for a link.
This strategy works best for companies that are already well-established and have a significant amount of domains referring back to them.
Here’s an example of a response I received after notifying a prospect about an unlinked brand mention:
Broken link building is a strategy that involves finding broken links that could be replaced by your content.
After finding these links, we contact the person in charge of the content, notify them about the broken link, and suggest that they link to your content instead.
In the screenshot below, you can see a thankful prospect responding to our outreach with a confirmation that they decided to link back to our client’s content to fix the broken link.
It was a win for our client and a win for the prospect.
The most common way to apply this strategy is by using existing content, but sometimes it entails the creation of new content.
For example, if a lot of people are referring to a statistic and linking to a page that’s broken, I might suggest to a client that they create an article with that statistic mentioned and then offer that page as a replacement to the prospect.
Resource page link building is the process of finding websites that have resource pages related to your industry and reaching out to them, suggesting they add one of your pages to the list.
Below you can see exactly the type of responses we get from our resource page outreach.
Prospects with resource pages are happy to link back to our client’s content because our client’s content makes their resource page more valuable.
Content promotion is the practice of reaching out to websites and suggesting that they include a backlink to your page within their article or post.
In the example above, the prospect had no problem linking to our client’s altruistic content because it made their article better by adding an additional resource for readers.
The Resource Page and Content Promotion link building strategies generally work well for any kind of website that has a good quantity of high-quality content that others would find valuable and worth referring to.
For clients where this is not the case, I make sure to communicate it with the client and suggest the creation of new content.
Once we begin implementing the campaign, we perform a weekly review of each client’s performance.
We do this to continuously optimize the campaign for enhanced results and alternate strategies if needed.
This is absolutely necessary as there is only a limited amount of prospects for each specific strategy.
Step #3: Inspect and Evaluate the Best Target Pages for Outreach
After choosing the best backlinking strategies, we compile a list of pages for outreach.
We select these pages based on the backlinking strategy being used and the relevance of the site to your content.
We then set out to manually assess the quality and trustworthiness of each site in order to filter out low-quality domains.
Rather than relying purely on vanity metrics, we use a holistic approach to assess aspects of a domain that truly reflect its authority.
One of these aspects is organic traffic, which tends to positively correlate with the trustworthiness and authority of a domain.
If we do find significant organic traffic, we dig deeper to ensure that the traffic is relevant to the website’s niche.
This is something that can’t be overlooked because it’s very common for low-quality websites to mislead link builders by having a website that appears to get a lot of traffic, but in reality, the traffic it’s getting is from content that’s irrelevant to its niche.
For example, we once encountered a news-related website that had a significant amount of organic traffic.
But when we looked into the 5 most popular pages, we found that their most visited pages had absolutely nothing to do with international news.
(You can just take a look at the URLs to see exactly how irrelevant these pages actually are.)
This was a red flag because it suggests that the domain is not as authoritative as it seems to be.
In addition to traffic, we evaluate the backlink profile of a domain.
We consider questions like:
Do the backlinks seem legit?
Or does it seem they were paid for?
To answer these questions, the 2 most important positive factors we look for are relevance of the domain and relevance of the domain’s pages.
However, if we see a red flag, we dive deeper to ensure we’re outreaching to websites that are worth our time.
Here’s a checklist that we go through to further evaluate the backlink profile quality of a website:
- Anchor text of the backlink — is it relevant?
- Is the website transparent about who runs the website?
- Where are the backlinks coming from and how were they earned?
- Is the website being updated frequently?
- Is the content quality of the website good?
- Does the website look like a link farm?
If there are no red flags, we can be confident that the website is authoritative.
Step #4: Gather Contacts
Once we’ve established which prospects to target, we move on to find the right people to get in touch with.
To do so, we assess which people seem to be responsible for the part of the website we’re trying to get a link from.
This process highly depends on the nature of the business we’re targeting.
If it’s a content site, we usually select the marketing manager or editor to get in touch with.
Other kinds of businesses, such as schools, have different organizational structures, so finding contacts can be time-consuming.
For example, if we’re looking for the right contact for a university, we often look at the breadcrumbs of the page to see who manages the page.
Every different type of site will have a different best person to contact that we have to determine.
Our team members are trained for months on the process of choosing suitable contacts.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just grabbing contacts by using a tool like Hunter.io.
We’ve learned that this is a skill best perfected through experience
We typically select between 1 to 3 people, depending on the company size.
Step #5: Gather Emails
Once we know who to contact, we move on to find their emails.
Sometimes this is straightforward, while many times, it requires creative guessing.
One of the techniques we use is to deduce the email from the company’s email naming conventions.
If that doesn’t work, we track them on social media and try their handles in our email software.
If the profile icon pops up when we type their email contact, we know we’ve struck gold.
Step #6: Prepare Value-First Outreach Messaging
One of the reasons our outreach emails convert so highly is because we take pride in carefully crafting our email pitches.
Our first golden rule is to keep it short and straightforward.
We know people are busy and will often ignore unnecessarily long emails.
Keeping it simple makes it more likely that they’ll read our message since we’re respecting their time.
We also ensure a high level of personalization, which has been proven to massively increase response rates.
We customize each of our emails with the prospect’s name and refer back to the specific page we’re seeking a backlink from.
Finally, our messages are value-focused, meaning that we explain the value our contacts will get from our link.
For example, if we’re offering a link for a resource page, we would mention the uniqueness of our content and how valuable it can be for their audience.
Step #7: Have a Follow-up Sequence Ready
Sometimes emails go unnoticed. It may be that a prospect was too busy to respond or simply overlooked it.
That’s where follow-up emails come in.
They’re a simple yet highly effective way to ensure visibility and increase the chances of a response.
Here’s one example of a response we received after a follow-up:
As you can see, instead of our initial email getting lost in the contact’s inbox, the contact was thankful for the value we were offering and gave us a positive response, which eventually led to an earned backlink.
We avoid spamming at all costs and draw the line at 2 follow-ups to a single contact.
If we don’t get a reply, we may reach out to 2 additional people who we also identified as good contacts.
The process with these contacts is the same:
An initial pitch email and up to 2 follow-ups.
If we still don’t get a reply, we just move on to contact a different company because we never want to risk harming our client’s reputation.
Step #8: Negotiate With Prospects Until We Can Secure a Link
Most often, the replies we receive are neither positive nor negative but something in between, requiring further engagement from our side in order to acquire a link.
The prospect may simply need more information regarding our content before they feel ready to give their backing.
In such cases, our replies would focus on clarification.
At other times, they might like the content itself but express a concern with the way that the page is presented.
For example, if there are ads on the page we’re offering, our prospect might not want to link back to it because it’s commercialized.
In this case, we’d acknowledge their concerns and express our willingness to work with our client to remove signs of commercialization.
Step #9: How We Stay Transparent With Our Clients
We hold ourselves accountable to our clients by sharing a spreadsheet in which we track every backlink we create.
This spreadsheet includes a direct link to where the backlink is located, as well as 3 key metrics for the website it’s located: organic traffic, domain authority, and domain rating.
For the sake of convenience, we also set up email alerts so that our clients get notified every time we create a new link.
Here’s How to Partner With LinkPitch
If you’re looking for high-quality backlinks that deliver results, head over to our contact page and drop us a message for a free consultation.
We’ll carefully assess your website and give you our take on the best link-building approach for your case, whether that means working together or not.