How To Do Link Insertions (Without Paying)

What is a Link Insertion?

Simply put, a link insertion is the practice of adding your website's relevant link to the existing content of another website.

By doing this, you're hoping that the backlink from the link insertion will have a positive impact on your backlink profile and boost your Google SERP rankings.

Link insertion can be a very effective way to generate traffic to your site, but it can also be a very risky proposition.

If you're not careful, you could end up getting links from low quality sites which would have a negative impact on your SEO performance.

That's why it's important to understand the ins and outs of link insertion before you start doing it.

There are different outreach strategies for link insertions.

The most common is to find relevant websites and then contact the website owner or webmaster directly.

This can be done by sending an email, filling out a contact form, or even leaving a comment on the site itself.

Let me share with you a few of my favorite link insertion strategies.

If you're looking for an agency to help you build quality links, check out our link insertion service.

Key Points

  • Statistics show that link insertion is the best strategy in getting insanely powerful links in existing content at a cheaper cost.
  • When done correctly, link insertion can result in a massive boost in traffic to your site.
  • There are different outreach strategies for link insertions.
  • Use tools such as Ahrefs to help you find relevant websites for link insertion.

Outreach Strategies for Link Insertions

There are several ways to reach out and earn link insertions. Five years ago, my go to method would have been offering to pay for a link.

However, with a bit of creativity you can get much higher quality link insertions without resorting to payments.

Let's start with the paying and then work our way towards more sustainable strategies.

Offering to Pay For a Link

This involves sending an email to the webmaster and offering to pay them for inserting your link into their webpage.

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There are several versions of this where you can request your link to be inserted, including the homepage, footer, and sidebar links.

But we are focusing on the most natural form - contextual links in blog content.

The goal here is buying enough link insertions from high-quality sites that will make your rankings go up in Google, resulting in more traffic (and hopefully more sales).

Unfortunately, there are risks involved. If done incorrectly, this can come across as spammy and could get your site penalized by Google.

Make sure you're only contacting high-quality sites that are relevant to your business, and be very clear about what you're offering in exchange for the link.

As if that's not enough, link buyers also need to be prepared to spend a lot of money - this isn't a strategy for those on a tight budget.

The good thing is, you can still make it work. To make it easier, be sparing with this strategy.

Only use it for really important links and be prepared to negotiate and break the bank for quality links.

For example, I usually ignore people who reach out to me asking for a paid link.

But one time, someone offered me $500 and I had to jump on it.

Either way, if you pursue this strategy, make sure you include your entire value proposition in the first email, so that the site owner knows what they're getting in return for the link.

Lastly, stay away from link sellers - there are a lot of link building services out there, and it's not worth risking your site's reputation to save a few bucks.

Resource Page Link Building

This strategy involves building an outreach list of websites that have a resource page in your niche and pitching them a resource addition.

This is a great way to get high-quality, relevant links, but it can be time-consuming.

The goal here is to get listed on as many high quality resource pages as possible. This will help increase your website's authority and improve your search engine rankings.

It is hard to find the right people to contact and then getting them to actually link to your resource page.

Most people are inundated with requests like this and they simply don't have the time to respond to all of them.

That's why it's important to make your request as concise and to-the-point as possible.

I recommend using a tool like BuzzSumo to find relevant resource pages, and then using a link outreach tool like BuzzStream to organize the outreach process.

Additionally, you can use Hunter to find contact information for the site's owner or webmaster.

The biggest risk here is that you'll spend a lot of time doing outreach but not get any links in return.

To minimize this risk, make sure you create a really high-quality resource that people will actually want to link to.

Broken Link Building

This link-building tactic has been around for ages. I don't think the original method of doing it works anymore but I am having success with an evolution of it that I'll mention near the end.

Broken link building is the process of finding broken links on websites and then either:

  • Asking the target website to replace the broken link with a link to your website, or
  • Creating a new piece of content on your website and then reaching out to the website and asking them to link to it.

For this link-building strategy to work, you need a page on your site that’s similar or identical to the broken page you plan on replacing. If not, that’s fine because you can do something about this (we’ll discuss this briefly).

But first, you must determine the sites you want to target. By using a tool like Ahrefs, you can quickly and easily find websites that have broken links. Here's how it works:

  • First, go to Ahrefs and enter the URL of the website you want to target into the Site Explorer tool.
  • Next, click on the "Best by links" tab and then choose "All pages."
  • Now, you'll see a list of all the pages on the site that have at least one backlink.
  • From here, you can click on the "Broken" tab to see a list of all the broken links on the site.
  • Finally, you can click on the "Export" button to download a list of all the broken links.

From here, you‘ll see the list of domains linking to your competitors. Ideally, you want to determine link opportunities from the list according to Domain Authority (DA). 

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The higher the DR, the more authoritative the site is based on the quality of its link profile.

But before you pursue links from this domain, you must ensure that you don’t have links from those domains, either.

In this case, you can also use the Link Intersect feature to expedite the process. It’ll show you domains that link to your competitors and doesn’t to you.

Once you’ve decided on a domain, run it using Site Explorer and click on Outgoing links > Broken links.

The tool will then show you the broken pages that the domain is linking to. From here, analyze which among the broken pages are similar to pages on your site.

The goal is to use these pages as leverage to get a backlink from the domain. Let’s say you don’t have a page similar to these broken pages or a page like it on your site, but it’s not the same.

What you can do is retrieve the working version of the broken page and incorporate its content onto a new or existing page on your website.

To do this, go to Wayback Machine and enter the URL of the broken page there.

It will then show you a calendar and the dates when the cached version of the page is available.

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There may be multiple cached versions of the page on Wayback Machine. If so, uncover the version that worked before the page broke down, starting with the latest version to the oldest.

From here, check the content of the page and re-write them onto your page’s content.

Again, make sure the content is unique and better than the original because this will give you an edge once you start pitching the page for link building.

“Better,” in this context, depends on the page you’re grooming on your site. For example, if the site’s broken page is linking to is a statistics page, you should include more up-to-date stats in your content.

Or, if the page is a how-to guide, be more specific in your instructions by adding images and videos to show your audience how something is done correctly.

Doing all these will help increase the likelihood that site owners will respond to your email, if not outright link to your post!

If you aren't having success with this method of broken link building, do what I do:

Tell the webmaster what their broken links are without any catch or offer for replacement.

Just consider it your foot in the door and use turn that opportunity into a more effective outreach strategy, like the one I'll cover next.

Link Exchange

Unlike broken link building, reciprocal links as a tactic caught the eye of Google back in the day. It penalized websites that were linking to each other on a page level.

That means website A has a link to its page X from website B’s page Y and vice versa.

Thing is, websites A and B only have links to each other because they want something in return—usually a backlink. This makes link exchange a tactic manipulative.

Google has become more sophisticated and can now detect this manipulative linking. That’s why it no longer recommends reciprocal linking as a strategy.

This type of method is considered a link scheme for the obvious footprints it leaves.

And he’s the thing; If you’re able to obfuscate your footprints, Google won’t be able to tell a link scheme from a natural link.

Using this information, you can make reciprocal linking more natural-looking in the eyes of Google.

To do this, instead of getting a link from the same page you’re linking to, get a link from another page! 

Here’s what I’m talking about:

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This is a GREAT email for several reasons:

  1. The person made no bones that this is a link building outreach. But instead of prioritizing his needs, he also had my best interests in mind by offering to link out to one of my posts in exchange for linking to his.
  2. He showed an actual example of what page on my site he’ll link to his and the anchor text. Also, he took out the guesswork from his proposal, allowing me to agree with his plan.
  3. He added an incentive to sweeten the deal (promote your hosting (or any other tool) review page.”)
  4. He explained the benefit of his proposal from an SEO standpoint.

Doing reciprocal linking like the one above gives site owners whom you’re reaching out to greater control on how to build relevant links on your sites.

At the same time, your collaboration enables you to establish a better rapport with them, which could pave the way for more link opportunities.

Offering to Update Old Content

A link-building outreach strategy that hasn’t been tapped to its full potential is updating the old content of prospect sites.

Let’s say your target domain has an old blog post that hasn’t been updated for years. It contains outdated statistics and screenshots of tools and pages that no longer exist.

More importantly, its keywords rankings may have dropped as a result.

In case you might be asking yourself, “Why would they want to do that?” By uncovering these opportunities, you can contact site owners and pitch updating these posts to keep information fresh and new.

In exchange, you can ask for a link to your site to be included in the content!

So, here’s how the process goes:

  1. Analyze your prospect using Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. 
  2. Go to Organic search > Top Pages to see its traffic trends at a page level.
  3. Filter by pages who have declined in traffic over the past 6 months
  4. See if you would like a link from any of those pages and prepare to offer a content rewrite

For example, from my Linkio site below, my link building tools page has lost 50% of its traffic because I haven't kept it updated.

If someone approached me properly with an offer to rewrite that page and Surfer SEO optimize it in exchange for a simple link, I would jump all over it!

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Here’s an example of the email you’ll send to prospects:

Hello, {{name}}!

{{your name}} here. Just noticed that your page {{page name}} hasn’t been updated for years. So it contains lots of outdated information, probably causing it to lose organic traffic.

Would you like me to update it for you?

I’ll make sure to provide new and relevant information about the topic. But, more importantly, I’ll optimize the post using {{tool}} to increase its chances of improving its organic rankings over time and recover the traffic you previously lost.

Here are samples of my previous works if you’re interested:

{{links to previous works}}

I can do this for you free of charge. In exchange, I’d like to include a backlink to my site within the content.

What do you think?

This is just a template you can use as inspiration for your campaign if you plan on using this strategy. It’s designed this way because of the following reasons:

  • You want to go straight to your pitch. Use the email signature section to tell them who you are and links to your website and social media if they want to learn more.
  • I mentioned {{tool}} because you want to reassure them that you’ll be observing the best SEO practices to help them recover their rankings. Tools like Surfer SEO, Frase, and similar can help you with this. Also, if you have a different method for ranking blog posts, mention it here.
  • Linking to previous posts gives site owners an idea of the kind of writing you can do for them. It’s one way of saying you can make their content better, it’s another to show them what you’re capable of.

Maximizing the Effectiveness of a Link Insertion Campaign

Once you have the interest of a blogger, your job is not done yet. You want to come across as a good partner and request the most impactful link insertion you can find. Here's how to do it.

Maintaining Good Etiquette

When requesting links from bloggers, it is important to maintain good etiquette.

Only request links from their blog posts, not the homepage or service page.

In addition, don't ask for a link to your blog post from a directly competing blog post on their blog. This can come across as pushy and self-serving.

Finally, don't ask for links to your service pages. While you might occasionally get away with this, most bloggers prefer not to link to pages that are selling something.

This approach ensures your link requests are well-received and more likely to be successful.

Target a Hyper-Relevant Page

Getting a link from a hyper-relevant page is one of the best ways to get a backlink.

This is because the page is not only relevant to your keywords but also has your keywords in the title, URL, and article.

However, this can be difficult to do because people tend to get lazy and just pick the first blog post they see.

To make it easier, you can use Google to search for relevant blog posts by using the "site:domain.com keyword" search.

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This will give you a list of all the relevant blog posts on that site so you can pick the most appropriate one.

Target Recent Posts

The goal is to get a backlink from the most recently published relevant article.

It looks less spammy to Google and more recent articles have more internal link juice, which makes your backlink more powerful.

When you have the choice of multiple relevant ones, go for the most recent posts.

To find the most recent blog posts, you can use the "site:domain.com keyword" search and then sort by date.

Or, you can use a Google operator like "inurl:blog/2022" to find all the blog posts published in 2022.

Target High Page Authority Blog Posts

Higher page authority blog posts send stronger link signals, a factor most link inserters overlook.

The good news is there’s a tool that makes it easy to find high-authority pages.

Use Ahrefs.com to show you the page authority for any given URL.

As you can see, the first page has a total of 43 referring domains, the second has 16 followed by 10, and then 7.

What does this mean for you?​ The more referring domains you have linking to your page, the more authority you get.

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Target High Ranking Pages

The best link is one from a high-traffic page, another factor commonly ignored because it requires extra effort.

Ahrefs makes this easier by allowing you to enter a website and explore its keyword rankings.

You can then filter by your own keywords to see if they have any good rankings.

If you see a website with good rankings for your target keywords, that’s a strong indication they have traffic and are worth targeting.

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If they do, you can click on the pages that rank and see if they would be a good fit for your backlink.

Just note, it's rare to find the perfect page that has all these attributes for every opportunity - and you don't need that.

Keep these checks in mind while you go about your link exchange requests and you'll end up with an enviable backlink profile.

Don’t Make The Webmaster Work

When you reach out and ask for something, its your responsibility to make the experience smooth. 

Don't make the webmaster think or work. Once you have an agreement, make sure everything the webmaster needs is a click or a copy-paste away within the email or an attached Google doc.

You might assume that because it's in the trail mail, that the webmaster can just dig up the info. That gives them work to do and reduces your changes of follow-through.

If it's a simple link insertion into an already existing article, I will write an email like this:

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And if you are suggesting they add additional text to the article, create a Google doc with a screenshot of the exact place you want them to add the text, followed by the text for them to copy and paste.

Not Just Doing Link Insertions

Most links come from new content on the web. It's rare for webmasters to go back and update old content. It's especially rare for a websites entire backlink profile be from previously updated link insertions.

You want to build a natural backlink profile that increases your rankings. Have link insertions be like 25% of your backlink profile with the rest being new backlinks. 

Once you figure out link insertions, you'll get seduced by how easy and cost effective it is and focus on it.

Instead, incorporate guest posts and other link building strategies to keep up the variety.

Guest Post on Popular Blogs in Your Niche

A guest post is when you write an article for another blog in your niche.

In the author bio and in the content, you get to include 1 or 2 links back to your website.

The goal is to get a high-quality backlink from a popular blog in your niche.

To find guest post opportunities, Ahrefs Content Explorer has a huge database of websites and articles.

Just enter your keywords + guest post and you'll get a list of websites in your niche that allow guest posts.

However, because the index is so large, it can be difficult to find the most relevant results. 

Fortunately, Ahrefs has filters that you can use to narrow down the search. 

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I usually look for articles with at least 10 referring domains and filter out low traffic and low DR sites.

You can learn more about how to guest post here and following guest posting best practices here.

Avoid Low Quality Sites   

A low quality site will have a combination of these characteristics:

  • Low traffic
  • Relevancy issues
  • Poor design
  • Ads everywhere
  • Link to spammy sites
  • Content not related to the target keyword

You want high-quality websites linking to you because they send strong link signals.

You also want to avoid link insertions from sites that could get you penalized by Google.

One way to check if a site is low quality is to use the MozBar extension for Google Chrome.

It will show you the domain and page authority of any website you visit.

You can also use Majestic or Ahrefs to check the link profile of a website and see if it links to any spammy sites.

If it does, its best to avoid getting a link from that site.

Conclusion

Link insertion may seem like a complicated process at first, but it's actually quite simple once you get the hang of it.

Just remember to focus on quality over quantity, and to target topically relevant websites that are slightly above your own authority level.

By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to success with link insertion outreach.

If you can benefit form link insertions and are looking for help, check out our link insertion service.

Ajay Paghdal
Outreach Labs Founder
🕒 13 mins read
Oct 14, 2022

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Article by
Ajay Paghdal
Outreach Labs Founder
Ajay enjoys tinkering with new link building strategies, building teams and processes around it and in general, has enjoyed being a part of the industry for the past decade.

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