Despite Google’s continual assertions that if you just write good content, your website will thrive, it is abundantly clear that some focussed link-building efforts are needed if you’re going to grab a top position.

This article will look closely at obtaining link insertions in the right places via a step-by-step guide. 

We’ll cover both the Skyscraper technique, by which you’re requesting free insertions based on quality and the more ethically questionable paid insertion technique.

What is Link Insertion?

Link insertion is the practice of contacting website owners to put a link exactly where you want it.

While Google advocates earning links via churning out good content and hoping for the best, link insertion bypasses that process by sourcing content already written and seeing if the webmaster will play the ball.

Of course, the content you’re offering must be exceptional for this to be effective. Or, in some cases, good old-fashioned money changes hands and the link is placed for mutually beneficial reasons.

Link insertion is a technique which blends the metric focus of pure SEO with a traditional marketer’s goal of aligning your brand with quality. 

Why is Link Insertion So Effective?

  • All webmasters need to pay the bills – For most websites, even big brands, paid content in one form or another is their principal income. As such, surprisingly high percentage are open to paid link insertions if they’re comfortable with the quality of what they’re linking to.
  • Minimal effort is required – For a webmaster to edit an old post and add a link will take about two minutes! This makes it an excellent method of earning money if there’s a fee involved.

Three Methods of Link Insertion

  1. Isolate a basic link opportunity using a tool like Ahrefs Content Explorer, filter by metrics, and then email the webmaster your request. This method can work but generally yields a poor rate of return. Most webmasters are simply too busy or jaded to add something for free these days.
  2. The Skyscraper Technique is designed to identify content already performing well in search engines and create even more informative and helpful content. Once you’ve completed your “skyscraper”, you can reach out to the websites linking to the original content and ask them to link to your new and improved version. It works well if the content is topical, and your new version means they’re linking to more current information.
  3. Paid link Insertion means isolating highly targeted opportunities based on business niche and domain metrics, then pitching the webmaster with a financial proposition to insert a relevant link from your site.

Effective Outreach for Link Insertions

Outreaching webmasters for a paid link can be tricky, but with the right approach, it still works. 

Here’s a simple 7-step process:

  1. Identify Outreach Opportunities: Use Ahrefs Content Explorer or Google search to isolate relevant and attractive opportunities.
  2. Build a list: Gather key data such as their name, email address, and URL and collate them in a Google sheet. Use a Chrome Extension like Hunter.Io for email sourcing.
  3. Craft an outreach email: Once you have identified potential webmasters, it’s time to craft a persuasive email. Make it friendly and professional. Provide a brief introduction of yourself and your business and explain why you think a link would benefit you and them.
  4. Send your email and follow up: Send your email to the webmasters on your list and wait for their response. Using outreach software such as Mailshare, you can even automate a friendly reminder.
  5. Negotiate the terms: If there’s money changing hands, you’ll need to both agree on a price. This includes the anchor text, the price, and the link’s expiration date. 
  6. Make the payment and get the link: After agreeing to the terms, make the payment and ask the webmaster to place the link on their website. Make sure to ask for a live link and check the link is working and that the anchor text is correct.
  7. Keep track of the links: Keep track of all the links you’ve built and their expiration date. Some webmasters will wish to review the arrangement each year.

How to Choose the Ideal Link Insertion Opportunity

There’s obviously a delicate balance between quality and cost. If you find a piece on a significant brand website with 500 inbound links, they will hit the spam button when your request comes in or suggest your mortgage your house to pay for it.

You’ll have more luck if you set the bar lower. In some ways, using Google to search for opportunities is easier than Ahrefs. If Google ranks a page, they like it, making it an appropriate target.

For a typical keyword, you might jump to page 3 of the Google search and start scanning opportunities. One-person blogs are more likely to accept the offer than more prominent brands. You may also see evidence of other links on the site, or guest posts, which tell you the webmaster is actively using the site to make money and may well be interested in more.

How to Phrase the Link Insertion Email?

Our experience suggests it’s best to cut to the chase via something like this simply:

Dear Tim,

I work for and am tasked with improving our SEO. I was wondering if you might be open to a paid link insertion on this post: 

The piece of content we’re keen to promote is here: As you can see, it’s well-written and authoritative and would be entirely relevant for you to link to.

Please let me know your terms if you might be interested in this. I can PayPal you the money straight away,

Don’t Forget to Haggle

If the webmaster says it’s £100, then it’s always worth going back and haggling. Suggest £50, then you can agree to £75.

You can even go for a bulk buy discount if you have multiple domains.

Remember to Specify Anchor Text

Perhaps the best thing about link insertions is that you get to literally sculpt your anchor text. Our technique is usually to reserve our most powerful links for exact or partial match anchors, since they carry the most weight.

If you’re doing these at scale, you’ll obviously want to ensure a healthy mix of randomness, including your plain URL, your brand name, and a range of related keywords to the target page.

Some Final Insights on Link Insertion Techniques

Keep a black book of all the webmasters you have relationships with – it can come in very handy should you need more in the future, for other brands

Make sure the link appears natural – While newer SEOs worry about the risk of penalty, the fact is that if the link appears natural to the eyes of a manual reviewer, there is minimal risk. Just don’t try to game the system by negotiating links that don’t appear relevant on the page

Try to avoid recurring fees – While some webmasters try to charge annually, we tend to avoid these. It’s so much easier to do a one time negotiation and move on.


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