Along with guest posts and HARO, link insertions are a powerful link building strategy to get amazing links from high authority websites; so long as you keep a few things in mind when finding and pursuing opportunities.
Link insertions can happen in a couple of ways: as a transaction–either through paid guest posts or if your content is just that good–or as links in existing content; again, either paid or freely given.
Link insertions are an involved process, which is why many companies with room in their digital marketing budget prefer to use an experienced link building service with a history of success to do the heavy lifting for them.
Either way, let’s get into the mechanics of and strategy behind link insertion.
Why Link Insertions are So Effective
Link insertions, along with guest posting, are one of the favorite link building strategies for both pros and amateurs for a few reasons.
They are low-effort and (potentially) high-reward
Link insertions are a low-effort and potentially high-reward strategy from the perspective of both the link builder and the website owner.
Businesses love them because they can be agreed upon and placed in existing content in a short amount of time.
Link builders don’t have to come up with new content ideas and write content (because the content is already published) to get a link, and website owners don’t have to do any back and forth about topics and guidelines, they just insert the link and, depending on the kind of link insertion, collect payment.
Easy way to make money for sites
When you do outreach with the intention of convincing businesses to let you publish new content on their website (i.e., a guest posting), it can be a major uphill battle if a) you don’t have good content and b) you’re a new business without much authority or SEO value to offer the hosting website.
With a link insertion, on the other hand, a website owner is getting some money simply for putting a link into an existing piece of content.
They just choose the content, the anchor text, insert the link in the existing content and voila! Money in the bank.
How to Locate Link Insertion Opportunities
There are, generally speaking, two ways to find link insertion opportunities. You can look for online businesses with explicitly advertised paid posting opportunities, or you can start a new outreach campaign and pitch ideas.
Sites with paid posting opportunities
With this strategy, you target a list of sites that have paid posting opportunities (often called “sponsored posts”). If they are offering these services, it’s almost a guarantee that they are willing to accept money for link insertions on existing blog pages.
New outreach campaign
The second strategy involves starting a new outreach campaign. The way to do this is to create a list of niche-relevant websites (that aren’t PBNs and link farms), find the post(s) on their site where you would like a link placed and then reach out and negotiate placement costs.
If you are trying to build links this way at scale, you might want to consider email software.
A couple of important qualifiers to keep in mind with link insertions
Don’t celebrate just because a site has agreed to do a link insertion with you. There are two key variables that determine whether it’s a good opportunity or not.
Does the site have a good link profile?
First off, you want to make sure that the target domain is actually passing on link juice, which is to say that Google likes the site.
If it’s a Link Farm or private blog network (PBN) that only exists to sell links, you might end up with backlinks that either do nothing or perhaps even hurt your site.
Make sure your target domains are legitimate sites with good domain metrics–search traffic, geographically relevant search traffic, domain authority etc.
Will you be able to control how the anchor text appears?
Secondly, you want to make sure the anchor text used to link to the destination page is SEO-friendly.
In essence, you want the link to be inserted into the post in a way that is contextually relevant and natural in the article, and that helps contextualize the destination page too.
What this means, basically, is no keyword-optimized text. If the keyword string you are trying to rank for on the destination page is something like “best pet grooming [your location]” then you don’t want the hyperlinked text of your link insertion to be that verbatim.
Google doesn’t like that because it’s spammy.
The Link Insertion Process: Negotiating and Settling Link Insertions
An important thing to keep in mind when pursuing link insertions (and guest posts) is that you shouldn’t really be paying more than $50 for a link.
This is what an automated link insertion response email looks like from a website that is really out to lunch with the price:
$290 for a link is ridiculous, but you get the idea.
Obviously, the price is going to vary based on the metrics of the site.
For example, a really high domain authority, quality site with tons of traffic knows what it has to offer and will probably charge accordingly. The key thing to remember is that link insertions and guest positions are almost always negotiable.
Here are how you should approach it.
Get the price
Don’t make the first offer. If a business asks you for a budget, the best practice is to tell them that you are doing link building on behalf of the site owner and that you can go back to this person with a price or list of prices and see what they say.
Negotiate the price
It’s almost a certainty that they come back to you with more money than you’re looking to spend any more than they are willing to accept.
If they come back with, say, $100, you can simply let them know that you don’t have the budget for that.
If you are trying to negotiate a guest post, a good practice here is to suggest a link insertion instead of the post. You would ideally already have a list of posts that would be ideal for your content, which you can then suggest.
A link insertion is going to be essentially effortless for them because it involves very little work on an existing page.
What a webmaster is looking for
They just have to look at your website and the link in question, decide whether they like what they see, and then do the link insertion instantaneously. They don’t need to read, write or edit anything to make sure it complies with their editorial guidelines, so they are likely willing to accept less money for a pure link insertion.
This is not a rule of thumb, but it is something that happens often enough that you can reliably use it as one of your strategies.
Settle the deal
A very important part of the link building process is actually closing the deal. Links are lost all the time because people do link building too slowly and businesses either lose interest or are tied up with something else.
As soon as your contact agrees to do the link insertion, you can start asking for PayPal details and let them know that you can pay them within the next couple of hours.
Some link builders will reach out to sites and negotiate link insertions while intentionally obscuring the link in question.
The idea is to get a site (preferably a high domain authority one) to agree to host your backlinks without knowing what they’re linking to so that, in the event they end up not liking the site or article, they’ve already accepted the deal (and potentially even payment) and feel bad backing out.
Why this is bad business and bad for your website
You could choose to do this, but we don’t like this method. What’s more, it could hurt your brand reputation and even lose you money.
Think about it. Any webmaster running an authoritative site nowadays understands that there are some important outbound link considerations.
You don’t just link to any old website willy-nilly, especially if you are a high authority site with a large reader base and a reputation to uphold.
Google is all about user experience, and if you’re linking to poorly written articles, on spammy sites, with bad domain metrics, you’re jeopardizing your own content and traffic.
A website owner could decide to send an email to their contact list in the niche informing them that a certain website or link builder uses deceitful tactics?
Strategically Structuring Your Link Insertions
You don’t want links from just any old URL on a website. What you want, ideally, are links from articles that have a lot of links pointing to them already.
If you are able to get a link on a page that has a bunch of high-quality links pointing to it already, that page is going to pass along more link juice to your article (more than a brand new guest post, for example, or an existing article with no traffic and no links).
You can use Ahrefs new “Best by links” tool to see which of a site’s pages have the most backlinks and then select from among them.
In addition to choosing source pages that have a good backlink profile, try to also choose pages that maximize topical relevance.
What this means, the way to build links is to source them from websites, articles and content that makes sense for your niche and the article you’re linking to.
Google takes relevance into consideration when determining ranking, so you need to make sure any links (inbound or outbound) respect that.
Here’s an example of relevance
Let’s imagine you’re trying to build a backlink to a page titled “10 Ways to Show Remote Employees You Value Them.”
You’re going to be looking for content and sites in the HR, organizational behaviour, office and leadership niches.
But relevance doesn’t stop there. You’re also going to want to find content on those websites that allows you to link naturally back to your article.
The method here is to use your target website’s search bar to look for keywords related to your content and then vet the articles that appear.
If you are struggling to find topically relevant content, try to find something that is at least adjacent enough to your article that you can do a natural-enough link insertion without it being spammy.
Or, if after searching your list of related keywords in their blog, you find that there are no such opportunities, you can simply move on.
A Crucial Part of Link Building: Nailing Your Anchor
The problem with doing link insertions is that you are relying on the site owners to use SEO-friendly anchor text.
Keyword-optimization is a thing of the past and no longer works. High authority links that boost organic traffic and ranking are going to use relevant anchor text.
In order to ensure that you are getting the text you want, here are some instructions to give to the owners or webmasters so that they can pretty much just plug-and-play (If you know what you’re doing, they will also likely appreciate that they don’t have to edit much):
- Referring URL: the URL of the post or pages on their site where you want your link to go
- Target URL: the URL of your page
- Before: “this is what the blog text that goes immediately before the anchor might read”
- After: “this is what the text that goes right after the anchor text might read.”
- Anchor text: “contextually, topically relevant, non keyword-optimized anchor text.”
The most important aspect of a link insertion is that the link seems natural.
The SEO-friendliness of Link Insertions
Link insertions, in and of themselves, are neither black hat nor white hat link building. It all depends on how you do it.
If a link doesn’t look and feel natural, it’s not a good idea, and any site owners that understand the dangers of spammy linking, whose intentions are sustainable increases in organic traffic, won’t want to publish it either.
Link insertions sound easy in theory, but as you can see, there is a lot that goes into their success.
If you want a link building agency with years of experience building high quality, SEO-friendly backlinks using this and other proven link building tactics, get in touch to discuss our transparent, performance-based pricing today.
Why Trust Us On SEO
Eric Carrell & Sebastian Schaffer have been working in SEO for over a decade, building their own projects - understanding and testing SEO strategy, along with building hundreds of white hat links per month for our projects. They take their learnings and experience and apply them to the strategy that drives our link building strategy for our clients.
Eric & Seb have always believed in quality over quantity, doing things the right way so we future proof our client’s websites against future Google updates and the evolving industry of search.
While Seb handles the company strategy around culture, processes and structure, Eric is constantly working to improve our service offering, customer experience, and following the industry in parallel with Google’s Quality Guidelines so that we are always one step ahead of our competition and aligned with what Google wants to see for your site to rank higher.