Why Relationship Link Building Yields the Best Results

How to Make Connections and Build Better Links
Published on 
May 2, 2024
Updated on 
May 2, 2024

Back when black hat link building tactics used to actually work (i.e., before Google’s last few major updates), the idea of relationship link building, at least to people out to build as many links as possible, in the shortest amount of time, for the least amount of money, might have seemed quaint. 

Fast forward to 2023, and a lot of link builders are probably wishing they had spent more time cultivating those relationships. 

In the below article, we will delve into how relationship building (also known as manual link building) and backlinks go hand in hand, especially if you’re talking about building links to high quality websites at scale. 

This is how we, at dofollow, operate and why we are consistently able to build incredible links for our clients on some of the web’s biggest, most high authority sites. 

So, without further ado, let’s jump into how and why relationships form the backbone of our link building strategies and why they should for yours as well. 

What, exactly, is relationship building for backlinks?

What we mean when we talk about link building relationships is the people or websites you have in your “Rolodex” that you can reach out to to build a backlink. 

It might be a great guest post idea you have, a niche edit to an existing article you would like to make or a broken link building request. 

What is all boils down to is that webmasters and site owners, especially on bigger, high authority sites, are bombarded with link building requests all day long. Having an “in” and having actually corresponded with someone can make all the difference in the world. 

Relationships are especially important if you are trying to build links at scale–i.e., what we at dofollow do. 

It is essential that we are able to quickly reach out to websites where we know we are able to get high quality links and set up a guest blog post, for example. We know what their editorial standards are, we know the people we are communicating with and we have already established trust. 

Think of it from your own perspective as a person who receives regular unsolicited emails: who are you quicker to respond to and who are you more likely to just straight up ignore? The person whose email address you recognize or that cold outreach email?

In the following sections, we will explore some of the best ways to make first contact, build relationships with people willing to publish, link to and amplify quality content. 

Identifying influencers

Of course, you can reach out to whomever you like and try to establish trust and rapport, but one of the best ways to build relationships while doing good digital PR is to start contacting the influencers in your space. 

Here are some of the tools you can use to do this. 


This is a tool developed by SEOMoz that helps you identify good Twitter influencers in your space. All it takes is a few minutes of perusing to find influencers with sizeable followings who are active on Twitter that you could potentially partner with. 

It is essentially a search engine that allows you to search keywords, sort the results by what they refer to as “social authority,” and then add the people you are interested in reaching out to to a spreadsheet. 

Twitter following

A good way to figure out who’s worth following is to see who your list of influencers are following. 

Simply check out an influencer’s profile, and check to see if they have a very small list of people they follow. This is a good way to build a list of industry superstars. 

Making first contact

Once you have your initial list of influencers, it’s time to reach out and make contact. 

One of the big mistakes that people make while networking and relationship building is immediately jumping into their sales pitch.

It’s a far better idea, especially if you are doing cold outreach, to simply say hi. 

This is what’s often referred to as “first touch contact” and it tends to work better, especially for people or websites that don’t explicitly state they accept guest posts or guest content of any kind. 

This type of relationship building takes longer, and it may involve a “getting to know eachother” period of several weeks, but if you are able to establish a genuine connection with someone, it will pay dividends down the road. 

Blog commenting

One of the best ways to get on people’s radar is to leave thoughtful, substantive comments on a person’s blog. 

If you stand out as someone who has valuable, insightful things to say, site owners are going to take notice. 

Ideally, you want to be one of the first people to leave a comment on a post. A great way to make sure you’re a first mover on new content is to subscribe to people’s RSS feeds. 

RSS readers like RSS Feed Reader from are free Chrome extensions that let you track all of your online sources of information. 

Site owners and bloggers might not always check their emails or have time for cold outreach, but anyone who takes their website seriously is definitely monitoring and moderating their blog comments daily. 

Nurturing conversation and managing engagement is an important part of growing an audience and establishing brand reputation, so most online businesses and entrepreneurs are on top of it. 

The most important thing to keep in mind with this relationship building method is that your contributions need to be valuable. 

“Nice post!” or “keep up the good work” is not going to cut it. 

Instead, comment on something specific from the article, perhaps elaborating on it in ways that the person might not have included. You might point them in the direction of supplementary information, or perhaps even contradictory information. 

Done tactfully, you can emerge as someone worth listening to and, potentially, worth linking to in the future. 

Using social media groups to build relationships

Another great way to do manual link building is to join and actively participate in niche communities on social media. 

This is an especially good way to find guest post opportunities. 

The SEO community is often a great place to find people who are looking to build link building relationships for mutually beneficial exchanges. 

Our “Link Building Community,” for instance, is a place where people in the linkbuilding and SEO space regularly network. 

Whatever your niche, if you’re a site owner, you can and should be getting your name out there in social media groups related to your business or industry. 

If you’ve got a high-quality website, you are knowledgeable and insightful, and it’s clear that you are someone who is interested in their brand reputation and doing things the right way, there will be like-minded people out there looking to do the same. 

These groups are often great places to set up link exchanges. 

A caveat when it comes to link exchanges

Google, in theory, is against link exchanges.

It views them (again, in theory) as violations of its policy on unnatural link building (i.e., links built solely for the purpose of ranking). 

Google’s skepticism is not without cause, as it is very easy for two spammy websites who don’t really care about user experience to get together and quickly exchange links in ways that don’t add value for their respective readers and users. 

But link exchanges don’t have to work like this. 

It is entirely legitimate for two conscientious, scrupulous website owners to link to one another. So long as both the inbound and outbound links are relevant, use anchor text best practices (i.e., no exact match anchors) and it isn’t page A linking to page B and vice versa, link exchanges can satisfy Google’s standards 

This last component is particularly important. If you are going to exchange links with another website, the article where you place their link should not be the article they link to in their content. 

It’s best to mix up the source and destination articles on both ends so that you don’t get penalized for a “link scheme.”

The importance of being selective with your relationship building

Good link building is about quality over quantity. 

The old days of trying to pad a backlink profile with as many links as possible to fool Google into thinking your website was deserving of better real estate on the search engine results page are gone. 

You need to do careful backlink analysis to weed out the good from the bad links because the wrong kind of links can hurt your SEO. 

Manual link building, therefore, requires that you be more discerning when it comes to how you evaluate your link building opportunities. 

You need to factor in things like

  • The traffic (and where it comes from) of a referring domain
  • The relevance (is this site in your niche?),
  • The domain’s spam score and the kind of content it publishes


Traffic is important because a site can have a seemingly high domain authority score when you look at them using tools like MOZ or Ahrefs, but when you dig a little deeper, they don’t get many monthly visits. 

This could be a red flag that the site has been penalized for shady SEO tactics (something that websites and online businesses that are on the up-and-up don’t want to associate with). 

Where the traffic comes from is also important. If your target audience is located in English speaking countries, or even a specific country, a link from a domain that gets most of its traffic from India or Latin America isn’t going to do you much good (especially from a referral traffic perspective). 

A high amount of traffic from regions that are on Google’s cybersecurity watchlist (e.g., Eastern Europe) is something to look out for. 


It’s also important to make sure your manual link building efforts are focused on relevant websites in your niche. 

If we have a client in the real estate space, it probably wouldn’t make sense for us to try and build a relationship with a leading mental health blog, even if they are a reputable, high domain authority site. 

A link from a mental health thought leader to a location-specific real estate business is going to be seen as lacking relevance by Google. 

You want to optimize your manual link building for relevance. 


Another important metric with which to evaluate manual link building opportunities is how spammy does a domain look? 

There are various ways to evaluate spamminess. 

You can use something like MOZ’s spam score to get a spam “coefficient” that you can these use to help you make decisions. 

MOZ has a list of 27 factors that it uses to calculate a spam score. Here are five: 

You can also do manual due diligence. 

Check and see what kind of articles a site is publishing. Are they thematically all over the place? Do they include topics that Google tends to crack down hard on–gambling, cannabis, crypto, pornography, etc.?

If you are looking for guest post opportunities, are their guest posts well-written and from varied authors, or do they look like sloppy AI-generated spam? 

Is information about who runs and owns the site easy to find? Spammy sites often try to make it hard to determine who ultimately owns and runs a website. 

The bottom line is that you want to be diligent about selecting your link building relationships. 

The importance of high quality content for manual link building

When you’re paying for links, content quality doens’t really matter so much. 

For a lot of websites that are just trying to do the quickest, most cost-effective SEO possible, the entire purpose of their content is simply to link back to. 

Mediocre websites that see guest posting as a revenue stream often don’t mind linking back to this kind of content. 

If, on the other hand, you are looking for backlinks from very high domain authority, reputable websites that are leaders in the industry, you need more. 

We always stress the importance of content with new clients because it is what helps us build better links. 

If a client doesn’t have the necessary content in place to actually build links to, or the content they do have is thin and unimpressive, it’s going to be harder for us to unleash the full power of our link building expertise and carefully honed relationships. 

If you want high quality links, from high quality partners, you need to build high quality content. That’s the long and short of it. 

Your relationships have a big impact on your SEO

If you want to build links to the best sites–whether its a guest post, a niche edit or a broken link–manual link building and the relationships that come from it are essential. 

At dofollow, we like to think of ourselves as a relationship builder rather than strictly link builders. 

There are plenty of sites out there that let you build links quickly and relatively inexpensively, but to place links on the big industry-leading sites (the ones that are most likely to move you up the SERP), people need to know who you are. 

You need to put the time and effort in to connect with other websites if you really want to take your link building to the next level. 

Get in touch with dofollow and find out more about how we leverage our carefully cultivated relationships across a range of industries to build our clients performance-based, user-centric links that increase ranking, organic traffic and conversions. 

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.

In this Article:

Turn your website into a traffic & lead gen machine with the world's most powerful backlinks.  

High-quality backlinks to your business each month with our user centric link building service.

Recommended Posts

Ready to get started?

Book a discovery call and get to know us better. Ask all the questions you have about how we can help you scale your business.