Around 20 years ago, search engines couldn’t differentiate reputed organic links from automatically generated low-quality ones, but the advent of PageRank proved that these links hold value. 

So, to increase websites’ search engine rankings, marketers developed software that would quickly generate hundreds, if not thousands, of links to trick search engines into boosting their SERP rankings. 

Over the years, Google caught on to these illegitimate operations and updated its algorithm and techniques to ensure search engines only index genuine backlinks, so manual link building was the only way to guarantee high-quality backlinks.

Now, businesses understand the importance of manual outreach. Still, it’s a challenging feat that requires more attention to detail, extra time, dedication, and expertise, and we know it takes a while to get a hang of it all.

For those still navigating link building waters, in this post, we’re addressing why this manual approach isn’t just beneficial to your website and “the” way to build healthy backlinks to sustain your online reputation in the long run.

So, let’s dive in.

The Changing Landscape of Link Building

Link building is an ever-evolving space because search engines like Google alter their algorithms to ensure users receive the most relevant and high quality links to their search queries.

As a result of these algorithm updates, quality link building services must constantly adapt their strategies to adhere to these changes and avoid getting links that run the risk of being penalized.

In the past, links played a massive role in rankings, so web admins used black-hat link building strategies by manipulating or buying links in large numbers to boost their rankings. Back then, the volume game probably worked.

But  search engines managed to catch up.  And with time, increasingly started to prioritize link quality, user experience, and relevance – which means a lot of links were devalued.

As a result, the Google Penguin update was implemented to combat link spam and ensure websites include natural and high quality backlinks that generate organic traffic.

Especially after the sheer number of updates we’ve experienced in the couple of years prior to 2024, it has become more crucial than ever to build genuine relationships with websites, bloggers, and influencers that focus on high quality content in your niche.

After all, networking is a powerful tool for collaborative opportunities that will help you get relevant and natural links in exchange for providing value to other websites. 

This is where manual link building comes in handy because automated or spammy link building doesn’t allow you to build that same calibre of connections.

What is Manual Link Building?

In simple words, manual link building is a technique requiring human involvement and skills to gain backlinks rather than an automated system. 

This technique focuses on a quality-over-quantity white hat link building approach by avoiding spammy practices and only choosing high quality content for backlinks that boost your website’s search engine rankings.

Everything isn’t black or white, and you will find that some manual link building services indulge in black hat practices that will hurt your SEO efforts and downgrade your reputation on Google.

You must choose a trustworthy manual link building service because you’ll have control over where you build backlinks and the process used to acquire them.

Good things take time, and patience is a virtue with manual strategy. It is much more labor intensive, and requires a more thoughtful approach.

However, this long-term strategy gradually increases your website rankings in search results without using short-term malpractices that can hamper your SEO progress.

These are some standard manual link building techniques at a glance.

  • Guest posting
  • Broken link building
  • Influencer outreach
  • Broken link building
  • Resource page link building

We’ve discussed the details further in this article – and if you need a service that can do all the techniques and more – TLG can guide you with tailor-made manual link-building strategies for your website.

Advantages of Manual Link Building

With a manual link building service by your side, you can be assured that this powerful tool will improve your website’s search engine rankings while driving organic traffic.

We’ve already discussed how the manual approach is the best way to gain high quality links, but the benefits don’t end there; these are additional benefits of building links manually:

Targeted Traffic

Manual outreach link building will create high-quality backlinks pointing to your site, which will improve your search rankings and attract organic traffic to your website. 

After all, once your strategy is geared towards building niche relevant links, you are creating a strong relevance signal to Google – who will then reward you with better rankings for relevant search results.

That increased online visibility will direct users genuinely interested in your industry and what your website offers.

Relationship Building

Since this link building strategy involves initiating contact with relevant website owners and understanding their content, you inevitably need to make an excellent first impression.

This is where you communicate your ideas, offer help or valuable content, and earn trust to build relationships that strengthen your reputation and online presence over time.

We’ve even helped clients build actual real world relationships on the back of an outreach email that was intended to just build a link. 

Brand partnerships, business connections and more, are very much possible.

Here’s an example where some outreach got us a route to Mark Cuban.

Email outreach helping TLG get connected with Mark Cuban

Control over Link Quality

When you gain backlinks manually, it allows you to carefully vet the websites and only choose the reputable ones that are actually going to positively impact your search engine rankings.

And because of the strong control over the link building process you have, that lets you steer your strategy to have backlinks from the most relevant and highly authoritative websites in relevant sectors.

Greater Long-Term Value

The significance of high quality backlinks will always take precedence in search engine algorithms to determine your website’s rankings. The time and effort put into hand-picking relevant websites does pay off.

So, manual link building isn’t just a transaction but an investment to ensure the ranking and natural links pointing to your website to stay on top of healthy SEO practices that yield results in the long run.

Adheres to Search Engine Guidelines

Automated link-building efforts go to waste once search engines get suspicious of their placements because these are low quality links on shady sites like link farms, or PBN/Web 2.0 networks.

On the contrary, white hat tactics and the amount of consideration that goes into manual outreach link building avoid the risk of search engine penalties that can harm your site’s rankings.

Manual vs. Automatic Link Building

Although manual and automated link building services share the same goal of acquiring links, they differ significantly. 

So, it’s worth understanding their differences to determine which option is better.

Manual Link BuildingAutomatic Link Building
Involves human intervention and strategy to acquire backlinksAutomated software picks websites to acquire backlinks
Each website is vetted for quality control and relevancy Less control over websites for the backlinks can lead to poor-quality links
Much more time and effort to meet search engine guidelines and quality standardsLess time and effort because software handles thousands of opportunities at once
Agencies using white-hat techniques with contextual and high-authority backlinks without risks of penalties Black-hat methods cause a risk of unnatural or spammy links that can lead to penalties 

If you’re looking to move away from an automated or low quality service, towards a more natural and manual link building service – shoot The Links Guy an email. 

Types of Manual Link Building Techniques

With time, manual link building services explored different white-hat practices to build effective strategies and links. 

These proven methods deliver lasting benefits in terms of organic traffic and rankings.

Guest Posting

Although this tactic is time-consuming, it also reaps the best benefits in the long haul.

Guest posting or guest blogging is when you write a high-quality blog post for sites that accept content from guest writers; the exchange often involves including a backlink to your website within that content.

Suppose you choose highly reputed, contextual, and relevant sites for your link and content. In that case, you’ve already taken a step toward establishing your website’s position as an industry expert or “thought leader”.

Similarly, when search engines notice the increase of genuine backlinks to your site from high-quality sources, they see you as trustworthy and boost your rankings.

Here are some tips to help you on your guest posting journey:

  • Always choose websites with relevant content or at least a logical niche overlap with yours.
  • Don’t just write for the sake of it; write with intent and a purpose to offer the target audience something worth reading.
  • Your guest post also acts as the voice of your website, so make sure your writing is grammatically and factually exceptional.
  • You can use other professionals like editors and content writers to help you with these blogs.

You can find guest post sites by manually prospecting Google (or speeding it up by scraping in bulk with tools like Pitchbox, or the Moz toolbar), through the use of guest post operators like:

  • Keyword + “write for us”
  • Keyword + “guest post”
  • Keyword + “guest contributor”

Or the various other common patterns. But, this may often yield spammy blogs, or (depending on the niche) won’t uncover much. 

So you also need to prospect a bit smarter than this, and discover other unique patterns, or scrape lists of companies in bulk, and pass them through some kind of filter. We go through a few ways of finding niche relevant targets in this article.

Influencer Outreach

Everyone knows the buzz around Instagram and TikTok, which means building relationships on such platforms is a non-negotiable strategy. 

For social media, influencers are the link between your brand gaining visibility and attracting backlinks because they have the power to affect and change the decisions of others through their relationship with their audience, knowledge of the specific field, and credibility.

Networking with influencers relevant to your niche is essential. Although some may charge you for link placements, others will include it in exchange for a perk from your end, i.e., a free product, social shares or service from your brand – and some may just feature you for free depending on the relationship you have.

Communicate with influencers who have massive reach with these tips:

  • Research is critical to knowing the influencer’s content type and relevancy, audience, reach, engagement rate, etc.
  • Make it look different from a formal sales pitch; keep it light, appreciative, and enthusiastic when you reach out to them. Influencers like to know that you understand their work, but they also want your appreciation to be genuine.
  • Show them why your brand is worth working with, whether offering products and discounts or sharing your press kit showcasing your brand’s accomplishments.

Testimonials

Positive press is always an excellent way to boost any business. Whether it’s raving reviews or opinions.

And since businesses will do anything for positive reviews about themselves to get customers, you can offer them a testimonial in exchange for a link.

This technique is brilliant because it’s free and you can leverage the connections and relationships you already have, and may curry some favor with that company as well.

These tips will help you write genuine testimonials that get you links:

  • Create a list of sites offering services or products relevant to your industry, or that you already are using. 
  • Keep the testimonial compelling by briefly explaining your experience while using the product or service and how it can benefit others.
  • Remember that you can include relevant keywords because having them near your business name allows search engines to identify their relevance to your company. Just don’t overdo it.
  • Although some websites don’t have the provision to accept reviews, you can still use third-party sites like Foursquare, Yelp, Quora, etc., to submit a review and add links. Although those will often be nofollow links and won’t be as strong as conventional testimonial links.

If you want to step it up a notch, see if you can turn it into a full case study on their site. Here’s an example of how TLG got a case study (with a backlink) on a recruitment SaaS platform we use. 

TLG's case study on recruitment SaaS platform WeCP

Broken Link Building

Broken link building is an excellent strategy despite its time-consuming nature.

The process involves prospecting to find resources relevant to your niche that contain dead (404) links. 

Many tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs and Broken Link Checker can help with this.

Once you have a resource to supplement this broken link, you can share it with the website owner, asking them to replace the old one.

This way, you have a higher chance of receiving that backlink because you aren’t just sharing a resource with other websites but also helping them keep their website clean.

Finding broken links can be painstaking, but these tips will make it less of a hassle:

  • Start by finding your website’s broken links on other pages because you can easily replace them with an alternative one.
  • Next, you can check your competitor’s broken links (or companies in your space that have folded and gone offline) by analyzing their backlink profile and approaching the websites to replace those links.
  • Vet the website to ensure it has good metrics and that your link is relevant and contextual to its existing content.
  • Knowing whom to contact is crucial, and the writer of that page is your best bet at reviving those dead links. If this doesn’t work, check the website’s “Contact” page to find the most relevant person.

Resource Page Link Building

Many websites have a curated list of resources with valuable links to external websites, usually called the “resource page.”

As the name suggests, resource page link building involves contacting these websites with helpful content from your website; the content must be worthy of a resource page mention.

Some websites even have forms asking users to “Suggest A Resource,” if you have something for them, it makes pitching to them a piece of cake.

So, what are the best practices to make the most of these opportunities? These tips should answer that question:

  • Find resource pages using search strings. For example, “Keyword intitle:links”, “Keyword “helpful links”, “Keyword inurl:resources”, “Keyword useful resources,” etc.
  • Thousands of Resource Pages will appear, so prioritize the ones with a moderate to high domain authority to ensure their credibility; higher authority means more link juice to your website.
  • Use SEO tools like Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs or SEMrush, for backlink/metric analysis and further keyword research to create more prospecting lists.
  • Create a  persuasive pitch and outreach strategy to explain how your resource is unique and useful and why it deserves a mention on their resource page.

High-Quality Press Release

As you steer away from keyword-stuffed press releases, publishing ones for the right reasons of educating and sharing newsworthy topics may become a successful link building tactic.

You have to do link building press releases correctly to avoid penalties from search engines, which means they have to contain valid information, and the links must be naturally incorporated into the content.

These tips will show you how to do a press release the right way:

  • Choose quality over quantity by offering fresh and interesting news that intrigues a reader to know more; the type of content you put out takes precedence over SEO strategies.
  • Catchy, attractive headlines are necessary if you want readers to continue reading past the title. So, ensure you have something attention-grabbing from the start to avoid losing a reader.
  • Don’t spam media outlets with the same pitch in hopes of getting it published in at least one of them. Instead, research and only reach out to platforms you resonate with and know you can contribute to.
  • When including your backlink, keep it relevant and useful so that it adds value and enriches your content instead of making it look like a forced external link. 

As far as SEO is concerned though, press releases do come with certain limitations. Watch this video, where I explain press release link building in detail, along with how it’s done and the pros and cons:

How Do You Choose the Right Manual Link Building Partner?

Selecting the right manual link building service will make or break the number and quality of backlinks you receive. 

Here are some factors to consider before finalizing your link building journey:

  1. Experience and Reputation: Look for someone with substantial experience and a proven track record in manual link building, especially if your industry or niche has specific challenges or opportunities. 
  2. White Hat Link Building: Strictly confirm whether or not the agency follows ethical practices that abide by search engine guidelines. Do this to avoid penalties that cost you your website’s reputation.
  3. Backlink Quality: Ask them to show you the backlinks they acquire and make sure they’re relevant, high-quality, and on authoritative websites.
  4. Customized Approach: Each company is unique, so a one-size-fits-all strategy will only work for some. Choose an agency that understands your goals, target audience, competitors, and industry to create customized campaigns.
  5. Pricing: Affordability is important; compare their pricing structure to the potential ROI you can expect. You will find out whether it’s valuable for your investment by focusing on measurable results you can evaluate.

At TLG, our services follow the specifications mentioned above. Our techniques and outreach campaigns prioritize quality and our client’s requirements to the dot. Where other agencies falter, we step in to create customized strategies that work best for your company.

The Final Verdict on Manual Backlinks

With automated link building taking the industry by storm, many believe that manual link building services will become obsolete. However, what automation doesn’t give you is the same quality and guarantee as the manual approach.

Despite being time-consuming, manually building links is critical for maintaining a good long-term reputation for your website; it doesn’t just get you link juice but also helps you build and strengthen relationships with other websites in your niche.

You can also combine automated software with your manual approach to make the process efficient. Just keep in mind the search engine guidelines and follow white-hat techniques only.

Many business websites are lacking a much-needed SEO boost to revive their online presence. Those searching for credible manual link building services, now’s your chance to explore more. Let’s chat.