12 min read

Manual Link Building Strategies: How to Effectively Promote Your Website

Dmytro Sokhach, CEO of Admix Global
Manual Link Building Strategies

Manual link building is a set of techniques that an SEO department uses to get high-quality backlinks and improve a site's ranking. In manual link building, auxiliary tools and software can be utilized to construct custom link acquisition processes.

Even though some manual link building tactics are highly scalable, they cannot be completely automated.

Compared to other link-building methods, manual link building, though more time-consuming, is more efficient in the long run. Thus, creating quality manual backlinks is crucial for successful website promotion.

Key Takeaways:

  • Manual link building refers to various link building techniques that require a significant investment of time and effort where SEO departments proactively work to enhance a website's link profile;
  • Creating quality manual backlinks is crucial for successful website ranking;
  • Top manual link building techniques: building relationships with editors, guest posting, collaborating with influencers, writing press releases, using HARO, and public relations;
  • Google’s requirements and algorithms are constantly changing since some manual techniques, like scholarships, no longer work, and some, like editorial link building, emerge. Today's Google-approved practices might change tomorrow;
  • Using software for link building process automation can seriously harm the reputation of your business, especially if you run a small business;
  • A Google Penalty is a sanction applied by the search engine to a website that breaks its guidelines, like having unnatural backlinks.

What is Manual Link Building?

The work on manual link building is typically carried out by the SEO department, which includes an SEO specialist, a link builder, and, in some cases, hybrid roles depending on the strategy. Also, a marketer supervises the results of the SEO department's initiatives.

Unlike automated link building (hereinafter also "ALB"), which implies using various software tools, manual link building’s primary goal is to manually acquire the most powerful and effective links which is always achieved through creative approaches.

The main investments go into the team, with careful selection and training being crucial. And it works!

After all, Google favors quality backlinks, and we are sure that manual link building services will not lose their relevance anytime soon.

How Can You Make Manual Link Building Easier?

I've learned there's no need to avoid the complexities of manual link building. While acquiring high-quality links can't be completely automated, you can outsource this task to freelancers or agencies specializing in professional link building services.

On the other hand, ALB typically involves building links from forum profiles, public bulletin boards, and large sites like Reddit or Quora. These types of links are characterized by their general accessibility and are often used in broader LB strategies.

Below are a couple of examples of such links:

example of profile link

One more example

manual profile link

There are numerous examples to illustrate ALB which often involves links from link farms and practices associated with black hat SEO. The latter stands in stark contrast to white hat SEO strategies and can adversely affect your search engine rankings.

Manual link building gives you complete control over how and where links are built, as well as who gets credit for them.

Terms to know:

  • A link farm refers to a network of websites created solely to generate backlinks for other sites within this network. SEO experts frequently create link farms with the intent to sell link placements within existing content or for publishing guest posts;
  • Black hat SEO techniques often skirt or even cross the line of legal practices. For projects following white hat principles, it is essential to avoid and entirely disregard such methods. These methods come with a significant risk of attracting penalties;
  • White hat SEO involves a range of site promotion tactics that align with Google's guidelines. In other words, it’s about improving site's search engine rankings and SEO performance according to the rules of Google.

Key Principles of Manual Link Building

Key Principles of effective LB are as follows:

  • Attract Links from Relevant Content: Aim to secure links from content that is not only relevant but also closely related to the theme of your promoted site;
  • Topic-Relevant Sites: Target sites that are either generally or fully dedicated to the same topic as the one you are promoting;
  • Organic Traffic to the Source Page: Ideally, the page linking to you should receive organic traffic, indicating its credibility and value;
  • Tier Links: It's beneficial if your link also receives backlinks from other sites, creating a tiered link structure;
  • Internal Linking to the Source Page: Ensure the page linking to you has internal links pointing to it, avoiding “orphan pages” that are not integrated into the site's structure;
  • Stable Traffic History: The site has not experienced significant drops in traffic (more than 30%) over a short period (a month or two), indicating stability and reliability;
  • Robust Link Profile: The site has a strong and healthy backlink profile, demonstrating its authority and trustworthiness;
  • Reputable Brands or Companies: Ideally, links should come from recognized brands, companies, SaaS platforms, or well-known media outlets;
  • Scalability and Delegation: The method for acquiring links should be scalable, allowing the process to be delegated efficiently;
  • Time-Intensive Techniques: Most manual techniques require time; for instance, building a contributor persona for guest posting can take 3-12 months, and exchange links need at least 3 months to develop effectively.

Link building is one of the two key steps in the SEO optimization of a website and is usually done after the site is created and prepared for further promotion in Google.

Placing links on an unoptimized or empty site is pointless.

Valuable links should be directed to high-quality content on a well-optimized site that can compete with those already occupying the top positions on the search engine results page.

Impact of disavowing links

Source: Do Links Still Matter for Rankings? - Ahrefs

Links still matter. Traffic and ranking keywords were down after I disavowed the links and up after I removed the disavow file.” - Patrick Stox, Ahrefs.

Based on a study conducted by Ahrefs, it's evident that links play a crucial role in the ranking of web pages. The study involved disavowing links to certain pages and observing the impact.

The immediate effect was a significant drop in traffic and rankings, confirming the importance of links in SEO. This experiment demonstrates that links are essential for maintaining and improving a website's search engine rankings.

Removing links to the pages triggered a noticeable decrease in organic traffic. This decline continued as more linked pages were crawled by search engines.

However, when the disavow file was removed, restoring the links, there was an immediate increase in traffic.

This suggests that valuable links, especially those from high PageRank pages crawled frequently, have a substantial impact on a site's visibility and traffic.

All in all, without links, web pages struggle to compete effectively in search rankings. Quality backlinks from authoritative sources not only boost a page’s ranking but also enhance its visibility, making it more likely to be found by users.

Common Processes in Link Building

Focusing on acquiring relevant and high-quality links, manual link building strategies remain a vital component of any effective SEO strategy and involves the following processes:

  • Analyzing competitors' links;
  • Based on the analysis, developing link-building tactics to get the same links;
  • Searching and selecting an individual tactic to use (choosing between in-house and outsourced link building);
  • Generating hypotheses and experimenting with innovative strategies to get high-quality links that your competitors haven't utilized yet.

All these processes can help strengthen your manual link building efforts.

Why Quality Links Matter in Manual Link Building

Why quality links matter in manual link building

So high-quality links are essential for successful SEO. But what makes a link good? Here are some key features:

  • Relevant to your site's topic;
  • Placed on reputable sites;
  • Naturally integrated into anchor text and fitting seamlessly into the content.

Additionally, it would be beneficial if:

  • The article ranks for closely related or precisely thematic queries;
  • Has inbound links pointing to it;
  • Has a strong Page Rank.

Such links help generate traffic faster and enhance how users perceive your website.

Is Manual Link Building Hard?

Manual link building requires a significant investment of time and is quite a meticulous process. So if you have limited resources, you risk getting snowed under it.

However, you can turn to a professional link building agency that provides exceptional manual link building services.

Developing a manual link building strategy enables the use of affordable methods to initially boost traffic and profits, followed by advanced, costlier methods for further growth. Its success is anchored in a robust SEO strategy and thorough on-page optimization.

So, instead of endlessly sending requests for links, you can build them naturally, giving preference to white-hat SEO instead of black-hat SEO. In the end, you will know it’s a valuable investment.

Why Automated Link Building is Not What You Need

Using automated software for link building is akin to delegating your relationship-building to a machine. It might seem like a time-saver but often results in a random and unpredictable assortment of links.

In contrast to manual link building, where you choose your link partners yourself, ALB means letting a computer system handle it all for you. This results in losing control over where your links end up and how they look.

Moreover, Google often views such automated tactics unfavorably, as they tend to exude a sense of spam and artificiality. An excessive presence of such links on your site can lead to penalties from Google.

using automated tools to create links


That’s why you need patience and meticulousness. Don’t look for a shortcut - bots are better left to sci-fi movies.

🚨 By managing your link-building efforts personally or delegating the entire process to us at the Editorial.Link agency, you can earn Google's approval.

Google Penalties: Reasons to Avoid in Manual Link Building

A Google Penalty is a sanction applied by the search engine to a website that breaks its guidelines, like having unnatural backlinks. Such penalties often result in lowered search rankings and other adverse effects on the site.

Google champions fair play and rewards sites that follow its ethical and optimized guidelines. To avoid losing traffic, credibility, and PageRank, it's crucial to stay updated with and adhere to these guidelines.

📌 Note: PageRank (PR) gauges a web page's importance or authority, determined by both the quantity and quality of links directed towards it. A page's value increases with links from other sites, especially if those sites have high authority.

Remember that Google favors manual links that are contextually relevant, of high quality, and pertinent to your content. Thus, steer clear of automated link-building to avoid potential setbacks and maintain your site's integrity.

Why You Should Take on Manual Link Building

Unless your goal is to quickly accumulate low-quality backlinks, stay away from automated link building. Choosing this path poses a risk of potentially negating all your efforts in improving your site and hurt its search engine rankings.

Moreover, ALB can seriously harm the reputation of your business, especially if you run a small business. There's a chance that your link could end up on unreliable sites or become part of spam.

Here's an example of a spam link found in blog comments:

example of spam links in blog comment

Although both the website and article are on different topics:

Although both the website and article are on different topics

However, we can observe numerous links related to spam topics. The outcomes from such sites can be seen in the screenshots provided below:

example of website with high DR and zero traffic

Below is another site example, with 3.8K of referring domains but zero traffic:

site example, with 3.8K of referring domains but zero traffic

One more example:

another example of website with 2,2k ref domains and low traffic

On the other hand, manual link building, though more labor-intensive, is a safer and more reliable practice compared to its automated counterpart. This is particularly true for beginners in this field.

With manual link building, you can build links efficiently and positively impact your site's promotion.

Hubspot.com example:

example how manual link building positively impact your site promotion

G2.com example:

example how manual link building impact website promotion

Furthermore, by building relevant and high-quality links manually, you are more likely to improve your chances of getting your site (especially if new) noticed and approved by search engines, thereby achieving higher positions on the search engine results page.

Therefore, when deciding between automation and manual effort, focus on the long-term benefits of quality link building and choose manual link building services.

Best Manual Link Building Strategies

Top manual link building strategies

Relationship-Based Link Building

Establish connections with relevant and authoritative websites, and engage in mutually beneficial activities like social media interaction or insightful commenting to earn backlinks. Maintaining a friendly and patient attitude is crucial in nurturing professional relationships.

Here’s how Hunter.io uses this technique:

example how hunter io use Relationship-Based Link Building

The results achieved:

result of using relationship-based link building

Writing Positive Reviews

Offer to write positive reviews on platforms like Trustpilot or Yelp for businesses, and in exchange, request a backlink to your site. This method helps in forming business connections and acquiring relevant backlinks, often leading to reciprocal benefits.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging involves crafting articles for other reputable websites and embedding manual links to your site. Target relevant websites that create high-quality content, ensuring your contributions establish your expertise and enhance your brand's visibility.

Collaborating with Influencers

Partner with social media influencers to amplify your brand's reach and engagement. Find influencers that resonate with your brand values and negotiate collaborations, often involving manual link placements in their content.

Unlinked Mentions

This link building strategy involves finding mentions of your brand on other websites that don’t include a link and reaching out to request they add one. It's an effective way to convert existing brand recognition into valuable backlinks.

Skyscraper Technique

Identify popular content in your niche, create a superior version, and then reach out to sites linking to the original content to replace it with yours. This method leverages the existing demand for certain content topics.

Broken Link Building

Search for broken links on relevant websites and offer your own content as a replacement. This link building strategy helps website owners fix their site while providing you with a valuable backlink.

Digital PR (Digital Public Relations)

This involves creating newsworthy stories and content about your brand and pitching them to media outlets and journalists for coverage, often resulting in high-quality backlinks.

HARO Link Building

Use the Help a Reporter Out (HARO) platform to respond to journalists' queries with expert insights, potentially earning high-quality backlinks from reputable news outlets when your contributions are included in their articles.


Reflecting on everything discussed, as an expert in the field, I firmly believe that incorporating manual link building services is essential for the long-term success of any site. 

As I mentioned earlier, Google's criteria for desirable links are ever-evolving. What's effective today might not be tomorrow, so it's crucial to continually explore and experiment with new, efficient link-building methods.

At Editorial.Link, we had the opportunity to assist hundreds of clients with their manual link building, focusing on cultivating relationships through interactions and guest blogging. 

If you're looking for a reliable link-building agency, feel free to get in touch with us!

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