If you want to reign at the top of the search rankings in your industry, you need backlinks coming from relevant, trusted websites. 

This is because backlinks, which are links on other sites that ‘point back’ to yours, serve as credibility votes for the accuracy and quality of your content. 

What proof do we have?

It’s been proven that top-ranking pages on Google have considerably more backlinks than lower-ranking pages, and Google’s recent leak proved that backlinks are still a hugely important ranking factor. 

Yet, obtaining high-quality backlinks is challenging, involving countless hours of outreach, research, and content creation. 

This is why link insertions are becoming more popular amongst link builders, which is where you request that a website owner ‘insert’ one of your backlinks into an existing piece of content, hence the name of the tactic. 

Link insertions are exploding in popularity because:

  1. Link insertion outreach is simple. 
  2. You don’t have to create any original content like a blog or press release. 
  3. You’re inserting a link into a web page that’s already in Google’s index (meaning the backlink will take effect quickly). 

However, there’s still a lot to know about link insertion outreach, which is why we put together this guide containing 5 steps that break down the process – so read on to learn more.  

Why Are Link Insertions Worth Pursuing?

Until fairly recently, link insertions weren’t considered a real link-building tactic and were scoffed at by serious SEOs. 

Back then, the technique went by the not-so-flattering name link begging

The thinking was that asking website owners to just insert backlinks into their old content would annoy them and get in the way of building positive relationships. 

This negative stigma went away once a handful of SEOs began acquiring high-authority backlinks through basic link insertion outreach. 

Rather than ‘beg’ for links when reaching out to site owners, these savvy SEOs found ways that the link insertions would add value to aging content. 

When handled this way, link insertions provide the following benefits. 

Less work involved 

With link insertions, far less outreach and effort is involved in acquiring backlinks, but you have to ensure that the links you add are valuable for the site owner.  

A reliable way to do this is to strategically add backlinks that update and enhance older pieces of content

How do you do that?

Let’s drum up a quick example to illustrate how this is possible.

Imagine that you run a digital marketing blog covering the latest SEO news and updates. You’re trying to target link insertions for an article that contains all the recent Google algorithm updates

Next, you look up blogs mentioning Google core updates on related websites, and focus on the outdated ones. 

After that, the outreach is as simple as letting the site owner know that adding the link to your algorithm update page will refresh the old post and make it relevant and rankable again. Voila, now you’ve created a situation where adding one of your backlinks is mutually beneficial for you and the site owner. 

This is just one way that you can use link insertions to build backlinks with minimal outreach (and no content creation) required. 

Quicker indexing 

As a bonus, link insertions feature faster indexing. This is because you’re not creating a new web page from scratch that Google has to crawl and index (which can take a long time). Instead, you’re adding a link to a web page that already exists in Google’s index – meaning the backlink will impact your search rankings far quicker. 

Compare the example we just covered to targeting a guest post. In that scenario, you’d have to A) find websites in your field that accept guest posts, B) craft a pitch that gets attention and a response, and C) write a brand-new blog post. 

That’s an awful lot of effort to generate one backlink (this isn’t to say that guest posting isn’t worth it in its own right, as it provides benefits beyond building links). 

Still, it’s undeniable that link insertions provide a quicker and easier way for site owners to build high-authority backlinks

Ways link insertions can provide value to website owners

The big challenge with link insertions is how to provide something of value for the site owner in exchange for inserting one of your backlinks in their content. 

That’s because adding a single backlink to an existing post typically isn’t enough to make it relevant and rankable again. 

You’ll have to get creative when convincing website owners to add a link insertion. 

The easiest and most obvious way is to offer money in exchange for the link insertion, but that’s not always the best option. 

Instead, here are some popular value propositions you can use to obtain link insertions:

  • Find ways to update the existing post. If you’re adding one of your links to an aging blog post, try to find ways to make it relevant again. That could be updating old information, adding new insights, or including a supplementary video. 
  • Add value with a free tool. We have a ton of free SEO tools on our website, and they generate backlinks for us all the time. If you have a free tool on your website that pertains to your target audience, then pitching link insertions for it will be a total breeze. Tools can be enormously helpful when done right (and they can be as simple as planning calendars), so don’t be shy about making some.  
  • Offer a free trial of a service or product. Do you offer a SaaS platform or another type of service? If so, offering a free trial (or a free product) is a great value proposition for link insertions. 
How are link insertions different from link-building? Link insertions and link-building are two deceptively similar terms, so let’s quickly distinguish them. 

Link-building is an umbrella term that encompasses any tactic that has the end goal of acquiring a backlink. Therefore, link insertions are a form of link-building, as are guest posts, fixing broken links, and other techniques. 

What’s Link-Building Outreach?

Outreach and link-building are intrinsically connected, so there’s no getting away from it.

If you want to build backlinks (and if you want to rank higher on Google, you do), then you’re going to have to rub elbows with prominent website owners, bloggers, journalists, and influencers in your field. 

While email outreach is the most common, outreach over the phone and in person (assuming you live near your prospects) are also options. 

Whenever you discover a backlink opportunity, you’re going to have to reach out to the website owner and hit them with a pitch for why they should link back to your content. 

Why is outreach necessary?

It is because backlinks aren’t something website owners hand out willy-nilly. 

Instead, they need a solid reason (i.e., something that benefits them) to link out to your website. Site owners will also want to vet the quality of your website to ensure they don’t hurt their user experience. 

Email outreach is the solution to both of these problems. 

It lets you instantly:

  1. Convey how adding one of your backlinks will benefit their SEO and user experience 
  2. Vouch for the quality and accuracy of your content 
  3. Potentially form a long-lasting relationship that leads to more link placements in the future 

These are all reasons why outreach and link-building are forever joined at the hip. 

At its heart, link-building outreach is a form of networking, meaning it will also help you build brand awareness and loyalty while simultaneously boosting your search rankings. 

Outreach email best practices

There’s a right and wrong way to approach link-building outreach. If you constantly nag site owners with poorly written emails outright begging for links, you aren’t going to gain much traction (if any at all). 

Also, generic outreach templates stick out like sore thumbs, so don’t use them unless you’re going to add your own spin to make them more original and enticing. 

Here’s a quick look at some of the best practices associated with link-building email outreach:

  • An attention-grabbing title. Titles like ‘Requesting a Backlink’ are boring and will likely get ignored. Instead, frame it as an ‘exclusive offer’ or a question. If possible, include the primary benefit for the site owner in the title (as well as their company name). 
  • Display knowledge of the website. Make it clear that you’re a fan of their website and are very familiar with what they do. If possible, highlight a recent article/video of theirs that you consumed and found helpful (without going into too much detail; remember to keep it short). 
  • Highlight the benefits. Include how you plan on providing value to the website owner, either through a valuable guest post, money, or freshening up their old content with new insights. 
  • Make it personalized and exclusive. The last thing you want is for your outreach emails to read like form letters that you send to countless website owners. Instead, personalize each message and frame the link-building opportunity as exclusive to them. Mention the site owner’s name, and bring up any common interests that you may share. 

These best practices apply to all link-building emails, not just link insertions – so be sure to include them when conducting outreach for guest posts, broken links, case studies, and link exchanges. 

How to Conduct Link Insertion Outreach in 5 Steps 

Okay, now it’s time to learn how to target link insertions using the email outreach best practices listed above. 

While it’s true that link insertion outreach is simpler than guest post outreach; it still requires a degree of nuance. 

Why is that?

It’s because you need to know A) what you’re looking for and B) how to get it. 

Going with exhibit A, if you pick up a link insertion on an irrelevant website that has a low domain authority score, it will have little to no impact on your search rankings. This is why you need to know which websites are worth targeting for backlinks in the first place. 

Considering exhibit B, you still have to craft a pitch for why the site owner should add one of your backlinks to an existing post (we’ll cover some specific strategies for this in a bit). 

Let’s start by learning how to lay the groundwork for proper outreach. 

Step #1: Lay the groundwork

Before you start emailing every website owner in your industry, you need to make your current SEO and backlink profiles as attractive as possible. 

After all, nobody wants to link out to a low-quality website with a questionable backlink profile. Just as you only want to target high-quality websites for link opportunities, other site owners do, too. 

This means you won’t find much success with outreach if your website offers poor content that doesn’t provide much value to users. 

Here’s a look at a few steps you should take to lay the groundwork for a successful link insertion outreach campaign.  

Audit Your Existing Content

First, you should take a long, hard look at your existing content to ensure that it’s link-worthy. When reading one of your blogs or watching one of your videos, ask yourself:

Would I link out to this content if I were a site owner in this field? Does my content offer any unique insights or first-hand experiences that users can’t find anywhere else? Is my content filling my audience’s needs by answering their questions and solving their problems?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, it’s a sign that you need to improve your existing content before moving any further. 

Also, certain types of content attract more links than others. 

According to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), link-builders find the most success with the following content formats:

  1. Original data and research (70%) 
  2. Videos (66%) 
  3. Infographics (61%) 
  4. Whitepapers (60%) 
  5. Webinars (56%) 

As you can see, original data and research generates the most backlinks. Not only does it rank #1 on the survey, but we also just linked to original data from CMI to illustrate the point! 

This exemplifies why surveys and studies are such powerful link-building tools. They naturally attract links from content creators eager to back up their claims with hard evidence and provide their audiences with real-world data.  

Coming in at #2 and #3 are videos and infographics, both of which are massively shareable due to their visual natures. 

Lastly, whitepapers and webinars are excellent for attracting links from professionals in your field, and they make fantastic lead magnets (i.e., requiring readers to enter their email addresses before accessing webinars and whitepapers). 

Before you get started conducting outreach, ensure that you have lots of link-worthy content on your website that you can use to gain link insertions. 

Review Your Current Backlink Profile

Next, you need to audit your backlink profile to ensure you don’t have any spammy or toxic links pointing at your domain. 

If you have a poor domain authority score, don’t expect site owners to line up to link out to your content. Instead, your best bet is to improve your authority score as much as possible to make your website attractive to potential outreach targets. 

How can you find out which links are currently pointing at your content?

After all, it’s normal for websites to accrue backlinks without even trying. For example, you may have backlinks coming from domains that you weren’t even aware of, which may be a good or bad thing. 

To get a grasp of your backlink profile, you can use our free backlink checker tool. It’ll provide you with a list of backlinks pointing at your content. 

Here’s what you need to look out for:

  • Are the links coming from authoritative websites?
  • Do the sites hold contextual or topical relevance to yours?
  • Does the anchor text use relevant keywords and phrases? 
  • Do you have lots of referring domains, or are your backlinks primarily from the same website?

If you notice that you have some backlinks coming from potentially spammy domains, it’s typically not something to worry about. Google’s algorithm automatically devalues these types of links, so they won’t negatively impact your rankings (or positively, they’re completely neutral). 

However, if you had a hand in building these links, such as paying for them or building a private blog network (PBN), you could get into trouble

These could cause you to receive manual actions from Google, and they’re red flags to potential outreach partners. As long as you didn’t take part in any black-hat link-building techniques (i.e., tactics aimed at manipulating search rankings), you should be fine. 

Still, it’s worth knowing what your backlink profile looks like to potential link partners. 

Review competitor backlinks

This step will help you identify qualified websites to target for link insertions, so you shouldn’t skip it. 

Identifying your competitors and then analyzing their backlink profiles is a tried and true way to build high-quality links. 

Here’s how you can quickly identify your top competitors:

  1. Take to Google and search for the top keywords that you target for your website (i.e., industry keywords, product/service keywords, etc.). 
  2. Identify the websites currently outranking you. 

From there, you can pop their URLs into our free backlink checker tool to peek under the hoods of their backlink profiles. 

When looking at their backlinks, ask yourself:

Where are they getting their strongest links from? Are they guest posting on certain websites, or are they listed on resource pages and directories that you aren’t?

Make a list of all the websites they’re getting backlinks from, as you can and should target them for link insertions, guest posts, and other types of backlinks. 

Gap Analysis

Before you close out your competitor’s backlink profiles, write down all the websites that link to them but not you. 

These will serve as your most qualified prospects for link insertions. When analyzing each website, try to determine why the other website was able to obtain a backlink from them. Does their content have something that yours doesn’t, such as first-hand experiences or rich visual content? 

Would it be possible to create a piece of content that’s 10x better than theirs? Or are there angles to cover that the original piece doesn’t?

These questions will help you determine if you can outdo a competitor and poach their backlinks in the process. For example, if you notice a website linking to a competitor’s free tool, why not create a free tool that works even better?

After that, you can reach out to the site owner and show off your new and improved tool. Let them know why your tool outdoes the old tool, and you may be able to snag the link placement for yourself! 

Step #2: Vetting websites for link insertions

Now that your SEO ducks are all in a row, it’s time to start pinpointing ideal websites for backlink placements. 

For a link insertion to benefit your search rankings, it must have two qualifying factors, which are:

  • Relevancy 
  • Authoritativeness 

If you insert your backlinks on relevant, authoritative websites, you’ll see a positive impact on your search rankings. 

To ensure a website is relevant to yours, it must hold topical or contextual relevance. 

Topical relevance means the website covers the same topics and themes as yours. An example would be placing a backlink on a gardening blog if you run an eCommerce store that sells gardening tools. 

Contextual relevance refers to instances when a backlink is relevant in context. For example, if your gardening store received a backlink from a technology company, ordinarily, that wouldn’t make sense. However, if the page in question is about gardening technology, then it suddenly makes sense contextually

Authority-wise, you want to ensure you’re inserting backlinks on websites that are trusted by Google and other search engines. This is why SEOs use metrics like Moz’s Domain Authority and Ahrefs’ Domain Rating

What’s the difference between Domain Authority and Domain Rating? 

Put simply, Moz’s Domain Authority measures the overall SEO performance of a domain (including things like website loading speed and keyword usage), while Ahrefs’ Domain Rating strictly looks at a domain’s backlink profile. 

If you have the ability, we recommend looking at both metrics before deciding to target a domain for a backlink. If not, stick with our free authority checker! 

Both scores feature numerical scores ranging from 1 – 100 – with 100 being the most authoritative. 

Realistically, sites with DA scores of 80 or above are legacy websites that have millions of backlinks. For this reason, it’s okay to target websites that have a minimum DA score of 20, as they can still positively impact your search rankings (although it’s best to shoot for the 40 – 60 range if possible). 

To quickly learn the ranking power of a website, you can use our free domain authority checker tool. 

Finding relevant websites to target for link insertions 

Now that you know the metrics required for vetting the quality of websites, here’s a trick for finding relevant websites in your field.

Google is your best friend in this regard, as you can use the basic search operator formula (wrapping a keyword in quotations) to hunt down link insertion opportunities. 

For example, let’s say you run a website that sells pet supplies, and you want to build link insertions that point toward some of your product pages. 

In that case, buyer’s guides on pet lover websites are what you need to find, so you could search on Google for phrases like pet lover “buyer’s guides.”

Here’s what that looks like:

These are only a few of the search results provided, but we can already see some potential link insertion prospects, especially for the pet turf buying guide and most ‘paw-pular’ dog gifts. 

Step #3: Finding webmaster contact information 

By now, you’ve got a list of relevant websites to target. 

You’re ready to start sending out emails now, right?

Not quite.

You don’t have the contact information for each site owner, which is an issue. The good news is that finding webmaster contact information doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Step #1 is to search the website, particularly the About Us page and website footer. 

You can also check the domain registration history to uncover the owner if you can’t find anything there. 

The WHOIS records hosted by ICANN contain each domain owner and their contact information, which is a huge help. 

By going to the ICANN Lookup and typing a domain name into the search bar, you’ll see who owns it and their contact information. 

Sometimes, finding contact information is as simple as looking for the author of a blog post and then looking them up on LinkedIn (which is a fantastic place to find specific individuals from companies). 

Hunter.io can also be a massive help when looking for webmaster email addresses. It’s an email finder tool that you can use to discover the email of most professionals online, and the free version lets you conduct 300 searches per year (there are also paid options). 

Step #4: Craft effective backlink outreach emails 

Now that you’ve got the contact information for each site owner, it’s time to actually get started conducting outreach. 

As stated before, generic templates aren’t the way to go. Instead, you’ll want to craft unique outreach emails that are fully personalized and engaging. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use templates to speed things up a little. 

It’s perfectly okay to create a handful of basic templates to use as starting points for each outreach email. This ensures that you aren’t always starting from scratch. It’s crucial to personalize the template, though, or site owners may catch on that you send out form letters. 

Here are some tips for drafting stellar outreach emails. 

Personalize the opening

The first few lines are the most important part of the entire email. 

Take the time to make every opening unique and personally tailored to the recipient. Here’s how:

  • Write a compelling subject line: Keep it short while hinting at the value you offer, and consider mentioning their site’s name if possible.
  • Address the recipient by name: If you can’t find it, a simple “Hey there” is fine, but avoid generic terms like “Webmaster.” Authority Hacker found that including someone’s name in an email led to a 50% higher conversion rate, so it’s worth the trouble of hunting down individual names. 
  • Demonstrate genuine interest: Reference a recent article, social media post, or something from their “About” page. Be specific to show you’ve done your research.
  • Use a professional email: Ditch outdated personal addresses – a business domain shows you’re serious.

Have a clear value proposition

This is the ‘why’ for your prospect. In other words, why should they add one of your backlinks on their website? 

Be upfront, and remember that nobody owes you anything. Focus entirely on showing them how this collaboration will benefit them.

  • Discuss the mutual benefit: Whether it’s guest posting or link exchange, frame it as a win-win scenario.
  • Reference their content: If your content complements something they already have, use this to your advantage.

Have a clear CTA

Don’t leave them guessing what you want.  Be specific and make your request easy to fulfill with a call to action (CTA). 

Here are a few examples of strong CTAs:

  • Asking to share your content on their social media
  • Embedding a snippet (great for infographics or videos)
  • Requesting a follow-up video call to discuss the opportunity further 
  • Asking for a link insertion on a specific piece of content 

Lastly, sign off with a proper email signature. Provide the website owner with your full name, job title, the URL of the blog or website you represent, your phone number, and links to your business’s social media accounts (wherever applicable).

Email outreach template

Here is an example of an outreach email template that you can personalize:

Subject: Heads Up! I found a broken link on your website

Hi [Name],

I’m a big fan of your site, especially your article on [article title].  I noticed a broken link to [original resource].

I’ve created a similar resource on my site ([link]) that could be a replacement.  Would you consider updating the link?


[Your Name] | [Job Title]

[Website URL] | [Phone Number]

[Social Media Icons + Links]

Pro-tip: To really show your prospects that you’re truly a fan of their work, engage with their content before drafting an outreach email/personalizing a template.

Read numerous blog posts, leave comments, and maybe even send them a DM to let them know that you enjoyed their content. This warms them up to the idea of a potential link partnership, and it ensures that your pitch doesn’t come out of the clear blue sky.

Step #5: Follow-up! 

Sending an outreach email isn’t a one-and-done process. 

As you can likely attest to, professionals receive hundreds of emails a day, and it’s entirely possible to miss a few messages here and there (especially if they don’t know you yet). 

Netomi’s Customer Service Benchmark Report for the telecommunications industry found that approximately 65% of all emails were ignored

This reinforces the need for follow-up messages, which bring your ignored messages back to the top of a prospect’s inbox. 

There’s no need to be verbose when following up, as a simple, “Just following up on this,” will suffice 9 times out of 10. At the same time, space out your follow-ups so that you aren’t constantly nagging link prospects. 

Authority Hacker’s research found that they built 40% more backlinks by following up with unanswered messages, so the practice is definitely worth it. 

Besides following up with site owners who haven’t gotten back with you yet, you should also keep in touch with your regular link partners

Link-building is all about building relationships, so it’s important to remain in touch with your link partners. If you haven’t heard from them in a while, checking in with them through email is a good idea. Who knows, you may stumble upon a new backlink opportunity when doing so. 

The Wrap-Up: Conducting Link Insertion Outreach 

A big reason link insertions are so popular is how easy they are to target, but that’s not to say that link insertion outreach is a cinch. 

This type of outreach can be even more challenging due to how creative you have to be with a value proposition. 

Guest posts have a built-in value prop, but you have to think outside the box with link insertions. 

Do you need help conducting link-building outreach at your organization?

Then don’t wait to check out our stellar Link Outreach services from The HOTH. Our link-building gurus will handcraft a winning outreach campaign for your backlink profile, so don’t wait to get in touch now.