Created on June 13, 2024

Manual Link-Building: Comparing the Most Popular Tactics

Why does everyone keep talking about link building? Isn’t it annoying?

It might be. But it is for a reason. Link building is:

  1. Effective
  2. Hard

And the combination of these two has made everyone discuss it for decades already.

If you’ve been working in the industry long enough, you know that many tactics come and go. Still, there are others that seem to survive all Google updates and tech advancements.

That’s why we decided to summarize and compare all the most popular manual link-building strategies today.

So, how do you create backlinks manually? And what options are the most appropriate in terms of budget, SEO skillset, and time commitment?

Let’s find out!

Table of content:

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about building backlinks manually.

Manual link building is a term that describes any process of acquiring links that is not automated. Surprising, isn’t it?

What that really means is that instead of using fancy software to get backlinks, you are doing the outreach and getting those quality links from relevant sites all by yourself.

Of course, you can hire a human expert to do it for you, but the emphasis is on human.

Short answer? Everyone needs them. Well, at least anyone who needs links and wants to rank in Google search results does.

Pages that rank well in Google have more backlinks than the rest. The truth is that manual links are very effective (dare we say it, far more than the other types).

Remember how we said manual links are the opposite of automated links?

Well, this is because manual backlinks are notoriously time-consuming and require a lot of effort, unlike automated link building, which require almost no human effort (except maybe to set some basic parameters and click a few buttons).

True to form, the result you will get from both methods will look very different.

While building backlinks manually, you will be able to have more control over the kind of sites that link to you. But this is not the case with automated links.

That is not to say automated link building can be harmful in many ways (especially for beginners), but that’s a topic for another blog.

So, what are your options if you decide to go the traditional route for your links? You’d be surprised how many opportunities you can get out there. Here are just a few popular strategies you can try:

SEO proficiency: All levels (beginner-friendly)

Price: $$$$

Effectiveness: High

Spam risks: Low (if you choose the right service)

Time commitment: Moderate

Full disclaimer: manual link building is a lot of sweat and tears even for seasoned SEO pros (41% of them, to be exact), let alone a greenhorn just coming into the scene. So what do they do?

At least 36% of them use a manual link-building service, of course. They take the whole hassle off you while also increasing the odds of you getting the right kind of backlinks.

Still, there are a lot of them out there, so you really have to be careful who you trust to work on this task.

If you’re looking for the fastest and most efficient option, choose a service that has a big selection of prospective websites, good reviews, and isn’t the new kid on the block.

What else should you look for when choosing a link-building service? Make sure they have a variety of filters to avoid pointless scrolling through their database.

Plus, only choose platforms that have many different outreachers with a proven track record (aka portfolio).


  • You save time and your link-building campaigns get much more successful if you choose the right service.
  • You get assistance along the way, which is especially valuable if you are new to manual link building.
  • It is one of the most affordable options out there (certainly cheaper than getting an agency or hiring an in-house team of outreachers).
  • You have full control of the websites that link to you.
  • This is one of the most accessible (aka easiest) ways to build a strong backlink profile, even if you aren’t an expert.


  • There is a risk of getting spammy backlinks if you use the wrong service and don’t check the websites before posting.
  • More expensive than doing it yourself (like any other tactic, tbh).
  • You don’t build a network of contacts in your niche. But it might not be a problem if you weren’t looking for it.

#2 Comment Sections, Forums, Profiles, and Directories

SEO proficiency: All levels (beginner-friendly)

Price: $$$$ (can be free)

Effectiveness: Low

Spam risks: Moderate (depending on your activity)

Time commitment: Significant

Let’s clarify this right away – this is not the most effective tactic nowadays. Still, it can be used to diversify your backlink profile.

Besides, this method might be a tad bit easier for most people (even beginners) looking to build some backlinks manually.

All you need to do is go through relevant posts on as many forums and blogs or directories as you can and write comments that add value to the discussion. At some point, you can insert a link to your website.

Your responses should be helpful to readers. And, of course, don’t place too many comments in a forum so as not to get flagged for spamming.

Otherwise, you might get your comment removed and your account blocked.

Sure, you can create tons of new profiles. But keep in mind that some forums can block your domain from being linked to. And this will not reflect well on your brand.

Source: Reboot Online

Overall, for this method to work, you must:

  1. Make your comments useful and non-spammy.
  2. Choose websites that are a real thing and not a dump for those who need a link.
  3. Use natural and safe anchors.
  4. Diversify your link profile (with guest posts, link inserts, and other tactics).
  5. Use unique texts (don’t just copy-paste your answers).


  • Doesn’t require lots of skills like other tactics.
  • It is relatively safe and harmless.
  • Can be free if you do it by yourself.
  • Relatively easy to do and low-effort.
  • Can become an additional source of referral traffic.


  • It is quite an outdated technique that can result in tons of low-quality links.
  • If you don’t use a manual backlinks service for this, it is too time-consuming. Imagine – you have to keep searching for forums and relevant posts, write non-spammy answers, and keep the discussion going. And even if you do all that, you can still get banned.
  • You're unlikely to generate thousands of links this way.
  • It isn’t as effective as it was before.
  • Some moderators don’t want any links, no matter how relevant. So, this tactic may not work with all forums.

#3 Infographics, Videos, and Podcasts

SEO proficiency: All levels

Price: $$$$ (publishing can be free, but the production can get costly)

Effectiveness: Moderate

Spam risks: Low

Time commitment: Significant

Source: @seochatterblog on X

Infographics, videos, and podcasts are prime linkable assets, which means these are things that attract backlinks to your site like moths to a flame.

And the best part is that it’s also one of the safer methods that won’t make you look like an annoying spammer.

Even a post with a single video can attract 30% more backlinks compared to those without any video content.

At the same time, 53% of SEO experts know that infographics can get you that sweet link juice. As for the podcast links, they are relatively new for SEO. Still, many experts claim they might be just as effective as video content for your rankings. Why?

Because generally, you provide value, share your experience, and tell stories when participating in a podcast or filming a video. And that’s what people love.

As a result, you can get both search engines and consumers interested in your business.

Not sure how to use them for manual link building? There are many platforms where you can upload and host videos and podcasts, from Apple Podcasts and Spotify to Podchaser and Podcorn.

Besides, you can try using QA sites like Quora, Yahoo Answers, Yelp, etc. They will help you find additional pages where you can add content with a link to your project.


  • People love this kind of content, making it even more powerful for attracting more backlinks quicker.
  • This tactic greatly diversifies your backlink profile.
  • It is seen as a credible and non-spammy method.
  • High shareability rates of infographics, video, and audio mean more reach and increased brand visibility.
  • Depending on the quality of the content, your authoritativeness can go up much quicker with this type of tactic.


Source: Reddit

  • It is much more time-consuming than a written piece of content.
  • Often, the production costs end up being too high because you might need to rent equipment (cameras, mics, light, etc.), hire extra people, and maybe get a studio.
  • Requires a lot of research and fact-checking as you don’t want to put out inaccurate info on your infographics or anywhere else, really.
  • There are fewer and fewer non-spammy sites where you can share your videos and podcasts, making it better to work with manual link-building services when trying out this tactic.

#4 Press Releases

SEO proficiency: All levels (beginner-friendly)

Price: $$$$ (can be free)

Effectiveness: Low

Spam risks: High

Time commitment: Moderate

If you are a brand that has not gotten on the press release manual link-building train, you’ve probably missed a great opportunity.

But don’t rush to jump on it now. Because the truth is that press releases aren’t as effective as they used to be. Today, most of those sites are complete spam, covered with more spam.

Still, if you manage to get published on quality and trustworthy news pages, you can get incredible benefits for your reputation and visibility.

Plus, a high-quality site can put your company in front of many different types of audiences, making you hit multiple targets with one arrow.

In fact, the number shows that press releases can boost brand visibility by 68%.

But if you want to get that publication from a reputable site, you have to come up with some newsworthy content. It has to be sharp, interesting, and fact-based. But even that can’t guarantee a secured publication.

Sometimes, even money won’t get you the link you want because top-tier web pages have really high standards.


  • Wide audience reach (if you choose a quality website).
  • More eyes on your brand, including demographics that might not be your main target.
  • Control your own brand narrative and manage your online reputation.


Source: Reddit

  • If you go for the paid placement, it might end up being too expensive.
  • When choosing low-quality pages, you face high risks of spamming your backlinks profile.
  • Some news sites might not want to link to you or let you choose your own anchor.

#5 Your Own PBN

SEO proficiency: Advanced

Price: $$$$

Effectiveness: High

Spam risks: Moderate (depends on your expertise)

Time commitment: Significant

When it comes to PBNs, many think of getting super low-quality backlinks from some link farms. This is a road to nowhere these days. Literally.

That’s why today, we’re talking about a different PBN use case. What’s that? Building your own private blog network.

It will give you a stable source of links with full control over your links and minimized spam risks.

The main question is – how can you use manual link building by creating a PBN?

You’d have to get your own sites (hundreds of them) and link to your project from them. How does it work in practice?

It's complicated, but long story short – you have to:

1. Look for dropped domains (those that were previously owned but not renewed and are now available for purchase). You can do this here or by googling services that sell expired domains.

Alternatively, you can:

- Register new domains. But they won't have any trust, so you will have to wait and build backlinks to them.
- Or buy used domains with the expired registration that has been bought by someone else. Where to find them?

At the auctions organized by Flippa or GoDaddy. But prices for a decent domain start from hundreds of dollars, often thousands for a good domain with backlinks.

2. Then, restore the site or populate it (depending on whether you choose a new or used domain).

3. For a new domain, you still need to build backlinks.

4. When everything is ready, all is left for you to do is to place links from these sites to yours.


  • Because it’s your own PBN, you don’t have any type of limitation. Therefore, you can build your links from any page (homepage, blog post, footer link, etc.).
  • Plus, you can use any type of content (image, form, contextual link, redirect).
  • You have complete control over your anchors and URLs.
  • You can remove/change the link at any time.
  • And you can control all the spam risks associated with your PBN.


Source: Reddit

  • Building your own PBN requires a dedicated person to handle it.
  • It is really expensive. So, it makes no financial sense to build a PBN for one project alone. But if you have 3+ sites to grow, it might be an option for you.
  • It requires a lot of time to create and maintain it.

#6 Outreach

SEO proficiency: All levels (beginner-friendly)

Price: $$$$ (ranges from free to extra expensive)

Effectiveness: Moderate

Spam risks: Low

Time commitment: Significant

Let’s say you weighed the costs and decided to do your link building by the books.

This would require you to reach out to several website owners or content creators in your niche and ask them to collaborate with you and hopefully link to your site.

This process is what’s known as manual outreach link building – a technique as old as links themselves.

Want to know how to get that lucky “yes” from the webmasters?

Start by creating quality content that you know your target audience will love, and then pitch your creations in a way the webmasters can’t resist.

Of course, most of your pitches will be rejected or ignored. But no worries, it isn’t just you. We all face that. Concentrate on those who answer you.


  • Links received through this method are considered ethical and can pass on “credible” link juice to your site.
  • You have full control over where to publish your content because you can analyze every potential website before posting anything.
  • You will definitely grow your rankings over time.
  • It is a great way to build a network in your niche.


Source: Reddit

  • Most of the time, your success with manual outreach link building will depend on the relationship you have built with the website owners or influencers.
  • It is really time-consuming, from seeking prospects to content creation to pitches and waiting for positive feedback.
  • The constant rejection can become quite frustrating.
  • Most website owners will still charge you for the link placement, no matter how good and valuable your content is.

#7 SEO Forums

SEO proficiency: Medium (you have to know what you’re looking for)

Price: $$$$ (depends on your choice)

Effectiveness: Moderate (depends on your choice)

Spam risks: Moderate (depends on your choice)

Time commitment: Significant

Source: Warrior Forum

This one is exactly what the subheading implies. Instead of doing manual outreach link building, you can look for some opportunities on SEO forums (e.g., Warrior Forum, Reddit, V7N webmaster forum, Wicked Fire, Google Webmaster Help Community, etc.).

There, you can either find some guidance and tips or someone offering you help with getting links. You can even spot a couple of webmasters ready to publish your content.

Other times, you may see manual link-building services promoting exactly what you need.

But no matter what you find there, make sure you analyze all the potential websites. Otherwise, you might get a poor, spammy link.


  • Build meaningful friendships with experts that could lead to link opportunities.
  • Find websites for publishing without intermediaries.
  • Learn valuable tips and hacks for all aspects of SEO for free.


  • It takes time to locate something truly valuable.
  • There are no guarantees that you will find anything useful or get any results.
  • It could lead to getting scammy links if you are not careful.

#8 Freelance Platforms & Marketplaces

EO proficiency: All levels (beginner-friendly)

Price: $$$$ (depends on your choice)

Effectiveness: Moderate (depends on your choice)

Spam risks: Moderate (depends on your choice)

Time commitment: Moderate

Source: Upwork

Wondering how to create manual backlinks without too much effort? Outsource it.

Some people just go to freelance sites like Fiverr, Upwork, etc., and hire someone to take care of the task.

This is not a bad idea if you know how to sift through the sketchy manual link-building service providers to find the gem. But sometimes, it can be quite challenging.

So you've got to check not only the experience and skills of the potential freelancer but also their reviews and ratings.

The trouble is, the reviews are so easy to fake – some people have been known to form groups and review each other.

Luckily, most big freelance platforms have measures in place to curb such practices and remove the offending parties if found.


  • Easy to find someone within any budget.
  • You get to save time for more important tasks.
  • In theory, you can find anything you need if you know what you are doing.


Source: @Nick_zv_ on X

  • This is way too easy to end up with spammy or toxic links if you hire the wrong freelancer.
  • You get way too many link farms and PBNs masquerading as genuine.
  • No one will ever guarantee you the results you expect.

#9 In-House Team

SEO proficiency: N/A

Price: $$$$

Effectiveness: High

Spam risks: Low

Time commitment: Little (if you hire an expert team)

Source: Image by Pch.vector on Freepik

The in-house team is not a feasible option for many businesses, but a good idea if you can afford it.

A dedicated SEO team can help your company get quality links from relevant sites. At the same time, they will keep an eye on all the changes and react to them timely.

But keep in mind that they will use most of the methods we mentioned before in their efforts to build a quality backlink profile for your business.

So, how to work on manual link building with your own team? Well, just find an expert team, sit back, and check their reports regularly.

If the progress is positive, kudos to them for great work and to you for finding the right people. And if the results aren’t good enough, make sure you adjust your tactics.

Still, in the SEO world, only a third of enterprises have a complete in-house team. Why? Because it is expensive, even for the enterprises.

Source: SEO Enterprise Benchmark Study by Conductor


  • Total control over the link-building process.
  • Very easy to scale your campaigns.
  • You can easily align your link strategy to other marketing efforts in a way that reflects your brand ethics.


  • Very expensive because of monthly payrolls, buying the software, getting insurance for your employees, etc.
  • It can take a lot of effort to find the right talent.

It doesn't take that long for anyone trying to get backlinks manually to run into any of these challenges:

1. Difficulty in finding the niche site that has high DA/DR, good traffic, low spam score, and doesn’t want all the money in the world for publication.

That’s why many simply prefer to get it off their shoulder by using manual link-building services for this.

2. If you’re trying to stick to outreach only, you will get way too many rejections for a human to handle. So, you'll need the will of a Greek stoic philosopher to keep trying. But in any case, don’t quit.

3 Many tempting manual link-building prospects will almost inevitably turn out to be black-hat specialists masquerading as the real thing.

So, keep your eyes peeled for any red flags and scrutinize any offer carefully. Also, avoid the too-cheap-to-be-true services.

4. Budget issues will always be there. But look at it as an opportunity to get creative and find new approaches.


There are many options when it comes to building manual backlinks.

Since no two link-building tactics are created equal and guaranteed to yield the same results, you have to set clear goals from the very beginning.

The good thing is that you have many options to choose from. Compare all of them and then decide which one aligns better with your targets (it can be a combination of different tactics, just FYI).

And if you are consistent in your effort, you will make progress no matter how complicated the journey seems.

Want endless guest posting opportunities?

Do you want
a call back?
Leave your number and one of our
professionals will contact you.
0 letter(s) | 15 minimum
* Required
Example: +44 208 068 24 78
Your dedicated manager
will get in touch soon.