Link Building Services: Why to Be Wary & What Actually Works

Jenny Abouobaia

Sep 07, 202311 min read
link building services


Link building services are often seen as a way to improve website authority and boost organic traffic.

In this article, we’ll explore effective link building services and methods. And some you should avoid.

But let’s start with the basics.

Link building services are used by sites to acquire backlinks in an effort to boost SEO. And are offered by SEO agencies and freelancers.

Why do companies use them?

Because link building can take a lot of time and effort. 

But high-quality backlinks are important. Because they’re similar to receiving a thumbs up from authoritative websites. And indicate to search engines that your site is valuable and deserves a higher ranking in search results.

Here’s a visual showing how it works in practice:

a visual representation of link building with authoritative site

A link building service typically uses a variety of methods (like guest posting and reaching out to sites asking them to link to relevant content on your site) to get backlinks. 

For the most part, traditional link building services aren’t a great idea. 

Here’s why:

Most providers charge for their service on a per-link basis. So, they’re looking to acquire as many links as possible. 

Unfortunately, this often means using questionable tactics to acquire links. And a focus on quantity over quality. 

And many service providers know that unless you happen to be an SEO expert, you may be unable to tell the difference between high-quality links and links from questionable sites. 

Unfortunately, they use this as a way to take payment for links that won’t do anything good for your site.

Instead of specific services, we are going to look at overarching methods we recommend using to acquire high-quality links—most of which you can do yourself. 

Now, we’re going to walk you through the SEO link building services and methods you should consider trying. 

Digital PR

Digital PR focuses on managing a brand's online reputation and building relationships. But it can also be an effective link building technique. 

Digital PR efforts include creating content to spark journalists’ and influencers’ interest (coupled with direct outreach), running PR campaigns, and providing industry expertise. To attract reputable websites’ attention and help you obtain backlinks. 

Digital PR is one of the best link building methods out there. Google’s John Mueller has even previously praised it.

a tweet from Google's John Mueller about digital PR

As digital PR is a specialized area, you might want to consider outsourcing your PR to an agency if you want to maximize your efforts and don’t have an internal team to manage it.

But there are a few steps to take when choosing an agency. 

First, make sure you work with a highly reputable agency. One that will keep your brand’s voice in mind and ensure anything they put out on your behalf reflects your mission and values.

And an agency that specializes in the interplay between digital PR and SEO is even better. 


Because they’ll understand the importance of using PR to acquire links instead of only focusing on promoting brand awareness. 

Tip: An all-in-one PR platform like Prowly can remove a lot of the guesswork from doing digital PR yourself. 

Editorial Source Platforms

Some sites allow you to offer your insights to journalists looking for expert sources. And help you gain a valuable backlink. 

One of the most popular options is Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) homepage

Others include:

These have become popular backlink services. Because SEOs know there’s potential to build links from incredibly authoritative sites. 

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging (also known as guest posting) is a link building technique that involves writing and publishing articles on external websites as a guest author or contributor. And including a link back to your own site.

Here’s an example of a guest post on Adweek:

an example of a guest post on Adweek

With guest blogging, you collaborate with other websites to create content that aligns with their audience and niche.

The best way to write guest blog posts is to partner with relevant brands and produce helpful content for their audiences. To help you acquire backlinks and gain exposure. 

While working with an agency to do this is an option, it’s usually best to do it yourself. That way, you can ensure you’re only producing quality content for sites you’ve hand-selected.

Skyscraper link building involves finding content on competitors’ websites that has a lot of backlinks. Then creating a better piece of content on the same topic and encouraging sites to link to your content instead.

The point is to become the tallest skyscraper on the topic:

an infographic "Skyscraper Technique"

Websites want to link to the most up-to-date, helpful content they can. So, improving on your competitor’s existing content can help you gain links that initially pointed to them. 

It’s easy to get started with this tactic by finding your competitor’s most linked-to pages using Backlink Analytics.

Open the tool and enter a competitor’s domain. Then, click “Analyze.”

search for "" in Backlink Analytics tool

You’ll first see a high-level look at their backlink profile, including the number of referring domains, the number of backlinks, and their estimated monthly traffic.

"Overview" dashboard in Backlink Analytics for ""

Now, go to the “Indexed Pages” tab. To see which of your competitor’s pages have the most backlinks.

“Indexed Pages” table in Backlink Analytics

You can see the actual pages by clicking the icon next to the URL. 

the icon next to the URL highlighted

Study these pages to see how they covered the topic. And gain ideas for how you can outperform them.

Shareable Content

Content designed to be widely shared naturally attracts links. Because it often contains compelling visuals and/or valuable information people can’t find anywhere else.

This includes:

  • Infographics
  • Original research and studies
  • Calculators and other tools
  • In-depth guides and tutorials

Infographics (like the example below) are particularly shareable and attractive to both users and website owners.

an infographic by Semrush on "What is Semrush Authority Score?"


Because they come in a visually appealing and easily digestible format. So, relevant sites are more likely to link back to them.

Pro tip: Learn the ins and outs of creating shareable content from Backlinko Founder Brian Dean in this linkable assets course.

SEO Agency

You can hire an SEO agency to deliver any of the individual services mentioned above. But many people use an agency for managed link building services—where the agency manages the entire process of link prospecting and acquisition from start to finish. 

First, the agency will normally speak with you about your existing link building strategy and business goals. 

Then, you’ll choose a package. Which is usually based on how many links you want to acquire per month or what you can afford. 

The SEO agency will then handle everything from start to finish. And combine a number of link building tactics to acquire links and keep you updated on the results. 

This is a great option if you’re either new to link building or too busy to manage your link building efforts. 

However, it is important to remember that not all agencies are created equal. If you’re new to the world of link building, it can be difficult to know who’s reputable.

When considering an agency, be sure to check out their online reputation. 

Do you know people who would recommend them? Has the agency won any awards? Are they part of a vetted group like our Agency Partners?

"TOP Professional Public Relations Firms in the World" page in Agency Partners

Don’t be afraid to ask a prospective agency for testimonials. 

Also, you want to look for an agency with great communication skills that sets realistic goals and timelines. 

If their communication isn’t on point when they’re trying to sign you as a client, it will likely only get worse over time. 

And if someone guarantees you hundreds of links in 30 days, this is a huge red flag.

It’s important that any agency you work with has your best interests in mind. Ensuring they do link building the right way, as you would for your own site. 

An agency should simply be saving you the time and effort it would take to acquire links yourself—not putting your SEO at risk or wasting your money. 

These link building services either don’t work or, worse, can land you with a Google penalty.

Google penalties, specifically manual actions, are sanctions Google places on websites that have used questionable SEO tactics and violated Google’s quality guidelines

If this happens to your site, it can lead to lower organic traffic and worse rankings. And your site could be removed from the search engine results pages (SERPs) altogether.

With that in mind, let’s walk through some of the link building services you’ll want to avoid.

Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

A private blog network (PBN) is a collection of websites owned by one person that all link to one another. 

The websites within a PBN are typically created to simulate the appearance of independent sites. They have different domain names, IP addresses, and varying content to make them seem like separate entities. 

PBNs are usually built using expired or auctioned domain names. So that they already have authority and backlinks.

Some people use PBNs to manage their link building efforts. Because you can place a link wherever you want on those sites to link back to the site you’re trying to boost.

a visual representation of Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

And some companies will even let you buy links from other PBNs to amplify your efforts. 

Sounds too good to be true, right? 

That’s because it is. 

A PBN is designed to manipulate search engine rankings. Which violates Google’s link spam policies that clearly state attempts to manipulate rankings will be penalized. And your site can be removed from search results. 

Paid guest posting (meaning you pay a fee to get a post published on another site) can be bad for SEO. Because it can violate Google’s policies.

Guest posting itself can be a legitimate and valuable strategy for building backlinks. But paid guest posting often raises concerns about quality. And it can land you with a Google penalty.

Instead of relying on paid guest posting, we recommended creating high-quality content and building relationships with authoritative websites in your industry. 

Authority-Boosting Services

Authority Score is our proprietary metric that measures the overall quality and SEO performance of a domain. 

It’s determined by various metrics that demonstrate trustworthiness and authority. These include the number of quality backlinks a site has. And how much organic traffic a site receives.

Many people want to improve their Authority Score. And that means there are agencies and freelancers offering authority-boosting services. 

In fact, here’s an example of an Authority Score-boosting service being offered on Fiverr:

an example of an Authority Score-boosting service on Fiverr

But it’s important to note that Google doesn’t take Authority Score (or any other metric from similar platforms/tools) into consideration.

Yet, many providers offer Authority Score-boosting services to give people the impression that their site is improving its authority in the eyes of search engines. 

They often do this by building links from spam domains that have been manipulated to have a high authority score. In the hopes of trickinging Semrush’s Authority Score algorithm into giving your site a higher score. 

But these are usually the types of links Google would discount as spam. 


They do nothing to actually improve your authority in the eyes of search engines and have no positive impact on your rankings or visibility. 

Low-Quality Press Releases

A press release is an announcement that’s distributed to the media. This is usually to recognize a company's achievements and promote brand awareness.

You can acquire multiple links from one press release because press releases go out to multiple news sites—usually containing a link to your site. 

Knowing this, many companies sell press releases as an SEO service. But most media outlets have strict rules around links in press releases. 

Many also only include links with the nofollow attribute. Which means the linking page doesn’t want to pass link equity to your site. So, it won’t do much for your SEO.

Plus, many companies create too many press releases on non-newsworthy topics to acquire links. That can be detrimental for a few reasons:

  • Wasted resources: Crafting and distributing a press release requires time, effort, and financial resources. These resources are wasted if there’s no actual benefit.
  • Damaged reputation: Issuing non-newsworthy press releases can harm your company’s credibility. Because media outlets may see these as spam or indications you lack an understanding of what’s newsworthy.
  • Frustrated journalists: Sending low-quality press releases to journalists can negatively impact your relationship. And those journalists may be less likely to pay attention to future press releases.

But if your company recently won an award or hired a new CEO? These are great reasons to put out a press release to the media. 

A press release promoting a genuine achievement is a great way to promote your brand and showcase your company as an authority in your industry.

Try Link Building Tool to run an outreach campaign.

You’ll get a comprehensive list of outreach prospects. And be able to easily manage the entire outreach process. 

To get started, open the tool and click the “+ Create project” button.

“+ Create project” button

Now, enter your domain and project name. And click “Create project.”

“Create project” section in Link Building Tool

Select the correct country and enter the keywords you want to rank for. And click the “Competitors” button.

"Add your keywords" page in Link Building tool

Add up to 10 competitors’ domains and click “Start Link Building.”

"Add your competitors" page in Link Building tool

Once the data has been collected, you’ll see a window pop up. 

Click “View prospects.”

"Collecting and analyzing data is complete" page with "View prospects" button highlighted

You can now see a list of domains that link to your competitors that you might want to reach out to for your link building efforts. 

You can see all of the prospects under the “Competitors” tab; plus, the tool shows pages that rank for your target keywords as prospects. These are found under the “Keywords” tab.

"Domain Prospects" report in Link Building tool

You can sort them based on their Authority Score or backlink rating (a rating from one to five that indicates quality and relevance). Or use one of the advanced filters.

advanced filters in "Domain Prospects" report highlighted

Evaluate the options and consider which ones you want to reach out to. 

When you identify a prospect you want to contact, click “To In Progress” to the right of the domain. 

“To In Progress” button highlighted to the right of the domain

Repeat this for any additional prospects you want to contact. 

Now, navigate to the “In Progress” tab.

“In Progress” tab

The tool automatically retrieves contact information for these websites and allows you to connect an email account. To speed up the outreach process. 

Just click the “Contact” button next to a prospect. And an email template that you can customize will load.

"Contact” button next to a prospect
an example of an email template that you can customize

The “Status” column will help you keep track of your outreach efforts as you go.

“Status” column showing "Not sent"

You can also monitor the progress of your link building campaign by going to the “Monitor” tab. 

“Monitor” section in Link Building tool

You can see which backlinks are active, lost, or rejected with an intuitive chart. And determine what actions to take.

When it comes to link building services, finding a professional provider that follows SEO best practices and keeps your website’s best interests in mind can be difficult.

So, it’s often better to manage your link building efforts yourself. To ensure you work with sites you’ve hand-picked and ensure your messaging matches your company’s mission and values.

With the right tools, finding high-quality sites to acquire links from and creating link building campaigns is simple. 

To try out our link building tools, activate your free trial. 

Author Photo
Jenny is an award-winning SEO consultant, a speaker at search industry events, and a regular contributor to leading industry blogs. Her specialties include E-E-A-T best practices to build topical authority and the interplay between digital PR and organic search. She was commended as SEO Consultant of the Year in the 2021 MENA Search Awards.
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