If your business or organization is looking to grow its online presence, link building outreach is a must. You may have a beautiful homepage, a blog full of well-written articles, and your phone number or email address plastered all over so potential clients know how to contact you. But if nobody can find your website in search engines, that’s all wasted effort.
One of the best ways to build your website’s reputation online is to secure links from other websites. And the most effective method for doing this is called link building outreach.
While the idea of sending a cold email to other websites and asking them to link to your website is pretty straightforward, your level of success comes down to how effective your methods are and which tools you use to increase efficiency.
In this article, we’ll look at a couple different link building outreach methods (including some popular tools), as well as their respective costs. After you finish reading, you’ll be able to build your own outreach strategy and put it into action!
Why Is Link Building So Expensive?
As with any type of marketing, there are costs involved. Link building is no different. In fact, if you’re not careful, unfocused or lazy link building can cost you a significant amount of both time and money. Here are some of the main reasons why link building can be expensive as well as some tips on how to control costs.
Some websites charge a set amount per link
Some websites that have been around for a while have become an authority in their industries, at least in the eyes of search engines. That means that a link from these websites can be helpful in growing your business. Because of this, a lot of websites charge a flat rate to link from their website to yours. This price can range from around $50 to over $1,000 for well-known sites.
While you may be tempted to pay the website for an easy link, it’s not always a good idea. It takes quite a few links to build authority with search engines, and the amount you spend can quickly add up. There’s also no way to determine your return on investment (ROI) for paid links, so you’re basically gambling with your marketing budget when you buy links.
It takes time to build an outreach list and craft an effective outreach template
A more organic way to build links is through outreach. This involves identifying relevant websites in your industry, finding their contact information, and sending them an email about adding a link to your website. It’s a simple process, but it’s also very time-consuming. And if you plan to do all of this yourself, you’ll be spending less time actually running your business.
While there’s always a time and cost involved in building effective outreach lists and email templates, there are some ways to save. Hiring a freelancer to identify websites and find their contact information is a cost-effective way to get a solid list of contacts. Using an email tool to automatically send personalized emails to each of those contacts is another method that can save you time.
Most useful link building tools require a subscription
Speaking of email tools, there are usually a few different subscriptions you need to perform effective link building outreach. These include email address finders, search engine optimization (SEO) tools to find relevant websites, and email mail merge software.
When considering which tools you need, always focus on your direct needs. A lot of higher end (and more expensive) tools offer a lot of advanced features that most email marketers don’t need. You can run an effective link building outreach campaign on a shoestring budget, but you need to research the different tools available to do it successfully.
The less manual effort involved, the higher the cost
In general, the less effort you have to invest in something, the more it will cost. This is true for link building as well. Some website owners who don’t want to invest the time in building up their outreach efforts opt to hire link building agencies. Agency costs usually start around $300/month for basic link building packages and quickly go into the thousands.
Even if you have a comfortable marketing budget and can afford to hire a link building agency, you need to be extremely careful when choosing one. Most link building agencies don’t get your approval before placing links on other websites. This means you can’t control where your business is placed or how it is presented. And if an agency builds bad backlinks to your website, you’ll have to pay a hefty price to remedy the damage.
Bad links can kill your business
Bad backlinks, or links from spammy or irrelevant sites, can make your website disappear from search engines. If Google, for example, senses that you’re buying a bunch of links or you’re receiving links from strange websites, it’ll stop showing your website in search results. This not only means the time and money you spent obtaining those links has been wasted, but you’ll now need to spend even more money to get back into Google searches.
And on top of that, your website will be receiving zero traffic, which means you won’t have any new leads or clients.
Bad backlink building practices can kill your business, so it’s worth investing the time and money upfront to build solid procedures and use high-quality tools.
How Much Do Link Building Tools Cost?
The best link building tools can save you both time and money if you use them correctly. The main types of tools involved in link building include email scraping tools, SEO tools, and mail merge tools. Let’s take a look at pricing for each of these tool types.
Email Scraping Tools
Websites don’t always publish a contact email address, so sometimes you have to guess. If you guess incorrectly, your email will never be delivered. That’s where email scraping tools come in. While they aren’t always perfect, they can help you guess email addresses more accurately to increase your deliverability rate.
Some of the most popular email scraping tools are Hunter.io, RocketReach, and GetProspect. The table below shows a quick overview of their pricing:
|Tool Name||Monthly Price||Yearly Price|
SEO tools can help you determine if a website is worth reaching out to. They estimate their monthly traffic and also rate how authoritative they are based on their own backlinks. For example, if a website is very relevant to yours but it has zero authority, it’s not worth reaching out to for a link. SEO tools help you avoid wasting your time by helping you narrow down your outreach list to relevant and authoritative sites.
Ahrefs, Semrush, and Ubersuggest are three of the top SEO tools that website owners use. The table below breaks down their monthly and annual pricing.
|Tool Name||Monthly Price||Yearly Price|
The final step of any link building outreach campaign is actually sending the emails. With outreach lists that sometimes have hundreds or thousands of contacts, you can’t possibly send emails one by one. Outreach tools help you automatically personalize an email template and send it instantly to your entire list with the click of a button.
Buzzstream, Pitchbox, and Ninja Outreach are three of the most popular mail merge tools available. This table shows their pricing.
|Tool Name||Monthly Price||Yearly Price|
How to Build Quality Links Without Expensive Tools
Now that you have an idea of what different link building tools cost, it’s time to start developing a cost-effective strategy that will get you positive results. Here are some tips on how to bootstrap your link building campaign and avoid paying for the most expensive tools.
Make Use of Free Tools to Improve Efficiency
Some everyday tools you already use can also be used in link building campaigns. The main two are Google Sheets and Google Docs. Both are completely free to use and can be shared with your team and freelancers. Google Sheets is perfect for creating your outreach list because you can include the website, contact name, contact email address, and other relevant information like domain authority.
Here are some good resources listing the best free SEO tools:
- 27 Simple and Free SEO Tools to Instantly Improve Your Marketing — This article includes tools for everyone from newbies to more advanced marketers and techies.
- The 60 Best Free SEO Tools [100% Free] — Moz, one of the biggest brands in SEO, published this list that will help you build a solid and efficient link building campaign.
- 45 Best Free SEO Tools (Tried & Tested) — Ahrefs’ backlink crawler is the 3rd biggest in the world behind Google and Bing, so their recommendations are definitely worth checking out.
- 110 Top SEO Tools That Are 100% Free— This is the longest list of SEO tools we could find, and there are definitely some hidden gems that make it worth the read.
Conduct Competitor Backlink Analysis with Free Trials
Many of the leading SEO tools, such as Semrush and Ahrefs, provide the option of a free trial. (For example, Semrush offers full access to Semrush Pro account for free for the next 7 days) Even if you find it challenging to allocate a monthly budget for these tools, you can still take advantage of their free trial periods. During this trial period, you can delve into competitor backlink analysis. Here’s how it works: you can download all your competitors’ backlinks in CSV files and transfer them to a Google Spreadsheet. Once there, you can augment the spreadsheet with essential columns like Domain Rating (DR), traffic volume, relevance, and the number of link intersections. The latter is especially noteworthy – when a site links to multiple competitors, the likelihood of them linking back to your site increases. This comprehensive analysis can be carried out within Ahrefs’ “Link Intersect” section. The result? You’ll have a master sheet of invaluable backlink opportunities, all without spending a dime.
Outsource Some Tasks to Freelancers
Sometimes it’s more cost-effective to hire a freelancer on a website like Upwork to perform your link building outreach than doing it yourself. Not only are they experts at identifying website and finding contact information, but they also have the experience to know what works best and what doesn’t.
Another huge advantage to hiring a freelancer is that they often already have active subscriptions to the tools listed above. And the freelancers are based around the globe, so you can find some very competitive pricing depending on their location. If you can find a fairly priced freelancer to build your contact list and send your outreach, you could save yourself over $2,000 per year on link building tool subscriptions!
Craft an Amazing and Personalize Outreach Template
When you send link building outreach emails, you’ll need to write a template email that can be personalized. A lot of people tend to focus on the number of outreach emails they send instead of the quality, so they don’t really spend much time on the template. But think about it: It costs a lot more time and money to find 1,000 websites than 100.
Would you rather send a generic template to 1,000 websites and receive 5 positive responses or send a targeted and personalized template to 100 websites and still receive 5 positive responses? If you spend time writing the perfect template, it can save you countless hours and dollars in the long run.
Use ChatGPT to Write Templates
Most people have heard about ChatGPT at this point. It’s an artificial intelligence software that can do pretty much anything you ask it to, including writing email templates! Once you have your list of contacts, you can ask ChatGPT to write a customized email that will grab each person’s attention. ChatGPT is only as good as the information you give it though. In your prompt, be sure to include the following:
- Your email’s goal
- The tone you want it to use (more casual vs professional)
- What you can offer in return for a link
- Some details about your company you’d like it to include
Some expert copywriters charge hundreds of dollars to write one template. With ChatGPT, you can rival that quality for free.
Use Affordable Mail Merge that Meet Your Needs
Mail merge tools are necessary if you want to achieve results. They save you time and remove the risk of human error when sending hundreds of emails. Depending on their features and capabilities, they can also quickly eat into your marketing budget. Some straightforward mail merge tools like Mailtrack come with all the features you need for a solid backlink outreach campaign without the hefty price.
The thing is this – backlink outreach is simple, and it should stay simple. You don’t need feature-packed software from a big brand that charges more solely because of the brand’s size. You also don’t want a CRM that is so advanced that your developers and tech team need to configure it. Mailtrack helps you focus your efforts and get results without distracting you or causing more headaches than other mail merge tools.
Maximize Efficiency When Sending and Following Up
When it comes time to actually sending your outreach emails, you don’t want to copy and paste your template into a new email, update the personalized information (like first name), and click send for each one. You need a tool that will automatically load the template, insert the personalized information, and send it to your entire contact list at the same time.
The tools mentioned above (Buzzstream, Pitchbox and Ninja Outreach) can do that for you. However, they charge more because they offer more advanced features that usually aren’t necessary. With Mailtrack, you can pay as low as $5 per month and save yourself a lot of time. It’s also important to note that Mailtrack works directly in your Gmail account, which means that, in general, it has a higher email deliverability rate than platforms like Buzzstream.
Track Results to Improve Future Campaigns
Once you’ve sent your outreach, you shouldn’t just cross your fingers and hope for the best. You should actively track who opens your emails, who responds, and who you should send a follow-up to. This helps you get the most out of your contact list. Sometimes a follow up is all a person needs in order to respond!
Mailtrack includes all of these features into a centralized dashboard so you can easily see how your email performed. If you had a high open rate but low response rate, you can modify your template or set a reminder to send a follow-up email. It’s as easy as that!
Now you’re all set to start your link building outreach campaign. With a proactive and consistent approach, you may start to see growth in your website’s traffic within just a few months! It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each outreach strategy (do-it-yourself vs. freelancer vs. agency) and identify which tools you’ll need.
With some creativity and upfront research, you can easily build an effective and affordable outreach campaign that will lead to long-term growth for your website!
About the Author
Yuka Kato is SEO and Content Manager at Mailtrack. With over 7 years of experience, her expertise encompasses email outreach, content marketing, and SEO strategies. Yuka is fluent in three languages – English, Spanish, and Japanese – enabling effective communication with diverse audiences. Her creative work includes articles, infographics, data visualizations, videos, and more. Alongside her career, Yuka finds joy in raising a curious 2-year-old.