In an effort to get our clients the absolute best links possible – within reasonable budgets, I decided to do a 10k+ experiment to find the best linking services that exist. We’ve done quite a bit of manual outreach using NinjaOutreach, and done really niche outreach for local services as well – but we’re convinced that serious – sustained, and rhythmic link-building is incredibly powerful, and guest posting is still one of the most viable ways to do so… what makes us think so?
Using this strategy + strategic content marketing, our clients get an average of 62%+ more organic traffic year over year.
But what guest posting service gives the best bang for the buck… we spent 10k on an experiment to determine just that. Here’s what we found from 10 of the best options for guest posting available, and what we achieved with more manual options at the same time.
Not ranked – or put in any particular order. Skip to the bottom for my top 3 picks.
1. Authority Builders – high-quality options, choose your adventure.
Authority Builders is relatively well-known within SEO communities, as Matt Diggity – founder is also niche-famous. Particular for link-building, and for those that don’t consider themselves ‘pure as snow’ white hat SEO’s, but can’t get on board with the greasier aspects of grey or black-hat SEO.
Interface: 9/10. Authority Builders has one of the more intuitive interfaces/services of any of these guest post services.
Price point: $-$$$. Wide range, link prices are seemingly very appropriate for what you get but should be looked at on a link by link basis to confirm.
Effectiveness: For ‘Marketing Director Guide‘ that had barely made a blip on launch $127.50 guest post with exact match anchor, shot it up to ranking for 10 things, albeit not high enough to get serious money making traffic – but sometimes to me, it’s about getting in position to grow slowly long-term. Each amazing resource on the site should have at least one early link, and then age will help grow the traffic too.
2. ClickIntelligence – Ability to approve or disapprove domains and content.
ClickIntelligence is a solid option for getting links, and has the ability to approve domains and content – so some companies will really enjoy that. For me – it wasn’t as important of a feature because we have some autonomy to ‘get shit done’ for our clients with linking, rather than pretending it’s a super high PR-focused activity. At this point, quantity and consistency are important factors rather than ‘brand voice.’ Some SEO companies may have a different relationship with their clients, so these features might be super important to them.
Interface: 8/10 – I didn’t understand the approval / no approval thing at first and had that explained to me later, unfortunately – so there’s probably an opportunity for ClickIntelligence to up its game here. I also offered my unsolicited advice, that they should offer link packages (like Hoth), since the ease of ordering packages on Hoth, somehow got me to spend 3k on Hoth – even though I’m not a huge fan.
**Well technically I did get a Hoth tattoo on my leg when they offered 3k of links for it at one point years ago.**
Price point: $-$$
Effectiveness: Unfortunately it’s hard to parse out the individual effectiveness here as I directed so many of these guest posts to a couple key service pages, and my home page at the same time. It’s my philosophy that attribution is amazing – but focusing too much on it can slow you down, especially when you’re not ‘in the initial learning phase’ about what kind of levers pulled do what.
That being said – spot-checking the guest posts, they did have very solid metrics (Page Authority: 33, and Domain Authority: 57), and at certain points were ranking for things themselves.
And on Ahrefs a (11 URL Rating and a 57 Domain Rating):
3.Outreach Mama – High-quality domain options, with real traffic and a concierge-style service.
I really liked the experience with Outreach Mama, strangely – for completely different reasons than I liked ClickIntelligence and Authority Builders. It has a very comfortable and compelling – curated/hand-made feel.
No dashboards, just you – an account manager or two, and a spreadsheet. The whole thing feels very organic – rather than ‘software as a service.’
Interface: 8/10. It’s an endearing, and enjoyable experience.
Price Point: $$ – links seem higher priced, but also – there are very few bad sites that they suggest. Every one of them seems to have significant traffic if we checked them out in Ahrefs.
Effectiveness: Also hard to parse out because I was going for a lot of branded links, brand + keyword and exact match URL linking, but DA: 60 and PA: 29 links don’ts seem to be a BAD thing for your overall ranking.
4. No BS Agency Guest Posting – Decently cheap, for decent links.
Thought this was NOBS agency at first… oops – No BS agency, offers a really simple interface. You request sites in a particular niche and then they give you a bunch of sites to choose from.
Interface: 10/10 Clean – simple enough, easy to navigate. All and all, a really pleasant experience. If the pricing was always exactly what they stated – it would be my favorite linking option.
Price Point: $ – Decent for the price point.
Effectiveness: This is an example of a $99 dollar link.
5. Tork Network – Closed network with limited options
I love the links on the Tork Network – the only the problem, is the relative few that exist.
Otherwise, this list is pretty solid.
Interface: 3/10 – Very simple, as it’s a private, invite-only list.
Price Point: $$ – Really solid links for what he’s charging.
Effectiveness: Exactly what I’m looking for in a guest post. Real sites, with real traffic.
6. The Hoth Guest Post – Commodity links, buried in sites, simple turnaround.
Hoth was one of my first forays into linking years ago when I didn’t know much about links. I went on there, bought some $250 for 5 packs of links (Hoth Blitz) and watched in amazement as I got some movement on keywords that I wouldn’t have thought should move from this ‘little’ effort.
Time has passed, and Alas! Hoth’s ability to make movement happen / at least the power of it’s lower level offerings like Hoth Blitz has gone down considerably.
So… in comes ‘Hoth Guest Post’ – are you willing to spend 4x the amount for the same result?
Interface: 10/10 – hands down my favorite interface of all of these, because they make it so gad-dangit simple to spend money. Particularly ‘packages’ make it easy to buy, easy to pay, and easy to get into the ‘choosing anchor text‘ and details part of guest post buying that we like so much.
Price Point: $$$ – frankly, these links are overpriced for the metrics – but Hoth is really good at marketing itself, so people will pay.
Effectiveness: $300 … It’s a good link… but $300 bucks good? Not really.
7. Various Options on Fiverr (Providers: Tuhin2u – a little overpriced, but solid links & EdwardJohnson – cheap mediocre links galore)
Obviously Fiverr gets a bad rap – mostly for the reasons that anything $5 in linking terms, is going to be dog-shit.
But… not everything on Fiverr is $5 anymore, so basically like Upwork, and other sites – you can hire decent freelancers to do outreach and guest posting for you in ways that you couldn’t previously do.
Interface: 10/10 – Review people! Give feedback, and sort through providers. Most are bad, but the interface is awesome.
Price Point: $ – You can get really cheap links here, perhaps you’re looking for volume? Or diversity of anchor text? Come and get em.
Effectiveness: No matter how much better Fiverr is that it once was, I’d still give it a pretty mediocre score on effectiveness. It just doesn’t attract super high-quality providers. Now if you want volume or anchor text diversity, as some times are needed – it’ll get the job done.
Tuhun2u on Fiverr – the links were $120-$150 each and felt a bit like PBN’s. (Private Blog Network – sites resurrected for the purposes of SEO – in other words, not necessarily worth the price of a guest post on a site with real traffic.)
EdwardJohnson on Fiverr – have used him to create some volume, as you can get the post and writing for $10 – don’t ask me how he does it. I’m sure some SEO’s reading this will be too proud to mix in some stuff like this every once in a while, but I’ve found if you use it right, 5 of these bad boys can rank a page… strangely.
8. Esbo.ltd – Friendly service, links suggested for you.
Interface: 2/10 – Small team, more of a manual/communication type situation.
Price Point: $$
Effectiveness: Solid links for the price.
9. Upwork (Provider: Galyna Bulatseskul) – Decent enough links, albeit a little clunky experience.
Interface: 5/10 – not really made for link-building, so it will depend on who you work with and their system. Galyna was not super clear with expectations / what to expect.
Price point: $$
Effectiveness: I ended up with mediocre links that seemed like they could’ve been PBN’s.
10. Private Inc. – Mortifyingly bad customer service.
Interface: 0/10 – technically I think this service offers PBN’s, but all I’ll say is that they didn’t respond to my messages, and never showed me 1 link, a month and a week after purchasing. My review of Private Inc. for links… is I’d suggest spending your money on a hammer to hit yourself in the foot instead, and you’d be better off. Horrible experience.
Price Point: $$
Effectiveness: No idea… Never received one link, and only got a response to an e-mail like 2 weeks late, and then no explanation why there weren’t links provided. I had to open a dispute in Paypal because they didn’t respond to my request for a refund. Yay!
(Frankly just wanted to share this with people – even though it wasn’t guest posts)
11. Love to Link – A little blind to end domains, SOME PBN-looking links.
Interface: 7/10 – Decently simple. Fill out the info for the domains you want. Overall, out of the links received some looked like PBN sites, thus driving down my overall experience. But it is handy that they have a Duplicate Guest Post Checker & Duplicate Site Checker for those of you who might have done a lot of guest posting previously, and a legitimate money-back guarantee.
Price Point: $$
Lots of DA 30-60 Domains for $100-$150, and it allows you to see how much traffic the site has according to Ahrefs.
More manual options:
Using Guest Post Tracker – I liked using Guest Post Tracker alongside the paid routes here, just to see what some ‘sweat equity’ would save me in the long run. It really depends on how much you value your time, of course – but the takeaway for me was that there wasn’t enough money saved that it was worth my time. There are, however, many sites on Guest Post Tracker that can’t be bought otherwise, and for that reason, I might suggest making a good solid run at this method, as a more manual option to getting guest post links.
Using NinjaOutreach – Ninja Outreach is a way to filter sites, and outreach to them based on niche, domain authority, and social followings – using templates, in bulk.
It’s super useful, but more and more sites are getting stingier because of tools just like this. It’s awesome – but time intensive. For people that have never done guest post outreach, I’d strongly suggest trying this, and seeing if you have a better experience than buying links.
Our suggestion for rhythmic, regular linking
What’s the absolute best rhythm for regular, systematic linking?
Obviously – with any accurate answer of this type, the best way to answer this is “It depends.”
But also, I don’t want to use that as a cop-out, so I’d say 3-5-10 links a month, depending on the size and competition of your niche. I love getting around 5 links for our site a month and spreading those out to blog posts, the home page, service pages, and niche landing pages.
For a roofer in a small market – I’d say go with 3 links a month, a home construction company in a bigger market 5 links a month, a manufacturer in a competitive niche? 10!
And high domain authority one’s too. The trick is making the anchor text profile feel natural, and by pairing this with valuable content, other involvement in the community, and other marketing efforts 100% dedicated to your ideal customers. SEO linking strategy, without a content strategy, and without other serious marketing efforts – is flimsy, and prone to getting up-ended by a simple algorithm update.
But it is powerful, and a regular, consistent rhythm – in my experience, is better than a giant burst (like I did when I spent 10k at once.)
Our top 3 suggestions for Guest Post Services providers
1. No BS.
2. Outreach Mama.
2. Authority Builders.
We know not everyone can afford a 10k a month linking habit – and I’m convinced that most websites don’t need insane PR-focused write-ups every month either.
Good, old-fashioned link building can be done with 1k a month, and the right strategist picking the links. I’d love to hear other link builders comments below, and if you’d rather have an agency manage it for you – of course, we’re here for you, our retainers range from 2-6k a month and include content strategy, link-building, technical and on-page changes to your website. We often build out new templates and go above and beyond what many SEO agencies consider part of their retainer. Send us a message today!
Wow, thanks for running this experiment for the benefit of everyone else, Tim! I read a couple other articles that were staunchly against Outreach Mama so I may hone in on your other 2 recommendations. Apparently “FatJoe” is another popular service like these that people said is diminishing in quality and not at all worth it. I keep seeing an ad on Reddit for one called OutreachPete but haven’t looked into that one.
Obviously it would depend largely on budget probably, but all other things being equal, would you say your average site owner – who doesn’t know how to do build links themselves and isn’t savvy enough to create a system to hire a VA/freelancer to do – is better off simply hiring an agency to do manual linkbuilding or paying for one of these linkbuilding services like Click Intelligence or Authority Builders?
I think hiring an agency for this is really smart (though I do have skin in that game, of course.)
The other things that are important are frequency, anchor text, and the overall strategy of what to link to, why and when…
Unless you’ve spent over 100K lifetime (as I have and other agency’s often have) it’s hard to understand what works. That being said, if you’re willing to spend a good 30-40k and start with a 10k test, I could see going the other way too.
It’s similar to PPC ad spend, in that – for a certain size of spend you might want to cut out the middle man – most small businesses should probably have a middle man for this particular practice though, in my humble opinion. Mostly because the short supply of qualified SEO talent, and the efficiencies created by having 10-50 clients in one agency, and the learnings that brings.