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How to Build Links without Paying for Expensive Link Building Tools

Originally published: July 24, 2023 08:27:14 AM, updated: March 06, 2024 10:57:31 AM

Link Building

Building quality backlinks is an essential aspect of any successful SEO strategy. However, many website owners are reluctant to invest in expensive link-building tools, which can often be a barrier to their online success. The good news is that there are ways to build valuable backlinks without breaking the bank. In this article, we will explore practical strategies and techniques to build links without paying for expensive link-building tools.

Why Does Link Building Cost So Much?

Link building is an essential aspect of search engine optimization (SEO). It involves acquiring backlinks from other websites to improve your website's authority and visibility in search engine results. While link building is crucial, it's also a time-consuming and intricate process that requires careful planning and execution.

It involves identifying relevant websites, reaching out to website owners, crafting compelling outreach emails, and tracking the results of your campaigns. Many SEO professionals rely on link-building tools to streamline and automate these tasks. And all of this together takes time and money.

Investing in expensive link-building tools might not be feasible for everyone, especially for small businesses and startups. However, there are alternative strategies you can implement to build quality backlinks without breaking the bank.

Typical Link Building Process

Before we delve into cost-effective link-building strategies, it's essential to understand the typical link-building process and the tools involved. The following steps are usually involved in a successful link-building campaign:

1. Competitor Analysis

Analyzing your competitors' backlink profiles can provide valuable insights and help you identify potential link opportunities. Tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz are commonly used for competitor analysis because they have large databases that track millions of links regularly.

2. Prospecting

Prospecting involves finding relevant websites that you can potentially acquire backlinks from. Using the same tools, you did for competitor analysis, you can glean the best sites to get links from. You can base your list on metrics like domain authority, backlink profile, search results, and monthly traffic.

3. Building a Contact List

Once you have identified potential link prospects, you need to gather their contact information, including email addresses. Tools like and Voila Norbert can help you find email addresses associated with a specific website. It's important to find the right contact on each website, too. Common job titles you should look for include Content Manager, Digital Marketing Manager, or Editor.

4. Writing Emails

Crafting personalized and persuasive outreach emails is crucial to gaining link opportunities from your contact list. While no specific tools are required for this step, tools like Grammarly can help ensure your emails are error-free and well-written.

Grammarly Platform

Remember, you want to make an excellent first impression to secure the best links! If you are new to link building or looking for inspiration, you may need to spend time searching for some good example outreach emails online.

5. Outreach

Outreach involves sending your well-crafted emails to relevant contacts and possibly even influencers to pitch your content or request a backlink. Tools like Pitchbox and BuzzStream are some popular choices that offer advanced outreach capabilities. Because you'll be sending emails to a large list, it's important that you make this process as efficient as possible. Sending each email individually would take forever, and outreach tools can send emails to hundreds of contacts in a matter of minutes.

6. Tracking Campaign Results

Tracking the effectiveness of your link-building campaigns is essential to measure success and make necessary adjustments. The SEO tools mentioned earlier, combined with free tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console, can help monitor your campaign's performance. Analyzing past results will help you improve future outreach campaigns.

Each of these steps requires specific tools to streamline the process and maximize efficiency. However, relying solely on expensive tools can be expensive, and often, too many tools can actually lead to less productivity and burnout, according to a survey from Okta.

Popular Link Building Tools and Pricing

Here are some of the most popular link-building and outreach tools marketers use, as well as their starting prices:

SEMrush: Starting at $99.95 per month.

Ahrefs: Starting at $99 per month.

Moz: Starting at $99 per month.

BuzzStream: Starting at $24 per month (but for this plan, you can't send bulk emails. Plus, when the contact list exceeds 1000, you will need to upgrade the plan. The next cheapest plan costs $124 per month.)

BuzzSumo: Starting at $119 /month.

Pitchbox: Starting at $195 per month.

Ninja Outreach: Starting at $119 per month.

While these tools offer comprehensive features, they may not fit every budget. So, how can you build quality backlinks without paying for expensive link-building tools?

Let's take a look.

Ways to Build Quality Backlinks while Saving Money

Install Free SEO Tools

Instead of investing in costly link-building tools, you can utilize free alternative SEO tools to analyze your website's performance and discover link-building opportunities. Some popular free tools include:

Google Search Console

Search Console Links

In the Search Console dashboard, navigate to the "Links" section. Here, you can find information about the external websites that link to your site. Click on "External Links" to see the full list. Analyze the backlinks to understand which websites are linking to you, and then visit those websites to see which other pages they are linking to. Look for patterns and identify high-quality and relevant websites that could be potential targets for new links.

Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is primarily used for tracking website analytics and user behavior. While it does not directly facilitate link-building, it can provide valuable insights to inform your strategies. Here's how you can utilize GA4 in the context of link-building:

  • Referral traffic refers to visitors who land on your site by clicking a link on another website. By analyzing the referral traffic data in GA4, you can identify the websites that are already linking to your site. This information helps you understand the existing link profile and potentially uncover further link-building opportunities based on your most popular articles.
  • Identify high-performing pages: Use GA4 to identify the pages on your website that receive the most traffic or have high engagement metrics, such as time on page or conversions. These high-performing pages can be valuable assets for link-building. Consider promoting these pages to other website owners or influencers who may be interested in linking to them.
  • Analyze audience demographics and interests: GA4 provides data on the demographics and interests of your website visitors. This information can help you understand your target audience better, identify relevant websites or communities they frequent, and tailor your link-building efforts accordingly. Focus on websites or platforms that align with your audience's interests.
  • Track conversion goals: Set up conversion goals in GA4 to track specific actions you want users to take on your website, such as signing up for a newsletter or purchasing. By monitoring the conversion rates and tracking the sources of these conversions, you can identify which referral sources drive valuable traffic and potentially build links from similar sources.
  • Monitor landing page performance: GA4 allows you to analyze the performance of individual landing pages on your website. You can identify pages that may need improvement or optimization by tracking metrics like bounce rate, average time on page, and goal completions for each landing page. Enhancing these pages' user experience and content quality can make them more attractive to potential link-building partners.

Google Alerts

It's a great tool to discover unlinked mentions online for free. With Google Alerts, you can spot trending topics people are searching for, write content about that topic, then build links to it before your competitors catch on. You can also get inspired to come up with good outreach target sites and guest post topics by learning how and by whom your site is mentioned.


A free Chrome extension that gives instant site metrics such as Domain Authority, Page Authority, and Number of Linking Root Domains. It's a great option for SERP analysis and is one of the quickest ways to determine the quality of a website. Although the score is subjective, it's still a good benchmark to help you find valuable backlink opportunities and skip the ones that won't benefit you.


They don't have a free plan, but Ubersuggest does offer some useful free tools that allow you to perform keyword research and identify competitor backlink profiles for outreach opportunities.

By leveraging these free tools, you can gather valuable insights and optimize your link-building efforts without spending a fortune.

Hire Experts with Access to Necessary Tools

If you have a limited budget, consider hiring SEO experts who already have access to premium link-building tools. Although it seems counterintuitive, outsourcing your link-building campaigns to professionals can save you time, effort, and money in the long run. These experts have the necessary tools and experience to identify relevant opportunities and execute successful outreach campaigns on your behalf.

You can either hire a freelance link builder or an agency, but agencies cost 1.4 times more than a freelancer on an hourly rate basis. And sometimes, agencies give the same links to all of their clients, which makes them worthless.

SEO Hourly Rates

You can look for pro link builders in outsourcing sites like Upwork. In general, it's easy to find thousands of link-building professionals on Upwork. So, applying filters when you perform talent searches, such as job success rate, only freelancers, hourly rate range, and English level, is recommended.

Filter Freelancers

When you find a good candidate, do an interview over a video call. Link-building outreach is mostly done by exchanging messages via email or sometimes social media chats. However, link builders sometimes need to jump on a call to negotiate with prospects to build a solid relationship. It's important to verify the candidate's communication skills over the phone.

It's also helpful to do an interview test by asking the candidate to find a few real link opportunities for your site. Ask what link-building strategies he or she thinks are the most effective for you and set the monthly goals. You may need to spend some time hiring, but it can eventually save you time and money in the long run.

Give Perks for a Link

Another cost-effective way to build links is by offering incentives or perks to website owners or bloggers in exchange for a backlink. For example, you can provide free products, subscriptions, services, or exclusive content to those who link back to your website. Usually, websites ask for a link publication fee depending on their site's audience volume, popularity, and metrics. This approach helps you avoid expensive link publication fees and establishes positive relationships within your industry.

Use Google Spreadsheets Like a Pro

Google Spreadsheets can be a powerful tool for managing your link-building campaigns. You can create spreadsheets to track outreach efforts, monitor responses, and organize your contact lists. Utilize the built-in collaboration features to share spreadsheets with your team members or collaborate with external contributors like freelance link builders. It's a free and user-friendly option that can help you stay organized without the need for specialized software.

Send Personalized Mass Emails with the Most Cost-Effective Mail Merge Tool

Email outreach is a common link-building strategy, but it can be time-consuming to send individual emails manually. To save time and effort, you can use a cost-effective mail merge tool like Mailtrack. With Mailtrack, you can personalize and automate your email outreach while maintaining a human touch. This tool allows you to send personalized mass emails at scale, ensuring efficient communication with potential link prospects. It's easy to understand and is by far the most affordable mail merge tool compared to other methods. It also has full tracking features.

Mailtrack Platform

And even the "Advanced" plan with the full features costs less than the starting price of the other tools.

Mailtrack Advanced Plan


Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a platform that connects journalists and reporters with industry experts. By signing up as a source, you can receive email notifications about journalists' queries related to your industry. Responding to relevant queries can help you secure high-quality backlinks from reputable publications without spending any money.

Another pro is that if you can build a good relationship with specific journalists, they will directly reach out to you when they look for relevant information for new articles or even refer you to other journalists. Remember, building links means building relationships.

Send a Follow-up Email at the Right Moment

Sometimes, a simple follow-up can significantly impact your link-building efforts. If you haven't received a response after reaching out to potential link prospects, consider sending a polite follow-up email. Timing is crucial when sending follow-ups. Wait for a reasonable period, typically around one week, before sending a follow-up message. This gentle nudge can increase your chances of getting a response and acquiring valuable backlinks.

It's worth sending up to 2 to 3 follow-up messages. Some studies say you can send up to 7 follow-up emails, but be careful: Some people can feel overwhelmed after receiving 8 emails that they are not interested in.

The most effective way to get a response is to send a personalized follow-up email instead of an automated bulk email at the best time. For example, sending a follow-up email when the recipient opens your email after a long time is the perfect moment to check-in.

Monitor and Analyze Campaign Results

It's essential to monitor and analyze the results of your link-building campaigns to identify what's working and what needs improvement. Google Analytics and the mentioned free SEO and outreach tools like Mailtrack can provide valuable data from email open and click rate to referral traffic, link engagement, and conversion rates. Tracking campaign results can refine your strategies, focus on successful tactics, and eliminate ineffective approaches.


Link Building

There is a wide range of opinions regarding how effective link building influences organic search rankings. However, on a scale of 1 to 10, 20% of respondents rate it as extremely effective, or a 10. This indicates that link building is highly valued as an SEO strategy. The majority of answers fall on the higher end of the spectrum, with 26% selecting option 8 and 19% selecting option 7.

It's interesting to note that the lower end of the scale receives the least amount of support—just 4% of respondents grade its efficacy as low (1-4).

Building quality backlinks is essential for improving your website's authority and visibility in search engine results. While link-building tools can be expensive, there are alternative strategies to help you build links without breaking the bank.

In this article, we discussed various ways to build quality backlinks while saving money:

  • Utilizing free SEO tools to analyze your website's performance.
  • Hiring SEO experts with access to necessary tools.
  • Offering incentives or perks for a link.
  • Leveraging Google Spreadsheets for campaign management.
  • Sending personalized mass emails with cost-effective mail merge tools.
  • Utilizing Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to secure backlinks from reputable publications.
  • Sending follow-up emails at the right moment.
  • Monitoring and analyzing campaign results to refine your strategies.

Implementing these cost-effective strategies can enhance your link-building efforts without relying on expensive tools. Remember, successful link-building requires consistency, creativity, and patience. Start exploring these techniques and adapt them to fit your unique business needs.

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