How We’ve Simplified Our In-house Link Building: A Step-by-Step Guide

Link building is very time-consuming. But high-authority backlinks are also a very strong ranking factor, so not investing your time and resources into this area could lead to a noteworthy deficit of SEO juice.

Besides, everyone else is building links, and if you don’t, you will have a really hard time catching up with them in SERPs until you gain a similar number of backlinks.

So we did what few others dare – created our own link building tool.

At First, We Only Used Respona In-House

Initially, we developed Respona – our secret internal name for the tool – to help promote our data visualization project Visme. And it worked out quite well, helping us secure 2M monthly visitors to the Visme website. This basically served as an initial concept test and its success forced us to think hard about what we could do with it.

After much deliberation, Respona became its own thing and we made it public.

But, even though Visme got pretty big, Respona was still a new site, and we had to go through the entire process of link building, performance optimization, improving our rankings, and promoting our blog again. And in this article, we’ll take a look at exactly the strategies that work the best for us, and how Respona helps automate some of the most tedious processes associated with link building.

What Exactly Does Respona Do?

It’s an all-in-one email outreach tool. And while it’s not built strictly for link building, the combination of its features make it the perfect tool for it.

It includes:

  • A built-in search engine for prospecting;
  • Automated email sequences;
  • Variables like {first_name} and {url_title} that help save a bunch of time on customization;
  • An email finder and verifier (no email lists required);
  • Integration with HARO;
  • Tons of other handy functions.

So, in terms of preparing an in-house link building campaign, you can do pretty much everything within Respona – from prospecting to finding contact information to preparing and sending out your pitches.

And while you don’t need it to achieve similar results as us, it sure does help save A LOT of time.

Anyway, enough selling our product, let’s get to the exact strategies that net us more than 20 new backlinks every week.

Our Favorite Link Building Strategies

We really use three strategies, and if you’re familiar with link building, you’ve probably already heard about each of them.

Anchor Text Strategy

This is one of the simplest, oldest link building strategies ever. And it still works quite well!

Whenever we release a new article, we run one of these campaigns. The premise is as follows:

  1. Through Respona’s search engine, we look for other non-competing articles that mention our target keyword (or one of its variations), but are on a different topic
  2. Based on the results of the search, we select all matching opportunities from websites that have a domain rating (DR) of 40+ (anything lower isn’t really worth reaching out to)
  3. We prepare an email outreach sequence
  4. We leverage Respona’s email finder/verifier to find the email addresses of the bloggers behind those articles
  5. We reach out to them, telling them how our article can help improve their own content and expand on a topic they have barely touched upon.

The average reply rate for this strategy is around 8-10%. So, the bigger the campaign, the more links you’re going to get out of it, naturally.

Here’s the exact pitch that we use for this strategy:

Respona email outreach

The wording is important, but what’s equally important is your value proposition so that the collaboration is mutually beneficial.

A good value proposition can be:

  • A social share;
  • A non-reciprocal link;
  • A free trial of your tool (if you have one).

Paying for backlinks is also an option, but we are against it. A surprising number of people aren’t, though.

Reverse Skyscraper Technique

If you’ve never heard of the skyscraper technique, the basic premise is that you create a better piece of content than your competitors in the hopes that Google will find it and rank your page higher (eventually). But the reverse skyscraper technique takes this a step further.

Essentially, it’s the same as the normal version, but instead of creating content specifically to outperform your competitors, you try and create the best possible piece of content (don’t forget to be creative and make your content even more appealing by making videos for your posts), and then reach out to all of the sites linking to your competing content telling them how yours is better.

This is my personal favorite, because in our niche it’s pretty easy to find a lot of prospects really quickly.

All you need to do is look up your competing articles’ backlink profiles in Ahrefs, export the list, clean it up to remove any irrelevant opportunities, and import that into Respona.

So, for example, recently we published a post on link building. If I were to create a campaign for it, here’s how I would find prospects:

1. Search “link building” in Google or Ahrefs’ Content Explorer

Respona link building search

2. Check the backlink profiles of competing articles

respona backlinks analysis in ahrefs

3. Export the list, clean it up, and import into Respona for outreach.

Just by looking at Moz’s backlinks (screenshot above), there are 1086 DoFollow backlinks from English blog posts. About 400 of them come from sites that have above a 40 DR. So that’s 400 high-quality prospects right there. Pretty impressive, right? And it only took the entirety of two seconds.

Guest Posting (With A Bit Of A Twist)

Good old guest posting, what’s not to love about it? You get links, the blog gets free content – absolute win-win.

However, most blogs only allow you to have one link back to your site in the bio and one in the body of the article, and a lot of high-quality resources require 2000+ word articles. Writing such a big piece for only 1-2 links isn’t really worth the time (in which you could have prepared another in-house link building campaign).

But there’s a way to get way more links from a single guest post than that (provided that the blog you’re writing for allows you to link to external resources).

Establish a network of partners. Insert their links into your upcoming guest posts. Keep track of the links you give them – they will do the same for you. With this simple trick, you can get way more than 1-2 links from a guest post: up to 5, 7, or even 8. You can find these partners by joining a slack community for link building.

We don’t do separate outreach for guest posts: instead I pitch a guest post after every successful link exchange by taking a look at the blog’s content gap in comparison to their competitors, and propose to write on a topic that they don’t rank for.

respona content gap analysis in ahrefs


And that’s how we get 20+ DR 40+ backlinks every single week. By just doing these three in-house link building strategies. But, we do it at a pretty big scale – I have 5 separate email addresses sending 35 pitches every single day.

That is a lot of emails, but it is also quite a lot of links.

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