Link Building Strategy for SEO Agencies

SEO clients are like ticking time bombs: Always prepared to detonate. All it takes is one misstep or one traffic complaint to trigger buyer’s remorse in a client. The link building strategy you learn here will change that fact forever.

The Definitive Link Building Guide to Generating Revenue for Clients

The question is:

Why are you putting yourself (and your SEO agency's reputation) in the path of danger?

Those tactics that industry execs swore would change the SEO world as they knew it wound up being duds. And yet, link building — is the one the majority of agencies sideline out of sheer laziness.

Here's what we know:

Earning backlinks from real websites relevant to your clients’ industries improves SEO rankings

Do you want to show your clients that SEO isn't a guise to collect monthly paychecks and pad your wallet?

Of course you do, it’s why you’re still here reading.

This link building strategy you learn here on this guide will guarantee results for you. It will also create happy SEO clients for your agency.

No matter how of your soul you pour into a client's campaign, they'll always greet you with the same question: How're our rankings look compared to last week?

A proper link building strategy can put a cap on the sighs, eye rolls, and grimaces. For link building to work and produce results you need to take a broader approach, including:
By the end of this post, these obstacles will be shrinking in your rearview forever. These are the tips that still thrive today — not eight years ago. SEO clients are like ticking time bombs: Always prepared to detonate. All it takes is one misstep or one traffic complaint to trigger buyer’s remorse in a client.


Impress Google by Ignoring Them

Transform Link Prospects into Buyers

Receive Rivers of Referrals

Get Your Prospects to Welcome You as a Guest

Impress Your Prospects Fast

Make Your Prospects Value Linking to You

Have Fun and Make Friends with Prospects

Divorce Google and Get More Revenue

Breaking up is hard to do, especially when your future “ex” is the search engine that makes your SEO business possible: Google.
If link building is hard for you, look no further than your Google obsession.

Contrary to Popular Opinion, Link Building Is Not SEO

Most SEO agencies are past the point of shunning link building. And yet, many feel that it’s an SEO strategy. It’s not!

Link building is a business development tactic.

A World Without Google

A world without Google is unimaginable, especially if you’re a Millennial or beyond. Think about it. How would you bolster your client’s attention without Google to lend a helping hand?

It’d look a little something like this:

1. Engulfing yourself in your client’s industry to discover what websites their prospects cluster.

2. Approaching the site’s owners to build relationships with them.

3. Finally, you would ask them to link to your client’s site.

In a Google-less World, You Would Focus on Generating Referral Traffic

The early days of our agency venture still make me cringe to this day:
Take the time to build relationships with the site owners.

Turn Link Prospects into New Customers

Your relationship with clients is transactional. You guide paying customers to their sites, and they pay you in return.

Start targeting a segment of your client’s buyer audience to double as link prospects.

As your team fires off that email, you’ll also walk away with a “soft touch” with your client’s buyer prospects.

In other words, the link avenue might be a dud for now. But if the site’s owner takes the plunge, you’ve nurtured one sale.

One Link Building Strategy, Double the Benefits

Thanks to this link building strategy, you’re killing two birds with one stone. And you will appreciate the time and money you can dedicate elsewhere.

You shine the spotlight on your client as you mold their brand awareness. People prefer brands they like, know, and trust. And this outreach effort will open up doors for your clients.

Plus, you’ll get links that Google loves. Instead of the fake or meaningless backlinks that do nothing for you or your client.

ROI That Funds the Next Steps

Some of these link prospects will reach out to your client to buy their products or services. Sure, it isn’t SEO. But it makes your clients happy when you do it for them. Happy SEO clients grow agencies.

Receive Referrals Without Having to Ask for Them

You already know that good, reliable referrals are worth their weight in gold. But are they the lifeblood of your client’s business yet?

How do you ask prospects for referrals for your clients?

The First Step

The first step is creating a list of likely prospects.
Include all the top influencers in your client’s industry that aren’t direct competitors. Divide and conquer doesn’t work in the business world.
Your targets are anyone who boasts industry pull with your client’s ideal customer.

Influencers already have well-established relationships with this community. And when influencers say, “Jump,” their followers don’t hesitate to ask, “How high?”
Don’t be afraid to go straight to the top, even if that means an influencer with 10,000 readers.
The fact you’re willing to help your client earn referrals will also make your clients happy.

A Quick Warning for You

Many “experts” caution you against targeting premium prospects right out of the gate.
Instead, they feel you should get your “sea legs” underneath you first. They insist that “slow and steady wins the race,” as it does elsewhere in business.
I call baloney.
When you shoot for the moon, you hit the moon.

Let's Call These Prospects, Your Golden Prospects

These prospects should be the top influencers in your clients’ industries. They should be easily-recognizable names (or faces) to your client’s ideal customer.
For example, health-based clients will strive for experts like Dr. Mercola or Dr. Oz. And sports-savvy clients might prefer Steph Curry or Derek Jeter.

The Ultimate Link Building Strategy of Them All

1. You’ll siphon referral traffic for your clients from the Golden Prospect’s website.

2. Since their loyal readers trust them, their curiosity will lead them to your client’s site.

3. The boosted traffic, and premium backlink catapults your client’s Google rankings (cha-ching).

4. As you get a feel for earning these links, average link prospects will be much easier to win over.

5. The more links you grab from influencers, the more your client will appreciate your work.

Effective Networking Plays a Big Part in Link Building Success

The strategies you learn in this guide will help you secure links from Golden Prospects. It will also lay the foundation for a long-term relationship (on behalf of your clients).
Not only can you add extra zeros to the top of the funnel, but a client’s revenue may very well skyrocket, thanks to you. All it takes is one locked-in influencer to get more on board, and your client won’t regret hiring you.

But, Is This Link Building Strategy Worth It?

Are you wondering if earning a backlink from this Golden Prospect is worth all the effort it takes?

Time is money, after all. You could spend it crafting educational blog posts or buying links to their sites. You want to be sure that you’re not pouring time and effort down the drain, right? Imagine, for a moment, two vendors. These vendors have identical products, pricing, and web designs. They’re the same in every way. Except for one thing: One of them has a link from that coveted Golden Prospect, while the other doesn’t. In the fight for customers and revenue, who do you think will win in this scenario? The vendor with the link from the Golden Prospect will receive more web traffic. Not only that, but his conversions will also be higher. Influencers have unimaginable control over their readers’ decisions. Because of it, they will help you grow your client’s business.

Subpar Backlinks Will Only Get You Subpar Results

Your most bull-headed clients might not recognize the weight that these influencers pull.

But you do.

Take the time to remind them that they’re experts in their industry, but you’re the guide in yours. Echo the age-old “quality over quantity” when clients furrow their brows.

Now, it’s time to make even more waves.

Jot down the “Numero Uno” person who’s rocking the industry right now. Don’t hesitate to ask your client who that is either.

Start your list with that Golden Prospect from earlier.

It doesn’t matter if they seem unreachable or ten steps beyond your client’s business. The important thing now is for you to set your sights on the industry’s biggest name.

Start Your Link Campaign BIG

Snagging that top person in an industry could prove challenging. But successful outreach takes time, effort, and a world of patience.

Here’s how you can tackle this 3-foot-wide pothole without losing an axle.

Step 1

Know Them Better Than You Know Your Neighbors

With your sights set on that top niche influencer, there’s little time for guesswork. View them as your newest research project and:

• Read everything you can about them (Wikipedia, newspaper articles, biographies).

• Check their blogs, paid content, books, interviews, webinars, and newsletters.

• Visit their store and “shop around” (the one perk of running an SEO agency is that you can hide behind a screen).

Anyone who’s an influencer has an online presence far beyond their Instagram or blog.

This research also gives you a glimpse into what this prospect is willing to post. In other words, you can get a better gauge of the topics their clients enjoy and a template to secure that link.

Don’t let that opportunity go to waste!

Another fact is that other agencies are likely barking up this same tree, eyeing that same link.

Not to worry; most of your competitors are too lazy to put in the same legwork as you.

Step 2

Help them in Whatever Way You Can

We get so engulfed in the digital industry that we forget to show our human sides.

In complete fairness, this Golden Prospect likely rejects weekly outreach requests like yours. Put yourself in the influencer’s shoes and ask WIIFM (What’s in it for me?).

Does the influencer have a particular need that you or your client can meet?

For example, an influencer might have a Kindle book launching next month. So, why not read it and give them an honest, sincere review? Drop this detailed review on Amazon and build that mutual relationship early on.

Make sure to leave the review in the name of the person conducting the outreach. That way, the prospect recognizes it.

Or what if they want to tap your client’s current customer base to recruit new readers? Offer a guest blog post on your client’s website to share backlinks. If organic visitors to your client’s site see a top influencer on the team, that could nudge them over the edge!

Step 2

Never Ask for Anything

Ask for a backlink right off the bat, and you’re guaranteed to torpedo any shot you had remaining. Let the prospects introduce the idea without forcing the topic.

Never forget that your client’s reputation is on the line — not yours. And yet, don’t be afraid to put your foot down when your client urges you to push, push, push for that link.

Step 2

Give, Then Give Some More, Then Give Some More Again

Once you have gotten to this step, you may be thinking, “Ok, when is the payoff?” You’re getting there! Remember: generosity never goes out of style, no matter how long it takes to reap the benefits. Nothing says “disingenuous,” like acting friendly and then immediately asking for a favor.

Step 2

Remember – Patience is a Virtue and a Key Link Building Strategy

Your mother wasn’t lying when she uttered this phrase to you over and over. Don’t allow impatience to act as a barrier to success. The law of reciprocity will hold— so long as you wait.

Make Your Prospects Welcome You as Their Guest

Your Golden Prospect’s online presence is very much their second home. It is, after all, where they live online.

Most of the link outreach messages sent out every day don’t result in placements.


The outreach specialists sending them are making a huge mistake. What mistake, you might ask?

They’re attempting to marry their prospects on their very first date with them.

The easiest way to differentiate yourself in outreach messages is to not come off as a beggar. You want to transform yourself from unwelcome pests into welcomed guests.

Here’s how to do it.

Don’t Beg

Begging might work for your labradoodle trying to get a treat off the dinner table. But it does not work when it comes to effective link building.

Remember, to win at this; you need to put yourself in the shoes of your Golden Prospect. You know for a fact that they get a river of link requests in their inbox every day.

Most link requests come from beggars. And these requests get deleted, or more likely, completely ignored. Begging turns on a filter in your Golden Prospect’s brain. Once that filter is on, they will not see your request. The simplest way to reach the stars in SEO is not to beg. It’s that simple.

Equalize the Value

You should never ask for anything without giving something of equal value first. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise to you given that this is basic psychology and how the human brain works.

To receive value, you must first be willing to give it. If you approach this with a selfish attitude, things won’t turn out the way you hope. But, if you have a “pay it forward” kind of mentality, things will be a lot different.

Establish Your Authority with Link Prospects

You should not attempt to earn backlinks without first establishing your authority.

Most website owners make the mistake of hiding their expertise behind price tags. Most of the influencers they reach out to will never know that they are experts worthy of getting a link. Because they hide their expertise, their authority also remains hidden.

The Class is in Session

You want your Golden Prospects to see that you are a fellow authority within your industry. The way you do this is by taking on the role of teacher on your website.

Superman has phone booths (or at least he used to!), you have your site as an instant authority builder. You go in as a mild-mannered online businessperson, and you come out a respected authority!

A significant thing to remember here in the link building strategy guide is that you should not brag. Let your expertise speak for itself. Real experts don’t have to proclaim that they are experts.

This concept of teaching extends to each one of your social and blog posts. Instead of trumpeting your successes, help others to succeed. Doing this will establish credibility and draw a crowd around your brand.

If this has not been your practice in the past, now is the time to go back through and doing some spring cleaning.

And finally, do not self-promote. Like we mentioned earlier, real experts gain their recognition from others. They do not have to go around proclaiming their amazingness.


How to Get High-Value Prospects to Value Linking to Your Clients

Enticing link prospects into handing over that hard-fought link is crucial. If you can get them to appreciate giving the backlink more than your client receiving it, you made it.

Not only will this solidify your place as a skilled SEO savant, but it’ll also show in your client’s (and your agency’s!) business bank account!

Consider the Value

First, never overlook the value that each prospect carries for your client’s future. If you approach and treat them as such, they’ll pick up on it.

The inverse is also true. Come off as needy or pushy, and you’ll tank your client’s chances of securing the influencer. And when they tell their friends about your unrelenting “harassment,” your client suffers.

It Does hurt to ask

People (including your SEO clients) always toss around the saying, “It doesn’t hurt to ask!” Of course, if they say no, you fall back on, “Ah, I least I tried!”

But when it comes to forming new business relationships, it does hurt to ask too early.

Become Their Promoter

Say it with me: An SEO agency’s job is not to promote our clients to influencers. And this is a lesson that many influencers learn early on as they build their following.

So, hop onto your Golden Prospect’s bandwagon and sing their praises every chance you get, whether it’s posting a blog that mentions them or touting their materials on Facebook.

Become Their Champion

The online world is a dog-eat-dog sort of place. Each of us put a significant value on having someone who we know has our back no matter what. You can fill those shoes for this Golden Prospect.

That is a link building strategy that’ll earn you praise and your client revenue.


Don’t Hit and Run Link Prospects

The worst thing you can do with a prospect is shooting your shot and then falling into the internet’s abyss.

Once you earn a link from a candidate, don’t fire off that “thank you” email, and bolt for the door. It slams the door to future links and possible referral business for your client.

This “hit and run” prospecting strategy is short-sighted and a rookie mistake.

It takes some time for the success to move up the chain — you’re next!

Establish a Human Relationship

Emails, direct messages, and comment sections are as impersonal as they come. So, even if this connection is digital, never forget to make prospects feel human.

Show prospects that they’re more than a backlink for your client and a future round of applause for you. Once you secure that link and “finish the deal,” don’t sideline the relationship.

Give, give, and give some more.

Continue to leave friendly comments on their site. Be the first to enroll in their newsletters, and give them a mention on future posts without caveats.

Who knows, befriending this influencer can secure future business deals for your agency

Conclusion to Our Link Building Strategy Session for SEO Providers

The type of link building we shared with you through this guide is not for the faint of heart. It is not for those who want to take the short-cuts and rocket ship their way to success.

Instead, it is for those who believe in what they are doing.

It’s people like this who will be successful.

You are this sort of person.

You made it here in their search for how to build links with an eye toward long-term business development.

And you didn’t come looking for a one-off link building strategy that you’ll try today and forget about tomorrow.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the primary goal of link building for SEO agencies?

The main goal is to acquire high-quality, relevant backlinks from external websites to improve a client’s domain authority, search rankings, and organic traffic. Quality links signal trust and authority to search engines.

Why is link building important for SEO success?

Backlinks are one of Google’s algorithm’s most influential ranking factors. More links from authoritative, relevant sites will boost a website’s ability to rank for target keywords and draw more organic visitors.

What makes a compelling link prospect?

Good link prospects include sites in the client’s niche with high domain authority, an engaged audience, and content complementary to the client’s. Avoid direct competitors. Top influencers in the space are prime prospects.

How do you convince a prospect to link to a client’s site?

Establish authority by showcasing expertise. Provide value through helpful content and resources. Build relationships over time; don’t beg for links. Offer to guest post or interconnect content. Show the benefits of linking.

What outreach strategies work best for securing links?

Personalized, non-sales pitches work best. Do your research on prospects beforehand. Follow up, but don’t harass. Focus on providing value, not asking for links. Be helpful and friendly.

How vital are influencer backlinks?

Influencer backlinks are valuable, lending immense credibility and referral traffic. A link from an industry leader can significantly boost rankings and organic growth.

What is a poor link building tactic to avoid?

Avoid over-optimizing anchor text, buying links, spamming comments, publishing poor-quality guest posts, and using automated outreach. Google penalizes unnatural linking strategies.

How do you scale link building campaigns?

Use tools to identify prospects, manage outreach, and track links. Create templates. Automate follow-ups. Focus on quality over quantity—master manual outreach before expanding.

How do you track link building results?

Use rank tracking and backlink analysis tools to monitor changes in keyword ranks, organic traffic, and backlink profiles over time. Link building takes time; track progress.

What is a link building maintenance strategy?

Nurture existing relationships, provide new value, and promote prospects’ content. Repurpose evergreen outreach messages. Monitor links for issues. Keep establishing new prospects.


Here is a glossary of key terms from the link building strategy content:

Backlink: An incoming link from an external website pointing to your client’s site page. Backlinks help improve search engine rankings.

Domain Authority: A score from 0-100 that predicts how well a website will rank in search engines. Higher is better.

Organic Traffic: Website visitors who find and land on a page via search engines like Google vs. paid ads. SEO boosts organic traffic.

Rank Tracking: Monitoring changes in where target keywords rank in search engines over time.

Influencer: An industry expert with a strong presence and audience. Getting backlinks from influencers is very valuable.

Link Prospect: A website that’s a potential source for a backlink, usually in the client’s niche.

Outreach: The process of contacting relevant sites to request a backlink. This usually occurs via email or social media.

Anchor Text: The visible, clickable text that links to a webpage. This helps indicate relevancy.

Referral Traffic: Visitors who arrive at a website via links on other external sites. Helps SEO.

Link Building: The overall strategy and campaign to acquire backlinks through outreach and marketing.

Link Analysis: Using SEO tools to evaluate the quality and relevancy of existing backlinks pointing to a website.

Link Earning: The tactics and actions to get new websites to link to your client’s site.

Link Signals: The messages backlinks send to search engines about a website’s authority and relevance.

Link Velocity: The rate at which new backlinks are acquired monthly. Slow and steady is ideal.

Additional Resources for Agency Owners

Here is a reminder about additional resources from our cofounder Matt LaClear:

In addition to this comprehensive guide on proven link building strategies, our experienced cofounder Matt LaClear has created many other helpful resources for agencies looking to start and grow a successful SEO business.

Matt LaClear, who has run over 13,277 SEO campaigns for clients since starting his agency in 2009, is also the author of:

With over a decade of extensive SEO experience, Matt LaClear has created these comprehensive resources to help other agencies structure, position, and sell their services successfully. Check them out to further grow your SEO business.

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