LinkHunter makes it easier than ever to get backlinks. Its main superpower is its readymade campaigns, built around the tried-and-tested backlink strategies used by SEO pros. Use the tool to sniff out guest posting opportunities, secure product reviews or get your website added to resource lists, with very little effort whatsoever. I decided to run a LinkHunter experiment, as I tried to improve Surges’ search ranking shortly after launching.
LinkHunter is an occasional link builder’s paradise. The tool’s readymade campaigns are a starter pack for building backlinks, especially if SEO doesn’t come naturally or if it struggles to excite you. So, small business owners like me!
Every templated campaign is a gateway to high quality, relevant prospects and the email addresses and personalisation you need to get your foot in the door and start building links.
There’s something from most businesses here. Have a point of view for guest posts? Need more product reviews? Want more blogger coverage? Or feel your unique piece of content is deserving of a wider audience? Link Hunter has a campaign for all of these, and more.
This review is 100% about trying to get more backlinks. A tough ask from a standing start.
(spoiler: it goes really well!)
Jeff Oxford has skin in the game. With 10 years’ service in SEO, his day job today is running his own SEO company (180 Marketing), while also moonlighting as an SEO-driven eCommerce drop shipper.
Everybody knows that SEO is a results-driven industry and that the best performers don’t come cheap. That prices out a lot of potential clients, which Jeff wanted to solve with LinkHunter as a self-service alternative. Positioned as a slimmed-down version of other SEO tools, it has one goal: to make it as easy as possible to pick up great quality backlinks.
Read more about Jeff’s backstory and his future plans for LinkHunter in our Meet the Maker interview.
Going into this experiment Surges.co was barely visible on Google. The site needed links, badly!
As anyone who’s started something new knows, the first 10 links are pure gold so I decided test LinkHunter’s bold claim that “LinkHunter Helps You Build More Backlinks in Just 7 Days”. Mission accepted.
Now, it’s not unusual for link building tools to oversell themselves and fall short. Their prospect contact data turning out to be garbage (leading to bouncebacks), dormant (emails ignored) or spammy (with sites demanding payment to even fix broken links), resulting with very few, if any, links from a campaign. This experiment would force LinkHunter to deliver the goods.
I decided the experiment would involve running a couple of templated campaigns and one round of follow-ups. Less than a 2-3 hours’ work in total.
So how did LinkHunter successfully satisfy my lust for links? Let’s find out…
(disclosure: LinkHunter granted me free access to the tool for the purposes for this experiment)
Once you’ve connected your email account the centre of operations is the campaigns hub. Here you’ll find oven-ready link building campaigns from Jeff, including:
You can also easily repurpose these to fit your goal or import your own hot leads.
You’ll find video guides for each type of campaign and pop-out tips every step of the way. A big plus is having the entire campaign on a single page. Other sites will split out steps such as finding sites and discovering email addresses, previewing pages, compiling personalised emails and then actually sending them out. LinkHunter is built for ease, so this speeds up what is an otherwise laboured process.
So far, so good!
Not all the link building strategies were entirely relevant to Surges. For example, I have no product to giveaway and no budget to pay others to promote my content, plus it’s too early in Surges’ lifetime for unlinked brand mentions. But what I do have is the ability to write and a growing directory of marketing tools so I decided to go after guest posts and listicles as my main targets.
Here’s a quick run through on the main features I would be relying on…
Every LinkHunter campaign uses keywords (e.g. ‘startup blogs’, ‘marketing tools’, ‘bootstrapper’) to produce a longlist of leads.
To filter out poor quality links, LinkHunter shows the SEMrush Domain Authority (DA) of each and the number of keywords the page ranks for in the top 100 results of Google. Then you can preview the site in the same viewer to double-check it’s as relevant as LinkHunter thinks it is. LinkHunter won’t find email addresses or forms for all those sites, which tends to reduce to prospect list by 50-60%.
With your link-worthy content prepared, LinkHunter can get it in front of the right people. Its built-in email templates come in three tones of voice: professional, casual and brief. You can customise them as you please, adding dynamic content such as name and URL to add a personal touch and cut through all the other emails in people’s inboxes. Plus, where an email address can’t be found, you can also submit contact forms directly within LinkHunter.
You can’t send all your outreach emails in bulk, so it’s one by one but from our interview with LinkHunter’s founder, Jeff, we know this is they’re working on.
A great addition to LinkHunter. Now you can keep track of all sites you’ve contacted, follow-up on and mark new links as complete. This was a bugbear of mine early on in LinkHunter, so it’s great to see it fixed.
And that’s about it. LinkHunter is missing the bells and whistles of other, more comprehensive SEO tools, but this is so LinkHunter can excel at its only job: to get you freeflowing, high quality links.
Right, back to the experiment…
The aim here was to find an existing ‘marketing tools’ resource list and get them to link to Surges. New links, without any real work. The dream!
LinkHunter found 608 prospects related to my keywords, 265 with an email address. The vast majority of these were good quality, relevant websites – content-rich, well-designed sites with decent domain authority – but approximately 20% were not relevant. I decided to go through these one by one before sending, as I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time or skew the results.
When reaching out I introduced Surges and positioned my inclusion as a way of keeping the article fresh, which Google loves.
How did it do? Of the 144 sites I ended up emailing, this campaign got 6 backlinks. It’s a shame that LinkHunter doesn’t offer auto follow-ups as a feature as manually doing so was a bit of an inconvenience. Nevertheless, a strong start that put me well onto my way of getting my first 10 backlinks for Surges.co
Links gained: 6
Again, LinkHunter used my keywords as the basis of its hunt for relevant websites that would accept guest writers.
My search returned 399 leads, 189 with an email address or contact form. Of those, a quarter of my emails didn’t find the recipient as they were incorrect or old email addresses but LinkHunter can submit contact forms for you. Now for the really good news – my inbox became lively after about 24-hours and I received 24 replies, which lead to 9 ‘serious’ offers to write blog posts. The remainder wanted payment for me to write articles for them or for sponsored posts, costing up to $150 for the privilege.
In terms of DA, it was a mixed bag. The highest was 96, lowest DA 0.3 – needless to say I decided not to proceed with the latter!
Links gained: 8
So, after two hours’ work and 454 ‘casual’ emails I had 16 new backlinks, with an average DA of 37. Not a bad return! Using SEO agencies to deliver the same results would have cost me $3,000+, which makes the $49 per month subscription to LinkHunter exceptional value!
LinkHunter passed the link building test, but it doesn’t mean there’s not room for improvement. Most niggles relate to what happens after you hit send on your email. For example, LinkHunter doesn’t yet offer auto follow-ups from within the app so correspondence risks getting lost in your inbox and not getting converted. There’s also no way to tell if you’ve previously reached out to a prospect with another campaign, which is helpful if you care about not spamming people.
It’s still super early days for LinkHunter and I trust these are things they’ll get to as the tool develops and adds more customers. It’s also worth remembering that SEMrush has these features yet doesn’t deliver the same results so it’s a happy compromise.
from $49 per month
The Starter account is enough to run two targeted campaigns, with a total of 500 outreach emails. You’re getting all of the key features and if you can replicate my results, $49/mo is a pretty good deal if you can save $3k in link building expense.
SEMrush includes backlink building within its $99 per month subscription tier, however this is one instance where having a dedicated tool pays dividends.
Exclusively with Surges
LinkHunter is very similar to NinjaOutreach but with more focus on link building and less focus on social media influencers. Both boast instant email address discovery and built-in email templates, but what really stands LinkHunter apart are the ready-made outreach campaigns and how successful they are. As this experiment proves.
The same is true when comparing it to SEMrush, where backlink building gets lost in amongst all the other features. I’m a big SEMrush fanboy and I’d say that LinkHunter works best when coupled with an all-rounder SEO tool, which you can’t really live without if you’re serious about improving your overall ranking and technical SEO housekeeping.
One thing that is missing is the insider SEO tips and strategies on the blogs of Moz, SEMrush and Ahrefs. It’s clear LinkHunter’s priority is the product for now, but Jeff has a lot of link building smarts to share.
Of course, you could also pay an SEO agency to do all this for you. They charge about $100-$300 per quality backlink, making LinkHunter’s do-it-yourself option great value for money.
The sheer ease of using LinkHunter negates the need for support documentation. The short overview videos for the different types of campaigns are more than enough.
I did have to reach out for support once, as my sender’s name wasn’t showing correctly when integrating my Gmail account. Jeff and the team fixed that for me and everyone else without hesitation. Thanks guys!
Should all of this DIY link building sound like too much work for you, LinkHunter now offers a ‘Done for you’ service.
Based on results alone, LinkHunter wins in the battle of the link builders.
$3,000 worth of links for only 2 hours’ work means it’s now my new go-to tool for building backlinks at scale without being spammy. Kudos to Jeff at LinkHunter for giving this wild experiment a go – it was a gamble on his part but the results speak for themselves.
The secret behind its success is turning simple, proven strategies for getting links into easily deployable campaigns. This opens it up the tools of the trade to everybody. No doubt it’ll be adding more campaigns too, so it’s a tool that can keep on giving.
No link prospecting tool is perfect and it will be interesting to see what else is on LinkHunter’s product roadmap. If and when it adds auto follow-ups you’re looking at the most efficient and effective way to boost your website’s search visibility I’ve come across. A shortcut to ranking better. If you’re wanting to grow or sell your startup, it’s a must.
With a 7-day free trial to all subscription tiers, I challenge you to top my 16 links. Let me know if you do!