We Field Tested 5 Popular Link Building Services: The Results Are Disturbing

We don’t buy links. We do turn money into links.

But we don’t buy them outright. And we don’t recommend you do either, since our community tends to do link building much more efficiently than most agencies.

However, there’s a middle ground many people are interested in: the idea of hiring link building services to do all the hard work associated with building links the right way for you and essentially trading your money for their time.

If you poke around, there are plenty of agencies selling link building, and almost all of them sell one type of link only: guest posts.

Very few agencies (at least at our level) are selling broken link building campaigns. Or infographic campaigns. Or whatever.

No… it’s guest posts. Guest posts are all the rage right now, and it’s because they are the most concrete to sell (you don’t know how many links you’ll get from a broken link building campaign, for example, making it tough to sell) and easiest to outsource.

I think this is mostly because people have started to understand the risk of PBNs and are attempting to move toward white(r) hat link building tactics, and guest posting is the oldest, simplest, most straightforward link building tactic of them all.

So it’s where a lot of people start.

There are also lots of grey-hat agencies–agencies people are comfortable with–who (supposedly) now sell legitimate guest posts.

Because there are occasionally good reasons for buying links, and because guest posting is by far the predominate link type being sold by agencies, we wanted to buy a couple to get a feel for both the process and the quality of these links.

Our Methodology

Usually, when we set out to test something like this, we set up our experiments to be as scientific as possible, leaving the smallest possible margin of error.

This experiment does not have that level of rigor for a couple reasons:

  • It’s extremely expensive. Guest posts cost $150 on the low end and $1,000 on the high end. Some agencies also don’t do one-offs; they require you to sign up for campaigns in the $3,000+ range. It’s just not worth it for one blog post.
  • We don’t plan on buying or recommending buying guest posts. There would have to be an extreme anomaly–an agency selling very good, legitimate links for really cheap–for us to ever recommend them. Based on price alone, that’s not the case.

So, instead, we bought 5 links from 5 different midrange agencies (one link per agency) whose target demographic was people like us: independent site builders.

We simply wanted to get a feel for what they were doing and report back to answer basic questions:

  • How expensive is it?
  • Is the process any good?
  • Are the links any good?
  • We decided that it would be best to just pick a really large website to point the bought links to, since it wouldn’t affect that site one way or the other.

However, we did not expect some of the agencies to be as downright shady as they turned out to be, which represents our extremely stupid and fairly embarrassing ethical f*ck up…

Our Ethical F*ck Up

I really can’t believe I was as naive as I turned out to be here.

When we set out to do this experiment, I figured that some of the agencies would do low-quality work.

What I did not expect was for some of them to be using blatant PBNs and packaging them as guest posts.

But some did.

And we should have known.

So what we ended up doing (stupidly, but accidentally) was buying PBN links to someone else’s site. When we saw this, I asked for the links to be taken down immediately.

We should not have done that, and we really should have planned for that contingency. Sadly–and I wish this wasn’t the case–I suppose we had a bit too much faith in SEOs to do the right thing.

I have corrected the mistake. I reached out to the vendors, and all risky/questionable/bad links have been removed.

So the site we pointed links to will be fine. Even if we hadn’t removed the links, it’s a massive site with an incredible link profile. We wouldn’t have done any damage. But, clearly, it was best to remove the links anyway.

Still, it’s annoying, embarrassing, and falls on the wrong side of ethics for us. Live and learn.

That said, let’s take a look at these vendors to see what they’re about.

The Vendors

Here’s the honest truth: none of these links were ones I’d classify as “good.” There was something off with all of them. That said, there are a few in the bunch I wouldn’t say no to–serviceable links that are for the most part safe and have a chance of moving the needle.

I originally ordered these best-to-worst. However, in light of new facts, there turn out to be a lot more nuances, so really, these are in no particular order.


fiverr logo

Yes, Fiverr.

I know. I’m just as surprised as you are. And honestly, we ordered from Fiverr because we wanted to show how much of a joke it was.

Now, before you run off and start buying guest posts on Fiverr, please let me clearly and unequivocally say here: Fiverr is not a good place to buy links.

There are a few halfway decent people there who seem to be (if not doing actual outreach, which I doubt they are) have legitimate contributor accounts at a few real sites.

Quick Rundown

  • Price: $126
  • Verdict: Actually pretty good. Real site. Real traffic. Obvious editorial guidelines and good communication.

What do they promise?

This is a more complicated question than it might be with some of the other services here because, of course, it’s a marketplace where anyone can sell anything. As such, you can find all kinds of “guest posts.”

Fiverr Guest Posting Services

Most of this is crap.

A lot of these are either things you can do on your own for free (e.g. community posts on BuzzFeed) or PBNs.

The other big chunk are people who have have contributor accounts on big sites. While these may look good at first glance, remember that Google has been cracking down on sites that sell links by searching for unnatural outbound linking patterns; in fact, they’ve started penalizing sites for it, making many of these sites (yes, even the likes of HuffPo) rather risky.

I didn’t want these.

Instead, I searched for people doing (or claiming to do) actual outreach. I found this guy…

The Result

Fiverr Blogger Outreach Guest Post Gig

I messaged him to make sure that he was, in fact, doing real outreach, and he assured me he was, so I ordered.

The result, while not ideal, was probably the best result of this batch of five–mostly because the link was on what appears to be a real site.

According to SimilarWeb, it has 54,000 monthly traffic, and 36% of it comes from search engines.

Similarweb Trafic Sources

There were several posts on this site that were rather obvious guest posts, but there were also plenty of posts that were not, indicating that this site has a real editorial team and publishes content of their own.

Additionally, the link the Fiverr vender got was in the author bio. That’s typically not ideal, but here, I take it as a good sign: he wasn’t just going after the most powerful link; he submitted to a site that required him to follow editorial guidelines (and enforced them).

I do want to make clear, however, that I really can’t tell how easy or difficult it is (or if it’s even possible) to become a regular contributor on this site. I also don’t know if the vendor has some sort of relationship.​

It is worth noting, though, that this site does not have a contributor application page; instead, they have a “write for us” page that requires writers to submit completed articles in full and requires them to follow editorial guidelines for sources, etc.

Lastly, the order took about 20 days, which is a reasonable turnaround time for a guest posting campaign.

Should you buy it?

If you find someone on Fiverr doing legitimate outreach for a reasonable price (a price that indicates they want to be paid for the work required to do real outreach), and IF they can show you samples of their work, and IF you have the money to throw around…

…if all that is true, I can begrudgingly admit that there may be a few select vendors on Fiverr doing actual guest posting on real sites with real traffic.

That said, they’re probably not the ones charging $5. If you’re going to go this route, look for the folks charging $100 or more.

Read more: What are the 23 best Fiverr gigs for marketers?


Gael’s Note

We originally made a mistake for this vendor; if you read the section previously, they did fulfil the order.

When we first published this post, this section was published with inaccurate information.

I apologize for that.

I’d like to thank Dan from Love to Link for emailing us quickly to correct it.

I’d thought the order had been lost. I set up an email account specifically for this project, and I still can’t find the emails the Love to Link team sent to me. Not in trash. Not in spam. I’ve been looking since I learned of the mistake, and I just can’t find them.

Luckily, Dan gave us all the records we needed to complete a fair review, which follows.

Quick Rundown

Price: Around $149
Verdict: Definitely real sites, but the relationships seem to be predetermined, which may pose risks

What are they promising?

Like most others in this list, Love to Link promises genuine guest post placements secured through genuine outreach, naming themselves the “#1 Guest Post Service of 2017.”

While this might be technically true (the outreach bit), I do have a few doubts.

But first, I want to correct another error.

In the original version of this post, I wrote, “They have contributor accounts (or, occasionally, special contributor relationships). They can post to these sites any time they want.”

I didn’t know that for sure, and I should not have written it. According to Dan, it is incorrect.

He replied, “…we don’t have any accounts, all the blogs on our service have been manually reached out to and we even have to get topics confirmed each time and we don’t invoice the client until they blog owner has confirmed the article topic is ok, it’s all 100% legit.”

That said, I still worry about any service that can predetermine sites and sells links based on DA.

site pricing Love To Link

Of course, it is totally fine to leverage established relationships to secure guest posts. Where it becomes a problem, however, is if the number of guest posts begins to eclipse the “standard” content of a site.

After looking at the site Love to Link secured a post on for us, the post seems to have landed on an average mommy blog ran by someone who clearly isn’t a very good marketer, doesn’t have a lot of readers and does take a lot of guest posts but probably a real mommy blog nonetheless (but it may have been paid for).

Most of the content on the site does not feel great, it’s often limited to 300-500 words, lots of product reviews, lots of listicles that don’t deliver on their promises etc.

That said, the site does appear to have some search engines traffic.

It’s just not a lot, and it’s eclipsed heavily by direct traffic (which we discussed earlier).

mommysmemorandum.com Traffic Sources

To be frank…

When Dan emailed us, I got excited.

I’d hoped I’d made a mistake and had actually stumbled on a really good guest posting service. Dan and his team are passionate people and believe in their product.

While the link is probably on a real site, it’s still not a link I’d feel very happy to have in my link profile. It probably would not get me in trouble but would it really move the needle? Would I feel this is a future proof asset I can rely on? To this I can not say yes.

The Verdict

Based only on the one guest post ordered from them (an admittedly small sample size), I still don’t think these are a great investment.

I just wouldn’t want links on a site that appears, in my humble estimation (which, again, could be wrong), to be publishing mostly guest posts and/or paid posts.

One last note here…

We got some backlash about the Love to Link section in particular.

We also only ordered one link from them, so our sample size is small. We could have just gotten a lemon of a link, and we welcome the opportunity to see more links they’ve built to better understand the product.

In the meantime, I’d just encourage you guys to scrutinize the sites you’re getting links on. Ask stuff like:

  • What % of the posts appear to be guest posts?
  • Does the site have more real search engines traffic or more direct traffic?
  • How strict do the editorial guidelines appear to be?
  • What’s my gut feeling about this site?

You should be doing this anytime anyone does link building for you. But in light of the controversy this section sparked, and in light of the response from Dan, maybe set aside some extra time to really dig into the sites these links are being placed on and just decide for yourself.

SERP Logic

SERP Logic is probably the only other service in this list that delivered something that approximates a guest post, but, as you’ll see here in a second, there are significantly more problems with it than there was with the Fiverr post.

And that’s kind of a shame, because I had high hopes for this one. Not only did they have the strongest recommendations from the AH Pro community, at $287 for a mid-range link, they were also by far the most expensive.

That said, I’m still a bit disappointed in my spider sense not going off at the “premium PBN placements” being sold alongside the guest posts.

Serp Logic Pbn Posts

Quick Rundown

Price: $287
The Verdict: Not terrible but not great. A real site with real traffic, but not as good as you would expect for $287.

What are they promising?

SERP Logic promises “real links on real sites” that they get from manual outreach. They make a point, in their rules for your submission, that your links must be natural and that they’re at the whims of whatever editorial process the linking site uses.

Logic Outreach Guest Post Offer

They specifically talk about how lots of guest posting services are basically just PBNs, and that manual outreach to real sites is one of their key differentiators.

The Result

I do think this is a real site.

My link was posted on a gentleman’s fashion and lifestyle site, which is a bit of a stretch, but they seemed to crowbar in some page-level relevance at least.

Gentelman's Division Post

The site does have a very small amount of traffic (a reported 2,800 visits per month); however, if you’ve been using SimilarWeb for any period of time, you know by now that they tend to overestimate their traffic projections, which means 2,800 is probably a lot more than the real number. And that’s not super encouraging for a site that has been around since 2013.

They also appear to have a small social media following, mostly on twitter.

Gentleman's Division Social Following

One of the strong points of this particular guest post is that the ratio of other guest posts on the site seems to be pretty low (although, it’s admittedly difficult to tell, since the links blend into the text so thoroughly–same color, not underlined, etc.).

Additionally, according to archive.org, the site has been around in more or less the same form with the same themes since its inception.

Gentleman's Division Site Archive

So, at the very least, I don’t think this is a PBN.

Still, it’s certainly not a strong site, and I wouldn’t consider it a strong link.

Does that even matter?

It might not make sense to be this discerning if you’re running a big guest posting campaign, and you have lots of links coming in, but remember: we paid almost $300 for this link.

At that price point, you’d expect it to be on a stronger site.

The Verdict?

It’s a real site, and I believe the traffic is real, but the price point relative to the quality of the link definitely puts this behind our gold-standard (at least for this article) Fiverr link.

Now that’s a phrase I’d never thought I’d type.

The Hoth

Ah, the HOTH. The used ​car salesmen of SEO.

The HOTH has been selling black- and grey-hat services for many years now, which, on its own is fine, I suppose (something for everyone and all that)–but they have this special tradition of selling their grey- and black-hat services as white hat.

And it’s always kind of pissed me off.

But… I still had high hopes for the HOTH’s guest posting package. Why? Because I know they have ridiculous teams and ridiculous systems. They are also big. They have lots of clients. They have money.

And they were also one of the first popular agencies (in our circles, as far as I can tell) to jump on the post-PBN guest posting bandwagon and try to meet the emerging demand independent site builders had for white-hat SEO.

It is the HOTH, so I didn’t expect it to be great. But I certainly expected it to be, oh I don’t know… a real guest post..

Quick Rundown

Price: $200
Verdict: I suspect this is a blatant PBN and that they are being fraudulent. Evidence below.

What are they promising?

The HOTH, like others here, promises 100% manual outreach.

What Is HOTH Guest Post

I especially appreciate the pains they take here to let you know that you shouldn’t underestimate the power of these “natural, white hat” links.

What’s this paragon of a deal cost?

They’re not quite as expensive as SERP Logic, but it’s not cheap, either, really.

The HOTH Guest Posting Pricing

Let’s see how they did.

The Result

At first glance, my post looked fine…

The Hoth Guest Post Placement

And then I started investigating the site a bit more…

First, look at the traffic…

Challengemagazine.com Traffic Sources

To me, this is one of the tell-tale signs of a PBN: a site that has lots of posts but has almost all of its traffic from direct sources and/or links.

No organic. No social media.

This means that the only people going to this site are the owners and their clients. This does not happen naturally. Red flag.

Then, I started looking at the other posts.

Aside from every single one linking to someone’s sh*tty “money page,” the sites this site was linking to were super questionable. Check this one out.

Challengemagazine.com Post Titles

Lotteries and games of chance you say?

What do you suppose the odds are that this links to some questionable gambling site?

Challengemagazine.com Outbound Links

And finally, I looked at the history of the site.

As it is right now, this site is set up as a general lifestyle site. But has it always been?

ChallengeMagazine.com archive

If it was a real site, I’m not sure how they would have reached out to them, since (as of the time of writing) the “Contact” page is literally empty.

Challengemagazine.com Contact Page

…and email finding tools like Hunter.io don’t return any results at all.

ChallengeMagazine.com Email Hunter search

In other words, based on this evidence, I think it’s highly, highly likely that this is a blatant PBN.

The verdict?

I want to be clear that I can’t 100% prove anything, since I don’t have access to the sites. However, here’s my conclusion based on the evidence I found:

This does not strike me as bad guest posting. It does not seem like a mistake. This, to me, feels like selling polished turds to unsuspecting newbies (and idiots like me who apparently have a misplaced faith in the basic good of humankind).

It’s horsesh*t.

Here’s the email I sent.

'Remove link immediately' email

In fairness, I want to disclose that the HOTH still contends that they are finding sites via manual outreach and are not selling PBNs as “guest posts.”

We went back and forth a bit more via email, and I provided all the evidence I listed above. Here was their reply.

The Hoth Outreach Email

Obviously, I don’t believe them; however, it’s important to note that it would be virtually impossible to 100% prove that this is a PBN, and there’s a chance–a very slim chance–that I am wrong. That said, to me, it seems exceedingly obvious that it is, in fact, a PBN being used to sell bullsh*t “guest posts.”

And even on the small, wisp of a prayer of a chance that this is not a PBN… would you want a link on a site that’s linking out to gambling sites and the like?

Anyway… if you couldn’t tell what I’m about to say already… don’t buy this steaming pile of crap.


FatJoe is another service I had high hopes for.

I hadn’t heard much about them, really, but they actually came pretty highly recommended by a couple people in the AH Pro community — folks doing exactly what I mentioned earlier: supplementing their own link building efforts with a few solid guest posts from legitimate services.

I did get to talk to their team after this post was published, and they showed me some of their process, which was a great help and allowed me to correct some of my misconceptions about their service.

That said, I’m still disappointed in the link I got.​

Quick Rundown

Price: $100
Verdict: The site is real, and the provided proof of outreach, but it’s still a sup-par site which I think may have been penalized.

What are they promising?

Basically the same stuff: genuine outreach, manual placement, blah blah blah.

FatJoe Blogger Outreach Service

Here’s more from their “How It Works” section:

Fatjoe How It Works

I think one of the reasons people seem to be attracted to FatJoe is the pricing. It feels really, really reasonable–and it flirts with feeling cheap.

Fatjoe Pricing Options

Of course, if you’ve ever done any outreach, this should raise a few red flags. Outreach takes a lot of time, and even if you have a VA doing a bunch of the work, most folks usually want to sell links for at least $200 just because of the time required.

Now, imagine you’re a business that isn’t big enough to really see much benefit from huge volumes of business but is large enough to have significant overhead. Would these prices make sense?

Anyway, let’s see how they did…

The Result

Originally, I thought this was a PBN or that FatJoe owned the site; however, the folks at FatJoe were nice enough to provide proof of the outreach (they showed us screenshots of the emails).

That said, I still have some major issues with the site.​

Look at the number of posts.

Fatjoe Guest Post Placement

And now look at the traffic…

It’s not an expired domain, and the WayBack machine does show that this site has a history; however, it has virtually no organic traffic, which to me indicates that Google, for some reason, does not like this site.

My best guess, based on the historic traffic curve (using SEM Rush b/c Ahrefs doesn’t go back very far), is a penalty, although there was never a ton of traffic, so it’s hard to tell.

semrush traffic overview screenshot

The Verdict?

FatJoe is doing actual outreach to actual sites, but the glaring problem, in my view, is their vetting process.

If I were running a guest posting agency, there’s no way I’d sign off on a site with no search traffic–especially one that looked like it had possible received a penalty.

Additionally, this site seems to be publishing lots of guest posts, which is something Google has been cracking down on.​

In short, I don’t think this particular link was worth any amount of money​.

Please keep in mind (and I know I’ve said it about a million times in this post) that we only ordered one link from FatJoe, which is not statistically significant and may not be representative of their service.

This one link, though, is super disappointing.​

Well, at first, we did. Some sites were clean-ish. Some looked what might be considered “spammy.” Some of you even linked screenshots like this one:

Ahrefs Backling Overview

Here’s why we didn’t talk much about it:

Pretty early in our investigation, we realized there are lots of idiots who try to build “teir 2” links to their guest posts to boost their power. So even if a site is real, unsuspecting webmasters might be getting a bunch of spammy links from “enterprising” SEOs trying to build disguised link wheels, and it was inconsistent enough to simply disregard the data and focus on stuff like search traffic, which is, in my view a better overall indication of what Google thinks of a site.

This also might be an argument for not not buying guest posts even if services are doing good, legitimate outreach: you risk being post on a site that other SEOs are building “teir 2 links” to.

There are good reasons for finding an seo service and setting up a relationship. But I can tell you from experience that the good agencies–the ones who are actually sitting down and doing the work to land you good placements on good sites–are going to cost you a lot of money.

One of the few I know of, Page One Power, had a minimum contract of $2,500 per month the last time I checked. Most reputable agencies start at a similar price point.


Outreach takes time. You need systems. You need people. There is overhead. The effect is amplified for agencies, since they typically have at least a handful of U.S.-based employees.

I have seen smaller agencies who have done legitimately good work for cheaper. Hell, my brother is running one. But they are few and far between, and they are typically really difficult to find.

But, in general, the good ones tend to be expensive, and if I were going to make a prediction, I’d wage those prices are going to go up over time as big companies continue to wise up to the power of SEO and the internet gets more saturated with outreach emails (driving conversions down and costs up).

Here’s the kicker, though… since you are not an seo agency, you can get links for much cheaper than they can if you just build a system.

I’m not going to dissect that here. We outlined an entire guest posting system at the bottom of this post.

Since I wrote that, a few people have tried it–tried implementing the exact system outlined in that post–and have achieved the $20 links mentioned there. It’s not terribly difficult to learn, and with a reasonable investment of your own time, you can get the same links agencies get for really, really cheap.

So should you buy them?

Nope, those services deliver low quality links that most of the time break Google’s terms of service, you are better off building a team that does the real thing.

Over to you…

Have you ever bought links? Where? How’d it work out? Drop me a line in the comments and let me know!

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  1. Hey there,
    great article! Really disturbing! I bought a Guest Post from The Hoth not long ago. Really upset to learn that they are conning people.
    I will never use them again and will build my own systems for link building.
    BTW.. have you heard of Accesily? What is your view on them? Any good? They are a marketplace for Guest Posts.

    1. Hi ARS. I have a same question like you and add for some like outreachfrog and rhino rank. Is there any really good one ?

  2. If someone is selling a guest post for $100 or less (even $200 or less), then most likely the link isn’t worth it or you can easily get it yourself. That’s why, when you buy guest posts, focus on ones that are over $200. The best guest post links are between $200-$350. And you don’t need many of these to rank well – just 10-20. Try to aim for ones that gets their posts syndicated by other sites.

    Of course there are larger ones such as HuffPost, Entrepreneur etc. but are they worth their price? Nope. But most my clients who buy those aren’t just looking for SEO – they’re looking for branding value to improve their sales. Having a “as seen on” section makes your website look super legit.

  3. Wow! What an exceptional article, Perrin. You pretty much covered several that I’m aware of. It’s great the you took the time to do this research and share your findings. Have you tested out OutreachMama yet?

    What’s crazy is that Search Engine Journal will accept partnerships with The Hoth and FatJoe. I’ve been driven to both of their sites from the ad placements on SEJ.

  4. I too was disappointed with the HOTH.

    I bought their $250 package (2 times in a row) for “high authority links” from sites they “reach out to”

    Meanwhile what I got was extremely shady PBNs… not even good ones either. It would be domains like “spanishguitarlesons.us” and just blatant spam.

    To their credit they offer a 30 day money back guarantee and I did get back my $500 bucks… it was sad to see how shitty their service really was beneath the salesmanship though.

  5. This is simply an awesome post.

    I am doing hardcore SEO outreach as a freelancer for a U.S based agency.

    For me it is actually difficult to figure out how will you explain “white hat link building” when every other website with a “submit a post”, “Write for us” etc. asks for money.

    For past 3 months I have been working in real estate and law niche and my experience is every site outreached genuinely will ask for some amount in the name of staff fee, editorial fee etc.


    The analysis you have done is awesome and I loved it.

  6. The main issue is blogger outreach agency is that customer wants original blogs with lot of good metrics but they want to pay price of PBN’s Blog. Further Blogger are getting so greedy that every month they raise there blogger fee.

  7. I’m kinda disappointed now actually. Turns out that SEJ (the first site where I learned SEO – you know what they say about firsts) is partnered up with Hoth which got me thinking, “What kind of reputable site would endorse a company with services like this?”

    Feels bad man.

  8. I think people are too lazy to check under the hood of the sites they may get a post on. Such as looking at the backlink profile, reviewing the websites traffic levels. I See this on PPH (PeoplePerHour). Many so-called SEO gurus sell £60 guest posts, apparently from outreach. Though these sites that customers are buying, which the selling point, by the way, is very much focussed on DA. This really detracts from a real link and a link from a website that been potentially manipulated up for a good DA.

    A site will organic traffic and relevancy is worth so much more.

    Links from outreach take time and planning. Though as long as these budget services are offered, then people will take a shot in the dark to hope it will make the top of the searches.

  9. Hey Perrin,
    I am SO glad I came across your article before purchasing links from one of the vendors in your article. I won’t single them out…but I will say the one I’m speaking of rhymes with “SLOTH”…and I appreciate the research you did on them and the others. Incredibly thorough and ultimately super helpful! Wish I could come away with a better feeling about link-building services in general…but alas, there really is no replacement for natural link-building done by the only person I trust. Myself.

  10. Very interesting. I’m confused though, I have been reading that guest posts are dead for the past two years and you are saying that those are still working. My site was riding very high and was on page 1 on most searches for the past 5 years but some big change in Google algorithm landed in trouble and SERPs have been steadily declining and hits have been in free fall. What link building would still work in this situation.

    1. Hey John,

      Yes, good guest posts still work. As for your site, I guess you would need a full audit to determine what you need, it’s not exactly something I can do in the comments :).

  11. Another Eye Opener..! Great Post Gael. PBN posts rebranded as guest posts are causing much harm than good for most bloggers. I was looking for around 10 links for a new project and I reached this post at the right time. Thank you.

  12. Hi thanks for this awesome post. I was wondering about the Hoth, and this article certainly opened my eyes. I did think they were pricey. What I am noticing and I don’t know why but I have been seeing websites that have a ton of Russian links or links listed on a website only for links- ranking high. This is so against the algorithms, yet I see it- in the local places placement areas. I am amazed. Of course we all know that great SEO is natural. It is linked naturally to bring traffic. After reading your article, I think I will do my own outreach instead of outsourcing this part. I am surprised that none of these link building service websites are truly legit. Wow. And for the amount they charge. * I am guessing cheap services like Submitshop and similar ones- are straight PBNs. -Thank you for opening our eyes.

  13. Hey Perrin

    Thanks for sharing. I actually think this is a great topic to discuss because a lot of people get confused with this part of off-page SEO. Everyone want to get the best possible rankings and everyone know that backlinks are important, however a lot of marketers and salesmen seem to blur out the lines between genuine, real, natural backlinks and “fake” PBN / web2.0 links, with no real value.

    Most of these services as you mentioned, don’t provide any value to your site at all, not referral traffic or any increase in organic rankings. Doing off-page SEO is just hard work. Also, Google is getting smarter everyday, so don’t think you will be able to trick them.!


    Best regards,

  14. I was just about to buy the Hoth Guest post platinum package for my money sites. Thank you for the article as it confirmed my suspicion on using PBN. I guess no substitute for hard work with reach out and patience. Thank you great read.

  15. I’ve yet to find ONE “Reseller” (Whatever that means) that honestly does manual outreach. We didn’t always have time to outreach ourselves, and we had no choice but to trust these companies which are now popping up all over the place. We could never find ONE that honestly did what they advertised! We are in Canada and $40,000 later, we have two backlinks with Canadian IP addresses, but it’s all natural outreach though! Even though we’ve asked for Canadian domains a dozen times; we end up with USA and UK backlinks ONLY! The only reliable service from ANY of these companies are the ‘other’ services they offer, like, infographics, ‘some’ content (be careful because 85% of this ‘content’ comes from overseas, but I finally found a company that provides good content) Video submissions, and a few other services… Do your own outreach and stop killing your domain with these money grabbers.

    Reseller / wholesaler is the biggest joke on the w.w.w. It’s so insulting to our intelligence…

    I have taken all the backlinks I’ve ever “acquired” then I contacted these bloggers myself only to find out it was $80 w content included for DA60+, but that same backlink costs $400 – $1000, depending on where you’re being taken advantage at this point in your careers as digital marketers…

    Today we do everything ourselves, and we get clean white hat backlinks (we have the tools to make sure), and we pay editorial fees or approx. $60 on average, sometimes that includes content and sometimes it doesn’t, but I’d MUCH rather pay $60 then give these companies mentioned above 5 X or 8 X that amount!

  16. Wow, the results from The Hoth are shocking. Not what I expected, given their size/reputation. Thanks for such a good writeup, guys.

  17. Thanks for the review. It’s eye-opening to read this from the client side of things.

    As a content writer, I come at this from a slightly different perspective. I’m only familiar with THe HOTH because I know a few friends who have worked for them.

    With their current rates, I doubt you’ll get very insightful or well-written content. For example, I recently wrote a 1,000word piece on reverse osmosis for a local plumbing company. If I factor in the time I spent researching, writing, and proofing, it took me a grand total of four hours. And that’s because I knew virtually nothing about reverse osmosis before starting the project.

    But for all that work, I’d only get paid $40 as a writer. And that’s before tax.

    Once you factor in the 30%-35% tax I’d have to pay as an independent contractor, that four hours spent writing might as well have been volunteer work. (note: I’m not dissing volunteerism. I think it’s incredibly noble.)

    Therefore, many writers will either latch onto companies like The HOTH when they’re in between clients, need a little beer money, or when they’re just establishing their careers.

    Yes, you can pick your topics, but as a writer, you have a quota to meet each week. That means, sooner or later, you will have to write a piece outside your niches, and for that pay, it’ll probably not be your best writing.

    This is just my opinion, though, so your mileage may vary and all that.

  18. I can tell you from experience that some of these sites have relationships with bloggers, where the bloggers manage their own PBN’s and when they get orders in the pay the blogger about 40/50% of what you paid them to post the link. Seen it so many times! Worked with many agencies who do the exact same thing and also know bloggers who manage these networks.
    Doing it yourself and building a team is the best way!

  19. Phew! And I was even considering buying some guest post link from the hoth. I’m glad I did some research and thanks for taking the time to carry out experiments such as this.

  20. Hey, Perrin & Authority Hacker team thanks for the eye-opener. Very informative and money saving article you have got here.
    Great Job.
    Non Article related question Just wanted to ask if you could suggest any good content writing-related services/ websites.
    Thanks in advance

    1. I personally don’t really rate content services. It’s much better to just hire your own writers on Upwork or Problogger.

  21. Thanks a lot for this article. I was considering The Hoth for our site as well. Lots of affiliate websites use their service and I think for some it provides value. However, hiring your own VA and building out an internal system for white hat link building is the best long term. Once you have your VA’s trained, you can get a lot of mileage out of your dollars!

  22. Hey Perrin,

    Great article. I wish I had found it sooner!

    Doing link building at scale for clients is incredibly difficult. I never really understood how these companies managed to make a profit without compromising the quality of their service. The time and effort required to manage clients, negotiate and place links on blogs and manage a huge network of writers is nothing short of mammoth. At 10 clients it’s doable, at 30+ clients it’s insane. As bad as the Hoth are, one can’t help but stand in awe at how they do this at scale.

    Speaking from the perspective of the client, if you can afford investing the time and effort to train a VA and build processes to do outreach effectively, then this is undoubtedly the most cost effective. But for folks looking to outsource this process, the investment can be very effective, despite the market being a minefield. Like most good things in life, you pay for what you get!

    Like you guys, I’ve been building authority sites since 2012 and during that time I’ve done all the outreach myself, using a team of VAs and writers. Recently though, I realised that I had inadvertently built a stellar team, effective systems and a massive network of sites, that would give me a competitive edge in the market. Like Gael commented above, I much prefer building sites for myself and not working for clients, but to test the market I launched a link building service a few months ago. It’s early days, but so far the experience for our clients and for me as the business owner has been great. We’ve stuck to a simple formula that is less transactional than most services in the market (i.e. we get on the phone to understand a client’s sites, what type of links they want etc.), and then only take on a select number of clients where we know we can deliver, without 1. compromising the quality of our service and 2. losing our shirt due to our super affordable prices.

    I’d be interested to know what you think and give you a trial run at cost if you like.



    1. Hi Mark,

      Appreciate the offer, but if and when we do that kind of review, we’d always pay for it. With non-software based review (and even with certain software) you can get a skwewed experience if the provider knows you are writing a review. We may or may not “mystery shop” at some point.


      1. Hi Mark,

        Thanks for the quick response. Totally understand the need to maintain independence. We start every client engagement with a phone call to discuss requirements na make sure there is a good fit, so make sure to use an alias if you do decide to mystery shop :)

        Thanks again for the great article,


  23. Am like WTF ..I was headed to HOTH to place an order and just thought of looking for some HOTH reviews apparently you have left me more worried than I was ..this is a masterpiece a complete eye-opener. I am just ready to spend some $$on good links but every side I turn to I get more worried of never getting a ROI and worse getting deindexed.

    1. Thanks Joe, glad to have saved you some $$. Honestly, the best way to build links is to build a simple process yourself.

  24. Thank you so much for this article. I want to increase my backlinks, and was going to let the Hoth do it, but not anymore. I just wish there was affordable ways for small business owners to get this done so we can focus on doing our actual job.

  25. We try for new links all the time. You talk about all these companies and basically haven’t backed any of them. Are there any link “buying” companies who actually offer great links and don’t “break the bank” of small business owners? I would love some new directions to head for some great new links that don’t kill our cash flow.


    1. The gist of this article is that there really aren’t that many great options, and it’s much cheaper, safer, and easier to learn it and then train someone to do it. There are, of course, firms that can do it white hat, but they’re definitely not at entry-level price points.

    2. SO glad I read your article. Thank you for this, I have been seeking out comparisons in service quality between The Hoth and Fat Joe for a few days now, as I was actually considering both of them for a potential purchase of a couple quality links for my new site.

      Considering the fact that it is a fairly new site, that would have been a relatively expensive purchase for me at this point and I am very grateful that you wrote this article and that I was able to come across it before wasting my money

      A million thanks. …

  26. What about other services like Rank guardian, Lightning rank and services by Matthew Woodward. I would like to know your opinion or if you can do a review on them as well.

    1. This is one of the most common type of comments we get when we do a post like this. Unfortunately, we can’t test them all. That’s not really the point, anyway; it’s more to illustrate that in a small sample, the results were crap.

  27. Hi, I’d be interested in your methodology for your case study as I’m doing an evaluation for 3 months myself.

    Regards Dave

    1. The points of this is article is to not buy stuff from the Hoth (or similar services). So I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving you a process for buying and evaluating their products. :(

  28. Hey

    You already have me at link building. Then you melt my face with all the great info. My head is ready to explode.

    Favorite article. Keep going.

    thank you

  29. Hi Perrin,

    The content on this page has saved me countless hours of wasted time and lots of frustration. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I was heading down a path toward trying Hoth, FatJoe or similar service but, have now decided hiring a VA and doing it myself is more cost-effective and quite frankly, just makes more sense. There is no better way to ensure quality control.

    With all of the funding sites out there today, have you ever considered seeking funding for a more intensive case study? Basically you could offer SEOs willing to help fund the study exclusive access to the full case study and not publish any results from the study on AuthorityHacker.com for a pre-defined period of time. Just a thought…

    Keep up the great work!

  30. Hi Perrin

    I was thinking of getting a HOTH package but after reading this review, I am not sure. I am leaning towards buying a guest post from serplogic,read some of Tommy’s stuff on BHW and found a lot of it really insightful.
    I know you lot are great advocates for whitehat link building but have you ever thought about providing a link building service? I’m pretty sure you will have a near endless supply of customers.
    Great article BTW.

    1. Hey Minaj,

      Thanks for the comment. Yeah I’d recommend you stay away from the HOTH, it’s the worst of all basically.

      As for us providing a link building service, I doubt that will happen. Our sites do well on their own and we like the idea of not having to work for clients. The closer you will get from us providing a service is AH PRO where we share the tactics we use to grow our sites.

  31. Here’s the response from HOTH on my email:

    Thanks for your patience! :)

    I’d be happy to clear some things up regarding our Guest Posting service.

    This service is not for generating traffic specifically. This service is for you to receive a dofollow link on a high authority site, so your rankings increase! This draws more people to your site. :)

    RE site relevancy:

    Your link is used as an authority link within the article, which looks natural to Google. This pushes link juice and authority to your site.

    RE Every post on the site links to a money page:

    As you can see in my list of keywords and target URLs above, the only “money page” these sites are linking out to is yours. All of the other pages linked to within these articles are blog posts on non-competitor sites.

    Can you please elaborate on your statement: “Articlecity.com is well-known article directory. This is not 2012. These baclinks are bad.” I’d love to have a better understanding of why you believe these links are bad. This site has a DA of 59, which is some pretty powerful link juice to send back to your site. :)

    We definitely want to provide you with the best experience possible! As mentioned earlier, we’d be happy to reach out to our HOTH Guest Post team and get these placed elsewhere.

    Please let me know how you’d like to proceed! Here to help.


    Customer Support Specialist”

  32. Hi Perrin. I wonder about gotchseo links. They are selling DA 10,20 AND 30 links for 100$,200$ and 300$ respectively. I mention them because nathan gotch seems one of the white hat defenders like you.

  33. I’ve used 3/5 of the services mentioned above and ended up raging! Disappointed would have been ok, but I was furious! Some of them really do take you as clueless newbie trying to just piece together a puzzle rather than experienced marketer who is willing to pay good money to save time. First person that actually sets up something that ticks all the boxes and is reasonably affordable will make a fortune.

  34. Hey Perrin,

    You had me at link building. Then you melted my face off with all of the awesome info. My head is ready to explode.

    Loved the article. Keep ’em coming.


  35. Hey Perrin

    Thanks for taking your time to test these services for us. There’s a lot of mixed feelings in the post. But the fact is, PBNs still work and if whitehat links were working like a bomb, people wouldn’t be leaning towards PBNs.

    The other thing I’ve learned is, no one will do is as well as myself, and take care of a PBN the way I would for my own clients and own projects. The only link building services I’d ever pay for would be tiered links to my hand built tier 1s.

    Unless one day there was a service that is cheaper than my time and provides high quality links that WORK and has been TESTED to work. I’ll have to keep doing it myself :)

    But once again, very insightful post, saved me from having to do it all myself, because nothing beats testing!

    This was the resource of the week shared in our SEO group – so thanks!

  36. So just wondering, with all the pbn’s and link buying going on, how does a white hat linkbuilder compete in ranking for a sales page since grey/blackhats can easily get links straight to the post but it’s way harder for white hats to get direct links to it. I know that we can build a seperate piece of content that’s good and get links to that but indirect links have less juice right? Thanks!

    1. No matter which way you slice it, white hat will always be cheaper and easier than PBNs.

      It is usually more difficult to get links to “money” pages than better linkable assets, but we still do it. Usually in one of a couple ways:

      – We develop friendships with editors as we run campaigns, and the more friendly you are, the more lenient these folks tend to be.

      – If we know conversions are likely to be low for a campaign, we just email more people. Cost definitely goes up, but it’s still way, way cheaper than a PBN.

  37. Hi Perrin,

    LOVED this article. It was shared in our CPC Facebook SEO group.

    Anyway, I have some very interesting information that I’d like to share with you. I can email it to you, chat over Skype, whatever works. I have it all written up but I don’t know how to get it to you.

    Let me know – thanks! Ciao for now –

  38. Also ordered a package of Guest Post with Hoth.
    Domains from Guinea and duplicate content with no images, headings etc. et all.
    Horrible low quality PBN links.
    In their defense I must say that I got my money back after one single email.

  39. Interesting post, Perrin. You originally had my company, AudienceBloom, referenced in this article (not one of the 5 tested, but briefly mentioned) which caused me to get pinged by BuzzSumo Notifications and Google Alerts, so I came here to check out the article.

    If you had tested AudienceBloom, you would have seen that we start by offering our clients a list of publications to choose from, and we let our clients approve the content before we ever send it to the publication. This eliminates the sorts of disappointing surprises that it sounds like you endured over the course of testing out these 5 vendors.

    On top of that, we offer full refunds for any failed placements, so there’s literally no risk. Feel free to reach out if you’d like to give us a try!


    1. Thanks for chiming in :)

      I wanted to test you guys, since a few friends have used you in the past, but we decided to go more in the $100-$300 price range, and AB’s range is quite a bit bigger.

      I am curious, though: do you guys do mostly outreach, or do you have contributor accounts at the sites you post on?

      1. It’s mostly outreach =)

        Of course, because we’ve been in business for over 7 years, we have built relationships with authors, editors, webmasters, journalists, columnists, and website owners, so it’s rarely cold outreach — it’s usually outreach to people who already know and trust us.

        We are constantly conducting cold outreach to new representatives from various publications in order to build relationships that we can leverage for our clients, but that’s an ongoing initiative; not something we do in response to getting a new client onboard.

        Hope that helps!

        1. Jayson, the links I got were terrible. Some of the worst I’ve seen. I bought 1 link to test and it was a good link, good search traffic on the site and relevant link. So I decided to buy 8 more and it was just horrible. I told the account manager but no reply since. Disappointing service. If you want to check, my customer name is under Kur but i won’t drop my email here for obvious reasons.

  40. Great case study! I’m doing outreach in-house and I can’t imagine charging less than $4000 per month for it. So it wasn’t surprising that majority of these service deliver sub-par results. The amount of work involved is staggering, results are never guaranteed and it is getting harder and harder with every month…. Thanks for the study!

    I can’t believe HOTH is still selling their crap. I just saw their booth in Chicago IRCE 2017 last week next to some legit companies….

  41. You guys are amazing. The content is such high quality and it helps me so much. I am a newby blogger and will eventually sign up to Authority Hacker pro when I have the money. Hopefully, this will be by the end of the year.

  42. Just to add, FatJoe gave me the spammiest DA20 PBN site link. Posted in a “general” niche site. Not worth a tenner let alone the sixty something quid they charged. I’ve had better of People Per Hour.

  43. My experience with the Hoth, I bought a pack for $70 and it was the same or even worse than a $5 on fiver, and above I had to warn that it was not indexed. A shame of service.

  44. This had the capability to be a top notch article… but…. 1 link from each company? You obviously invested a lot of time in this piece, why just buy 1 link? Granted, I do not disagree with your findings, however, you set the journalistic standards very low.

    1. Hey Brad,

      Once again, we mention it in almost each mini review that this is not “statistically representative”. The goal of this was to give a real user feel. Get ourselves in the shoes of someone with $1000 to spend on links and see what you could get for that price, and as we can see, you don’t get much for that price, and I doubt the value would be there for 10 or 100k either.

  45. Charles Floate is a liar. He covers himself so well as he makes a web of lies and uses fake screenshots. Then you can’t say anything bad about him or his fanboys hound you down. I want to like him and I want to think he is a nice guy, but he’s and outright liar and conman who in his own eyes, can never be wrong!

    Wake up people, these paid links are garbage. No impact on your site. Low traffic sites that are basically PBN links disguised as real sites. Real outreach my arse! They used to be good but slowly are becoming worthless.

  46. Whenever an agency can “remove a link” pretty much instantly, from what’s supposed to be a legitimate guest post, it’s usually a sign they own the site. But seriously, if you’re selling PBN links just say that. No need to mislead people, because all it’s going to do is hurt your reputation (by ending up in a post like this lol).

  47. Excellent post and comparison. I’ve always wondered how the Hoth and Fat Joe compared. I actually know someone who sells links to Fat Joe, so I’m assuming they just resell links.

    Check out Increase Visibility. They’re not cheap ($100-200/link) but require longer commitment and volume as they build the infographica and content as well in house.

    1. Yea good points for sure. I was also wondering that: that maybe some of these services are using PBNs on the low end but are doing real outreach on the high end?

      We would have loved to have tested lots of stuff for this piece, but it could have easily run $10,000, which obviously doesn’t make sense to produce a single blog post lol.

  48. wow as funny as it might sound the Fiverr dude seems to be not so shabby all things compared lol
    That being said I have never used FatJoe in the past but when people asked me about an outreach company I would refer them over in the past. That is clearly going to stop :)

    And if you top it all off, all the big SEO companies I talk with also say openly that they still use a BPN network. It seems like the only way to get things done is do it yourself :)

    Back to work…

    1. Yea man. In the past, I’ve found a few solid people on PeoplePerHour, too (kind of like a higher-end Fiverr–kind of). There are people doing real outreach on those sites; you just have to dig through LOTS of crap to find them, and they’re still not super cost effective.

      1. Yeah – When it comes to being cost effective I like to take my own process and get 2 people on upwork and give them a clear outline of what needs to be done. I like to get people who have never done this type of work in the past so they dont start to do things they might think are “best practices” and just stick with what I know works :)

        I have never really used PeoplePerHour, do you find it better than UpWork or do you just use it for different types of projects?

  49. I still think your now edited piece on LoveTo is a bit unfair.

    #1 – We don’t sell based on DA, there’s about 8 different metrics on the page and zero correlation between DA and price of a site.
    #2 – You paid under $150 for the link, yet on other services paid closer to $300 – We have sites on for that price range that’d be of much higher quality overall..
    #3 – You also chose a site that said it was a “Mommy Blog” in the niche section, yet are surprised it’s one when buying it? Plenty of specifically niche relevant sites you could of got a link on.

    Also, why are you using SimilarWeb? It uses browser extensions and ClickStream data over actual rankings.. SEMRush or Ahrefs data (Which is what we use) is going to attest considerably higher for the value of a site actually getting traffic AND both give you a nice little graph to check for penalties etc.. Against sites.

    It’s been stated for many years now that The Hoth (Who actually don’t even do contextual links most of the time, just put you in a widget area on a PBN) and Fat Joe (Who do make their PBNs look nice, but the problem is they can’t cover enough niches so they overlap massively) have been using PBNs for “guest posting” services.

    Using Fiverr you’ll likely end up with a PBN link regardless.. You won’t find a provider that’ll do the actual outreach you want, they’ll almost always own the site or own a contributor account on a it – All pre-determined.

    If you want genuine, actual outreach then you’ll need a full campaign budget (Go with someone like Gareth Simpson or Steven Brownlie) which 90% of SEOs, and especially the affiliate SEOs out there.. Simply won’t have. The services mentioned here are the alternatives forged out of necessity, because people either don’t have the time or don’t have the money to invest in a full-scale outreach campaign and buying 1 – 5 links at a time for $100 – $300 a pop is completely worth it.

    1. Hey man. Thanks for the comment.

      I agree with a lot of what you said, and it’s always great to have a debate.

      I’ll outline my main issues with the service here, so please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong or to argue with me if you disagree. As much as we can, we try to make AH a good platform for debate.

      1. The sites are predetermined.

      The way most white hats I know do outreach goes something like: use a good linkable asset > prospect sites based on who would link to that asset > reach out to those folks > some unpredictable % says yes.

      I’ve just never done an outreach campaign where I knew exactly who was willing to provide me a link. Maybe you know something I don’t, or maybe you do it differently, but it just hasn’t been my experience.

      To me, this says that you have strong, predetermined relationships with people who will publish whatever you want. And, hey, we all do that in some form, right? We all make friends and leverage relationships for mutual benefit. But in this case, the site the link was placed on seemed to be publishing a lot of sub-par guest posts. Which was the second problem…

      2. From my point of view, the site was behaving like a guest post farm.

      A large % of the posts were ones that looked like guest posts to me. The posts were also low quality (“15 Things to Do…” that didn’t even contain a list–just 200 words and a link to a rando blog at the end).

      If I were doing genuine outreach, especially for a client, this is not a site I would have signed off on. From my point of view, this is exactly the kind of site Google has been targeting with outbound link penalties (http://searchengineland.com/google-penalizes-sites-unnatural-outbound-linking-247001).

      So it wasn’t that it was mommy blog. I get links on plenty of mommy blogs in my own outreach. It’s the other stuff that makes it a low quality link overall.

      I want to reiterate, though, for everyone: (1) our sample size was small; (2) I do not think Love to Link owns the site; (3) the link probably wouldn’t harm any site; and (4) it’s very possible others are getting great service from them.

      I can really only speak to what we got, which I still don’t think is a good link.

    2. What loveto.link actually does is running a native sponsored campaigns. That means you PAY mommy bloggers or whoever is selling links on their site. The website owner provides you with initial price, you negotiate a discount.

      You buy a link for like $50-80 and you sell the same for $150. And you decided to call that “white hat links via outreach”?

      Come on cut the chase. That’s the problem with you and majority of black hats (not all) you suck at white hat (or you just don’t care for your customers), you can’t even vet a quality blog. Who wants a link from a mommy blogger that’s linking out to hundreds of irrelevant blogs with 200 words guest posts? It’s just a matter of time when that site gets hit with an OBL penalty, or worse.

      Lower price doesn’t mean “here’s a crappy backlink for you”, it means here’s a legit backlink from a blog with less linking power (DR). I bet that site is also spammed with Tier 2 backlinks from random black hat guys.

      Again, you are looking at this the wrong way! It’s not the money and the price you paid, it’s is what white hat link building represents. Just cos you send an email to a webmaster doesn’t make it a white hat link building.

      You need to go back to the basics and read the Google guidelines if you are serious about running an agency doing white hat link building.

      You are still a young and emotional guy, and I understand your passion, but while you were learning and doing black hat I was learning and doing white hat. And I’m 100% sure you are good at what you do, but leave the white hat to the guys that actually do it for a living.

      Word of advice, when you do white hat, one question you always have to ask yourself is, “What would Google think of this link”?

      So if you put that into an actual example, what would Google think of that link you just got from that mommy blogger?


  50. I’m the owner of SerpLogic.. I’m actually pleased with this piece, you gives us actual credit for being deal guest posts.. yet hammer the hoth and fatjoe for using PBNs which I’ve been saying for year and them being our main competitors.. which have been around years makes me happy!

    Your only problem is our price, heh considering what you got from the hoth and fatjoe then I’d use the old saying – you get what you pay for 😉

    You then go into detail at the end about real outreach costing real money.. yet complained about our price when you got a real outreach posts.

    And regarding your remark about us selling a pbn service too – try it out, it’s completely different from our outreach.

    And lastly – we give 30% off to everyone as standard, all you had to do was ask for a discount coupon – we advertise them a lot. So essentially you could have had that price you didn’t like lowered.

    Thanks for this though dude, I like it ;-)

    1. Thanks for popping in, Tommy :)

      In our private FB community’s comments on this post, some of our members who have used your services mentioned that, for them, the quality on the high end of your services is really strong, which I think is important to note.

      Also, again, our sample size was small, so please feel free to show us other examples of your work or argue with us a bit. We love hashing it out and really getting to the bottom of stuff :)

      1. Excellent man.. got a link to the group, I’d love to check it out?

        Hah no arguments here my man, I reall liked your review.. although you could have had that post for 200 had you got our standard coupon.. your real complaint of price would have been solved then :-)

        Would love to show you work.. reach out!

        Have you seen the infographic outreach product we have? Pricey but an excellent campaign.

        Cheers again!

        1. We’ll have to see about the group (Gael’s call), since it’s exclusively for AH members, but I added you on social :)

    2. Tommy,

      I was curious how come Gentlemansdivision.com only has spammy low quality backlinks such as forum profile links and strange Chinese links? It looks like the entire link profile consists of “spam packages” from BHW. Anyone can plug Gentlemansdivision.com into Ahrefs and view the backlinks to see what I mean.

      Snapshot of backlinks below


      1. I’ll need to look at it properly when I get home, on holidays right now. All you have given is a small snapshot.

        I guess though that you are the genius that’s leaving rude messages in our CMS about this last night.

        No doubt a jealous competitor.. maybe even one from this list that has been hammered!? Hah

        Keep up the good work ;-)

  51. Thanks, Perrin. you have revealed their own shitty face of their bad services. while reading your post I thought that Hoth’s service will be decent, but you disclosed their fucking services. Thanks again for your post.

  52. Obviously, you guys haven’t outreached much.

    1. If you have trained VA to browse through the piles of spam, there are quite decent links on Fiver (so you can get your link for the VA time + 10$ for link and article)

    2. Most bloggers with real blogs are happy to publish a piece they have written for 100$ – 150$. Those are the best links since they are bloggers in your niche and there are not tons of articles on them like on the big editorial sites.

    3. If you investigate sites in some of the hard niches you ll spot the editorials. Add the authors on LinkedIn and Twitter and they ll be happy to provide a link for you for a fee that ranges in between $200 – $600. (We are talking Mashable, Forbes etc sites here).

    So all it takes is a good SOP and a trained VA.

    1. I agree that links can be cheap, for sure. I mention another blog post above where I outline a guest post system that should get links for about $20. Since then, several people have tried it and have gotten links for $20 or cheaper.

      What’s expensive is running an AGENCY that does real outreach, since it takes so much time to manage clients and find opportunities for one-off campaigns in new niches daily.

      But yea, on your own, links can be cheap if you just do the actual work of outreaching.

      To point #2, just to clear it up for any newbies who might be reading, we don’t, of course, advocate offering money to webmasters in exchange for links. It’s against Google’s terms of service, and we get plenty without offering folks money.

  53. Hi Perrin,

    I think we are kind of “brothers in circumstance” in a way regarding The HOTH.

    I may be wrong, or may have misread some of your posts back when you worked with Spencer. But, if I read things correctly, you and I share the privilege of both being hit with a Google penalty on the exact same day. You for A Penny Shaved (blast from your past). And, me for my only three sites at the time. If I’m remembering correctly the date was September 18th, 2015. It was a dark day in my early attempts at this business.

    From what I remember at the time, you had mentioned having used The HOTH for A Penny Shaved (along with many other more white hat link methods). I had used The HOTH for some really shady backlinks at the time and deservedly got slapped down by Google. The HOTH was the ONLY thing I did back then that was in common (and particularly shady) between my three sites. So, I’m pretty sure that was why Google threw the penalty flag on me.

    So, I cringe every time I hear anything about The HOTH.

    I have repurposed all three sites into new sites and still struggle with obtaining backlinks. I have learned my lesson about buying backlinks when Google put a pin in my year and a half worth of work.

    I am especially appreciative of your post that goes into great detail about converting money into backlinks by paying for the hard work. I’m currently trying to combine that post and a Brian Dean Infographic post into a method I can automate (well, at least trying to automate about 70% of it using many of your tips). You guys (you any many others in this space) make it look so easy to get these systems up and going. For whatever reason, I just can’t seem to get a backlink system into place. But, posts from you and Brian Dean are the main sources of great info that still give me hope that I can eventually get something going that can work.

    As always, love your stuff!


    1. Super interesting: “From what I remember at the time, you had mentioned having used The HOTH for A Penny Shaved (along with many other more white hat link methods). I had used The HOTH for some really shady backlinks at the time and deservedly got slapped down by Google. The HOTH was the ONLY thing I did back then that was in common (and particularly shady) between my three sites. So, I’m pretty sure that was why Google threw the penalty flag on me.”

      I never even thought about that, but if they are in fact using a bunch of PBNs, it certainly seems possible.

  54. Hey, at least as a vegan I must say: NICE keywords and topic! :D Yes, you can get protein from plants, you don’t need meat, leave animals alone, go vegan!

    …Sorry for that, I couldn’t help it.

    About this post, veryyyy nice, hands down. I don’t trust SEO agencies exactly because of this.
    Now, I do have infographic websites, much more cheaper or even free to just send an infographic to this kind of websites, and honestly, it can be wonders to your rankings.

  55. Thanks for this case study Perrin, I’ve literally been saying this for years after requesting samples from both FatJoe and TheHoth but my reach is to small to make a dent so I’m happy a huge site like yours outs them.

    I am a PBN seller myself btw and I charge a fraction of what those supposed guest post sellers charge so obviously this stuff pisses me off. It looks like nearly every PBN seller just renamed their service to guest post oureach so at some point it becomes like impossible to compete as I refuse to join this behavior.

    PBN links carry a risk but by using quality content, clean domains, real shared hosts and being a bit careful who you link to you can reduce the risk by a lot. Sure I also loose domains once in a while but the deindex rate is quite acceptable, eg less than 1% per month. I can live with that and clients realize it as well. If someone buys 100 links it simply means they need to keep buying 1 link per month to keep their link profile up to date.

    PBN sites based on expired domains also loose strength over time, as they don’t keep attracting link so replacing a few now and then is in fact a good practice to maintain the strength of your links.

    The only shitty thing is that most PBN services suck completely, 99% uses poor hosts, poor content, poor (spammed) domains and what not so I would love to see you doing a test of PBN services and include mine as well. I’m considerably more expensive then most you see offered in guest post and PBN groups on Facebook though, my links cost $25/piece while most offer it for $5-$10 and the main reason why I’m more expensive is cause I use decent writers instead of your crappy $3 500 words iWriter article plus I spend $50-$200 per domain instead of long time expired domains that people pick up for $10/piece. Not many do this anymore as it’s hard to sell PBN links so they simply can’t justify the costs. I am just ‘lucky’ that I have some large clients that don’t mind paying a bit more, plus I have dozens of my own affiliate websites so it only makes sense to spend a bit more.

    1. Hey Dennis,

      Yep, while we don’t engage in PBN’s we also acknowledge they can be a business strategy provided you measure and manage the risk that comes with them. What really itched us was (most) providers straight up lying to their customers and selling PBN’s as Guest Posts to inflate the prices and attract a broader client base. That is indeed illegal.

      1. It are probably the same or similar people that you find on BHW. When I sold my links at the WF in the past I regularly bought PBN links from other people. Simply to see if I could learn something new from them.

        I asked the right questions and got the right answers but the link reports revealed something entirely different, auto-generated content, spammed domains, absurd weak domains. I even used RDDZ (great tool btw) to look up the IP addresses of the domains to see if they used shared hosting plans as I asked for but more often than not it was all in the same range, eg the typical C-class SEO hosts.

        So yeah, 4 years later nothing really changed, besides them renaming PBN links to guest posts.

  56. I built up a small team offering link building – our standard rate was 2.5k a month for 5-7 links.
    This shit is fucking hard — link prospecting and getting the shit posted is a thankless job… I hated running the business

  57. Great Read! I have been following Hoth for like an year now and have been hearing the same thing from multiple forums. Even black hat community members state them as a rip off. But at the same time they are very powerful when it comes to ranking their own keywords lol. My question is, agencies and companies looking for guest posts of press releases really go in this depth when it comes to analyzing what they are buying from a company which is landing on Google’s first page. Seems to bother. I have also heard great review of love to link, though haven’t tried out myself.

    1. I bought from The Hoth and my rank went from 6 to 28. That was proof enough for me, after reading comments like, ‘Don’t use the HOTH – thank me later”.

    1. Don’t really want to reveal who it is, since he’s one of many, and I can’t 100% recommend it.

  58. Good one Perrin :) I was on the fence to try these services, but I was 99% sure they won’t be legit.

    Cheap ones are obvious but charging $200-300 for sh**y DA 30 PBN blog is shameless.

    Content+VA for a small DA 30 could be done for $30-70 in many niches.

    1. Yep; in our community, there are lots of folks getting $20 links using super basic guest posting strats. It’s a bit of work, for sure, but it’s very possible.

  59. Lol, You are right about the hoth. Though their marketing is super strong. Thanks for putting together this test results Perrin.

  60. This is hilarious…

    He passed up a link on my site – Feedster.com (calling it crap) DA 80’s

    Then decided to bash everyone.

    BTW – I don’t find a listing for selling links on my site for 150 but would love to know if someone was doing that.

    Next time you are writing post or making images you may want to actually run stats before you “bash” the “Crap.” You may not look very smart to everyone that recognizes the old logo of feedster.com

    1. Not saying it reflects on you personally, but I’m very wary of a site in the DA80s (well, DA69 now, according to Moz) with over 6,000 results in the SERPS (site:feedster.com) that only gets a reported 21,000 visits/mo from search (according to SimilarWeb) and/or a viral-type site with virtually zero social traffic (again, according to SimilarWeb).

      1. Eric Van Buskirk

        I agree that these are bad domains for links. But did you consider that these sites had traffic throttled for OTHER reasons as well? For example, maybe they built links from bad neighborhoods themselves. Then the question is whether they are just give you a crappy deal since DA doesn’t give the whole picture.

        1. Yea anything is possible, really. You could investigate any one site ad nauseum. For the purposes of this post, we basically just needed to answer the question: “What’s the quality of this link?”

          When you have the answer, it becomes more important to discuss context, application, etc. rather than overturning every little pebble.

  61. I’m the owner of loveto.link and we have never taken money from people and not processed an order or emailed them back. I need you to email me the name, email address and date you ordered so I can look into this [email protected]. I can tell you now I still handle all orders personally and I know what you are saying happened did NOT.

    How can you possibly know how our system works? “They have contributor accounts (or, occasionally, special contributor relationships)” NOT TRUE!

    Also, how can you make this comment “is it a guest post? No. It absolutely is not.” if we apparently never completed your order?

    1. Not being “smart” or anything, but I’m curious how you have people choose particular stats, which market, essentially choose which site they want a link from, and you don’t have any contributor relationships? Like, you must, right? I don’t see how else that could work.

      Secondly, direct question; requesting a direct answer: do you pay for links on these sites?

    2. Thanks Dan.

      First, Gael showed me the conversation you two had, where you provided proof of the order. Thanks for that. It’s what I needed, and I’ve already rewritten the Love to Link section based on the results.

      I also want to apologize for the mistake. Since getting this comment, I’ve searched high and low for your emails. Can’t find them. You DID complete the order. I saw your screenshots, and I’ve now seen the completed order report. I just can’t find the emails. I created an email account specifically for this project, so there were literally no other emails in there for them to get lost in. They aren’t in my trash or spam, either. So, while I’m not sure what happened, it sucks we published inaccurate info, and thanks again for contacting us so quickly to correct it.

      Gael’s got the revised section on his desk, and he’s going to be reviewing it again before publishing.

    3. Dan Parker is great at SEO and I have no doubts of him being great though loveto.links to me whoever done this article just made a child like insult against Dan.

  62. I did a similar test last September for a case study with my students and came to almost identical results. The HOTH used an expired domain/PBN that was so painfully obvious (also requested removal). They also apologized, didn’t know how it happened, gave a refund, etc. Clearly it’s their SOP for the service. At the time, Doug Cunnington was offering a GP service that was expensive but legit (the only 100% legit one I’ve ever used). I’ve also tested LoveToLink with a few orders and some of the sites seem legit and some don’t, but my sample size is small so it’s hard to know for sure. Bought 35 links from FatJoe to have a large sample size, wouldn’t recommend it for sites you care about though I have seen some people mention getting contacted by them – so they do seem to use some real sites. I’ve also tested Loganix, which offers links that are more editorial links than GPs, but I also don’t think they’re worth the $$$$ when you can get better links on your own most of the time.

    The only real solution here is the one that you guys repeat over and over -do the outreach yourself if you want the best ROI.

    1. Hey Shawna,

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your results! Yup, we did expect what we preached was the best but after seeing questions about link building services coming up over and over we decided to test them to report on what you really get.

      I’m glad we have you as a reader, thanks again for sharing!


    2. GREAT info here — especially re: FatJoe b/c your sample size was so much bigger than ours. Thanks for chiming in :)

  63. “Ah, the HOTH. The f*ckbois of SEO.” Haha! Love it.

    As someone who has sold guest posts, I can tell you the resources it takes to run an agency and do it right (no network, but raw outreach each campaign,) are pretty intensive. I’d be very weary of anyone who doesn’t charge an arm and a leg per guest post. Guest post are so resource hungry, and one off campaigns are deceptively difficult. I made the mistake of taking on too much too quick with this, and I just wasn’t able to deliver to a lot of people.

    I think the only way to really do it right is to invest a lot of time and money into a firm who will charge by hour and immerse themselves into the market (the Page One Power approach.) For guest post services to make sense, a lot of times they either need to charge a lot OR use some sort of network.

  64. Yup. Had that same experience with Fat Joe. The site the link was on looked legit until we dug into it on AHREFs. Ended up asking them to remove it for us and moved on.

    1. Just like you I tried Fat Joe. And Love to Link. And many others not on this link. Every time I was disappointed. But something good came out of it…..

      After Failing to find good services, I learned and created my own systems for white link building( shoutout to content by siegemedia, sharprocket and Backlinko).

      Earlier I used it for my own sites after seeing some good results, I started my own white hat link building agency.

      I can say this – Nothing beats manual outreach when it comes to link building. These services with established relations don’t stand a chance.

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