If you really want to scale your link building efforts, then you are going to need a link building team.
There are simply too many facets of the link building process for any one person to handle on their own when you start talking about tens or dozens of links per month.
And, when it comes to a link building team, there are basically two ways to go about it. You can either build your own team in-house or you can outsource it to the pros.
This is where a professional link building service like dofollow comes into the equation.
A full-service link building agency will handle everything, from the best link building strategies for your site and content to execution, building your links while you focus on your core business.
Putting together your own team is hard and time-consuming.
Not only do you need to know which qualities and skill sets are required to put together the right team of people, but you then need to go about finding those people, interviewing them and onboarding them.
We at dofollow have put together a pretty stellar team of link builders, and we want to show you how it's done
How much does it cost to create link building team?
Putting together a team of link builders takes time and, yes, money.
Before you commit to assembling your team, it’s important to be aware of what it might cost you.
Here are some estimated annual costs of running your link-building team in house.
Link building manager - $40-80k
This is the person responsible for coordinating all of the various processes involved in link building. They make sure that the people doing the prospecting and outreach are on the right track with respect to your editorial policy (domain metrics, relevance, trust etc.), may play a role in coordinating your content writer’s efforts and arrange any payments involved in the process.
Link Building Assistant(s) x 2 - $30k
You will probably need at least two assistants to do your link prospecting and outreach.
A lot of the people who do this nowadays are based out of developing countries, which means a lower cost of living and lower labor costs for you, but you should still bank on paying around $15,000 per assistant.
They are responsible for doing the most tedious and time-consuming parts of the link building process, which is what would take up the bulk of your time if you tried to do it on your own.
A Guest Post Writer - $50K
There are plenty of ways to build links, but one of the most common and high ROI ways (in terms of both time and money) is to write guest posts.
Any good link building team is going to have a third-party (aka freelance) writer that takes care of the content needs, including guestposts.
Good writers, on a per-word basis, are probably going to run you around $4,000 per month (i.e., the content component of your link building budget).
You definitely don’t want to skimp when it comes to hiring a content writer because the kinds of guest posting opportunities you will get (and the quality links you will be able to build) are directly proportional to the quality of the content you produce.
Link costs - $25K
If you are intent on building a significant number of links every month (anywhere from 20-40), then you’re going to need a budget for placing links.
Most websites nowadays charge administrative and “processing” fees when they host a link of yours on their website, which adds up if you are building links at scale.
You should count on spending around $2,000 per month on this if you are serious about link building.
Link building software - $6K
Building links at scale also requires the use of certain link building tools.
These include things like an SEO analytics tool–we use Ahrefs, which runs about $500 per month.
You will also need an outreach software (for finding emails), an email finding software (for locating contact information) and link monitoring software (to keep track of when and where your links are placed).
Let’s say you opt for the cheaper Ahrefs (or Moz or Semrush) plan and a program like Snov.io for outreach.
Count on spending around $500 all in.
Total monthly/yearly spend
Your total monthly and yearly spending would be around $177,000 per year and $14,75’0 per month. This is a rough estimate.
If you want to start scaling higher than let’s say 35-40 links per month, there will be significant cost increases.
Of course, that amount is relative.
For a company with a multi-million dollar digital marketing budget, a couple of hundred grand a year might not be a huge deal.
If you’re a small business trying to do link building on your own, that’s a pretty big chunk of change.
When it makes sense to build an in-house link building team?
Now that you know what it’s going to cost to put this team together, should you do it?
Here are a few questions you should answer before making a decision.
Are you committed to long-term link building? It might take a few months between hiring people and get them up to speed.
Do you need a lot of links? Most people putting together link building teams do so because they have multiple websites or because they are in a competitive niche that requires a steady stream of new links.
Building a team for just a few links per month is not a good use of capital.
Do you have some key processes in place already? Do you already have someone working for you who knows how to build links, with tested processes they can implement for you? If so, you are on firm footing to start building out a team.
If you don’t have the capital or aren’t sure you need a full-fledged, fully-staffed link building team right away, you can always build your crew bit by bit (as your needs evolve).
Doing this lets you establish and test one process at a time and build on it. It’s a less risky and more cost-effective way to go about putting together your link building team.
It also lets you assemble an effective onboarding schematic for new hires so that you can get people trained and productive as fast as possible.
How to create your link building team
Here we will examine the four most important steps when assembling your link building team.
Step 1: Define your processes
If you already have some link building experience, you can build out your own processes.
The idea is to break everything down into their constituent tasks and then record and document best practices for each one.
This might include:
- Doing competitor research
- Evaluating domain metrics
- Building outreach and follow-up templates
- Link building strategies for different links (e.g., broken link building, guest posting)
- Negotiating and paying link placement costs
You might consider a productivity/collaboration tool like Trello, Notion or Asana to keep track of all of this.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, your best bet would be to bring in a link building consultant with proven strategies to help develop your processes.
This person can also help you find the right people to bring aboard.
Key attributes of a great link builder
There is no shortage of people out there claiming to be link builders, but experienced link builders who know what they’re doing are in short supply.
Some of the important attributes of a good link builder are:
- SEO/digital marketing knowledge and experience
- Sales experience involving cold outreach (email or phone)
- Ability and desire to learn new skills
- Self-motivation (these teams are often entirely remote and international)
- An ability to integrate quickly into new teams and make fast connections, especially digitally
- An ability to understand and use new software quickly
At dofollow, we’ve hired and trained people who have been working with us for years.
They’ve helped us build our business into what it is, and it all started with identifying the kinds of qualities that we wanted in our people.
This brings us to step two: hiring.
Step 2: Hiring the right people
Any organization, anywhere, rises and falls because of the people they have working for it.
A good hiring process builds successful link builders.
A good approach is to hire based on a general skill set (e.g., minimum SEO knowledge and digital literacy) and the factor in additional time to train people based on your specific processes and software.
How to find link builders
The first place most companies start when looking for link builders is Upwork.
There is almost always a large pool of workers on these sorts of places who specialize in link building, and you can find good quality hires here.
The issue is that it can be hard to find people on places like Upwork who are full committed to your project.
Many link builders here are freelancers and deal with multiple clients at a given time. You are likely one of several.
If you are after full-time employees, there are better alternatives to Upwork. They include:
Create job postings
The other option is to have link builders come to you.
Having the right job advertisement and application process can make or break your hiring–internationally or locally.
A lot of companies put up a low-effort job post, which tends to attract either no one or low-effort candidates.
Lazy job postings will turn off the kind of qualified people you ultimately want on your link building team.
Something like the below is not going to appeal to experienced, qualified people:
A good job posting does things like:
- Introduces the company
- Outlines the responsibilities
- Lists essential requirements
- Lists desirable requirements
- Lists personality traits that are conducive to the role
- Explains the hiring process
Each job listing should be platform-specific and appeal to the kind of people you are hoping to attract.
For example, if you’re trying to hire recent graduates, it would make more sense to focus more on a candidate’s personality rather than their link building experience.
The hiring process
Finding and, importantly, securing good candidates requires a finely-tuned hiring process. You can easily lose good candidates if they become fed up with how you hire and onboard them.
This is generally how we do things at dofollow:
- We ask for an application
- We schedule an interview
- We schedule a second interview
- We give someone a test job to perform
The application includes a CV, a cover letter and a questionnaire asking specific questions. It is often helpful to request a video introduction at this stage so that you can weed out any low-effort candidates.
We then shortlist the people we like and invite them for an interview, where we find out more about the person and provide more information about the role. Video calls are the best way to do this because you also get a feel for a person’s interpersonal skills.
Depending on how many candidates we have and how much competition there is, we might ask one or more people to come back for a second interview.
Finally, because actions speak louder than words, we ask people to complete a test before deciding to hire them. This test is designed to show us whether or not someone has the base skillset required to do the job.
It might be something as simple as creating an outreach email or a sample prospecting list from a list of websites we provide.
A caveat when it comes to hiring link builders with experience
Hiring someone with previous experience is one thing. Hiring someone with the right kind of training and experience is another.
What we’re getting at here is that you want to hire link builders who have been trained and know how to build links the right way–high authority backlinks from relevant sites with good domain metrics (e.g., high domain authority and solid traffic).
It’s important to emphasize this because of the sheer number of link builders out there who continue to build links the wrong way.
If someone says they have “link building experience,” but that consists of building spammy, low-effort links with bad anchor text practices that could potentially get your website penalized in the search rankings by Google (maybe even losing you traffic and revenue), then that link builder is probably going to be a liabiltiy.
It might, however, still be the case that, despite their unhelpful previous experience, they still have a good handle on the mechanics of link building.
If you believe you are able to train them to do things your way (hopefully the right way), they might still be a good hire.
How much do you pay a link builder?
It’s hard to know how much to pay a link builder.
It depends a lot on the specific role, the location of the candidate and the contract type. How much you can actually afford to pay, of course, will likely trump all other considerations.
We’re based out of the U.S., and we prefer hiring people outside of the mainland USA. This allows us to take advantage of cost of living vs labour savings in other regions.
Countries like the Philippines, Kenya, Mexico and Eastern European ones have a ton of experienced, digitally savvy link builders with a high level of English and they don’t charge the $75K+ a year that we would likely have to pay in the United States.
It can also work out to more links per equivalent spend if you are willing and able to hire full-time.
This is because you tend to pay less per hour for a full-time link builder than you would a contractor.
It is also more likely that a full-time employee will be committed to your business.
What’s more, services like Remote have made it easy to handle the tax and other paperwork required to hire people outside of your and/or your business’s country of residence.
This brings us to our third step: training.
Step 3: Training your team
Even if people come into our agency with previous experience, we still like to train all of our staff on every part of the process.
We think it’s important for people to understand not only specific link building processes, but how their role impacts all the other roles at our company, as well as how link building influences and is influenced by the other facets of SEO.
- Create a knowledge/training hub. Use something like Notion for this.
- Detail every step of every process. This should include everything from the base knowledge required to how to do something specific (like writing a follow-up outreach email).
- Give detailed instructions. Instructions should be clear and concise. This is important because it reduces mistakes and minimizes the amount of wasted time asking questions.
- Make use of video content. A picture is worth 1000 words and, thanks to programs like Loom, you can easily record every step of each one of your processes.
The time investment to create comprehensive training resources will pay major dividends in the long run and help you scale and grow much quicker.
This brings us to the fourth and final step: the software
Step 4: Provide access to helpful software
Building links at scale requires a number of monthly/annual software subscriptions.
Hundreds of dollars a month for software might seem a bit steep, but if you have your processes down and a well-trained team using them, they should pay for themselves easily.
Plus, what you spend on software is far less than what you are spending on labour.
The power of Ahrefs
There are a handful of alternative SEO analytics tools out there (MOZ, Semrush, Majestic) as well as some free ones, but it is our opinion (and it is widely shared by the industry) that Ahrefs is the best.
It is the premier tool for discovering link building opportunities and you use it in two main ways.
The first is to find out which websites are linking to your competitors.
The logic is that if a website is already linking to another site in your niche, it will probably link to yours as well.
You can compile that list of competitor links, export them as a CSV file, find the contact information using your outreach tool and then set up a bunch of emails.
The second major use for Ahrefs is to see what kind of content your competitors are creating.
The logic here is that if you can find out what kind of pages/content are receiving the most links on the competition’s sites, you can create your own similar (ideally, better) content and use those pages as linkable assets.
Simply enter your competitor’s domain into Ahrefs’ site explorer
And then sort by “best by backlinks.”
You can usually find good linkable asset opportunities by filtering for specific keywords like “best” or “top.”
These are the kinds of resource and thought leadership pages that tend to attract the most backlinks.
Ahrefs can also help you better manage your overall link profile (e.g., keep tabs on new links and disavow potentially damaging ones).
Ahrefs starts at $99 per month for the most basic plan, allowing you to add an additional user for $30.
Snov simplifies the search for webmaster contact information and the ensuing outreach emails.
With an email tool, you don’t have to manually look through search engines and search engine results pages to find what you’re looking for.
Once you have created your prospecting list using Ahrefs, you can export it as a CSV file and upload it to your outreach tool.
The tool then scrapes its massive database of websites to find contact information for each site and rates the reliability of the contact info so that you can decide whether to go ahead and use it or not.
With Ahrefs and a tool like Snov, you can easily gather large lists of potential link opportunities, find the contact information necessary to actually reach out to these sites and their administrators, and create links.
And that’s how it’s done
That’s how you put together a link building team.
Nail down your processes, find the right people to carry them out and equip those people to do the job with the necessary tools and you have all you need to build some serious backlinks at scale.
Of course, all of that is easier said than done. If it were that simple to create a successful link building team in-house, everyone would be doing it and there would be no need for link building companies.
At the end of the day, it is probably going to end up costing you more to do it all in house (especially if you’re inexperienced) than it is to outsource it to an agency that already has all of those pieces in place.
Get in touch with dofollow today and find out more about an experienced link building agency, committed to user-centric, Google-approved link building can skyrocket your organic traffic today.