If you have gotten to the point where you want to outsource link building, congratulations, you are on the right track with your site and online business. Two questions now arise: how and why?
Link building is a fundamentally important part of any SEO strategy, but it’s also the most difficult and time-consuming. For this reason, it is also one of the SEO niches with the most people (so-called “experts”) clamouring for your attention and money. Anyone with a site probably knows how absurd the link building world and its surreal offers can be.
There are a lot of good reasons to outsource link building once it becomes economically viable for your business, but there are some things to keep in mind before making your decision. The below article will delve into the how and why you should outsource link building, including important vetting metrics for any link building agencies you are thinking of doing business with and what to watch out for.
With that said, here are 6 considerations to have at the forefront before deciding to outsource link building:
- Do You Know Enough About the Process?
- Knowing When It’s Time to Outsource Link Building
- What Are You Willing to Spend?
- What You Are Paying For When You Outsource Link Building
- Choosing An Agency or a Freelancer
- Vetting an Agency
Do You Know Enough About the Process?
In the world of outsourced SEO, it is ALWAYS a good idea to educate yourself on the service and niche before investing in anything. This is especially the case with link building, given how difficult and time-consuming it can be and, therefore, how desperate so many online business owners are to boost their link profiles.
Hucksters and inexperienced link builders with the gold rush mentality abound in this niche and they are are all too willing to sell you bad links acquired with broken link building tactics.
Do you know why Google views high authority, relevant and natural links so favorably and why they have such a large impact on your ranking? Do you understand how to design a good editorial process that chooses the pages to which you should be directing traffic in order to best disperse link juice? Do you have a clear understanding of the various avenues available for building links and the kinds of sites you wish to target and avoid as sources of potential backlinks?
These are all questions you need to ask and answer before deciding to outsource link building.
Knowing When It’s Time to Outsource Link Building
If you have the budget to outsource link building from the get-go then by all means consider it as an option. If you have money to invest in a professional link building service to supercharge your SEO right out of the gate, you can absolutely go that route.
More often than not, however, websites look to third-party link building specialists when they have reached certain content and authority milestones, find themselves in a particular competitive landscape, or are competing for links with higher-ranking sites.
Content and Authority Milestones
In terms of content and traffic, usually, a site will have a good mix of commercial and info content, with a decent number of keywords and pages ranking somewhere on the first page of the SERP. This is a good indication that your content is considered high-quality by Google and additional links from relevant, authoritative sites may be all that is needed to propel you upwards.
Site owners very often decide that it’s time to outsource link building when they are competing for traffic with much larger, higher authority sites.
If you’re in a very competitive niche with established players that have traditionally eaten up those top spots, you’re making good progress, but you need that competitive edge, then outsourcing your link building to an experienced agency can make a world of difference.
You’re in Link Race
If you are trying to rank for specific keywords, and the pages on the SERP that are above you have more backlinks linking to pages containing those keywords, you are losing the race. This is also another sign that it could be time to outsource link building to give your content a competitive edge.
What Are You Willing to Spend?
Link building, as with a lot of SEO, is very much a get what you pay for service. If you allow yourself to be enticed by too-good-to-be-true offers, you typically get lacklustre, if not harmful results. If you are willing to spend some money on strategic, discerning, high-quality link building, the traffic results tend to speak for themselves.
What You Are Paying For When You Outsource Link Building
The reason it makes sense for companies to outsource link building is because of how involved a process it is. You almost need an entire digital marketing team devoted solely to link building if the goal is to do it at scale to achieve significant traffic and SERP improvements. When you recruit the help of link building experts, you are basically paying for 4 things:
- Outreach Costs
- Content Creation
- Editorial/ Link Building Strategy
- Placement Fees
If you want to build links, you need to spend a lot of time reaching out to site owners and editors and arranging link opportunities. Doing this at scale requires a lot of time, trained outreach specialists, and costly email outreach tools.
Content creation refers to the original content that is often required in order to have links to your pages hosted on authoritative websites.This content, in the form of guestposts, needs to be created from scratch by professional copywriters. If you outsource link building to a reputable link building agency, they will only use quality writers for this, because that is how you secure links from high-authority sites.
Editorial and Link Building Strategy
This might be the most important thing you pay for when you outsource link building because it will determine the success of your efforts and, to a large extent, your ROI over the long term.
Your agency, together with you, will come up with a plan based on your available content, SEO objectives, and business niche that determines outreach methods and target pages.
Scattershot link building can be counterproductive and a waste of money. Approaching a link building campaign methodically and with clear goals in mind is what will generate meaningful increases in traffic and page rank that you can sustain over time.
Because link building is such a crucial component of SEO and, therefore, profitability in many ways, it has become big business.
Authoritative websites with a lot of link juice to pass on recognize that they have something you want and, therefore, they are very often going to charge you for it.
Even if you are a good writer with great, relevant, SEO-optimized content that you’re willing to give away for free, a lot of the time, sites still see it as a revenue stream.
Choosing An Agency or a Freelancer
When you outsource link building, you are basically choosing between a freelancer (i.e., an individual) or an agency. There is no right answer here; it depends on what you’re looking for and, importantly, your ability to vet candidates in either category. Each option has its tradeoffs.
Working With Freelancers
When you work with freelancers, you are typically working with link builders you find through platforms like Fiverr and Freelancer. The major benefit of these platforms is that they are ratings-based, so you can look and see what kind of work these people have done in the past.
The problem is that rates on these platforms can be all over the place and it can be quite difficult to know exactly what you’re getting. Because of the aforementioned gold rush mentality, as well as these platforms’ tendency to become one big race to the bottom, there are a lot of unscrupulous freelance link builders out there who have no qualms about charging you a ton of money for blackhat links that could get your site penalized.
That isn’t to malign all freelancers, some are great at what they do, and if you’re careful about who you work with, there are freelancers out there doing honest, quality work.
Working With an Agency
The alternative is to work with a dedicated link building agency. Agencies tend to be more versatile in the kinds of services they provide because they have specialist in-house teams and use the kinds of tools that make link building at scale possible.
At dofollow.io, our team includes specialists in every step of the link building process, from outreach to content writing. Our strategic and holistic approach to link building, as well as our deep understanding of the industry and search engine evolution, have helped us achieve dramatic traffic and ranking improvements for dozens of clients over the years.
If you outsource your link building to a reputable agency with a proven track record, you can expect to pay more, but the results will speak for themselves.
Vetting an Agency
When you decide to outsource link building and opt for the agency approach, you need to spend some time evaluating your options. You should consider whether an agency specializes in different industries, what and how they charge, what kind of link building they do, and a range of other pertinent qualifying factors.
You should also carefully consider some important green and red flags that indicate what kind of service you can expect.
Green flags when vetting a link building agency
Good link building agencies consistently do a number of things to show potential clients that they are a seriously companies that employ legitimate, Google-approved link building tactics in order to grow their clients’ traffic and revenue. They are:
- Social Proof
- Case Studies
- Homepage Links
- They Want to Talk to You
- Pay-for-Performance Billing Model
If you outsource link building to an agency, just as you would with a freelancer, you want to know what current and previous customers have to say about their experience. If the social proof is coming from reputable and verifiable brands and sites, chances are you will enjoy the same quality and results.
The great thing about link building efforts is that there is evidence of its efficacy. A good agency will be able to show you case study data that indicates how their efforts transformed traffic and page rank for a client over time. This might include, among other material, screenshots from search engine analytics tools like MOZ or Ahrefs showing trend lines and numbers.
Homepage Links From High Authority Sites
Homepage links are not always indicative of quality, but if they come from high authority sites, it’s a very good sign.
When vetting a link building partner, look to see where its homepage links are coming from. If they are getting a lot of branded homepage links from trustworthy sources referring to the company in a positive light or praising its service, it’s a good indication they are competent professionals.
They Want to Talk to You
A good link building agency will not stop communicating with you once you’ve signed a contract. They should urge you to get in touch with them to discuss whether their services are a good fit for your business and its needs and,, following your decision to do business with them, they will stay in regular contact with you to ensure you are kept up to date on and involved in link building strategy moving forward.
At dofollow.io, we pride ourselves on working with our clients to understand their business, their niche, and their SEO objectives in order to develop a link building strategy that makes sense on a case-by-case basis. Book a call with us to find out more about how we customize our approach to your business needs.
A Pay-for-Performance Billing Model
When you outsource link building, there are basically two ways you are billed for services: upfront or performance-based.
Upfront means you pay a set amount–usually for a fixed number of links based on a tiered pricing plan–and then the agency sets about getting those backlinks for you. They might have a condition in the contract you sign that stipulates they have a specific window of time in which to build those links to account for the unpredictability of the industry.
A pay-for-performance model only bills you for what an agency is able to demonstrably build. You sign a contract agreeing to a specified monthly (or some other term) link building budget and then the agency sets about filling that budget. If the agreed-upon budget is X and X-1 links are built, you don’t pay the difference.
At dofollow.io, we have always prided ourselves on a flexible performance-based model that allows our clients to scale their link building efforts when they need to. Our billing terms are also consistent with our commitment to link quality and strategy, and we don’t waste our clients’ time or money with links that don’t meet strategic objectives and link metrics.
Red Flags When Vetting a Link Building Agency
Conversely, before you outsource link building, consider whether any of the agencies you are vetting do/exhibit the following:
- Suspiciously low-cost links
- A lack of forthrightness and transparency
- Unrealistic guarantees and promises
- Suspiciously fast turnaround time
Suspiciously Low-cost Links
Building links the right way is an involved process and costs money. The prices you often see being charged for high value, high DR links are, within reason, understandable.
If an agency is offering you links at prices that undercut virtually everything else you have seen by a very hefty amount, chances are it’s becaus they are getting those links from link farms or PBNs that they either own themselves or have access to.
A Lack of Forthrightness and Transparency
A good agency should have nothing to hide from its clients. If they claim to have had a lot of success, they should either have those results on their site or be willing to show them to you in private.
An agency that is unwilling to provide you with stats and evidence of their past success and won’t or can’t tell you how they would approach your business should sound the alarm bells.
Unrealistic Guarantees and Promises
As with most other scenarios in life, if something’s too good to be true…you know the rest.
Any experienced, ethical link builder will tell you that nothing is guaranteed in this industry. It’s hard work and while good agencies will have honed their craft and perfected their methods to the point that they know how and where to build quality links, it’s still ultimately up to the site owners and editors giving them out and nothing is obligating them to do that.
Any agency that tells you “I will have 10 DR65 links for you every month,” full stop, is probably getting some (or all) of those from blog networks or link farms.
Suspiciously Fast Turnaround Time
Building natural, relevant backlinks takes time. Placing links on a blog network or link farm just takes money. A lot of bad agencies have relationships with (or personally own) link farms and PBNs and can, indeed, have poor quality links for you in a matter of days.
What to Do if You’ve Considered All of the Above and Have Decided to Outsource Link Building?
If you’ve gone through the above article step by step and applied it to your link outsourcing decision making, the next stage is to schedule that first call with the agencies you have shortlisted. Some agencies might be better suited to your niche or industry; some might offer pricing plans that work better for your budget; some might have communication styles or philosophies that resonate more with you.
The bottom line is that if you’ve done your due diligence, informed yourself of the red and green flags, have a decent understanding of link building mechanics and how the industry works, you should be ready to outsource link building and start realizing gains to your traffic and revenue.