Link-building is something you can do in-house. But should you?
Building links is hard. It takes time. And even if you are successful on a couple of sites, it might not have a material impact on long-term results. After dozens of emails back and forth with bloggers, links might not improve your ranking, leaving you or your clients stuck in the depths of the Google search results.
Fortunately, there’s an easier way: outsourced link building. Here, an external agency does all the work for you, freeing you up to focus on your core operations.
This post explores why you should outsource link building, what to look for in a link-building agency, and how to track results. Here’s what you need to know:
Why Should Agencies and Teams Outsource Their Link Building?
There are many reasons companies outsource their link building to agencies. There are also many reasons why agencies might want to do everything in-house, but more on that another time…
Here’s 6 of the top reasons for outsourcing your link building:
1. Get Results Faster
How long do you think it takes new companies to get to the first page of Google search results?
The standard answer is “three to six months.”
But that’s with intentional and intensive work by experts. Doing it in-house almost always takes considerably longer.
With link building agencies, though, you can achieve results in a much-reduced time frame. These firms have pre-existing partnerships with high-quality sites that let them create links consistently while following Google’s strict criteria.
2. Pay Less
This might appear surprising, but using link building agencies is also cheaper than trying to do it in-house.
Link building isn’t for amateurs. If you want to run a potent link building operation in-house, you have to hire professionals to do it. And that isn’t cheap. You’ll have to pay a full-time salary plus benefits. Total outlay could be anywhere between $40,000 and $80,000 per year, which is a lot of money for any new business.
Now compare this to link building services. With these, you might only pay a quarter as much for the same amount of work. And because these firms hire experienced writers, the quality of posts you publish will be better, too. You have more chance of gaining links on high domain authority sites, such as Forbes, Inc. Magazine, and Search Engine Journal.
3. Get Consistent Results
Then there is the consistency factor. Good link building agencies have their processes down to a tee.
They understand, for instance, that you need a mix of links from various relevant sites. They also know the type of writing style most likely to get clicks. Their prose engages audiences with interesting vocabulary, short sentences, and useful information.
Problematic link removal is also often part of their service. You don’t have to send the site owner a groveling email asking them to resolve broken links: agencies can do this on your behalf.
4. Focus More On Your Core Activities
Outsourcing link building can also help you focus more on your core activities. That’s because genuine link building is a full-time job. It takes countless hours to create content, email site owners, escape email lists, and blog networks.
It’s not something that companies can afford to do in-house using existing staff. It’s just too labor-intensive.
Link building companies get around this issue by hiring specialist teams. Some people reach out to third-party sites, while others send emails, liaise with clients, write blogs, create infographics, schedule campaigns, and report on progress.
5. Get As Many Links As You Need, When You Need Them
Outsourcing also lets you get as many links as your team or clients need. Remember, some companies grow by 5 to 7 percent per week. It can therefore be challenging for regular marketing agencies and in-house marketing departments to keep pace with their link building requirements.
By outsourcing to quality link building agencies, though, you can put an end to these issues. Link builders have flexible workforces and can scale almost indefinitely, accommodating even the most growth-orientated brands. If your team or agency needs to place more links, outsourcing lets them enjoy a push-button service.
6. Avoid Spammy Links
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, link-building agencies help brands avoid spammy links. Reputable outfits have strict internal criteria that prevent them from falling foul of search engine rules.
For instance, Google noticed “campaigns of low-quality sponsored and guest posts primarily intended to gain links” in the past. For this reason, link building agencies now insist that writers produce high-quality content that delivers real value to sites’ audiences. Generic, poorly worded, or grammatically incorrect posts are no longer a viable way to gain links.
What To Look For When Outsourcing?
Outsourcing link building brings many benefits, but you need to find the right agency to do it. Cowboy services that charge high fees but deliver lackluster results can fail to deliver value and land you in trouble with Google. As such, it helps to know what to look for in a link-building service.
Here’s the 5 things you must absolutely check before working with an outsourced link building provider:
1. Examples Of Work
Link building agencies that are proud of what they do always provide examples of their work. Many agencies hire graduates from top-tier universities, including those with master’s and doctoral qualifications. It’s serious work. They celebrate their talented writers and take any opportunity they can to put them front and center.
If there aren’t any examples of work on the agency’s website, contact their team and ask to see a portfolio of work for similar clients. You should receive dozens of examples of top-quality, magazine-style work that communicates real value to audiences.
If they still don’t provide any examples, take that as a red flag. It might indicate that the agency hires non-native writers, uses bots or accepts plagiarism – all big no-nos in the link-building arena.
2. Rapid Delivery
Teams and marketing agencies that outsource link-building need quick turnarounds. Waiting for weeks for content can interrupt the SEO process and delay improvements in search result ranking.
Because of this, choose agencies with fast turnaround times, preferably five days or less for content and within a month for links. Make sure that you can get deliverables quickly when you need them.
Whenever you use a link building agency, always ask them about their workflow. Figure out exactly how they produce the content. Avoid firms that rely on just one or two writers. Check the company you’re using has a thriving team available to fulfill large orders at a moment’s notice.
Also, ask if the link building agency uses pre-approval and how long that process takes. The highest quality outfits often don’t offer this as they trust their writers to deliver consistent results, lowering costs and improving turnaround times considerably.
3. Reasonable Prices
Bargain basement link building agencies are a dime a dozen. But, of course, you get what you pay for.
A package of fifty guest post links for $100 might sound great. But, at $2 per link, the quality will be low.
Honest, reputable link building firms charge enough to cover costs. And they tend to work with clients who understand this. They don’t cut corners. And they make sure that they pay enough to attract intelligent, native writers – capable people who can write fluently on practically any subject.
4. Unlimited Rewrites
While link building agencies hire great writers, they don’t know everything. Like anyone else, they sometimes make mistakes.
For those outfits that offer content writing, they will often also include guaranteed unlimited rewrites. Teams and agencies can demand as many revision rounds as they like until they’re happy with their order. They will also offer changes and guarantees for completed placements if an issue arises.
Low-quality or budget link building and content firms won’t always do this. And that can put you at a disadvantage.
5. Positive Reviews
Lastly, look for positive reviews.
Great link building agencies attract supportive feedback on third-party platforms, such as Google and TrustPilot. Pay special attention to reviews from teams or agencies similar to yours. Find out whether the link-building agency was able to deliver a strategy appropriate to your industry.
Also, ask for case studies detailing how the link-building agency helped firms like yours in the past. Most reputable outfits will provide examples of prior SEO campaigns they ran for brands in their target verticals.
What To Avoid With Outsourced Link Building
Unfortunately, not all link-building services are kosher. Even in 2022, it’s still a bit of a wild west out there. As such, the old “buyer beware” still applies.
Here’s a list of 5 things that you should avoid when outsourcing your link building:
Be skeptical of any link building agency that promises you the world. These firms are much more likely to be using shady tactics banned by Google.
Never use link building firms guaranteeing results in under three months. These are almost certainly scams.
Also, be wary of agencies that make big promises and then hide behind walls of lawyer-written terms and conditions. These outfits may simply be looking to cover their backs when their services inevitably fall short of expectations.
2. Non-Native Speakers
To cut costs, some link-building agencies hire non-native speakers. Writers in developing markets will often work for a fraction of those in countries like the US, UK, Australia, and Canada.
Unfortunately, the quality of these services is universally low. Overseas writers lack the skills and cultural context to deliver meaningful, quality content consistently.
3. Quantity Over Quality
Likewise, you should steer clear of services offering quantity over quality. While grabbing a large number of links is attractive for new companies, it can backfire. Google looks for diversified links from a range of reputable, high-authority sites. Spam from low-quality pages doesn’t improve ranking, and it could harm your efforts overall.
Don’t let this fool you though. High-quality low DA sites do exist. It’s perfectly natural to also receive links from sites that are just starting out or aren’t SEO savvy. You just need to make sure they’re not engaging in spammy behavior, which is lowering their authority.
4. Black Hat Tactics
When choosing an outsourced link builder, always listen to your heart. If you suspect that an agency is using “black hat” tactics, avoid them. The risk isn’t worth the reward. If Google discovers you’ve been paying for low-quality links, it could manually down-rank the associated domain permanently.
Black hat link building tactics include;
- Spamming blog comments with unsolicited links
- Posting low-quality guest posts that only take writers a few minutes to produce
- Using a private blog network – a group of websites owned by the same person
- Cloaking – a technique that serves a link-filled version of a web page to search engine crawlers, while providing visitors with another
5. Micromanaging The Agency
Finally, resist the temptation to tell the link building agency what to do. It increases costs and stress, and if you choose a quality partner, it’s wholly unnecessary.
Remember, link builders know which process will work best for you. Trust their policies and recommendations for your brand.
How To Track Link Building Results
Tracking the results of link building efforts is essential because it tells you whether you are getting a good return on your investment.
But what should you measure?
1. Growth In Referring Domains
Today, there are numerous tools (such as Ahrefs) you can use to measure growth in referring domains – or the number of sites linking to yours. The more quality, non-spammy sites that link to yours, the better.
2. Pages’ Ranking For Your Chosen Keywords
Next, use tools like FATRANK or the keyword tracker in Ahrefs to track where you rank for particular keywords. These tools are helpful because they can show you where you rank for specific geographics (say, Croatia or Ireland).
Look for changes in the search results position for your target keywords and pages over time. If you are using a quality agency, you should see a steady improvement in page ranking after you begin using link building services. Dramatic changes after just a few days may indicate the use of illicit black hat tactics.
3. Organic Traffic Growth
You should also measure organic traffic growth, the main purpose of SEO. Users arriving through search are less costly than those from pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and are more likely to buy.
Use Google Analytics to find out how many people are arriving at your site. This tool provides metrics showing you the number of visitors you’re getting, and where they are coming from.
Note that it takes reputable link-building services between three and twelve months to increase website traffic significantly. As before, if you notice improvements occurring faster than this, audit their tactics.
4. Relevancy Scores
Google regularly checks links to ensure they are relevant to the target URL and down-weights those that are not. Placing links to a restaurant from a car blog would likely have a relevance score of zero, for example.
Reputable link building agencies only build relevant links. And they always send you the URLs of where they place your links, letting you check them manually. If anchor texts don’t flow naturally, you can contact them and ask them to pull down the content or rewrite it.
5. Return On Investment
Lastly, you should measure the return on investment (ROI) from link building. This number should be positive. You should be making more money from link building than you are investing in it.
There are two ways to measure ROI. The first is the direct method. Here, firms attempt to measure the revenue generated by linked pages. Google Analytics is helpful for this.
The other approach is more holistic. Here, companies measure all of the positive effects that link building generates and then add them all together before comparing them to the cost. For instance, firms might attempt to measure the value of:
- Higher domain authority
- Increases in traffic and conversions
- Improvements in niche appeal
High-quality link building services generate progress reports and updates automatically. Hence, the actual amount of number crunching you need to do is small. Their figures show you how much value they’re generating for you based on the metrics discussed here.
What To Do Next
Now that you know what to look for and what to avoid, it’s time to start outsourcing your link building!
Remember, start slow and build from there. It’s a lot easier to scale things up if you’re not seeing the results you want than it is to recover from a penalty if you overdo things.
Head of Content
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