Link building is one of the most important but also most difficult parts of online marketing. This is true whether you’re a small business or a marketing agency providing that service for your client. It’s very time consuming and not easy to get a good quality and quantity of links to have a real impact.
That’s why many businesses, even agencies, are finding it necessary to outsource link building to companies that specialize in it. Why outsource? It saves you the time trying it yourself, and gives you more chances of success by leaning on their experience and expertise.
Want to know more? Use this guide’s actionable tips when you look into outsourcing your link building campaigns.
Benefits of Outsourcing Link Building (& When Should You Do It?)
The benefits of outsourcing link building ties into the biggest difficulties that everyone experiences with the task. So few businesses or even agencies have the time to dedicate to link building for it to be successful.
You may also not have the money to give a link building specialist or team to have them handle it in-house. It’s common for any business to outsource certain tasks that are necessary but outside of their main scope.
Here are some of the main benefits of hiring a link building company:
- Saves time—you can focus on doing what you’re good at and expand your business.
- Saves money—the cost to outsource likely comes out cheaper than spending the money in salaries and software to manage it yourself.
- Save worry—you do not have to stress about the success or details of a link building campaign.
All of that said, when should you look to outsourcing the task to a link building company? It won’t necessarily be viable for everyone, and not at all times. Here are a few points to keep in mind when determining when to outsource your link building:
- Do it when you don’t have the time or resources to handle it in-house
- Do it when you don’t have anyone on your team with experience in digital marketing
- Do it when you want to really expand your link building efforts
- Do it when you’ve tried doing it yourself already and not had much success
On the other side of that coin, you should NOT do it if you don’t have the money for it, or time to really research a good company. You might also not necessarily need it, or it may not be the right time for a given site.
Tips to Outsource Link Building
If (after reading about the benefits) you’ve decided to seriously look into hiring an outside company, here are some tips to get started.
1. Do Some Research
When hiring an agency, you want to make sure you get the best company around in order to know you’re getting your money’s worth. Specifically, you want an partner who understands all about SEO, link building, and how the two impact each other.
The end-goal of you hiring an agency is for them to improve your keyword rankings, so there’s an obvious way to find the best. Search for an SEO and/or link building agency, in general or in your specific city, and see who ranks in the top three.
If you want to choose between the top three to see who would work best for your business, you can look for the following:
- Case studies—get data on how their services helped past clients, especially in your industry.
- Testimonials—look for reviews and testimonials of past clients and what they say about the agency, good and bad.
- Cost & plans—see how much their services cost and how flexible their plans are.
Whatever you can’t find on their website, you should ask them directly in your initial rounds of communication. There’s no real reason for them to not have any of that information, so it is a red flag if they don’t.
2. Understand the Costs (aka Know How Much You *Should* Be Paying)
Have you ever heard of the saying “you get what you pay for?” The same applies with outsourcing your link building. You may want to save money by hiring a cheaper agency or service package, or look for a freelancer online.
However, link building is difficult and complicated enough that you should absolutely not risk wasting your money. If you find the right agency who knows their stuff and is highly efficient with their service, you could save both time and money.
Keep in mind how much it would cost to hire a dedicated SEO or link building professional in-house. Multiply that by how long you would need to hire them for a full campaign. You’re looking at least $1,000+ per month, but that would be for one less-experienced employee.
Meanwhile, you can find service packages for link building from an agency that costs the same, or even a bit less. They would also come with a full team of expert link builders and SEO professionals, not just one person.
3. Avoid Black Hat SEO
The last thing you want is to pick an agency who promises the moon and delivers by using shady tactics. When they build links for your business, they act in your name in the eyes of Google. So if they get caught using Black Hat SEO tactics, your business is the one that will be penalized.
It’s just not worth it. Make sure you do some research for black hat tactics and red flags to look for when researching an agency. They will try and hide it under reputable sounding terms, if they mention it at all. Ask for examples of their work and always check their reviews and testimonials from previous clients.
4. Beware of Over-Promising
In the world of SEO and building links, it is almost impossible to reliably make and meet any large scale guarantees. If an agency tells you that their link building service is guaranteed to get your website ranked #1, take that as a red flag.
While link building is still a major factor in any search engine’s ranking algorithm, there are several others as well. Links by themselves will have a noticeable impact, but there is a lot more that will go into your website ranking at #1.
A good agency will give you an honest and specific set of promises, timelines, and ultimate results of their work. They should give you an idea of how many links they will build, in what time span, on what websites, with what anchor text, and so on.
5. Understand the Process
It’s good to know the general logistics around how link building campaigns work, such as the difference between organic and local link building. That understanding will pay dividends when it comes to picking a reliable and quality agency.
When you ask questions or look into their services, they should be talking about each necessary step in the process. At the same time, it will also help you better understand what will be involved even when you pick a good agency. You will know the time and resources involved, and what the potential impact will be of their work.
6. Set Clear Expectations (on Both Sides)
Expectations are a two way street when it comes to the relationship between an agency and their client. There are certain things that should be clear between each side as far as how everything will work. That includes:
- What your goals are and what you expect them to accomplish
- How you will communicate with each other and how often
- How they will report on their progress and successes
- How often they will send you updates and reports
- What their timelines will be
Whatever is important to you as far as their work for you is concerned, you should have a clear understanding from them. Make sure you ask questions that have clear answers before you sign any contract.
Sidenotes: How to find the right outsourced marketing agency
Aside from everything listed above, there are a few miscellaneous points to keep in mind to help you choose the right agency:
- Ask for samples of previous work
- Learn about their workflow and ask about flexibility
- Discuss the budget and look for hidden fees
- Avoid long-term contracts and look for a month-to-month program
- Run away from everyone that is offering “cheap links”
With this advice in mind, you should be equipped to start more in-depth research into outsourcing your link building. You will be able to look for an agency that has a cost model, service plan, and workflow that aligns with your needs.
Picking the right agency should not be a quick decision. You should look at several options, and a few in more depth, before you sign a contract with anyone. It’s a big and important investment, and not a decision you should take lightly.