The term ‘link building’ refers to the process of acquiring links to your website from other websites. These links – think of them as a mention from another site to your site – are called ‘backlinks’ (although often also referred to as hyperlinks or simply links). Building backlinks from high-quality websites assists your site in ranking higher in search engine result pages (SERPs), as well as increasing authority to your site and content.
High-quality link building should play an integral part in any SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or digital marketing strategy. Backlinks are not the only determinant factor to a site’s SERP position, but they play a hugely significant role.
Because link building is such an integral part of SEO, but it is a time-consuming and multi-process task, many businesses with an online presence seek the services of a link builder.
Some companies may be lucky enough to have an in-house employee or in house link builders with the necessary link building skills, (a great content writer, sales and PR ability, negotiation skills, and a black book of journalists and website contacts), but for the most part, it’s necessary to outsource link building to a specialist link-building agency.
The benefits of outsourcing your link building strategy
It may be tempting to manage link building in-house, but unless you have designated staff with expertise in link building campaigns, there are many benefits to outsourcing the task for best results.
Some of the benefits of outsourcing the link-building process include:
Acquiring high-quality backlinks takes a considerable amount of time and effort; effort that could be better spent on other aspects of the business. As with any outsourcing, engaging an agency to handle your link building efforts provides you with the convenience of having the task handled by an expert, leaving your time free to focus on the areas of the business that are your specialty.
Unless you happen to have an experienced link building expert in-house, the benefits of outsourced link building to an experienced agency can be invaluable. Link-building takes SEO knowledge to ensure the best outcome – and it’s not a simple process, there are a lot of variables. It’s no surprise therefore that 65%of digital marketers state that link-building is the hardest part of SEO.
The link building process requires significant, up-to-date knowledge of the latest algorithms of the major search engines – knowledge that a link building agency is constantly amassing to ensure that high-quality links are achieved. Consequently, it’s a far more economic use of time and resources to engage link building experts, instead of attempting to navigate an unfamiliar digital landscape yourself, with no guarantee of worthwhile results.
In fact, going about link building the wrong way can do significant damage to your online presence.
Outsource your link building to gain knowledge in the field
Whether or not you have tried to carry out your own link building and have taken it as far as you can, outsourcing to an expert link builder can help you gain more knowledge of the practice.
High-quality link building services are a specialised practice, and working with an outsource team can help you to expand your own knowledge of it exponentially. Whether or not you intend to eventually carry out building links yourself, this increased skill set will enhance your ability to work meaningfully with SEO experts and oversee this aspect of your business.
Not only can you tap into the link building expertise of an agency, but if anything goes wrong with your link building campaign, the external agency will be accountable, and it will be up to them to fix it.
The link building company will be responsible for assessing the root cause of the issue, and taking the necessary action to remedy it, or implementing a new strategy to fix the issue.
Overseeing quality control
In addition, outsourcing link building affords you the benefit of easily overseeing quality control as new links are brought to your website. While an expert does the heavy lifting through guest posts, niche edits or other link building tactics, you are free to monitor the results, and provide feedback for them to alter the course as necessary.
At Seene, for example, we let our clients approve all sites before we get them links, and explain why we think certain sites would be best fits for their links too.
Running a business (and especially starting one up) can be expensive, and many business owners naturally shy away from the prospect of spending money on outsourcing to a marketing agency when they believe they could do the work themselves.
The trouble is, that unless you have an expert in-house team, outsourcing link building activities will likely be far more economic than attempting to do it yourself.
High-quality link building is vital to the success of your online presence, referral traffic, and perceived authority – results that will lead directly to increased traffic and conversions for your business sooner rather than later.
The more authoritative the site, the more valuable the backlink to your website will be. Gaining links with top-level websites dramatically increases the likelihood of attracting valuable traffic to yours. But, given the level that such sites are operating at, it can be tricky to connect to their marketing team.
For start-up link builders or those new to search engine optimization, making valuable connections can take many months (or more) of consistent follow-ups and relationship building.
Getting positive responses!
As anyone who has ever worked in sales knows, getting a positive response when you’re asking for something isn’t easy. According to our friends at SendX, only 8.5% of outreach emails receive a response – so if you’re starting out or trying to do link-building yourself, the majority of your requests to build links won’t get a response.
By outsourcing to an expert link builder, you are tapping into their reputation and carefully-built connections, creating many more quality opportunities faster. They may even bridge the gap for valuable connections that you would never attain without their network advantages. Some of our connections of authoritative sites at Seene include Entrepreneur, Forbes, Vogue, IB Times and many more.
Tips for success in outsourcing link building
Once you’ve determined that outsourcing your link building is the most cost-effective option with the best chance of achieving the results you desire, it’s time to find the best outsourcing team to work with.
Vetting an outsourcing team
When it comes to choosing an outsourcing team , to find the best fit, you need to know what you’re talking about. You don’t need expert knowledge, just the general gist of how the process works. Do your own research to get a good general understanding of link building and SEO, how they affect your site rankings and what this means for your business and ROI (Return on Investment). From there, spend some time on the potential outsourcing team’s website, and get a feel for what they do, as well as their level of expertise.
Questions to ask when hiring a link building agency
When reaching out to a link builder, link building agency or marketing agencies specialising in off page SEO, unless already well-outlined on their site, consider asking the following questions:
What are the costs of your services?
Are there any hidden fees? (i.e. consultation fees)
What is your workflow process?
What timelines do you work to?
Can you provide me with example case-studies of your work? Or content creation you’ve done while guest blogging? Or any past clients?
Can you show me some customer testimonials?
What industries and niches do you work with/specialise in?
There will inevitably be more to this list, and it’s important to maintain flexibility and expect that you may need to add to and/or edit your goals and expectations as you learn more from the experts at the right agency.
Longer-term goals and expectations
It’s also important to discuss your long-term goals and expectations with your chosen marketing agency.
In accordance with the bigger picture, discuss such things as your preferences on link placement, the avoidance of any spammy links etc., – anything that is incongruent with your long-term goals. You need only work with experts who understand your vision and are willing to work with you to grow your operation.
That being said, a good link-building agency won’t suggest spammy sites to you – but it makes sense to say this upfront from the start anyway.
What is a spammy site?
You could deem a site spammy if it is a PBN, contains out-of-context casino / essay-writing, or gambling links, or has a high spam score.
Any reliable link building partner will want to avoid these types of sites to create a good working relationship, but there are many link building agencies in the link building world that are just focused on profit – not client’s best interests. Make sure to choose a link building service that adheres to Google’s guidelines and finds the best quality and relevant sites for your business.
Dodgy shortcuts come with risks that are simply not worth taking, and this is certainly the case with black hat SEO.
Black hat SEO is a set of practices that are used to quickly increase a site’s ranking, yet violate a search engine’s terms of service. Examples of this include hidden text, blog comment spam, or cloaking (showing one form of content to users and another to search engines).
What happens if you use dodgy SEO practices?
In the short-term, black hat SEO practices can generate exciting results, but the risks of being penalised by search engine giants such as Google make avoiding such practices a complete no-brainer. Some minor violations may initially only elicit a warning, but the risk of suspension or having your site permanently shut down should be enough to deter any smart professional.
The repercussions of being caught practising dodgy SEO can result in lost sales and customers. or even loss of the business itself.
So, how do you avoid black hat link builders?
To avoid these risky link building strategies, it’s essential to practise only white hat SEO, and ensure that any in-house specialist you hire does the same. The best way to make sure that your link building team only practises white hat SEO is to:
Ask them upfront.
Avoid a link building vendor or experts that offer far lower prices and quicker turnarounds than their competitors.
Do your due diligence by researching a team’s previous link building projects, testimonials and online reviews.
Avoiding the potential pitfalls of outsourcing link building
To ensure that you attain the best possible outcomes, it’s essential to familiarise yourself with some of the most common pitfalls of outsourcing link building and how to avoid them.
Here are some tips for avoiding some of the most common potential pitfalls.
Avoid low-quality, cheap (or offshore) providers
Some services can be considered purely on price, but typically, you get what you pay for, and link building is no exception.
Succumbing to the temptation of engaging a cheap (or offshore) provider, or just one person selling a five dollar deal on Fiverr or UpWork will often result in:
Lower standards of content – cheap writers/editors tend to lack expertise and don’t use quality (but expensive) tools like Surfer SEO.
Poor quality control overall – inevitably less care will be taken than an in house specialist
Less accountability – cheap providers will likely focus on quantity rather than quality and be willing to lose your business rather than address any issues
Lower quality publishers – ultimately, the more authority a publisher has, the more it is worth, and cheap providers will likely favour low-authority publishers that can significantly harm your campaign’s success
The most expensive link building agencies/providers are not necessarily the best choice either, just be sure to avoid cheap options that will likely cut far too many corners.
Using tools like SurferSEO and Grammarly to create quality content shows that the agency is serious about creating the best content possible. We’ve actually used both tools to write this blog post, to ensure it is quality content and has the best chance of ranking and getting traffic, so more people like you can read our tips and advice on outreaching link building!
Exercise caution when working with non-native speakers
Of course, non-native speakers of English can be excellent writers, but it’s vital to ensure that no quality will be compromised by outsourcing providers using non-native speakers to generate cheap, inferior content.
Some non-native English speakers may struggle to create word-perfect content, as they may struggle with prose fluidity, sentence structure, the use of slang, and more. Reputable publishers will not be willing to accept sub-standard content or plagiarism – so make sure toask for examples of content and articles they’ve published before you agree to hire them as a link-builder/your link-building agency.
Some link building outsourcing providers will admit to using non-native (and typically cheaper) writers, but if they do not volunteer the information, you may have to do some probing. You can either ask them directly or scan their website for any evidence of low-quality content.
Never focus on link numbers alone in your link building efforts
As we’ve discussed, the key to great link building is to focus largely on quality over quality. Still, some offerings can be a source of confusion. When it comes to backlinks, their value to the site they link back to is almost entirely dependent on their level of quality.
Always consider the link building method and what kind of return you can realistically expect from each link when weighing up one offer over another. Of course, so long as no quality is being compromised, then the more links the better, but always consider quality over quantity for the best strategy.
Demand publisher transparency
Cheaper link building providers that focus on quantity over quality will often consider publishing sites indiscriminately, taking no account of their level of authority and value to the site they are linking to. Quality link building providers should either provide a wide range of publishers to choose from, or at the least be transparent about what sites they use. The quality of a publisher site depends upon its:
Domain Authority (DA) – in short, each site has a DA value as determined by google, and the higher a site’s DA value is, the more it will improve the linked site’s DA and rankings
Online Reputation – as well as a site’s DA, the quality of its journalism and worldwide acclaim can significantly enhance the reputation of any site it is willing to link to
Website Traffic (ST) – the greater the traffic a publisher site enjoys, the more the linked site will likely receive
Patience and flexibility in the link building process
Even with all of the above taken into consideration, it’s important to remember that link building does not deliver instantaneous results.
Link building is only one component to your search engine position; other factors include the quality of your brand awareness and your on-site SEO, your content, and your reputation through online reviews.
Commit to working diligently on all other aspects of your SEO while your outsourcing team works to build your backlinks. If initial link building results are disappointing, discuss this with your outsourcing team – any professional outsourcing team will be happy to address your concerns. That said, the most common concern with link building is the lack of immediate results – so remember that link building results take time to cultivate and try to exercise patience and trust in the process.
Remember: If you have taken the time to diligently choose a reputable link building provider or hire in house, be sure to exercise some trust in their expertise.
Of course, it’s important to keep an eye on progress and maintain good channels of communication. Still, be careful to avoid placing too many demands on them and creating a stressful, complicated working relationship.
So long as you are confident that you have chosen a team dedicated to quality output, be open to learning from them and give them space to do what they do best – having to constantly communicate back and forth can put a strain on things, and could even result in further expense.
Link-building result example over 1 year
We have mentioned that link-building results aren’t instant but they are very powerful – and here’s an example of that.
Check the graph below. This is a year-long review of how one of our client’s organic traffic (the orange line) has increased as the number of backlinks/referring domains has increased (the blue line).
You can see in September 2021 our client had 106 referring domains (a referring domain is a site that is linking to you). You want to get backlinks from lots of different sites/domains – 3 links on one site/referring domain is not worth as much as three links on different, equal quality sites. In September 2021, our client was also receiving 2,943 in organic traffic each month, and was also paying for 4,708 hits to their website each month through paid traffic (the purple line) – Google ads, etc.
Fast-forward a year, and after a carefully planned link-building campaign, their referring domains has grown to 647, and their organic traffic has increased to a staggering 88,611 hits per month – meaning they can afford to stop any paid traffic.
That’s a traffic increase of 2,910%!
While this exponential increase was also a result of a carefully planned content strategy that focused heavily on highly searched keywords with low keyword difficulty, good links and a clever anchor text strategy played a huge role in this rise. You only have to look at the below graphic to see how their results in the SERPS have changed over the course of a year:
They are now ranking for 457 keywords in positions #1-3 on Google, and 3,191 keywords in positions 4-10. These keywords are on pages of beautifully written, SEO-optimised content, that have some fantastic backlinks built to them.
The bottom line
Ultimately, the success of link building is dependent upon the quality of each link, and ensuring that each link is a quality one requires it to be created by an expert in the field. Done correctly, outsourcing link building is a cost-effective way of increasing a site’s authoritative reputation, rankings, and flow of high-quality traffic. The most valuable way you can spend your time is to carefully choose the right provider and work openly with them toward clearly defined goals to build the best backlink profile possible.
If you’d like to outsource link building and are looking for a reliable link building agency to help with your link building efforts, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have a range of clients and businesses around the world we build links for, and have only ever received five star positive reviews for our link building services.