Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most effective ways of organically increasing website traffic. Among the many activities under the SEO umbrella is link building. However, it often makes more sense for businesses to outsource link building activities because of the time and effort required.
Outsourcing is an effective way to quickly onboard skills within set costs and a targeted result. Unfortunately, link building benefits can be harder to manage, especially if businesses are not focused on SEO activities.
The industry is also rife with scammers and “black hat” link builders that will more likely ruin your SEO profile instead. If you’re interested in outsourcing link, here are some tips to ensure you get actual results;
1. Understand the Cost of Link Building
The first significant step towards effective outsourcing of link building is to know how much it should cost. By now, you’ve undoubtedly run a couple of Google searches on the topic. Likely, the results show prices ranging anywhere from $0.01 per link into the thousands of dollars each.
While it may be confusing, the price discrepancy isn’t all that different from other things. Take, for example, the price difference of a plastic, factory-molded figurine versus a custom hand-crafted solid wood version, and you’ll understand the difference.
Time is also a significant factor since the negotiation process for links isn’t always straightforward. The better the quality of the targeted website, the more strict its policies are likely to be.
Because of this, the best agencies aren’t likely to charge you based on a cost-per-link basis but rather a monthly retainer fee. Naturally, this will be tied to some targeted objectives so that you know things are moving forward. The longer you stay with an agency, the more effective their work for you is likely to be.
Depending on the scale of the agency, the fee structure can get pretty complex. For example, some may base your retainer fee on the quality of targeted websites (based on qualifiers like Domain authority or Domain Rank). Overall, expect your prices to be highly customized based on what you want to achieve.
2. Beware of Cookie Cutter Solutions
Now that you understand link building costs, we can look at the link mass production process, or what I like to call the “cookie-cutter solution.” Cookie-cutter solutions often promise you a whole bunch of links for a minuscule price each.
Due to the often high volumes and insufficient oversight, these links are generally low quality. Bulk sellers take advantage of those seeking ultra-low-cost solutions, knowing you aren’t likely to verify the quality of the links they provide.
Even if there’s a single high-quality link mixed in the batch – the damage that the remaining flood of low-quality links will do to your SEO can be significant.
To drive this point home even further, many owners of high-quality websites have to invest significant time and effort to get rid of spam links. These are low-quality links targeted at their websites, often for malicious purposes.
If great website owners are doing their best to get rid of these links, why would you pay to get them?
3. Familiarize Yourself with Good Processes
Knowing how good SEO agencies work on link building can help you identify the best ones with which to collaborate. That means discovering how they work and the effort that goes into creating even a single link for your website.
These agencies often have strong working relationships with highly reputable websites. The significance of this is that those websites aren’t going to provide links to any Tom, Dick, or Harry – they have a reputation to maintain.
That’s the first step – having that relationship. Next, the agency will hand-craft pitches for customized content and approach these sites on your behalf. The entire process can take anywhere from two weeks to a few months, from pitch to post.
Once it’s a success, you’ll gain a single, extremely high-quality link. Now imagine the time and effort that goes into this process, and you’ll understand even more distinctly the deficiencies of the cookie-cutter solution.
4. Be Cautious of “Made-for-guest-post” Sites
Aside from customized and cookie-cutter solutions, you’ll often find another category of “guest post links” provided. These agencies often offer customized content as guest posts on reputable websites – for a decent fee.
There are a couple of realities to be learned here. The first is that guest posts vary widely in quality. Content production isn’t cheap. We’ve tried it all – outsourcing to other countries, hiring a staff writer, and more. The result is usually a low-quality piece that we wouldn’t even want associating with our brand.
So in comes a content specialist, and up goes the fees. But for a hand-crafted solid content piece with your link on a reputable website – the price is worth it.
5. Black Hat is a Major No-no
In some instances, agencies may guarantee results for a fixed fee. While not dirt cheap, these services aren’t overly expensive. While they may deliver results, you need to understand that the means through which this is achieved may not be ideal.
Search engines don’t often provide immediate gratification. The system works like a slow-moving traffic jam. Getting an initially-good SEO result from your link purchase may leave you ecstatic – until it all starts crumbling down when the search engine discovers you cheating.
Black hat SEO techniques capitalize on this. Loopholes are taken advantage of, and the agencies may resort to keyword stuffing, private blog/link networks, and other undesirable tactics to temporarily boost Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
While this may initially work, they will ultimately get discovered. And once that happens, you’ll suffer a massive time-out from the search engine that will have you crying.
The biggest takeaway is that you shouldn’t expect to outsource your link building activities cheaply. The process is time-consuming and requires a lot of experience and expertise. But you know that, and it’s why you want to outsource the process, right?
So don’t take outsourcing link building as a way to reduce cost. Instead, it’s a method of using funds more effectively. Understand how your agency works, and you’ll soon discover how valuable an honest partner in the business can be.