Daniel Martin February 16, 2021 Outsource Link Building: The Definitive Guide Digital marketing is fast-evolving. It’s now common to find businesses, some of which never had an online presence before, scrambling for the internet’s top spot. According to research by Hubspot, approximately 64% of companies are actively investing in search engine optimization (SEO). Digital marketing is now a necessity, and with it comes the need to learn how to place your pages at the top of search engines. To be competitive, companies now must understand SEO, and how it can revolutionize their digital marketing practices. Even more important is learning about link building to improve visibility and boost their returns. We emphasize link building for a good reason; it’s an indispensable component of search engine optimization. To make your way to the top of search engine results, to pursue long-term growth for your business, and to get ahead of the competition–the sooner you implement link building techniques, the better. In this article, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of outsourcing link building. We’ll take a look at the definition, benefits, and best practices. We’ll also share ideas on how to find the right agency for your link building projects. So, let’s dive in! What is Link Building? Link building is the process of creating hyperlinks from one website to another. A hyperlink, also known as a backlink or simply a link, allows users to navigate pages on the internet. For example, you could read this blog post from the LinkDoctor’s website and find a link directing you to other helpful resources. Here’s an example of the clickable text in a link directing you to another page: Another important aspect of links is how they help search engines crawl through different websites: backlinks are essential for determining where you’ll appear on the results page. While links are not the only determinant of your position, they are among the top contributors to your performance. It’s for this reason that most businesses seek the services of a link builder. This may be through an in-house employee or, if your staff does not possess the expertise necessary to improve your standing on search engine results pages (SERPs), outsourcing to an agency. What Makes a Good Link? Before we dive into other aspects of effective outsourced link building, let’s consider what makes a good link. Understanding these contributing factors before you outsource your link building project will inform your expectations. The Authority of the Site The authority of a website determines where you appear on SERPs. For example, if you are an SEO website, getting a backlink from a website like Ahrefs could mean better rankings on search engines. Though building a brand to this level is time-consuming, it’s worth the effort. With consistency, you can create a brand that finally gets noticed and eventually gains referral traffic from authority sites. The Authority of the Page When speaking to a page’s authority, Google holds in high esteem those links that come from pages with greater relevance. Google does not look at the number of sites linking back to you, but rather the value of your page from a visitor’s perspective. For example, if you have a link in a detailed guide appearing in the first position of SERPs, Google takes this as an indication that you offer quality content. The search engines will therefore reward your efforts with good rankings. Editorial Links Editorial links are those links you get when another website finds your content appropriate to link to. But, if a page gains links for reasons other than valuable content, Google will not deem those links as a good fit and might not use them to rank you. Google has a way of identifying non-editorial links. They consider the links a violation of Google’s guidelines and, once discovered, will flag them. The Position on a Page The position of your link also determines its perceived value. When placed in the bio or at the footer, Google will not consider the link good enough for users. But a link placed within your content will be deemed helpful by search engines. Relevance The relevance of your site matters. For example, you cannot be a car dealership site with backlinks from an online cooking website–your content would lack relevance to the people visiting the linked page. To ensure you have useful links, get them from sites with content related to what you do. Guest Blogging According to a survey by LinkDoctor.io, guest blogging is the second most frequently used method for link building and a top way of quickly building authority for your site. But often, guest blogging can become spammy. This is especially true when you are using the same anchor texts for all your links. Spammy guest posts can also result from placing links to websites with a niche different from yours. To get good links from guest posts, keep in mind the relevance of the website. You should also consider white hat SEO to deliver genuine links that favor you in search engines. Anchor Text Anchor texts are the clickable terms on your links. For example, a car dealership site could use the clickable text “the best car dealership” to direct visitors to their site. If Google were to crawl a website with relatable anchor texts, they’d rate this as a good link and rank the page for it. But what if you were to use the anchor text “two months free gym membership” in the above example? Well, if you guessed right, this could earn you penalties and low rankings on search results. Good links have relevant anchor texts that direct visitors to related content. Nofollow Attribute A link with a rel=” nofollow” tag indicates to Google that it should not be ranked. An example of a link with a nofollow attribute: <a href=”https://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow” >link text</a> Websites with no control over links placed on their pages will mostly use a nofollow attribute. It’s a way of saying they cannot fully endorse the sites. The good news is that the attribute has zero effect on users. They can still access resources on the linked pages and maybe give the site some referral traffic. But since link-building efforts are all about improving organic results, most businesses prefer dofollow links. Dofollow links (lacking the rel=” nofollow” tag) allow search bots to crawl the link and be ranked by search engines. Link Co-occurrence These are the texts that appear around your hyperlink. For example, the keyword “keto diet” that reads “10-day keto diet plan” has the bolded words as its co-occurrences. The purpose of link co-occurrences is to help Google better understand what your page is all about. If the co-occurrence matches your content, it displays that you have good links. When Should You Outsource Link Building Services? From what we have been discussing on good links, it’s right to conclude that link building is a lot of work. As most experts would agree, link building is one of the most detailed SEO strategies you’ll ever undertake. Source: Red Website Design For this reason, it makes sense to outsource your link-building services to an expert. The best option would be through an agency with expertise in link building across different niches. So, as a business owner, when should you outsource your link-building project? 1. When You Want to Get Links Quickly An agency that’s focused on building links already has a plan on how to do it. They have a list of websites they can reach for links in less than 24 hours. Outsource link-building agencies have also built relationships across different niches. So, while your in-house team may take 2-4 months to place links, an expert will take less time to do it. If you want to get 30 link placements in a month, a link-building firm can achieve this goal– translating to a quicker way of improving your online visibility. If, say, you plan to launch a product in two months, outsourcing could help you appear where you want to be in search engines before the big announcement. 2. When It’s Too Expensive to Hire an In-house Expert There’s a lot that goes into hiring an in-house link building expert. First is the cost. If we’d go by what’s already on the internet, it could cost a minimum of $60K annually. On the higher side, prices could go as high as $100k every year. For a company that’s just starting or keen on saving some money, that’s quite an expense. If you consider that most firms have a budget of below $1000 every month for link building, an in-house team may not be a viable option. On top of that, the team will require articles for guest posts. This means that the costs could go even higher. And also noteworthy are the costs of link-building tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and many others necessary for analysis. Well, if you’re on a tight budget, this isn’t going to work. But when you outsource the service, an agency can perform most of these tasks more efficiently; thus cost-effectively. So, if not quite half, you’ll be saving way more than hiring in-house. And the outsourcing agency will keep tabs on your links. For example, here at LinkDoctor, we ensure your links are always in place and allow for exchanges when needed. We save you the time and cost of following up on the status and maintenance of your links. 3. When You Want to Improve Your Link Building Processes You may have heard of link building or maybe even tried doing it on your own. But if you are not knowledgeable enough about how link building works, you may fall behind on most of your activities. For example, if you run an e-commerce store, building links may not be easy. You may find yourself unable to link back to your website without looking too promotional. If not careful, you could get flagged or suspended by search engines. But an agency could get the work done and still have the links appear natural. And agencies have the experience to create links that are friendly to crawlers. They also have superior strategies for how to gain links to pages that are difficult to link to. 4. When Targeting Links that Would be Difficult to Attain by Yourself As a growing business, there are those sites you envision for your links. These may be top-level sites with the possibility of bringing in the valuable traffic you need for good business. But often, connecting to their digital marketing teams may not be easy. This is especially so for an in-house link builder with few connections in the market. Ordinarily, it can take months and lots of follow-ups before getting a reply. But if you were to outsource the task to an experienced agency, things can get done a lot faster. An agency has built relationships and a reputation that opens up opportunities and brings quick responses. They also have tools and a proven strategy that helps them close more deals. With an outsource link-building agency, it’s only a matter of time before you get links that are difficult to attain by yourself. 5. To Gain Knowledge You may have built links for some time and even gained good returns through your efforts. But with the ever-changing internet, you can never have enough knowledge to manage a digital brand by yourself. At some point, you’ll need the input of experts. For example, link building and SEO can be detailed and highly technical. You could be familiar with On-page and Off-page SEO but lack technical SEO experience. For this, you may need to ask for help. And while you’re at it, it’s important to work with the outsource team and expand your knowledge on aspects in which you lack expertise. This is your opportunity to learn from an experienced link-building team. For instance, LinkDoctor works with a large team. We have different experts all working together to see your link building projects thrive. By working with us, you educate yourself on future expectations; learning how to better set your goals the next time you outsource a link-building project. The Benefits of Outsourced Link Building Outsourced link building improves your visibility and puts you on top of search engine rankings. Here are some additional benefits for your business when link building through outsourced services: Sending Referral Traffic The purpose of links is to attract the right traffic to your pages. With excellent link building, you can get noticed in places that could send referral traffic to your website. In the car dealership example, getting links in the latest news article about car dealers could attract more buyers to your site. Having an agency that puts your links in high authority sites builds trust. And with trust, you’ll find more people visiting your pages and interacting with your products. Outsource Link Building Saves You Time Google algorithms are always changing. Though a good thing, they require a lot of time to keep up. If you’re not careful, you may fall behind on updates relevant to your ranking. Even more interesting is how most firms are rarely prepared for the updates, as illustrated in the following: But when you hire a link building agency, you’ll have someone keeping up with the changes. Your site can rank higher with up-to-date link-building capabilities. Builds Relationships Let’s think of all the experts with whom you’ll be interacting. You have your team, and then you have the agency that deals with your link-building activities. Both teams will build your knowledge base, and through the process, create a bond. Through cooperation, you can build lasting relationships, with all focused on growing your brand. Even more impressive is how open communication will educate members of both teams. If one side lacks experience on a certain issue, the other side can fill the gaps, thus boosting link-building activities and team capabilities. It’s Convenient If you are a solopreneur or work with a small team, outsourcing will save you the hassle of hiring professionals. Hiring professionals is a complicated process, with the recruitment and placement costing you time. But when you outsource the service, all you need to understand are the basics (as outlined below) and then hire an agency to do the rest of the work. Best Practices for Success in Outsourced Link Building With the ever-changing trends in digital marketing, it’s essential to learn tips that help you stand out. Here are a few practices you can adopt to make your outsourcing activities a success: Do Some Research Before outsourcing your link building projects, know what you’re getting into. First, you need information about the agency. Visit their website and get a feel for what they do. Here’s how our website tells our story: If you can’t get comprehensive data from the site, consider asking questions in the first round of communication. A point to note is that a company with a clear working strategy will always be open in its answers. They’ll have information about: Timeline and costsCase StudiesTestimonialsTarget niche and industries And as you look to outsource the link building service, remember to research how everything works. You may not have to dig deeper into the technicalities, but information about schedules and workflow could ensure your project’s success. Understand how link building and SEO affect your page rankings. Learn how these strategies will boost your ROI. Also, you can research high-performing websites and learn how they conduct their link-building activities. Set Clear Goals and Expectations Every project starts with a goal. Goals are like maps that define where we are and where we want to go. Before starting your outsourcing process, here are expectations you should communicate to your agency. Make sure to get clear responses on each of these points to avoid surprises later on: The best communication platformItems like topics or content that need to be reviewed before publishingThe websites to avoid A reporting schedule It’s okay to add more questions as you move along. Link building is a detailed process, and additional requirements will always come up as you move through the process. Embrace White Hat SEO The internet is never short on advisors. While this may be a good thing, it can expose you to risky operations. A good example is black hat SEO. Black hat SEO is a quicker way of obtaining backdoor links. It does work, and some people have used it to build their link funnel, but the risks are there. Top of the list is being penalized by Google. And believe me, you do not want to land on Google’s penalty list. If you’re lucky, you could get off with a warning. But there’s a higher risk of suspension or complete closure of your website. For a business, this could lead to a loss in customers, sales, and the business itself. And if you still have a chance to make a comeback, re-building your brand’s reputation from scratch may not be easy. So, to avoid Google penalties, practice white hat SEO. For a start, avoid link building companies that promise more than they can deliver. Low prices and quick turnarounds should also be a red flag. For better results, research on previous operations, testimonials, and reviews. Ask for examples of work and only go for a company with a proven strategy of performing white hat SEO. Be Flexible With Your Expectations Link building does not deliver immediate results. Many other factors impact your position on search engines including your content, reputation, and brand awareness. As you outsource your link building activities, remember to work on the other ranking factors. Build your SEO strategies to boost your organic results. Also, remember that link building takes time to deliver results. If the results are not pleasing in the first month, then adjust your expectations. Consider giving it a few more weeks before measuring results. Best of all, communicate with your agency. An experienced agency will address most of your concerns. Discuss Long-term Plans Every investment should be worth the money. In link building, your investment will be reflected by where you appear on search results. This should not only happen in the short-term but also help you scale most of your long-term marketing goals. As you outsource your project, remember to discuss your long-term expectations with your agency. If you have a preference on where the links should be placed, state this from the beginning. For instance, your goals can include having links in established sites to ensure extended placement of the links. Also, as mentioned, links in the body of the content have better value. Additionally, your long-term plans can involve avoiding spammy links. Spammy links hold the risk of getting flagged and could affect your goals. To be on the safe side, contact an agency that’s ready to grow with you. By checking their workflow, you can know how inclusive they are of different kinds of projects. How to Find the Best Outsource Link Building Agency Finding the right agency for your link building project can be quite tricky. But to make it easier for you, we’ve shared this step-by-step process to help you make informed decisions. Make a List Let’s start with the most common method – performing a Google search. By searching for terms like “outsource link building”, “link building”, “link building services”, or “outsource link building agency”, you can compose a list. Another option would be to check the digital agency directories. For this, you’ll have to choose based on your internet marketing campaigns. The options can include a full digital marketing service that provides content marketing or simply choosing one that concentrates on link building only. Or you can ask for recommendations from a business partner. Recommendations deliver good results because they come from someone who has experience with the agency. Set up a Review Process From your list of agencies, review and see which one best fits your business. Next, prepare a list of questions to help identify agencies with the requirements you need for your campaigns. Lastly, set up a date and even have a small team to help out with decision making. Ask for Examples An agency that says it performs top-level link building will have samples to show for it. Even if they are newcomers, they should have a portfolio from friends or their website. If they don’t, take this as a red flag and proceed with caution. The quality of content and the publishing sites also speaks a lot. Check for domain authority and organic traffic. For your link building projects to succeed, look for an agency with connections in high authority sites. Inquire About the Workflow Link building requires that both teams work together; from the moment you start to when the pages begin to rank. To ensure your expectations are in line, ask the agency to address these questions: What is their workflow process?What is their reporting timeline?Which aspects require pre-approval before the final steps?How do you track the progress of the campaign?Highlight your particular guidelines for consideration. Answers to these questions will enable you to decide if it’s the right agency to hire. Talk About the Costs By now, I’m sure that you already have a budget. If not, it’s best to create one before discussing costs with an agency. As you discuss the budget, remember to ask about hidden fees. These are the extra activities like consultations that are not linked to link building per se but still cost you money. By understanding such fees, you can discover what you can afford and which agency is the best fit. Be Wary of Incompetent Agencies To identify rogue agencies, look for these red flags: They do not have a portfolio or examples of their workThey’re priced well below their competitorsThey already have a list of sites that your links will be on but have no record of having a relationship with those sites. For manual outreach, this is not possible.Too speedy turnaround time They are not ready to jump on a call with you. Get the Right Agency If you aren’t already outsourcing your link building projects, then use this guide to learn how and why it might be a good idea for your business. Outsourcing link building is a safe way of building your digital presence. It saves you time, money, and the hassles of hiring in-house. If you need help with link building, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are ready to share samples of our previous work, answer your questions, and discuss our outreach workflow with you. Daniel Martin Dani started his career in an aviation company and worked his way up the ranks into positions of leadership, where he feels most at home. Now, he’s building winning SEO teams that are able to solve complex problems with simple, effective solutions.