Are you struggling to build quality links?
Do you think you could use more time to focus on other important marketing tasks?
If so, it might be a great idea to outsource link building efforts.
Link building can be a complex and time-consuming task. There are many different strategies to consider, from guest blogging to broken link building. And then there’s the outreach – the critical touchpoints that can make or break your success.
It can be tough to do all of this yourself, especially if you’re already stretched thin with other marketing tasks. That’s where outsourcing comes in.
Outsourcing your link building efforts can be a great way to save time and improve your link profile.
That said, not everyone is cut out for outsourcing. In some cases, it can be more trouble than it’s worth.
Today, we’re going to help you figure out whether or not outsourcing your link building efforts is the right move for your business.
We’ll also give you some tips on finding the best link building provider for your needs.
Before we get into the pros and cons of outsourcing, let’s first discuss why you might want to outsource your link building in the first place.
The most obvious reason to outsource your link building is to save time.
If you’re trying to do everything yourself, link building can easily become a full-time job. From prospecting to outreach to content creation, the list of tasks goes on and on. In fact, the amount of tasks that build up, it’s unlikely to involve just one person, and would quickly spiral into requiring a team of people handling different parts.
By outsourcing, you can free up your time to focus on other important aspects of your business, or focus on your own site’s content strategy and content creation.
|By focusing more time on content creation on your site’s blog, you can make best use of your team’s time, and channel that expertise and thought leadership into content.
Especially after Google’s Helpful Content update, it may be time to bring content in-house, and outsource peripheral marketing activities like link building or technical SEO, which may be more ad-hoc, and not required on a full-time basis.
Besides, if you or the people on your team are not experienced link builders, it might take you a while to get up to speed. Outsourcing can help you get results faster.
A good agency should also have very robust processes and training systems in place for their team. For instance, at TLG, we have built internal training courses, which probably total several hundred hours of reading material, videos and workshops.
All of this takes a lot of time to produce, and by outsourcing, it also offloads the headache of having to continually train people, and find and train replacements if someone leaves.
Expertise and experience
Link building is a complex and ever-changing process.
To be successful, you need to keep up with the latest trends and best practices. This can be a full-time job in itself, too.
Outsourcing to an experienced link building agency can help ensure that your link building efforts are on the right track.
The best agencies have a team of experienced link builders who know what works and what doesn’t. They can also provide valuable insights into your industry and niche. But of course, just ensure they have the right type of expertise that will help.
For instance, when it comes to outreach you may need people within the team with a very nuanced understanding of that part of the process.
Let’s say you’re in the rehab niche, and we have to reach out to other non-competing health clinics. We have people in the team with a deep understanding of that sector, and who can approach outreach using the correct lingo, and suggest content ideas that they know will resonate.
At the same time, even if an agency hasn’t got experience in your niche, they have dealt with something comparable, or built relationships in a sector which your site would also benefit from.
For instance, we took on a client in the wedding industry and had never worked with a client in that industry before. However, we did have experience in the food industry, and our experience with sectors like the wine industry and wineries, gave us confidence that we could build some really relevant relationships, which instilled confidence in the client.
Saved Software & Infrastructure Costs
Before we even look at the costs of hiring people in-house, just having the software to actually do link building, can be fairly heavy.
Even if you rely on something like Google Sheets for tracking your leads (which is free), you’ll need other items to fuel link building activities.
- Outreach software (e.g. Pitchbox) – will run you at least a few hundred dollars, and Pitchbox is a minimum of $500 per month, last I checked.
- Email Service Provider (Gsuite Workspace) – you’ll need to create multiple email inboxes (sometimes after buying secondary domains), and that’ll be roughly around $6 per month, per email inbox.
- SEO tools for backlink analysis (e.g. Majestic, Semrush, Ahrefs): Depends on the tool of choice, but this’ll run anywhere from $50 up to $500+. And if you need to add multiple users to the account, you’ll have to pay per seat.
- Email Finder (e.g. Snov, Hunter, SalesQL) – its unlikely there is a single email finding software which will find every contact you need. Expect to be juggling at least 2 softwares, and on average you’ll be paying about $40 to $50 per month, per software.
- LinkedIn: Whether it’s your own or you have to pay for someone on the team to use, LinkedIn will be essential – either for researching contact names, or being a second way of reaching contacts. Sales Navigator Core (Professional) is probably sufficient but will cost $99 per month.
So unless you are a very niche blog that can get by with a very lean process with minimal tools (i.e. you only need a small number of links) – you’ll end up paying a minimum of $500 a month just on software costs. Once you start scaling up the team, or are handling larger amounts of targets and need a bigger infrastructure, that cost will be more like $1000 per month.
If you are contemplating bringing link building completely in-house, then you have to also weigh up the cost efficiency of doing so.
Employing a link building specialist may be difficult, as there are very few people who are very skilled in all aspects of link building, and can do the entire process end-to-end. More often than not, you’ll find their role was mostly on prospecting or outreach, rather than both.
But, regardless of the way you setup the team, what are the costs associated with hiring link builders in-house?
Well, this is the average salary of a link builder in the United States according to Glassdoor
This may be skewed by a lot of the salaries of senior positions which are submitted into Glassdoor, but even just working taking the average salary of an entry level marketer, we can arrive at a figure of around $40,000.
If we take a salary in the middle of $60,000, and we high-ball KPIs and assume the person can build 15 links a month, we arrive at a figure of $333 per link. However, this doesn’t account for the costs associated with the software, having a writer in place to create content.
Not to mention you’ll also have to buy equipment, pay for health insurance, bonuses, and account for leave. Plus, as you start to increase the size of the team, you’ll need management structure in place, and that will add to staffing costs further.
Outsourcing your link building can also help you get better results, or at least, achieve those results at a higher velocity.
When you work with an experienced agency, you’ll have access to their team’s collective knowledge and experience. This can help you avoid common mistakes and get better results.
In addition, agencies usually have established relationships with bloggers and other website owners or content managers, or are a link building partner of other companies/SEO agencies. This can make it easier to get some high-quality links that would otherwise be out of reach , or require a long period of establishing relationships.
So since an agency can kick start the initial link acquisition process a bit quicker, you can speed up the process of improved search engine rankings as well.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the benefits of outsourcing your link building, let’s take a look at some of the potential drawbacks.
Loss of control
One of the main downsides of outsourcing is that you’ll lose some control over your link building process.
When you outsource, you’ll need to communicate your goals and objectives to the agency. They’ll then develop a strategy and carry out the work.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be helpful to have an outside perspective.
However, it’s important to remember that you won’t have as much control over the process. Just make sure if you do hire an agency, that you still have some transparency, and will know the kind of site’s they’ll be reaching out to.
There’s nothing worse than you having one idea of what you deem as relevant links, and the agency completely missing the mark, and building links on pages which have no relevance.
Potential for low-quality links
Another potential downside of outsourcing is that you might end up with low-quality links.
If you work with a less-than-reputable agency, they might resort to black hat tactics to get links. This can do more harm than good, and it could get your site penalized by Google.
To avoid this, be sure to do your research before hiring an agency. Make sure they have a good reputation and that they’re using white hat tactics.
Ask them about the process they use to get links, and request some examples of previous work. As said before, transparency is key here. If they are willing to share everything in the open, this speaks volumes. You should be able to clearly see at all times:
- What websites will they be reaching out to?
- What email pitches are they using?
- Who writes the content, and what content ideas will they be using?
- Are they using paid tactics? If so, what is the vetting process?
- Do they use link exchanges? Where do those links come from?
- How will you know what has gone live and how are links reported?
If an agency cannot answer most of these questions, is trying to hide their website list behind closed doors, or won’t report links until the very end of the month, you should re-think whether you should hire them.
Who Should Be Involved in The Decision Process?
If you decide to outsource link building, you’ll want to make sure that everyone involved in the process is on the same page.
Your CEO or marketing director will probably be the person who decides which company you’re going to outsource to, so they should be involved in the decision process.
Your Chief Financial Officer (CFO) may also need to be involved in the process if you’re hiring an outside firm, and it takes up a significant amount of marketing budget. In fact, your CFO should be involved in all business decisions related to outsourcing.
Other key roles that should be involved in the process include your head of IT (if there are email infrastructure considerations) your head of legal (to ensure signing of NDAs/NCAs), and your head of marketing.
Of course, this depends on the size of your company. If you’re a small business, you might not have all of these roles filled. In that case, involve the people who are responsible for the relevant functions.
A good rule of thumb at the initial stage, is to involve anyone who will be affected by the decision to outsource.
If you’re still on the fence about outsourcing your link building, here are two clear reasons to do it:
1. You have limited in-house resources
If you have a small team at your company, then you might not have the bandwidth to handle link building in-house. Outsourcing can be a great way to get the job done without overburdening your team.
When you outsource link building, you can choose how much outreach or link volume you need. You can start small and gradually increase the scope of work as your team gets more comfortable with the process, and you are confident you’re getting the quality you’re looking for.
Besides, link building is a time-consuming process. It can be difficult to find the time to do it in-house, especially if you have other priorities.
Most companies can’t afford to have someone on their team dedicated to link building. It’s simply not realistic.
The right agency can act as an extension of your team and help you achieve your link building goals, without it creating a huge amount of work on your end.
2. You lack the expertise
You’re sick. Incredibly sick. So sick that you have to go to the hospital.
Would you rather have a doctor who is an expert in treating your specific illness or a general practitioner?
The same principle applies to link building. You want to work with an agency that specializes in link building and has a proven track record.
When you outsource link building, you get access to the agency’s expertise and knowledge. They can help you create a successful link building campaign and avoid common mistakes.
Instead of trying to figure it out on your own, or bringing in individual contractors, you can learn from the agency’s experience and get results faster.
3. You want to scale your link building efforts
If you’re happy with the results of your link building campaign and you want to scale your efforts, then outsourcing is a great option.
An agency can help you scale your link building campaign quickly and efficiently. They can also help you track your progress and ensure that your campaign is on track.
Also, let’s say you have a period coming up where you’re ramping up the content production process and you really want to promote that content as much as possible, and really scale up your link building. That’s where an agency may be in a better position to scale up, as they have the ability to hire and train the right people.
When you outsource link building, you can focus on other aspects of your business while the agency handles the link building. This frees up your time so you can focus on what you’re good at.
To Outsource or Not to Outsource?
At this point, you already know the pros and cons of outsourcing your link building.
So, what’s the answer? Should you outsource or not?
Let’s explore a few steps that’ll help you make the right decision for your business.
1. Decide If Link Building Is Part of Your Company’s Marketing Strategy
Before you decide to outsource link building, make sure that it’s actually a part of your company’s marketing strategy.
Link building can be a great way to improve your SEO and drive traffic to your site. However, it’s not right for every business.
If you’re not sure if link building is right for you, take a look at your overall marketing strategy. Are there other areas that you could focus on first? Could you get better results by investing in other marketing channels?
Consider your company’s goals and objectives. If link building can help you achieve them, then it might be worth outsourcing.
2. Are You Currently Producing Content?
Content without promotion is like a car without gas. It’s not going to go anywhere.
If you’re currently producing content, then you’re already on the right track.
Content is the foundation of a successful link building strategy. After all, you need something to promote!
Before you start outsourcing link building, make sure you have a solid content strategy in place. After that, you can start thinking about ways to promote your content and get more links.
3. Do You Have the Budget to Outsource?
Outsourcing link building can be a great way to get results. However, it’s not free.
You’ll need to invest in a link building agency or consultant. The cost will depend on the scope of work and the agency’s rates.
Before you make a decision, calculate the cost of outsourcing. Make sure you have the budget to invest in link building.
The good thing is that with an agency, it’ll at least be a bit more flexible than you building a team in-house. If you decide later that you need to scale up to a larger number of links per month, you can do so.
It would never be advised to completely stop link building if you can avoid it, but you may reach a tipping point in the future where you don’t need that high link volume every month. You can then get the agency to downscale, so you can just keep link building on maintenance level.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
Before you begin working with a link building company, make sure that both you and the company have realistic expectations for the campaign.
One of the biggest challenges in outsourcing link building is that you have very little control over the process. You can’t tell the company exactly what you want to be done because you may not always know exactly what they’re doing.
You can only provide very general instructions, so it’s important to set realistic expectations. Tell the company what you want to achieve, but don’t expect them to be able to create the perfect campaign in one month. However, it should be an ongoing process, and having a bad month for links, should balance out in the following months, if they know what they’re doing.
And when it comes to actually driving ranking and traffic increases – link building is a long-term process, and it can take months to get results.
5. Find a Reputable Link Building Company
Make sure that the company you choose is reputable and trustworthy. You don’t want to end up paying someone to create spammy links that could get your site penalized by Google.
You should look for companies that do white hat link building, have positive reviews, and charge a reasonable price.
You should also talk about how their team is set up as well. Are they outsourcing projects to part-time freelancers, who operate with complete freedom – or is there a proper in-house team structure in place?
For instance, do the agency allow them to work at other companies, and what measures have they put in place to do background checks and/or ensure they won’t be working with your competitors? These kinds of areas are very important, as it’s not just about the reputation of the agency, but also the accountability of the people working there, and likelihood that they have your best interests in mind.
At TLG, for instance, we always put our clients’ needs first. We use white hat link building techniques, and we’re transparent about our process, and we have a stable, full-time team in place, who are held to certain standards, and have passed background and reference checks, before they can join us.
We also work with companies of all sizes, so we’re confident that we can create a link building campaign that meets your needs and budget.
If you decide to outsource your link building, then it’s important to find the right provider. Here are a few things to look for:
1. Content-driven focus
Even though link building is a technical process, it’s still driven by content. The best link building providers understand this and have a content-driven focus.
A content-driven link building provider will create custom strategies for each client. They’ll also focus more on your business, and its target audience, and build strategies based around that. By doing so, they’ll then drive much more relevant links, which is ultimately what Google is looking for.
At TLG, for instance, our link building process is content-driven. We start by understanding your business and goals. Then, we create a custom link building strategy that’s tailored to your needs.
When you’re looking for a link building provider, experience should be one of your top criteria. You want to work with a provider that has a proven track record and knows what they’re doing.
The best way to gauge a provider’s experience is to look at their case studies. This will give you a good idea of the type of results they’ve been able to achieve for their clients.
If you explore our website, for instance, you’ll find a section named “Case Studies.” This is where we showcase our link building case studies.
You’ll find case studies from companies in a variety of industries, such as ecommerce, accounting, education, B2B, and more.
Our extensive experience is one of the reasons why we’re able to produce great results for our clients.
Now even if a provider doesn’t have experience in your exact niche, they should at least have some kind of useful insight they can bring, and have done the tactics that are applicable in your situation, or they should have done outreach to sectors that are relevant to your niche. If not, there will be a steeper learning curve for them to overcome.
3. Personalized approach
When you work with a link building provider, you want to feel like a partner, not a number. The best providers take a personalized approach and treat you like an individual.
At TLG, we get to know our clients and their businesses. We understand your goals and create a custom link building strategy that’s tailored to your needs.
For instance, we might target high-authority publishers in your industry for guest post opportunities. Or, we can help you secure links from local publications if you’re trying to rank higher in Google Maps at the same time, or there is a particularly valuable target audience in that region.
Depending on your business, we’ll recommend the best link building tactics. And, we’re always transparent about what we’re doing and how it’s helping your business.
On top of that, a personalized approach also means knowing who’s working on the project, and having stability. There’s nothing worse than a revolving door agency where the owner is never actually working in the business, and the team is constantly rotating with people who are new to the project. Having a stable, experienced team, and team that’s in there for the long haul and willing to go that extra mile for you- is what will ultimately lead to stronger results in the long term.
4. Do Your Research
There’s a few ways you can do some background research, to help you build up a picture of the agency.
Platforms like G2, Clutch, or Google Reviews, can give you an idea of the feedback a company has. However, be warned that these can fairly easily be manipulated as well, and you can’t base everything only on these.
Other things you can do:
- Legitimacy. Where is the CEO and key people from the company mentioned? Have they done any podcasts, video interviews or written for any major publications? This can help you gain more understanding of their process, and if they really know what they’re talking about.
- Glassdoor reviews. Yes, this is actually left by employees, but this can be very telling and can offer valuable insight. A lot of bad reviews may reveal a culture of instability or a CEO that’s out of touch with what’s happening in operations. While no reviews at all may indicate a lot of ‘casual workers’ or lack of history. But it’s important to read into the reviews to see what exactly employees complained about.
- Video testimonials on the site. It’s best to look into the companies and the people leaving testimonials and look at their background. This can be very helpful. A lot of reviews from people who could just be peers, or other SEO professionals can be misleading. Whereas, a diverse set of testimonials, which includes well known people from strong entrepreneurial and business backgrounds shows an agency trusted by experts in their respective fields.
- Gut feeling. Yes, this isn’t easy to quantify, but sometimes deciding to work with a person/company is about emotion. Do you get that feeling that the person is genuine? Is the person/account manager just saying what they think you want to hear? Does the history of the company, literature of the person, social media and overall marketing presence give the impression of a ‘real company’ that knows what they’re doing?
Especially with a link building provider, you need to ensure when outsourcing link building to them, that it’s someone you can see yourself working with them long term. There’s nothing worse than jumping from one amateur operation to another – it’ll only slow down your progress, or worse yet, land you with spammy links that harm your site.
So if you are trying to decide on an agency, do your due diligence and select the one that you feel will do the best job, not necessarily just one that an industry contact mentioned, or the first one you see on Google.
Is TLG the Right Agency for You?
If you’re looking for a content-driven, experienced, and personalized link building agency, then we think TLG could be a great fit.
Here are a few things that make us different:
1. We focus on quality, not quantity.
2. We’re a team of experienced link builders and strategists.
3. We create custom link building strategies for each client.
4. We’re always transparent about what we’re doing and how it’s helping your business.
5. We have experience across a variety of industries.
UItimately, the decision of whether or not to outsource your link building efforts depends on your needs and preferences. However, if you’re looking for a provider that can help you achieve great results, TLG is a great option to consider.
To decide for yourself, schedule a free link building consultation today. We’ll review your website and goals, and provide personalized recommendations.
There’s no pressure to commit, and you might just be surprised at what we can do for your business.