Link building should be a standard part of any SEO campaign. The idea is that the more high-quality, authoritative, trustworthy sites there are linking back to your content, the higher your site will appear in search engine results and the more traffic you’ll see. And there are a lot of ways to encourage backlinks. So many, in fact, that some content creators and website owners will have a hard time handling it on their own. That’s where link-building services come in. But like anything else, you need to be realistic about how you approach them and what you can expect. In this article, we’re going to cover the pros and cons of using SEO link building services. We’ll also tell you what to look for when considering hiring one of these providers.
- 1 What is a Link Building Service?
- 2 What to Look for When Hiring SEO Link Building Services
- 3 Pros and Cons of SEO Link Building Services
- 4 Final Thoughts About SEO Link Building Services
What is a Link Building Service?
It’s pretty close to what it sounds like, really: a company, agency, or freelancer that specializes in finding the right sites that are best suited to linking back to yours. Because Google prefers backlinks to be contextual and relevant, penalizing those that aren’t, a link building service can save you a lot of time with research, outreach, and communication involved in gaining those relevant backlinks.
The service might reach out to websites and present your content as being something beneficial to their audiences. They might seek out guest posting opportunities or press inquiries where you can be cited as a source. It depends on who you are and what specifically you need, but a link building service — at least one that’s legitimate — can save you hundreds of hours of work for an incredibly long-lasting boost in SERPs.
They aren’t for everyone, though. We want to make sure that you understand what SEO link building services are capable of and how they work before you dive in headfirst.
What to Look for When Hiring SEO Link Building Services
A good rule of thumb is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. A reputable link-building company isn’t going to promise you overnight results and charge you next to nothing. (This happens a lot on Fiverr. Don’t use link building services from Fiverr. Please.)
Instead, the service should tell you their process, how they assess each client’s individual needs, and the expected (but not guaranteed) outcomes. Think about what you need in terms of link building, and then find a provider that covers those services. These are some of the top elements you may see:
- Anchor text management
- Blogger outreach
- Broken link replacement
- Competitive link placement
- Content creation
- Curated link building
It’s also a good sign if the company lets you select the URLs on your site that you want to promote and the anchor text you want used with them. After all, nobody knows your business or your audience as well as you do. Selecting something like proper anchor text might not be your specialty, though, which is why you’re hiring them. Just let them know that. The key to success with an SEO link building service is communication.
Pay attention to how the provider communicates with you. This is probably going to be how they communicate when they perform outreach for you, too. Are they professional or casual? Do they send emails, get on Zoom, or make phone calls? Pay attention to the details when you’re communicating back and forth — their email signatures, overall speaking and writing tone, email aliases and addresses, social media handles, even their own website copy.
Is it aligned enough with your own brand voice that you’re okay with this service representing you? You don’t want to alienate potential collaborations and colleagues because you’ve hired someone with an unprofessional or unkind way of speaking or brand identity that conflicts with your own.
Consider the Cost
The cost for the service should be sensical. Charging too little should raise a red flag that their service isn’t valued highly by even them. But charging too much can mean that they’re trying to get a big payday before you know if you even like the service (or if they can provide what they promise.)
While payment options will vary by provider, a pay-as-you-go plan or a custom rate are the best options. If you find that you’re happy with the service, you can always invest more or ask about a retainer.
Some companies offer payment via “performance fees.” That means that if the company is able to get a backlink for you, they’ll charge you a fee. But if they can’t get a backlink on your behalf, they won’t charge for the outreach. This type of fee can range from $300 to $1,500, and the biggest benefit is that you only pay for results.
Pros and Cons of SEO Link Building Services
Now that you have an idea of what to look for and what good these kinds of services can do, let’s take a look at the good and bad things that might come up when trying to outsource and expedite building backlinks to your site.
PRO: The Service Will Do Blogger Outreach For You
Finding bloggers (and/or vloggers) to connect with for the sake of a backlink is a full-time job in itself. Plus, if you don’t know where to start — like how to find the most relevant bloggers in your niche or what to say to them once you do find them — you’ll have a hard time doing this at all. When a service provider takes over blogger outreach for you, they tap into their database of connections, know how to make new ones and are skilled at exactly what to stay to get the conversation started.
As they say, it’s not a case of what you know, but who. The success of SEO link building services is a testament to that.
CON: You May Pay for Content Creation Even if You Already Have Content
This is the problem with out-of-the-box SEO link building services. And a reason why some people to avoid them. If a provider has a one-size-fits-all package that includes content creation, but you already have or are actively creating quality content, you’ll end up paying for something you don’t need. It’s rare to have a “too much content” problem for websites, but it can happen. Especially if that content may or may not match your in-house style, require more time editing than it’s worth, or even be totally unusable or redundant.
It is worth taking the time to find a service that will customize plans for your own needs. Remember: just because something is offered, doesn’t mean you have to take it. Always discuss getting exactly the service and results that you need.
PRO: You’ll Get Personalized Service
With that in mind, trustworthy providers will take time to build a customized plan. They know that each client has their own needs and goals.
Here’s a typical process: The provider will start by conducting a discovery session to find out exactly what you need and how they can deliver. They’ll then perform in-depth research to figure out the best strategy for you. After that, they’ll talk to you about the link-building strategies they feel are best. When that’s agreed upon, you’ll receive a contract with the budget, deadlines, and other details laid out.
(If you get a proposal without even talking to them about your business goals, be wary. Boilerplate SEO plans don’t work. This is not a one-size-fits-all industry.)
CON: “Quality” Content is Subjective
It’s hard to know if you’re going to get quality content, even if the company you choose is reputable. I’ve worked for one of the leading link-building companies, and we had to wedge keywords and links into articles that had nothing to do with the topic. Getting the info in was often a stretch, and pretty big leaps had to be made to connect something like “dog care” with an article about “outer space.”
Also, all of the link-building occurred on other pages that were also run by the company. Meaning that the same group of writers (general interest writers instead of experts in any field) provided content for all of the websites and linked between those same articles. Did it work for the client? Maybe. But if you took a deeper look at those websites and articles, they didn’t have much value.
And today, Google takes the idea of how much value a page offers the reader into how pages appear in the search rankings.
PRO: SEO Link Building Services Can Help Agencies
Link building providers aren’t available only for individual clients. They can also help agencies that have to handle link building for a host of their own clients. There are providers that specifically work with agencies instead of individual businesses, so it’s best to look for one that offers that type of service. This approach requires advanced planning because each client of an agency is going to have some unique needs. And the link-building service has to cater to that. But subcontracting with a link building service that works with agencies can be a huge value for you and your clients.
CON: The Cost Can Be Sky-High
Depending on the company you go with, the price per backlink can be as low as $35. Or as high as $400 to $550. Or more. And while $35 per backlink may sound affordable, you have to ask yourself what kind of quality you’ll be getting. Backlinks aren’t created equal, and you only want ones that search engines will deem valuable. But that means that the cost could end up being out of your budget, especially if you’re promoting a new website.
This is where setting your expectations and goals to match your budget helps. As well as sitting down and discussing strategy with the service before any campaign starts. You don’t want to drop $500 on a single link from a DA 25 website when you could get one from a DA 93.
Final Thoughts About SEO Link Building Services
Link building is 100% a necessary part of a solid SEO strategy. On top of making search engines so proud of your content that they rank it highly, your users will be happier, too. When a visitor gets to your site via a backlink from somewhere else, it’s a referral. The other site has vouched for you. Because of all this, your site will be seen as an authority by Google and your audience.
The problem is that link building isn’t a one-time project. You have to regularly be creating and updating your content. You must stay on top of which sources have dropped your links, find brand mentions that don’t yet have backlinks, and on and on. That’s why handing over all of that work to a service provider is a huge help for many website owners. And so long as you’re diligent about hiring a dependable company, you could see a big boost in your organic traffic without doing much besides paying the bill.
Backlinks aren’t the only links that you should include in your SEO strategy. Learn why internal links are important for your website, too. Some SEO link building services even offer help in that area, too.
Have you ever worked with an SEO link building service? Let us know about your experience!
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Lindsay, thanks for the “Pros and Cons of Using SEO Link Building Services” article on the Elegant Themes blog. As I am considering using a backlink provider that I had used a couple of years ago, I am wondering if their system caused a penalty for one of my clients, or was it something else? The rankings did go up at the time, but a few months later, the client’s rankings disappeared from Google. It took years to build up their top rankings, but I am not sure if it was a Google algo update or the backlink service that caused the severe penalty. After doing some research, the link provider has many good reviews, and some bad ones, too. Most of the links seem to have come from blogs from all over the world, but were partially hidden in the reports, so I couldn’t tell what the links actually were….other than the extension (TLD).
So, I’m wondering if you could do an article about which companies are “ok” based on results. I’m hesitant to use this company again, but I know it worked before. I would think Google would ban these “paid links” companies if they were considered as such.
Google hates paid link building!
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
And 99% of all “link building agencies” er dirty!
Great article Lindsay,
Absolutely loved your point about staying on top of your backlinks. When digital agencies like mine try to find high-quality backlinks for clients, even the best intentions result in backlinks dropping off or becoming broken in the future. It pays to keep an eye on this every month, and don’t be afraid to reach out to the referring website. Even if you paid for the content or link years ago, it’s always worth trying to keep those referrals alive. Especially if you paid good money for the service!