An Ultimate Guide to Outsourcing Linkbuilding
With so many other digital marketing factors to sustain, it makes sense that businesses are looking to resolve the productivity challenges of managing links through outsourcing link building, or external sources of link building expertise.
But what gives outsourcing more edge than in-house professionals? Is there a correct way of outsourcing your link building to get the best bang for your buck? What are some of the common pitfalls of outsourcing?
In this guide, we break down the main why’s, how’s, and the don’t do’s of outsourcing link building.
Why Outsource Your Link Building?
While you may think that you’ve got everything you need, consider some of the top reasons smart business owners like yourself (reading this article makes you one of them) choose to outsource their link building.
The bottom line is that it’s the more reliable, convenient, and affordable way to get the tedious tasks of link building done right.
You Don’t Have Link Building Expertise
Unless you’re the main character in a superhero movie, nobody gets it perfect the first time they try something. More so when that something is as ever-changing and multifaceted as link building.
Apart from the principal factors of relevance, authority, and power, adequate link building requires careful consideration of many other factors like traffic, link diversity, and DA.
Moreover, what kind of links to prioritize when entirely depends on individual brand characteristics like initial authority.
It really goes without saying that if you don’t have any link building experience, you will definitely need someone with the right knowledge and tools to walk you through it.
The truth is, even if you do have link building experience, link building is an art form best handled by seasoned professionals.
With most of us not being superheroes, it’s only natural to entrust one of the most important elements of your SEO to tried and true expert care if you lack the necessary skills.
You Don’t Have the Manpower or Resources
Whether you’re running everything solo or you have a small team of employees stretched thin, it’s difficult to expend company time to learn and implement specialized skills like link building.
Unfortunately, link building is far too sophisticated and significant to half-ass. If you don’t have the manpower or resources to invest in creating quality links, it is impossible to generate a worthwhile link building campaign.
As a result, the fate of your links rests with two choices: hiring an in-house team or outsourcing. Between the two, the latter option is easily the more cost-efficient and convenient investment.
Not only do multidimensional details of link building require multiple hires to assemble a reasonable in-house team, but qualified hires are usually costly due to their high demand. And unless you already have link building tools, you’ll need to spend even more money on high-quality resources that they’ll need.
On the other hand, outsourcing lets you personalize link building decisions according to budget constraints without compromising access to top of the line marketing tools and knowledge. In short, outsource link building will cost you less for more.
You Want to Focus on Your Strengths
Link building is a time-consuming task that can take up energy that you need to focus on more integral parts of your business. Consequently, trying to keep up with the constant influx of algorithmic updates may eventually keep you from tending to your main line of business.
In this case, you may want to play to your strengths and focus on your core services. Why waste your precious time doing a mediocre job when you can outsource your needs to experts who can bring in outstanding results?
The same way you wouldn’t waste your time trying to fix a leaky sink at your office, sometimes you just need to let the marketing pros take over and give you time to do what you do best – run your business.
If you’re already juggling too many hats, the extra time and attention that your links and primary responsibilities will get as a result can make a real difference to your overall business.
Your Current Efforts Aren’t Working
If your current efforts are not meeting your expectations, an outside expert opinion may be just the thing you need to figure out why and what you can do to meet them. You can’t do the same thing and expect different results right?
There’s no shame in admitting something’s wrong and trying to improve your game. More often than not, reliable professionals can troubleshoot and readjust your link building efforts in order to finally get those quality links that attract traffic and boost your rankings in Google.
Having said that, if your current efforts are working but you realize that they are unsustainable because your marketing needs are vastly growing, it may be helpful to have a bigger team to carry the weight with.
How To Outsource Link Building Effectively
As essential as link building is to enhance you or your client’s SEO, it’s most important that you do it right. While outsourcing initially sounds like the perfect solution, it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach. Here are some tips to get the most bang for your buck:
Research the Agencies
With all of its advantages, the popularity of outsourcing has caused a huge surge in link building agencies over the past few years. Just a quick Google search and you’ll quickly realize that there are thousands of seemingly similar agencies to choose from.
While it’s tempting to go with the first few choices that come up, do your part to maximize the benefits of link building by doing your research.
Ask around for recommendations, look into agency directories, and figure out which agencies are offering the link building services you need. Take the time to pick the right fit for your business as it can make or break your outsourcing endeavors.
There are online marketplaces like Fiverr where link building freelancers will offer any type of backlink you want. However, the focus of these services tends to be about providing low-cost quantity.
Research Backlinks and Off-Page SEO
While you may have accepted that link building is too complicated for you or your team to manage alone, it’s still important to have some basic knowledge on the subject.
As different agencies specialize in different link building strategies, you will need to contextualize your needs to hire the right agency. Research the various types of backlinks and off-page SEO practices there are so you know what you’re buying.
For starters, common off-page SEO practices are divided into three groups: white-hat, black-hat, and gray-hat. Surprisingly, their implications are not as clear cut as their names imply.
While practicing white-hat SEO might mean an agency has good relationships with high DA publishers, content creation might not be your marketing focus and yield low results.
Alternatively, an experienced gray-hat or black-hat SEO might help gain leverage in a highly competitive industry. However, without proper research, you risk trusting the wrong agency and getting penalties.
Ultimately, knowing more about these basics will clarify your expectations and help you navigate your way around possible scams.
Look for Reviews, Case Studies, or Samples
As with any product you buy online, it’s very helpful to look through reviews and testimonials. You want to make sure you see the good, the bad, and the possibly ugly experiences of past clients to gather an overall picture of what it’s like to work with an agency.
Additionally, case studies (and in particular, a link building case study) provide valuable insight into past success stories and sometimes even reveal an agency’s success rate. Especially if an agency has a case study that is relevant to your industry, they show you firsthand how an agency works so you can determine if they can help you.
Similarly, most reputable marketing agencies will have a set of samples for potential clients to look at their previous work. It doesn’t have to be specific to your niche to determine whether or not the quality of the content and websites are credible.
If any of the information above isn’t readily available on their website, contact the agency and ask for them. Otherwise, chances are that the agency produces low quality work that’s not worth your time.
Find a Provider Whose Process Matches Your Expectations
Ensure that all the points of reference that matter to you and your company’s marketing needs are checked off as you narrow down your list.
From figuring out how you want to track the progress of campaigns, to whether or not you care to sign off on content, there are countless systems of productivity and workflow that you need to consider before deciding which agency your company is compatible with.
What kind of link building process do you want to work with? Organic, local, one hat, two hats, all hats? How meticulous or flexible do you expect your provider to be? Make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of all the various processes so you develop a preference.
Finally, assess your expectations based on all the research that you have done. Find a provider who matches you in terms of the types of link building you want, what SEO strategies best fit your situation, what kind of team you want to collaborate with, and of course, what your monthly budget constraints are.
Set Clear Goals and Provide Direction
As with any collaborative business endeavor, it’s necessary that you and your marketing agency are on the same page at all times. It’s extremely important to agree on a set of ground rules that specify where, when, and how you want your goals met at the beginning of the partnership.
Throughout each campaign effort, provide as much direction as you can according to what you want and need. Your agency will likely respond with a clear timeline of their proposals and plans that’ll give you a clear picture of what’s coming.
Delays usually happen when agencies have to spend time aligning their ongoing campaign strategies to sudden client opinions or preferences. If there are sites or topics that you want to avoid, tell your agency beforehand.
In the long run of outsourcing your link building, well-defined guidelines are as crucial to your company’s link building process as boundaries are to a healthy adult relationship. Spend time now disclosing as much information as you can to save time later.
Trust in Your Provider and Their Expertise
Remember the part about doing your research and learning the basics? Make sure that you don’t mistake being well-informed with years of honed skills and cloud your judgment with research bias.
It is ultimately up to your link building agency to provide you quality links based on their expert opinion. If you’re iffy about something your provider assures you will work, first trust them and expect that they’ll be accountable for their work.
While airing any pressing concerns is part of having a transparent business to provider relationship, it’s just as important to respect your agency’s professional opinion.
As a general rule, accept that your provider has a more comprehensive understanding of SEO guidelines than what you may have read or heard about.
Even if you’re another marketing agency representing a client, trust that your provider knows more about building links as it is their area of expertise.
At the end of the day, it’s their job to help you. Help them help you by trusting that they know better – after all, it’s why you hired them.
Inspect Completed Work and Ask Questions
Closely examine all completed work to ensure that the caliber of service is up to your standards. If you have any specifications, double-check that they’ve been met.
As with any human-run task, it’s possible someone accidentally missed something and let some mistakes slip through. Skim articles for typos and click every link to check for broken links.
Unlikely as it may seem, the best of agencies can screw up every now and then. On the off chance that yours does, do everything you can to find any errors early on in the campaign.
If there’s anything that you’re unsure of, ask questions for clarification to ensure you’re on the same page with your agency. Chances are that the more questions you ask, the more you will learn. You never know what kind of insight will come in handy!
Understand That SEO and Link Building Take TIME!
Link building work is often measured by factors like brand awareness and trust, which are inherently non-numerical factors that take time to fully understand. It is completely natural to have to wait to see results – remember that the nature of the marketing work that you are trusting your provider to do is tedious and relies on extensive results.
Moreover, unlike sales numbers, analyzing the effects of link building on your SEO takes time; while you may be tempted to approximate an ROI immediately, you need to understand that initial numbers mean different things in the SEO and link building world.
Producing quality links takes time, boosting your rankings with those links takes time, and converting those rankings into increased sales takes time. It all takes time! Patience is key.
Similar to content marketing, SEO and link building are tools best implemented with big picture marketing goals in mind. Put differently, like weight loss, long term plans ensure quality results that are long enduring. If you want to reap stellar results that last, you need to patiently and consistently put in the work.
What to Avoid
Like all good things in life, there are ways to screw it up. While these common mistakes hinder many oblivious business owners, all it takes is to know what pitfalls to avoid to enjoy the coveted wonders of outsourcing.
Picking the Cheapest Provider
While outsourcing may be the cheapest option for your business, link building can’t be cheap. As mentioned before, there are just too many dimensions to account for in qualitative link building that inevitably cost money.
If an agency is notably cheaper than all of its other competitors, it is safe to say that they are probably skimping on major labor and content costs. This will undoubtedly hurt their standards of care and the quality of their work will reflect this.
When it comes down to it, you can’t expect untainted links without investing suitable resources. If you’re going to waste money on cheap and scammy links, you might as well do it yourself.
Although picking the cheapest provider is indeed hard to resist, think of it this way: when you outsource your link building, you are essentially trusting other people to put out work that will have your company’s name on it. Do you really want to risk choosing the cheapest option?
The Over-Promising Trap
The universal mark of any shady business is the guarantee of too good to be true results. Particularly with SEO work and link building, it is highly unreasonable to expect miraculous growths in website ranking.
If an agency is selling you something too good to be true, like the promise of ranking #1, run for the hills. Chances are if you’ve done your research you know there are many other factors other than link building that make up a top-ranking website.
The only elements of link building that an agency can guarantee you is the quality of their work, a timeline of production, and their modes of communication and campaign management – all of which most trustworthy providers will clarify with you in the beginning. Any other promise is a load of baloney.
Choosing Quantity over Quality
Once upon a time, having as many backlinks as you could possibly create gave your business a competitive edge in rankings. However, long gone are those days of randomized link building. In our current reality, the quality and diversification of links matter most.
Contrary to the outward allure of discounted packages of high volume links, you should assume that most quantity driven deals neglect the standards of quality that you need for any lasting SEO effects.
Although quantity should still be a calculated factor in link production, make sure you don’t push results by going beyond your provider’s recommended ratio.
While it’s no secret that certain link combinations of relevance, authority, and power are more valuable to building your backlink profile than others, churning out too many at once can potentially damage your rankings. In any case, remember that an over-focus on quantity over quality will always be counterproductive.
Even in the case of producing “quality” links, overdoing the quantity aspect of the process will raise red flags in search engine algorithms that may penalize you for unnatural and excessive link building.
With that in mind, be transparent about any supplementary link building efforts that you’re implementing either on your own or with another marketing agency so your provider can scale their link building campaigns accordingly.
Foreign Agencies and Non-Native Speakers
In a nutshell, foreign agencies have a bad rep for a reason. Their appeal is equivalent to that of cheap providers, with many foreign agencies and non-native speaking employees known for their affordable but scammy services.
While there are unquestionably a few diamonds in the rough, many foreign agencies or agencies that rely on non-native speakers are largely unreliable and notorious for their supply of shoddy work.
As could be expected, this is chiefly due to the fact that foreign agencies are mostly comprised of non-native speakers who usually lack the linguistic acumen necessary to write publishable content.
As a lot of link building campaigns revolve around incorporating content marketing to bring in organic traffic, it is impractical to hire a marketing agency that is unable to write acceptable content.
Typically, all it takes to discern whether or not an agency is foreign or uses non-native speakers is to check out their past work. In most cases, you can examine samples or blog posts on their website. If their site is not as forthcoming, you can always ask them directly.
Micromanaging Your Provider
While it may be tempting to oversee every step of the process, micromanaging your provider through gratuitous inspections can stall results. The last thing you want is time and attention that would otherwise go into cultivating your links to be wasted on time-consuming confirmations over the little things.
Resist the urge to control every direction and ignore your agency’s advice. Not unlike your teenage years, too much pressure and scrutiny may eventually crush an agency’s productivity and voice.
Instead, keep an open mind to any suggestions or ideas that your agency may have. The nature of outsourcing link building involves relinquishing control and having faith that your provider will successfully lead your link building campaign.
Expecting Link Building to Solve All Your Problems
While link building is a big chunk of your SEO work, it’s still just a piece of the big machine that is your digital marketing operations. Even with the most powerful and diversified set of backlinks, you need to maintain the upkeep of other digital marketing fronts.
Regular content on your website, proactive on-page SEO, up-to-date technical SEO, deliberate ad placements, and social media presence are just some of the many things that need to be continually polished for your online presence to grow.
As the scope of digital marketing continues to expand, an increasing number of businesses and marketing companies are looking to outsource link building demands.
Whether it’s to keep up with your competitors or if you’re just starting out, outsourcing link building is a cost-effective and trustworthy way to enhance your SEO and improve overall returns.
Nevertheless, at the core of every outsourcing success story are principles of preparation, trust, and communication that enhance client- provider partnerships.
Contributing Author: Vanessa Lee Son
Chris Tzitzis is an SEO and a Co-Founder of SirLinksalot.co. He has extensive experience with Affiliate SEO and running an SEO Agency.