Is Outsourcing Link Building a Good Idea?
Having a high ranking on SERPs ( Search Engine Result Pages) is a dream of many digital marketers since it not only means organic traffic growth but also a better domain authority score. When the website is able to attract user traffic and gain links from other websites, it just makes life so much easier for marketers.
However, link building is not something that can be done in one day or two. It is not something marketers can do when they have time and put it aside when they are busy. Link building takes time and long-term planning and efforts to excel; namely, it is very labor and time-intensive job. That’s why the position, “SEO Developer” and “SEO Specialist” is needed. Because SEO Specialists will focus and work on SEO full-time!
To climb on top of the SERPs, there are many efforts that need to be made. For example, building quality internal, external, and referral links, making sure the links are relevant to the niche, monitor website traffic and domain authority to ensure they are moving in the right direction, and regularly export website analysis to evaluate the current traffic, ad campaigns and so on.
As you see, link building is definitely not a one-man job. Yet, for many companies, it is almost impossible to afford a functional SEO team. And that’s when agencies come into play. As a result, marketing teams will be facing an important question,
Should I outsource link building or keep it in-house?
The answer is, it depends. Outsourcing link building is definitely not the only choice, but in certain circumstances, it might be a good choice. For companies that fit into these categories can actually consider outsourcing,
- Lack of SEO team or enough people to work on SEO full-time
- Lack of resources and knowledge in SEO
- Want to improve your current link building efforts
Like we mentioned earlier in the post, link building is a very labor-intensive and time-consuming job. So if your company only has one or two people to work on it, or a market team but lacks the expertise to build links, it will be a good idea for you to outsource for the following reasons:
Develop Link Building Knowledge
One of the best benefits of outsourcing link building is the education that comes with it. Normally, link building agencies have the resources, experts, and strategies to acquire links efficiently. Once you hire an agency to improve your website SEO, it is their job to explain the reason behind every move!
If there are not many people on the team who are familiar with SEO and link building, take the chance and ask them to attend every meeting with the agency and ask questions. By trying to understand how the agency builds links, you and your team will be able to develop some fundamental knowledge about link building as well.
When the whole marketing team all recognize the importance of link building, it will be so much easier for the team to collaborate in the future. The practical experience you gained from working with the agency will become a great starting point to establish an in-house link building team or workflow.
Time, Money and Labor-efficient
The biggest difference between hiring an in-house link builder vs. an agency is the speed of acquiring links. Link building agencies have spent days and nights to master the skill of link building, it is not a surprise that they can usually deliver better results. They already have the tools and resources, for example, SEO website checkers, numerous writers, and a team of professional SEO strategists and specialists to acquire links from quality websites. They are updated with the latest trends and competition to make sure their clients’ stay competitive.
Whereas in-house link builders still have to do a lot of research to understand and develop a feasible link building plan. Additionally, you will need to purchase at least one SEO checker to obtain website SEO analysis to work with, as well as some freelancers to write your content. Therefore, it is not necessarily cheaper than outsourcing.
Accountability and Professionalism
Again, SEO is an ever-changing and unpredictable world. That’s why it always takes so much time to find out what will work and will not. When you outsource an agency to do the heavy lifting for you, if something goes wrong with the campaign, you’ll have someone external to hold accountable. Since agencies normally are quite professional and knowledgeable, you can quickly have an alternative or solution to improve your website right away.
On the contrary, if your company has the ability, budget, and resources to keep the link building in-house, by all means, do that! Having an in-house SEO team is probably a dream of many businesses. By doing your own link building, you will be able to have more control of the content and website quality.
As you outsource the task to a link-building agency, you also lose certain control of SEO. Sometimes, the content will be too keyword-driven and drift away from your niche. Or the quality of the backlinks are too low, and they end up lowering your domain authority.
And that leads us to another crucial question,
How to choose the right link building strategy?
Both methods have their pros and cons. It takes some time and experiments to know which method works the best for your business. So when you are choosing between a link-building agency or build links yourself, take the company’s current marketing KPI, product/service, and niche into consideration. For example, if the company is launching a new product, then hiring a link building agency to scale your link building efforts will be a great idea. Because you want the new product to rank as high as possible on the SERPs.
Nevertheless, having thousands of backlinks doesn’t guarantee a great result on search results, and not having any links will let you fall behind your competitors. Therefore, I have some advice for you to have a smooth start in the link building journey, regardless of which method you choose.
Hire an SEO Specialist
First and foremost, make sure you have at least one SEO specialist on the team. If you don’t have one, hire one! You might find many articles online written by the agencies convincing you that SEO specialist is expensive and cannot do as much as an agency can. But I think having an in-house expert who actually has the expertise in SEO is the first step to a successful effort.
An in-house specialist can help analyze the agency’s efforts, to help the company assess whether the agency is on the right track. If no one understands the charts and numbers given, how can you tell whether you are spending money on the right action item? Furthermore, an in-house specialist can supervise and monitor the agency, challenge, and push them when it’s necessary. Most importantly, the in-house specialist will provide advice based on the company’s data (that agency is not allowed to access), thus their advice will be more company-centered. So having an in-house specialist is a very important element to a successful SEO outcome.
Choose the Agency Carefully
When you are choosing the agency, there are a few points that you must pay attention to. Otherwise, your money and efforts can easily go south. So if you want to harvest the benefits of hiring a link building company, you will have to avoid these common mistakes:
1. Go for Cheap Service
It is a common customer mentality to go with a cheaper choice first, so if the performance is not satisfying enough, you are not losing that much. It might work in some service, but in SEO, it might indicate a bad start.
Because in the link building world, the lower price isn’t always the best price. To lower the service fee, some agencies work with writers or editors that are less experienced in link building. Consequently, the content might be lower in quality and inconsistent. As a result, it might even damage your SEO efforts.
Furthermore, it is very likely low-cost agencies favor low-authority publishers. And backlinks from low-authority websites are not very helpful, and might even damage your campaign.
2. Value Quantity Over Quality
Source: A Conscious Rethink
Link building agencies usually provide various bundles that are mainly grouped by the number of links they offer per month. Indeed, a ton of links sounds like a boost to SEO. But search engines are now able to better determine the relevance of links and can identify “unnatural” links relatively easily. Therefore, remember to check the agency’s linking site quality, relevance, and content before you work with them. Because it’s risky to acquire a lot of links from odd or irrelevant sites, and it will easily backfire and result in lower DA.
3. Let the Agency “Freestyle”
The end goal of working with the link building agency is to maximize your SEO efforts. That’s to say, the link building agency should be an assistant to your SEO strategy, and you should be the one giving orders. Many first-timers will think that once they hire an agency to help out, they can completely hand off the reins.
Don’t let the agency tell you what to do, instead, you must provide the agency a clear target you want to achieve. If you let agencies freestyle, they might prioritize things that they are good at but are not necessarily on top of your list.
Communication and Feedback
Communication is the key to an effective link building result. Outsourcing is not about delegating the task and forgetting about it. It’s about close collaboration. And it is the same with the in-house SEO specialist, both require constant communication to articulate the needs and progress. Give feedback to the agency or the in-house specialist on their current effort, and adjust the link building methods accordingly.
All in all, I would say outsourcing link building can be a good idea. However, a successful SEO result is not merely achieved by building as many links as possible. It is accomplished by a clear objective, continuous communication, and flexible but feasible SEO strategies.
Additionally, it is very important to have the right mindset as well. Because again, it needs to be emphasized that SEO is a long-term strategy. Therefore, even if you have decided to outsource link building, don’t settle until you find the agency that meets all your bars.
On the other hand, building links yourself perhaps will take a much longer time than link building agencies. But you will not only build a strong SEO foundation for your website but also are able to generate more high-quality evergreen content that is particularly beneficial to your SEO in the long run.
No matter what you choose, outsource link building or keep it in-house, choose what suits your company’s needs the best, then it’s the best strategy.