Link building is an important part of the SEO process. When Google evaluates the authority of a given domain, it takes your offsite presence into heavy consideration. The more links you have pointing back to your site, and the more diverse and highly authoritative those links are, the more credibility you’ll be given, and the higher you’ll rank as a result. But understanding the right approach to link building takes years of experience and training, and executing the individual tasks required to build backlinks is extremely time consuming.
As a remedy to these problems, many businesses have begun outsourcing their link building efforts. Rather than buying links directly, which will earn you a firm penalty from Google, modern outsourcing usually involves hiring an individual or an agency to go through the manual, intensive process of vetting link source candidates and posting the actual links. There are pros and cons to outsourcing your link building strategy, so its usefulness to your business depends on your priorities.
The benefits of hiring an external link building partner generally depend on finding a partner you can trust. The quality of your partner means everything to the effectiveness of your campaign, but generally, you can count on these benefits:
You Don’t Have to Worry About It
Have you ever tried link building all on your own? It’s a pain. The process is tedious, repetitive, and sometimes confusing. If you try to take the task on all by yourself, you’ll likely end up wasting time or at least stressing over whether you’re doing it right. If you delegate the responsibility to one of your internal teammates, you’ll be taking them away from something more in line with their specialties. By delegating the work to an external partner, you’ll no longer have to worry about any of that. It will all be taken care of for you.
You Can Hold Someone Accountable
If you’re doing your own link building and something goes wrong, you can only blame yourself. What’s worse is you might have no idea how you caused the incident, and no idea how you can fix it. If you’re outsourcing your link building strategy, you can hold your partner accountable for results. If you get penalized, it will be your partner’s responsibility to analyze the penalty and take immediate corrective action.
You Can Save Money
When you first review link building programs with high monthly rates, you might think it’s crazy to say that outsourcing your link building can actually save you money. But link building authorities have experience and knowledge of the industry, and are able to build better links at a much faster rate than you could internally. That means, for the same amount of links, you’ll actually spend more money doing it in-house than you will with an outside expert.
Some of these drawbacks are subjective and won’t apply to all businesses, but they are worth considering when you’re preparing to make a major change to your link building approach:
You Lose a Degree of Control
This is important to a lot of businesses. Being able to control exactly which links are built on exactly which sites is a minimum requirement for some business owners. Outsourcing your link building campaign means you’re going to give up a portion of that control. You’ll still be able to set goals and provide general direction for the overall campaign, but the management and oversight of day-to-day tasks will be on your partner.
You Can’t Trust Everyone
Unfortunately, link building is an industry that has been tarnished by unscrupulous companies and so-called “experts” who really have no idea what they’re doing. The number of agencies conducting fantastic, high-quality link building campaigns is much higher in the modern age, but there are still occasional offenders who could compromise your domain authority and bring your campaign to ruins. If you do decide to outsource your link building strategy, be sure to thoroughly review your potential partners. Check references, talk with your account manager directly, and look for any red flags that might reveal the company’s true intentions.
You Could Be Bound By a Contract
This is another subjective problem, but it’s important if you’re skeptical about how link building will be able to improve your search engine ranks. Many link building affiliates mandate signups through long-term contracts, sometimes lasting a year or more, which can legally bind you to one service even if you’re dissatisfied with it after a few months. One easy workaround to this potential drawback is finding a partner with a month-to-month program.
The Bottom Line
If you have a dedicated expert and the resources available to complement his/her expertise, it’s probably worth it to have your own in-house link building team. However, if you’re depending on a non-SEO expert, or if you have limited resources available, it’s probably better to outsource your work. While the initial cost might seem prohibitive and the premise might seem risky, with a dedicated, reliable partner, your outsourced link building strategy will be far more efficient and profitable than an equivalent in-house effort.
If you’re concerned about outsourcing your link building, find a partner with a flexible contract and experiment with it for a month or two. If you don’t like the results you see, you can pull out. Otherwise, continue on and watch as your ROI begins to grow incrementally.
Timothy Carter is the CRO for AudienceBloom. Since 1997 he's been helping businesses maximize their sales revenue from websites via content marketing, SEO and Internet Marketing strategies. Over the years he's written for publications like Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, MarketingProfs and other highly respected online publications.