The Ultimate Guide to Outsource Link Building: Pros, Cons, and Best Practices

Amy de Doncker
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Signaling your credibility through backlinks is crucial to your SEO strategy and your search engine rankings. You can meet your goals by getting high quality links, but without the time, effort, and expertise, it can feel like an uphill battle. To optimize performance, successful businesses choose to outsource link building.

In this article, we’ll explore the importance of backlinks in your SEO strategy and the work that goes into building links. We also outline options for outsourcing, including looking at the pros and cons of picking that route. You’ll discover some best practices to follow when you outsource link building services.

The link building process involves obtaining hyperlinks from other websites that lead to your site. Search engines look for signs that your website is credible, and having reputable sites link to yours is a key signal. When your website’s credibility is enhanced through backlinks, it improves your search engine rankings.

If you’re putting time and money into your link building efforts, you’ll want to know why it matters and how to see if they pay off. Search engines evaluate several criteria when determining rankings. According to Databox, backlinks are the third most influential factor when it comes to SEO, after content and keywords. 

Graph showing most important factors in SEO. Source: Databox
Graph showing most important factors in SEO. Source: Databox

Backlinks act as signs of authority and relevance. Think of them as an endorsement from another site. If that site also has a high domain authority and connects to your subject area, you can consider it a high quality link. When the search engine bots see those high quality links, they determine that your site is a valuable and trusted source of information.

Your demonstration of authority, value, trust, and relevance pays off because it’ll earn you a higher place in the rankings. Appearing higher up in the results leads to more people choosing to visit your site, giving you a boost in organic traffic.

While the concept is simple, the actual link building process involves several stages that require considerable time and effort. A large part of the work involves identifying sites that are relevant to your niche. Added to that is the aspect of content creation that crafts guest posts that incorporate your link while also fitting the style and tone of the host site. 

Creating backlinks involves skill, time, and effort, which is why managing the process in-house can be difficult. According to Ascend2, 41% of SEO experts say that link building is the most challenging part of search engine optimization.

Graph showing the most difficult aspects of SEO Source: Conductor 
Graph showing the most difficult aspects of SEO Source: Conductor 

Search engines have specific rules about what makes a good backlink, which is why link building expertise is crucial. Taking shortcuts to gain a lot of backlinks in a short period can raise a red flag with Google and other search engines. Plus, if you purchase spammy links, it’ll hurt your ranking. 

Why Businesses Consider Outsourcing

There are several reasons why businesses decide to outsource link building. Before we take a closer look at them, let’s explore the benefits of the practice.

  • Link building efforts are scalable
  • Expertise means avoiding penalties from search engines
  • Experienced teams save time and build links more efficiently
  • Expertise and experience increase the potential for higher quality links

Reasons for outsourcing link building often result from two factors: addressing in-house limitations and improving efficiency and results. Here are some of the common reasons why businesses choose to outsource.

Saving Time

One of the main reasons businesses outsource link building services is that it’s time-consuming. Doing it in-house will often involve recruiting a team or training existing staff. Only once those processes are complete can you start designing and implementing an effective link building strategy. On top of that, the act of building links takes time for research, content creation, and maintenance. 

Expertise and an Established Process

When you outsource your link building, you work with experts. They know how to improve your search engine rankings, which means all they need to do is understand your business and aims before they implement a successful strategy. 

Link building agencies know exactly what to look for when it comes to avoiding spam and delivering quality links that Google and other search engines recognize.

Graph showing obstacles to hitting SEO targets. Source: Conductor 
Graph showing obstacles to hitting SEO targets. Source: Conductor 

Ability to Focus on the Business

The work required to implement a link building strategy takes the attention away from other business operations. Core business activities shouldn’t suffer so that your website’s search engine rankings improve, which is why many businesses choose to outsource link building. 

Businesses want to grow as their traffic increases, and focusing on delivering excellent products or services and superb customer support is the top priority.

Successful businesses can find several reasons for outsourcing link building and then reap the benefits. However, it doesn’t come without potential drawbacks and risks that need to be mitigated. Going into the process with your eyes wide open is one of the best ways to prepare for success and handle any setbacks along the way.

When you outsource link building services, you experience many benefits. Not only do you save time and get to focus on your product or service and customers, but you also get a better outcome thanks to the efficiency and expertise of an experienced link building team. Keep reading to find out how those benefits will affect your business.

Access to Expert Knowledge and Experience

Expertise and experience is invaluable when it comes to backlinks. It’s an area of SEO that’s easy to get wrong, and when you do, there are consequences. Without the right know-how, it’s possible to make your ranking worse through toxic links and approaches that raise red flags, known as black hat link building. An experienced team will have a track record of achieving results using white hat link building practices that won’t get you penalized.

Efficiency and Time Saving

It takes time to find the right sites for backlinks. Once you add building a strategy and creating content, it’s clear that the in-house route will take a lot of time before you see results. 

Many in-house teams are restricted in how much they can achieve due to the volume of work, whereas an agency can hit the ground running and dedicate their attention to the task.

That dedicated attention to the task improves the potential for higher-quality backlinks. A good link building agency will be meticulous when it comes to identifying potential sites. They’ll also have the required resources and knowledge for seamlessly adding links to existing content and creating suitable guest posts. 

While in-house teams struggle with the work volume, agencies are built for scalability. They can hit the ground running with a large team when it comes to designing and implementing link building strategies. 

Later, you can pare back to cover maintenance with steady growth. You can pick up the pace again to build on your hard-earned brand awareness with an expanded team able to focus on link building campaigns content creation for more guest posts.

Ability to Focus on Core Business Activities

Backlinks are a road to growth. When you outsource to an agency, they can build the road, and you can focus on where it leads. Once you achieve a higher ranking, you’ll increase brand awareness and organic traffic. 

The result is more customers interested in your products or services. With an agency handling backlinks, the business can focus on fulfilling orders and exceeding customer expectations through support and other areas.

When outsourcing link building services, there are some risks and drawbacks. However, they’re not a foregone conclusion. In most cases, you can remove or mitigate them by choosing the agency wisely and adapting your approach. Let’s investigate the disadvantages and the ways that you can counteract them.

Backlinks are only one part of SEO, and while they’re important, they shouldn’t be your main focus. When you work with a link building agency, there’s a risk that your on-page and off-page efforts become disjointed. You’ll need to have a firm understanding of your SEO priorities, business values, and goals so that you can share them with the external team. 

Finding a Reputable Provider Is Essential

Relying on someone else’s expertise puts you in a precarious position, as you don’t know if they’ll deliver what they promise. They could be ineffective, do more harm than good, or overcharge. Due diligence is required, including checking testimonials, setting up introductory meetings, and having frank discussions about pricing and what’s possible. 

Considering Costs and Budget Constraints

The initial phases of a link building strategy can require a lot of time and effort, which needs to come out of your marketing budget. Assigning the necessary budget can be challenging for small businesses. Remember that successful outsourcing increases revenue in the long run. Plus, it can be more cost-effective than hiring or training an in-house team, especially as that’s harder to scale to suit your needs.

One of the most daunting aspects of outsourcing link building is giving control to someone outside your business. There’s no guarantee that they’ll respect and value what you’ve built the way you do. 

You can mitigate that risk through communication. Getting preapproval on the websites that are approached and the content that’s published gives you back some control.

Risk of Unethical Practices

Working with an agency doesn’t guarantee white hat practices. Some teams resort to shortcuts and black hat link building techniques that will inevitably harm your rankings and SEO efforts. 

Spotting unethical practices isn’t easy, but you can adjust your approach from the start to make it less likely. Encourage transparency from the beginning. It’s reasonable to ask for insights into how they’ll achieve your goals when you start working together and throughout the process.

Weighing the Benefits Against the Risks

The benefits are so appealing that you might want to rush into outsourcing to a link building agency immediately. However, to protect your business, you need to look at any drawbacks. Reviewing your overall strategy and values is the ideal way to make the decision.

Budget, resources, current SEO efforts, and results will all inform your decision. Getting quotations and a free trial from an agency can help you see what’s involved and stand out from the competition without as many risks.

Pie chart showing the percentage of sites with referring domains pointing to them. Source: Databox
Pie chart showing the percentage of sites with referring domains pointing to them. Source: Databox

You can address most of the drawbacks by setting your expectations, adapting your approach, and prioritizing clear communication. 

Finding the right partner is a crucial piece of the puzzle, as is understanding the industry’s best practices. With that in mind, we’re dedicating the rest of the article to helping you achieve that.

Most of the work will be done by the link building agency, which means your main task when outsourcing is finding the right partner. Identifying desirable criteria, knowing what to avoid, and asking insightful questions line the path to success. We’ve paved the way with our tips below.

Key Criteria for Selecting a Provider

The agency that you choose to run your link building campaign needs to meet certain criteria. Coming up with this list before you approach any link building agencies means you’ll know what to look for and, most importantly, will be able to communicate your needs. It saves time and ensures better results.

You want someone who knows what they’re doing, and the best way to see that is to look at past results. The criteria you could set is to find an agency with more than five years of experience, and that has worked with companies in your industry or niche before. Additionally, you can focus on the number and quality of links they’ve built in the past and the resulting ranking increase.

Transparency in Their Methods and Practices

Transparency is necessary for a successful working relationship, but it’s also vital when it comes to avoiding unethical practices. Your initial searches should prioritize link building companies that mention white hat techniques. 

To take that a step further, the agency should clearly outline its methods when pitching its link building services. Look for detailed explanations, a willingness to provide direct answers to questions, and ensure a process will be in place for monitoring progress. 

Reputation and Reviews from Other Clients

Your criteria should include a top rating and positive reviews. Testimonials on the agency sites are an excellent starting point for understanding what they can achieve. However, we also recommend checking review sites to ensure you’re getting unbiased opinions. It’s also your opportunity to see if they’re a good fit based on whether they’ve worked with companies in your industry and of a similar size. 

Range of Services Offered

Agencies can handle certain elements of the process or cover the whole project from start to finish. Plus, some specialize in specific areas. If your budget is limited, you’ll want a company that’s flexible. 

Consider whether you need help with your strategy, identifying and reaching out to sites, directory listings, and guest post content creation. Once you know which aspects you need and can afford, find an agency that matches your priorities.

Pricing and Value for Money

You’ll need to complete some research to understand how much it costs to achieve your goals and carry out the tasks you’ve identified. When you outsource link building services, it’s essential to set a budget that considers the return on investment (ROI). While you’re paying for the work, make sure that it comes with results so that you get value for money. Setting targets for key phases keeps everyone on track. 

Red Flags to Watch Out For

Focusing on what you want is useful, but it can cause you to overlook some red flags. When choosing a link building agency, knowing what to avoid is just as valuable. With that in mind, we’ve listed the biggest red flags in the industry to watch out for.

Signs of Black Hat SEO Practices

Purchasing backlinks is a black hat SEO technique. Search engines have strict policies about buying and selling links in an attempt to manipulate ranking. You’ll face penalties that will hurt your ranking. Paid links can lack relevance, and there won’t be a paper trail for the approach and content creation.

Overpromising Results and Unrealistic Guarantees

SEO, and especially backlinks, are part of a slow, ongoing process to improve visibility and website traffic. The results are worth it, but they take time. If an agency pitches its link building services and promises that its work will get you to the number one ranking spot in a month, it’s a sign to avoid them. It can take two months or more for your ranking to move up the rankings.  

Lack of Transparency and Communication

Transparency and communication are essential when you’re handing over some control in the marketing and SEO process. If the agency hides its processes, frequently leaves out details, or doesn’t respond in a timely manner, take that as a warning sign. They may have something to hide or won’t prioritize your account and your needs if you proceed. 

Poor Customer Service and Support

One of the biggest barriers to effective communication is when you can’t get hold of the team whenever you need help. If they’re not upfront about how their customer service works and who to contact, and there are no positive testimonials or reviews, avoid them.

Hidden Costs and Unclear Pricing Structures

When you’ve worked hard to manage your budget and allocate funds for link building efforts, you won’t want to be hit with any nasty surprises. The quotation you get when you agree on the scope of work is what you should pay at the end unless you’ve agreed to any extras after seeing the price. 

Questions to Ask Potential Providers

When outsourcing link building, you need to find out if a provider is a good match. Asking the right questions can reveal any red flags and get you closer to your goal. The answers to these questions will give you insight into the process and potential results.

  • What’s your approach to link building and strategy? 

You’re looking for white hat techniques and to see if they understand your niche. The answer will show you whether they know how to implement effective link building strategies with realistic efforts, goals, and timelines. 

  • How do you ensure link quality and relevance? 

This question builds on the previous one by requesting specific details about how they choose links, anchor text, topics, and sites for guest posts. It demonstrates that you know quality and relevance are important and that you’ll hold any prospective agency to high standards.

  • How will we communicate, and how will you report your progress? 

This question gives the provider a chance to identify whether regular phone calls will be scheduled to handle any queries and give a quick progress update. Additionally, you’ll see if they’ll provide written reports with tracking and analysis.

  • Can you provide examples of past successes and case studies in our industry? 

This question gets to the heart of the matter in finding out whether they understand the challenges you face. Ideally, they’ll answer by identifying them and outlining how they’ve overcome similar issues in the past. Look out for specific statistics or anecdotes on the results and how they helped other companies.

  • How do you handle changes in SEO algorithms and trends? 

Search engines refine their processes, and it’s up to SEO agencies to keep up. When they answer this question, it’s their opportunity to demonstrate their expertise and how they keep their finger on the pulse.

At Buzznberry, we know that nothing can replace expertise. We don’t use our knowledge of how the link building system works to take shortcuts. We pride ourselves on being an ethical link building agency that knows that naturally building authority and high quality links are what get results.

Our four-step approach offers a unique value proposition as we have comprehensive services with tailored solutions. From developing a strategy and prospecting to links to personalizing our outreach efforts, we adapt to your industry and needs. The finishing touch is strategic link placement that boosts organic traffic.

As a link building specialist, we’re happy to share our results and how we get there. We prioritize quality above quantity, and accountability and integrity are two of our core values. Most importantly, we know that our results speak for themselves, so we provide case studies showing our results in the travel niche, education, and other industries.

Home improvement link building case study
Buzznberry home improvement industry case study results for organic traffic increase.

Partnering with Buzznberry means that you’ll have SEO and backlink experts on your side. A dedicated account manager handles the process and keeps you up to date. You’ll get niche-relevant links on sites with a high domain authority through a strategy that only uses white hat techniques.  

At Buzznberry, we use our expertise on what search engines look for to develop your link building strategy. We tailor our approach to your needs, whether that’s link edits within your niche or creating guest posts through our content writing services. The SEO-optimized articles contain do-follow links and pass AI and plagiarism checks.

Your business needs a solution that meets the challenges of your niche, which is why we customize all of our plans. From the language and the industry to your goals, we develop and implement a link building strategy to match. A crucial part of the process is monitoring progress and using that evaluation to continuously improve.

When you outsource link building services, you form a partnership. What you bring to the table matters just as much as what the external provider does. Following best practices saves you from wasting time and money, as you’ll know what to expect and do at every stage of the process.

Establishing Clear Goals and Expectations

Beyond setting criteria for the kind of link building agency you want to work with, you’ll also need to do a little work in-house to determine what you want to achieve. Before you proceed, turn that into specific and measurable link building goals. 

Setting specific goals means the outsourced link building provider you partner with will know what to work towards. Crucially, it also means that you’ll be able to track your progress and clearly see your success. Communicating those goals clearly, including providing some reasoning behind them, will strengthen your partnership, as the agency will understand what matters most to you.

While improving your search engine results pages (SERP) ranking is part of the link building process, your goals should focus on what matters in the end: improved traffic. One example of a link building objective is to grow your organic traffic by 100% in a year. Subgoals could involve identifying 10 industry-relevant websites and creating and publishing a set number of guest posts.

Maintaining Open Communication

When it comes to best practices for outsourcing link building, open communication is essential but often overlooked. It takes consistent effort. You can make it easier by scheduling updates and check-ins. Stick to those catch-up calls, and you’ll have the opportunity to iron out most issues before they do any harm.

Transparent communication comes from being honest and from creating the right environment. 

Feedback is part of the communication process. Regular updates and tracking performance mean you can respond to what’s happening in a timely way. Positive and negative feedback have their place. Both allow you to adjust and refine the process to get closer to the results you want.

Putting the right tools in place from the start ensures accountability and transparency. There are several communication and collaboration tools out there. When you discuss communication frequency, talk about which channels you’ll use, including email, video calls, file sharing, and more. 

Monitoring Progress and Performance

Your link building strategy is a living document, which means you need to revisit it and review it based on the current data. That’s only possible when you follow the best link building practices for monitoring and tracking. Google Analytics is an ideal starting point for accessing key metrics for daily visitor numbers and organic traffic growth.

Travel link building case study
Buzznberry travel industry case study increase in daily website visitors.

As well as looking at your success, you’ll want to monitor the links and their performance. Checking domain authority is a key part of the process. You can use a tool, such as Moz’s free domain analysis, to check your domain authority and that of any website’s authority where your link will be published.  

Once you have your data and reports, it’s essential to analyze them. They’ll show you if you’re on track and give you the opportunity to test different approaches to refine your link building strategy. Reaching your goals takes time, so it’s important to check in regularly to ensure you’re performing as expected.

Ensuring Ethical Practices

When using an outsourced link building service, it’s essential that you’re on the same page about ethical practices. Not only will search engines penalize black hat techniques, but it’s not a sustainable approach for growth. Find out how they work and be clear about your desire to only use white hat link building techniques.

Focusing on high-quality, relevant and valuable content helps ensure you follow an ethical approach. When user experience is at the heart of your SEO and backlinks strategies, then you’ll experience more benefits and long-term success without needing to resort to black hat link building techniques.

Your link building strategy needs to be flexible and agile. If you outsource link building, you’ll want the provider to stay on top of algorithm updates and SEO trends. While these changes can be challenging, if your link building strategy has room for adjustment and continuous improvement, then you’ll easily adapt to stay on track.

When you work with an adaptable and knowledgeable provider with quality link building services, you can make changes on the go and talk to them about future-proofing your efforts. The best teams are one step ahead, and they plan for changes based on their experience in SEO and quality backlinks.

Conclusion

Outsourced link building comes with many benefits, including improving your brand awareness and driving organic traffic. Working with link building agencies can also have drawbacks, but when you mitigate them and choose the right provider, you can have a smoother experience and get better results.

When you decide to outsource link building, following best practices ensures your success. Monitoring performance, ensuring open communication, and setting goals and expectations from the start are crucial to growing your business through SEO. Contact Buzznberry to discuss your needs.

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