But let’s be honest. Every time you read one of these “start link building!” articles, you feel a crippling sense of anxiety. That this is going to take too much time, or you’re going to screw something up.
Chill out. There’s a solution—you can outsource your link building to a link building agency. The basic idea is to pay someone else to take care of it for you.
But is this strategy really all it’s cracked up to be? Let’s take an honest look at the pros and cons (because there are both) of outsourcing your link building.
Wait, Do I Really Need Link Building?
Quick take—do you really need link building?
The short answer is yes, if you want to rank higher in search engines.
Remember, Google preferentially ranks websites and individual pages based on their level of qualitative trustworthiness—which we in the industry call “authority.” Authority is calculated based on a bunch of things, but most notably, it relies on the number and quality of links pointed to your website (and individual pages).
In other words, no links = no authority.
You can cross your fingers and hope to get links naturally on your own, but it’s much better to be proactive and build them intentionally.
A link building agency can help you do this—so let’s get to the real pros and cons, beyond the initial benefits of link building itself.
Pro: You’ll Save Time
Building links is time-consuming.
First, you have to make sure you have strong linkable assets on your site, and if you’re just getting started, that could take weeks.
Then, you have to come up with a plan to reach out to individual publishers. If you’re building these relationships from scratch, this can be agonizingly slow.
After that, you’ll have to spend the time and effort writing and editing offsite guest posts—and if your links get removed, you’ll have to start all over again.
Repeat this process ad infinitum. You’ll be following these steps over and over again, reaching out to publishers one at a time until you get your reputation more positive and more prominent.
Doesn’t sound like a fun use of your time, does it?
If you outsource your link building, you won’t have to worry about it. You can sit back and knock out the tasks that matter more to your core business, and let someone else take care of the links.
Con: You’ll Spend More Money
What? You have to pay people for their time? Nonsense.
But yeah, all those hours you would have spent on your own? The tradeoff is money.
Many business owners balk at the price of link building services, at least initially. Some agencies require a deposit or a setup fee before any work is done, which can interrupt your cash flow if you’re a new or small business.
On top of that, you’ll likely be paying at least hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a month, for ongoing link building services. And if you need peripheral work done, like the creation of onsite blog posts or technical onsite SEO, you could pay even more.
Yeesh. Wasn’t the point to make more money with link building, not spend it?
Yes. Which brings us to our next benefit:
Pro: You’ll Be More Cost-Efficient, Long-Term
The upfront costs may be hard to look at if you’ve never participated in link building before, but the long-term benefits are more than worth it.
Link building has a few important things going for it as a long-term marketing strategy, at least in terms of return on investment (ROI).
First, it provides cumulative power as you increase your authority; your earliest links, by themselves, won’t provide much of a return. But as you reach out to bigger and more prominent publishers, each link increases in value.
Second, links are permanent (or semi-permanent), meaning they’ll keep sending you authority and traffic until they’re manually removed. With 100 links pointing to your site, you’ll essentially have a giant traffic engine that keeps running, even if you decide to discontinue link building services temporarily.
It’s pretty awesome, and these effects start kicking in after just a few months. Long-term, all the money you pay will come back to you, and then some (assuming you have a strategically executed campaign).
Con: It Takes Time to Build a Relationship
Here’s something: no one knows your brand like you do.
You know your business. You know your industry. You know your customers. You know your competitors.
Handing the reins to someone else and expecting them to write amazing content relevant to your industry is asking a lot.
A good link building agency won’t just blindly build links to your site—they’ll work actively to get to know you and to better understand your brand. But that’s still a process that takes time, and it may be months before you get to a good place of understanding.
This can be annoying. But it’s part of the cost of doing business.
Pro: You’ll Get Instant Access to Top Publishers
The higher the authority of the publisher, the more valuable the link—and links from DA 80+ publishers are downright juicy.
But there’s a catch. High-authority publishers are usually high-authority because they have a ridiculously high bar for the content they accept. In other words, they don’t take submissions from new players on the block with low authority themselves.
The typical solution to this is the stepladder approach. You start getting published on lower-authority publishers until you make a name for yourself, gradually working your way up.
But guess what? Link building agencies typically already have relationships with those high-authority publishers. If you work with them, they can get you higher on the ladder much faster—without the grunt work.
Con: You’ll Rely Extensively on Your Partner
Naturally, there’s a downside to this.
Let’s say you build a few high-authority links with the help of the content writers, editors, and other professionals at the link building agency. Then, you decide to withdraw and pursue link building on your own.
You won’t have the connections to the high-authority publishers you used to, nor do you have access to the same team or the same resources.
You’ll still get the benefits from the links you’ve already built, but from here, you’ll have to start from scratch. That’s why most people who pursue link building with a partner end up sticking with that partner indefinitely.
Pro: You Can Scale at Your Own Pace
That said, you can still exercise a great deal of control.
Most link building agencies are very flexible; they want to provide services that meet your needs, whatever those needs happen to be.
If you’re just starting out and you only want to dip your toes in the link building water, you can purchase one-off articles to get some publicity for yourself.
If you decide you want to triple your output and start aggressively reaching out to higher-authority publishers, you can do that too—and you can pull the trigger any time.
By contrast, if you hire an internal team or if you try to do all the work yourself, you’re going to be limited by your own resources. You only have so many hours in a day, and there’s only so much you can do with your own campaign.
This becomes increasingly important if you’re managing link building for multiple sites, or multiple clients.
The reality is, not every link building partner is going to be capable of providing you with the value-oriented, high-quality link building you need to succeed.
Some people are just out to make a quick buck.
Cheap link building agencies usually focus on building links as quickly as possible, with no regard to quality or end user value. They might spam links on forums, or ignore content quality in favor of other factors. In any case, they can do more harm than good.
Similarly, you might have trouble forming a relationship with independent contractors; agencies have access to more resources, and can therefore provide more consistent services.
The solution is to do your due diligence. If a link building deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be sure to check reviews, testimonials, and examples of past work before partnering with anyone.
Pro: You’ll Get Access to a Diversity of Voices
If you do work with a link building agency, you’ll have access to a full team of different writers and link builders, which can be a boon for your link building strategy.
If you don’t like the voice of one content writer, you can ask to see the work of another. If you decide to suddenly ramp up the scope of your campaign, you can recruit multiple writers to work on your account.
Also, though you won’t see the benefit firsthand, robust teams like this are continuously self-improving. Individuals trade tips, learn from each other’s mistakes, and collectively improve much faster than they could on their own.
You could attempt to replicate this kind of environment with your own internal team, but it would take a long time—and cost a lot of money.
Con: You Won’t Be Doing Your Own Work
Hey now, the whole point of outsourcing is to make someone do all the work. How is that a downside?
To be fair, there are some perks to doing your own link building. You’ll get firsthand experience, which you can use to develop your own skills and improve your understanding of SEO overall. If you outsource it, you won’t get that experience.
Similarly, doing your own writing can be an empowering experience. You’ll get the chance to research your industry more extensively, learn more about your competitors, and see things through your customers’ eyes.
Also, some business leaders intentionally do their own guest posting as a way to flesh out their personal brand. If you’re the one doing all the guest authorship, your name is the one that gets publicized. This can help you expand your professional network, build more notoriety for yourself, and help build your career.
You might miss some of these opportunities if someone else is doing the heavy lifting.
Pro: It Becomes Someone Else’s Problem (Kind Of)
Of course, when someone else is handling the link building, the troubleshooting and pitfalls become their problem.
Link building agencies want to make you happy, so they’ll do whatever it takes to make your campaign a success. That means if a link is removed from an article, they’ll most likely try to replace it.
If a certain approach isn’t working, they’ll brainstorm a way to change it or improve it.
If you’re not seeing the results you want, they’ll work with you to adjust your strategy.
You’re still responsible for monitoring your campaign and providing input, but at the end of the day, your link building agency will take much of the accountability for your results.
The Bottom Line
So is outsourcing your link building worth it?
Link building is one of the best marketing strategies out there, and it’s vital for ranking higher in search engines. And overall, there are more strengths in outsourcing your link building than weaknesses.
There are lots of variables to consider, of course, including the price you’re paying and the experience level of your partner, but in most cases, you’re better off working with an expert than trying to manage everything yourself.
Get out there and start talking to some link building professionals. You might be surprised at how much you can accomplish with a few months of consistent, pro-level link building!
In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International.
He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building. Connect with Sam on Linkedin.
In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International. He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building. Connect with Sam on Linkedin.