These days it’s very easy to find digital marketing agencies which offer the best link building service that will skyrocket your rankings. The challenge is finding the one that can actually deliver on that promise.
And what makes a link building service great anyway? The answer depends on what you expect to get.
In our experience, clients look for link quality (duh!), transparency, flexibility, consistency, and – this might be surprising to some – great communication. They want to be sure that the message and content we send in their name is something they can be proud of.
That is a high bar to reach. You need to check A LOT of different boxes. As an experienced, custom-link building agency that delivers a premium service, we identified 11 control points you can use to evaluate the quality of the delivered link building services.
First, how to recognize a good backlink?
If you are reading this article, it is safe to assume that you already know the benefits of link building and why links are important.
However, do you know how to recognize a good backlink? Building quality backlinks is at the front and center of all link building efforts. You should be able to distinguish between great, mediocre, and straight up shitty backlinks that can do more harm than good.
Why? Well, we would wager that you do not want to keep paying a premium price for subpar link building service. Or even worse – invoke the rage of Google and get a penalty.
Here’s a quick checklist. The perfect backlink has the following characteristics:
- It comes from a relevant website in your industry.
- That site also has good SEO metrics (organic traffic, Domain Authority, Domain Rating, backlink profile…).
- Ideally, it’s a dofollow link.
- The link is included naturally in the content, with a relevant, but not necessarily highly optimized anchor text. To execute this in practice, it helps if the guest content you are submitting is related to the content on your blog you want to link to.
These are by no means all details that matter, but it is a quick control list you can defer to, regardless of the used link building strategy.
An agency that wants to offer the best link building service possible needs to deliver much more than just a decent backlink. What do we mean by “much more”? To answer that question, we prepared the list below.
11 components of the best link building service
Be it broken link building, resource link building, blogger outreach, or any of the other staple link building strategies, one thing is sure – they are time consuming. It is probably the main reason why link building is one of the most commonly outsourced marketing services.
To help find the right link building partner, here are some criteria they should be able to match or exceed.
QUICK NOTE: To properly review a link building agency, you will have to test them. There is simply no other way to evaluate many of the items we have on the list below.
1) The agency helps you define the right goals
The two most common problems we encounter with new clients are that they either do not have an overarching plan for link building or that they have unrealistic expectations.
Both problems have the same solution – develop a new link building plan that takes into consideration:
- the keywords you want to rank for
- your available budget
- how competitive the keywords are (how hard it is to rank for them)
- what is your starting point (current levels of on-page optimization, the strength and authority of your domain compared to your competitors, the quality of the content on the page compared to competing content)
- how fast do you want to see the results
We want to do work that brings results. If you do not have a well-defined goal, it is very hard to see if you are moving in the right direction. The best link building service needs to have that in mind to ensure the highest ROI.
2) Follows the industry’s best practices
There are a few right ways to build links. There are so many more ways to do it wrong.
The main challenge with white-hat link building is that it is often very time-consuming. Link building agencies have two options:
- either we raise prices of our link building services
- or find ways to streamline our link building processes
From our experience, you have to do both, the question is to which degree you can push each option.
Internal processes can only be efficient up to a point. To stay profitable, while still offering a cheap service, the agency has to start cutting corners somewhere. What that means for you as a client is getting a service that is:
- less personalized and more automated
- relies on shady prearranged deals
- goes for low quality sites with lower standards
- pushes low quality content that is cheap to produce
Whenever an agency offers to build links for less than $200 per link, ask yourself where they are cutting corners to be profitable within that price range.
3) Offers various link building methods
Standard blogger outreach process will work fine in most industries. However, putting all of your eggs in a single basket can be risky.
Maybe you have a great resource on your blog that editors would like to link to, from existing articles. Maybe you want to reach out to influencers and work with them on promoting your latest research. Maybe you already have awesome infographics on your blog that deserve to be seen by a wider audience.
A premium link building agency should be able to adjust to your needs. What’s more, it should be able to recognize those resources on your blog (as well as other opportunities) to improve existing link building efforts.
Remember, guest posting is just one of the ways to build links towards your website.
4) Offers various pre-approval options
An agency that offers the best link building service is not going to hide its processes from their clients. On the contrary, it will allow them to be included in the process (to the degree they wish to be involved).
For example, here at Point Visible, you can:
- pre-approve sites we are going to reach out to
- review the pitches we plan to use
- pre-approve the topics we are going to pitch
- review content before we send it to the editor
On top of that, many of our clients come to us with unique demands. They want to target specific sites with specific anchors, avoid reaching out to sites they have existing relationships with, include links to their sister sites, and so on.
We are happy to accommodate such requests as long as that’s beneficial for the campaign.
However, if we think any of those requirements will hurt the outreach process and make it harder to achieve the set goals, you are going to get some pushback. After all, we believe it is our duty to warn you about potential problems so you can make an informed decision.
5) Provides transparency in regards to budget and workflow
We have many clients that came to us after testing numerous link building services. One thing they hated when working with our competitors was the lack of control and transparency.
At the end of the month, they just got an excel sheet with a list of won links. Some were good, many were mediocre, and a portion of them looked like they were built straight through PBNs.
Businesses that care about the quality of their links will want to know how they were made.
Shady link building agencies do not want to share these details because of the “sausage principle”:
An agency that does everything right will not be afraid to share its recipe.
Here at Point Visible, you get a dedicated project lead, weekly/monthly updates, a detailed budget report, and an invite to our project management tool. If it is a custom campaign where we need to be in touch on a daily basis, we will even set up a Slack workspace where you can talk with the outreach team that’s working on your campaign.
6) Performs manual, personalized outreach
Wherever we get a pitch that starts this way, it goes straight to the trash folder.
As more and more companies invest in link building, the average quality of the pitches that circle around goes down. Editors get both annoyed and picky. The best way to break through to them is with personalized emails. It is a way to show you are putting in the effort.
We’ve already written on how to personalize outreach emails as guest contributors at Pitchbox (a leading outreach tool we use on a daily basis).
Outreach tools help us efficiently manage replies and follow ups, leaving our outreach specialists with more time to personalize emails we send out into the world.
You will rarely find it cost-effective to write every email from scratch. However, that is not out of the question for highly customized campaigns.
Conclusion? Ask your potential link building partner to share some of their pitches with you. Ask them how they personalize their emails. This will tell you how much they care about the process.
7) Has experience in wide-variety of different niches
Every niche is a little bit different.
Magazines in industrial niches like a straightforward approach and technical content.
The travel industry is notorious for sponsored posts because many authoritative sites are held by influencers that use their blog as an additional income stream. The same goes for so-called mommy bloggers.
Marketing and business sites are very open to featuring guest authors, but they are saturated with spammy pitches and low-quality content. You need to find ways to stand out.
These things are hard to anticipate if you’ve never run a campaign in a particular niche. More experienced agencies will have a better insight and be able to adjust their approach based on the industry you want to target.
8) Builds relationships, not just links
Not so long ago, we created an internal round-up and asked our link-building experts to share their best tips for link builders and potential clients alike. One of those tips perfectly summarizes what we are trying to say here. Let’s give Deana, our outreach specialist turned COO, the floor:
“Most outreach campaigns are built as one-time efforts: “Get a link in exchange for something and move on to the next opportunity.” We believe that a better, long-term approach is focusing on building relationships with relevant non-competing sites in your industry, not just getting links.
Maybe you will need the editor’s help with research or a future round-up. Maybe you want to stay in touch and be featured in one of their round-ups. Maybe they are organizing an event or publishing a magazine you want to be featured in. Maybe you want to become a regular contributor at their blog and have constant access to their audience.
There are many reasons why it pays off to nurture relationships with top sites in your niche. Realizing this too late can significantly stifle your link building efforts.”
And we couldn’t agree more.
9) Protects your brand image
Here are examples of some pitches we found in our inboxes just this year:
Do you want your brand to be associated with such emails? I hope not. But that’s what you are going to get with many agencies and freelancers.
Your link building partner should understand your brand voice and represent you in the best light possible. It is an important part of developing the partnerships we mentioned in the previous section.
10) Educates you about the link building process and best practices
What types of websites should you aim for? Should you link to service pages or blog content? What kind of anchors should be used? Are your pages properly optimized for the keywords you want to rank for? Is your link building strategy in line with your goals and your budget?
The best link building agencies will take their time to educate you about the link building process and will always be on the lookout for improvements. After all, your success is their success.
11) Has access to the right tools
Doing link building at scale is impossible without access to the right tools.
For instance, how will you inspect the quality of a certain website/page if you do not have access to MOZ, SEMRush, or Ahrefs to check basic SEO metrics like domain strength, organic traffic, or backlink profile?
The best link building service provider will use premium SEO tools, outreach tools, project management tools, email finder tools, etc.
These tools are not cheap, but they are necessary. Alongside the lack of needed expertise, they are the main reason why companies decide to outsource link building in the first place.
Hire the best link building service today
You guessed it – it is time for a plug!
If it wasn’t clear by now, we believe that we offer one of the best link building services you can find on the market – at a more affordable price than many of our US competitors.