Should you outsource SEO link building or keep it in-house?

By Dan Butler
SEO 07.04.2020

In an ideal world companies wouldn’t have to worry about link building. Perfect search engines with perfect algorithms would precisely rank content for every imaginable search. These infallibly indexed web pages would gain links naturally from other websites and we’d all sleep better at night knowing that link earning was taking care of everything.


Unfortunately, this image of search utopia is not currently how things work (well, for the vast majority of websites anyway). As everyone in the SEO world is all too familiar, not all websites are created equal. The bigger, more established sites with authority coming out of their ears earn links, smaller and newer sites generally have to work for them.

Now, don’t despair – the internet is an ever expanding pie that offers link opportunities for even the smallest of sites. The key is knowing the best way to go about acquiring quality links from relevant websites. This article will explore your options and share insights and advice compiled from the wider online community.

You essentially have two options: keep it in-house or outsource link building to specialists.

BUT before you even start looking at your link building options, you need to make sure you understand why link building is so important. Alongside technical, onsite and content, it’s one of the four core pillars of SEO. Neglect any one of these pillars and you risk your whole campaign collapsing on top of you. Here’s why you need to take link building seriously to truly see your website prosper.

So how do you decide whether you’d be better off outsourcing link building?

Here are some questions you need to answer:

  • Do you have the expertise to build links yourself?
  • Do you have the time to build links yourself?
  • Are you able to scale your link building efforts?

If your answer to all of the above was ‘yes’ then you’re all good, no need to consider outsourcing at this time. If your answer to any of these questions was ‘no’, you’re gonna want to read on.

So, you’ve decided you probably don’t have the expertise, resources or time to execute a fully fledged link building strategy. There’s no shame in that; most startups and growing businesses are in the same situation – they’re short on time. At least you have the acumen to consider your options when it comes to seeking professional guidance.


“Link building is a tedious process and as competition grows, it is something that needs to be focused on more and more. Our company has been online for over 5 years, and now that we are starting to see some serious sales numbers each year, we needed to invest more time in link building to stay ahead of the competition”

Jeff Moriarty
Owner of custom jewelry business More Gems.


The next question you have to answer is…

Do you have the budget to outsource link building?

The costs involved in link building services vary widely. From sporadic pay-per-link services to more strategic SEO campaigns, the bottom line is you get what you pay for.

While you initially may be reluctant to spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds a month on an outsourced service, the reality is that most link building services will cost you significantly less than if you were to do the work yourself. As any digital marketer will tell you, link building is one of the most time-consuming aspects of SEO, where a success rate of 10% would be met with open jaws and a standing ovation.

Even hiring an in-house link builder is almost always more expensive, and the chances are they will lack the collective experience and expertise of a specialist agency.


Outsourcing link building can also be a good option if you’re suffering from link building fatigue. If you’ve been working on this campaign for a while, a fresh perspective from an expert can inject some new life and new ideas.

Sam Orchard
Creative Director at digital agency Edge of The Web

Making your mind up

To help you decide whether your business should outsource link building once and for all, we have listed the pros and cons below:


Benefits of outsourcing link building:

  • Saves you time – outsourcing link building will take the most time-consuming, labour-intensive part of SEO out of your hands. You and your team can concentrate on what you’re best at while the pros take care of the rest.
  • Saves you money (in the long run) – while outsourcing will obviously be an additional cost (usually a monthly fee), paying a specialist agency will save you the time and money of doing it yourself or the considerable expense of hiring an employee and the necessary software and tools.
  • Gives you peace of mind – gaining links from relevant, authoritative sites is one of the most important aspects of SEO. Link building specialists will have the experience and expertise to secure them, provided you choose the best service for your needs.

While many companies that outsource link building enjoy great results over time, there are some aspects of outsourcing and potential pitfalls that you need to be aware of.


Issues with outsourcing link building:

  • Losing a degree of control – it comes with the territory of outsourcing. Deferring to specialists can seem like you’re relinquishing control but remember you should always have the final say, especially when it comes to direction and goals.
  • Expecting quick wins – link building, like SEO in general, takes time and patience to realise any long-term, meaningful results. A combination of clear KPIs from the start and ongoing patience will ensure the greatest chance of success.
  • Choosing a bad service – this point cannot be stressed enough. Outsourcing link building to an unscrupulous or inept provider can cause more damage to your site’s ranking ability than not doing any link building at all. Due diligence is key!

“When outsourcing link building, there is only one thing you need to consider – the return on investment. A lot of times, companies that buy link building as a service have no idea why they need links built to their content. If you can’t tie new links to a specific goal, you probably don’t need to outsource building links – you need to revise your entire strategy instead”

Malte Scholz
CEO of prioritization and roadmapping software company Airfocus


How to choose the right SEO link building service

So, if you’ve come this far then we can presume you realise the importance of link building, you’ve figured you’re better off outsourcing and you’re probably wondering how to make sure you find the right people for the job.

Well wonder no longer as we’ve outlined a checklist that will ensure you outsource SEO link building to an agency that’ll give you the most bang for your buck.

Outsourcing link building checklist

  1. What evidence do they have of link building success? – every agency should be able to produce examples of the links they have built in previous campaigns, even if it’s not relevant to your industry. Look out for the following:
    • The quality of the linking site (domain authority, organic traffic, whichever metric is appropriate.)
    • The relevance of the linking site (does it make sense for the two sites in question to be linked?)
    • The quality of the content (is the content well written and does it offer value to its target audience?)
  2. What is their link building process? – ask a prospective agency to take you through their process. How do they find relevant websites? How do they reach out to them? Who writes their content? And how do they track their progress? The answers to these questions will give you a pretty good idea of whether a particular agency knows what they are doing. Beware of over promising and, of course, steer well clear of services that are using Black Hat SEO techniques.
  3. What are the costs? – as discussed above, it’s tempting to lean towards the cheapest outsourcing option but successful link building is all about quality, which comes at a price. Some businesses offer tiered link building services with varying costs, others will offer link building as part of a comprehensive SEO campaign. It’s important to discuss all pricing options to see what would work best for your business and budget.

A final word

While some companies do have the time, resources and expertise to handle all of their own link building in-house, the fact is that most SMEs don’t. That’s where outsourcing can play a transformative but cost-effective role.

Look at your budget, look what’s in your price range and don’t hesitate to test multiple agencies.

As we never tire of saying, link building – like many other aspects of SEO – is a long-term strategy. That’s why it’s so important that you don’t settle until you have found a qualified and experienced link building service that can help your business grow for years to come.

Hell, you might even decide that you and your team can handle link building for the time being, and maybe look to outsource when your budget grows. In any case, at least you’ve seen why link building is so important and what options are available to you.

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