…and this is ALL my research, so you can fast track through this process.
Last Updated On: August 6, 2020
Why was I looking for a link building agency?
- Doing link-building in house is too admin-heavy, expensive.
- Agency provides flexibility to scale it up and scale it down as we need. Don’t have to fire anybody if it’s not working.
- Agencies have developed more expertise with more experience of working with other clients so they can drive better results.
I built this list of link-building services via the following sources
- I asked my Reforge community – a private & paid community of growth practitioners.
- I asked our YCombinator network
- I went through 200+ top Upwork freelancers
- I asked my ex-colleagues
- I asked Tim Soulo from Ahrefs who in turn asked for recommendations in their private mastermind group for me.
So you can understand that it was some pretty significant effort on my part to find the agencies that we ended up going with.
I had 5 filters when choosing a link builder
- Follows only white-hat practices
- Knows SEO well
- Has gotten a DA 80+ link before for their client
While not all the link building services in the list below fit these filters, it should give you a starting point.
Here’s the full list of white-hat link building services
My top learnings on finding a good link-building agency/service/freelancer
- Most good link-builders will offer a minimum guarantee of links. They usually claim that they’ll likely get more links than the minimum guarantee.
- The average guaranteed link costs between $10 – $700 per link. Pricing depends on how small or large your vertical is, domain authority score of the target website, relevance etc.
- Don’t go for link-builders that work with publishers with sponsored posts or PBNs or have their own blogs used for link-building. Very spammy and should be avoided as much as possible as it might hurt your site.
- Don’t let them use your domain for outreach, cold emails hurt your domain’s email deliverability. If that gets affected, your product transactional emails won’t go through too.
- Always pit two agencies against each other (when you’re finalizing) and work with them together in your first month. That gives you a good benchmark on which agency is better and more cost effective.
- Always check a month later if the backlinks are still there or not. That’s another problem with some link-building agencies.
How to identify PBN or ‘bad’ links
You’ll come across a lot of link-builders that will offer you a good per link rate and bring you links from high authority domains. But make sure those domains aren’t part of a PBN (private blog network). Those links negatively affect your site’s SEO traffic.
Whenever I start working with any link-builder, I do a background check of their links to know if they’re legit or not. Here are some steps (hat tip to my ex-colleague Redon Gjika):
- Check if there is any abnormal domain links increase in your SEO tool (I use SEMrush). A domain that got 80% of their domain backlinks within a week or month are a big red flag.
- Perform WhoIs on the domain to see when it was last bought and check what website it was before. Then use WayBackMachine to check the earlier version of the website since it was bought. If the website is full of content 1 week after being bought then it’s most likely a PBN.
- Check the top 10 competitors (US) for the domain. If it’s a bunch of unrelated websites then it sparks some doubt
- Check if the domain is up for sale or not. If it is up for sale, avoid it!
- Check if the link is a no-follow. No-follow links don’t pass on any PageRank value to your domain.
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