The 5 things You Should Know Before Hiring an Agency or Consultant for Link Building

Link building is one of the most important aspects of ranking your website

If you want your website to rank higher in search engines for specific keywords, you will need to do link building—it’s essential. There are several ways to go about link building, including doing it yourself. In most cases, however, building links on your own can be a daunting task. Most people get bogged down in trying to determine the most effective method for securing relevant backlinks. It leads them to search fora partner who can handle their link building.

The main reason link building is so difficult is because there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” solution. Every website and industry is different, and everything from approach to cost will depend on both. Similarly, there are many options for hiring someone to help you build good backlinks to your website. 

How do you determine whether a prospective partner is a good fit? Here are the five things you should know before hiring an agency or consultant for link building.

1. Experience

You’ll want to find an agency or consultant that has significant experience with link building. Do they have a team that does this specifically? Do they have a database of opportunities from relationships they’ve built in the past? All this is important to consider when choosing the right vendor.

Anyone can say they’re a link building expert. Even worse, anyone can buy junk backlinks to manufacture results. The only way to get real, meaningful results from a link building partner is to pick someone with demonstrable success and relevant experience. In many cases you’ll end up paying more, but an investment in experience is well worth it. 

2. Cost 

Many large agencies charge you more because they have a large office, overhead for events and employees they need to pay. The larger the agency, the higher the retainer you’ll pay. That’s not inherently bad—you just want to make sure you know what you’re paying for. It may still be worth it,depending on the ROI you’re likely to see.

On the flip side, there are smaller agencies and consultants that do a great job at a lower cost—just vet them to ensure they know what they’re doing. There are some that say they are “experts in SEO,”but they don’t actually know that much about SEO outside of a link-building perspective. Working with a low-cost partner like this is not likely to provide results you’ll be pleased with over the long term.

Some agencies charge for growing your website’s domain authority(DA; more on that below). For example, you may have the option of going from a 15 DA to a 25 DA, in which case you’repaying for results instead of paying per link. Also, keep in mind there should be hours allotted for research and consulting while an agency works on your link portfolio.

NOTE: You should stay far away from any company that has a "package" for SEO or link building, that is a red flag that their work isn't valuable.

3. Strategy

Strategy is essential to any link building campaign. No reputable company blindly approaches link building. To ensure the company you’ve chosen has a responsible approach, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

These are some of the questions that should be asked from your vendor before you engage them:

  • What are the 10-20 keywords you want to rank for?
  • Who are your top 3 competitors?

Beyond these basic questions, the company or consultant you hire should evaluate your website and deem it ready to jump into link building. After all, your website should be one other sites want to link to! Don’t be offended or suspicious if a consultant recommends some on-site work before launching a link building effort.

Here are some reasons you wouldn't want to start link building:

  • Your website has glaring issues. For example, if the speed is slow or there’s no SSL/https certificate. Your website should have an updated look and feel, be easy to navigate, and have no obvious errors.
  • Your URL structure needs an update. If search engines can’t crawl your website correctly, you can do all the link building you want but it won’t be effective because your site structure isn’t properly set up.
  • You haven’t done keyword research. Along with link building, on-page optimization and content are other important factors in ranking a page. If you have weaknesses there, you don’t want to start link building

Along with the items above, any consultant or agency you hire should do competitive intelligence/analysis and an audit on your website, to determine the most effective strategy for your link building campaign. 

4. Results

Does the agency or consultant have a history of producing results? They should at least have some cases studies or examples of how they’ve assisted companies in link building and produced good results for their clients. One caveat is that some agencies/consultants may work with many companies in the same industries or companies that want to remain anonymous, or they may have non-disclosure agreements where they specifically can’t name the clients. Similarly, there are many options for hiring someone to help you build good backlinks to your website. You can always plan your backlinks campaign and try to "win" as much as possible. Check this How to Plan Your Backlinks guide from OutreachMama and try to implement it on your link building activities.

What is their websites Domain Authority(DA)?  

Remember domain authority from above? This becomes an important factor in not only measuring and understanding the results of a link building campaign or past successes, but also in vetting the company you’re working with. According to

"Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank. Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and number of total links, into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the "ranking strength" of a website over time."

If the agency/consultant does not have a DA north of 20, you should not hire them for link building. If they know how to do link building correctly, they should have a DA higher than 20 for their own website.

5. Client References

Client references are important for a variety of reasons. Is this agency/consultant honest and transparent about their work?Have they done a good job? Do they do what they say they will? Yes, it’s important to hear about their work, but learning more about how the agency/consultant operates and interacts with its clients is the most important and useful benefit of getting references. Results can vary—character, honesty, and transparency can’t.

Make a Smart Choice!

Hopefully these five things will help you make a decision to move forward with a link building partner. One more piece of advice—don’t limit yourself to hiring a locally-based agency/consultant. There are plenty of good vendors you can hire remotely, so keep an open mind when searching for the right fit. 

About the Author

My name is Cale Loken and I'm a digital marketing consultant located in Minneapolis. My agency, 301 Madison Consulting, works with businesses to bring them more new customers from their online digital presence. I enjoy writing articles from time to time, so I appreciate you checking out our blog.

Cale Loken

Marketing Consultant

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