Link-building services have always been a part of the SEO world because, let’s face it, building (the right) links isn’t always the easiest thing in the world to do.
It can be repetitious, boring, thankless and sometimes futile.
Yup, there’s nothing like spending more time than it takes to watch all of the Star Wars movies (except that dumpster fire of a film, Episode I — no one should have to endure that again), only to find that the links didn’t stick and all your work was for nothing.
But like it or not, backlinks are still a huge part of organic ranking algorithms. If you want to show up where your potential visitors are searching, you need them. And you need them to be quality, relevant and a whole bunch of other pain-in-the-rear qualifications.
So, it’s no wonder that Internet marketers often turn to link-building services to handle these tasks. But if online marketing was as easy as throwing some money at a service, then we’d all be as rich as the people hocking information products on the Warrior Forum pretend to be.
Finding a high-quality and effective link-building service is no easy task and even if you do, there are no guarantees you will get and keep your rankings.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of paying for link-building to better understand what we’re getting into here:
Link-Building Service Pros
So what are the advantages of using a link-building service? Let's start with possibly the best part:
You Don’t Do It
Just because it’s obvious, doesn’t mean it’s not right! Unless you’re part of the 1 percent of the population (and I'm just estimating that number) that truly loves link-building, it really can suck the will to live right out of you.
They are “Professionals”
When I turn a screw, I have to mouth the words “Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey” to make sure I’m doing it correctly. But give me enough time, YouTube videos and trips to Home Depot, and I can do some basic home repairs. But a professional handyman can do a far superior job much faster. Link-builders are the same way. They have their systems down to a science and can knock out the nitty-gritty of building links better and faster than the rest of us.
You Have More Time
With your link-building outsourced, you can focus on whatever else your online business needs to grow: getting more clients, building more affiliate sites, launching new campaigns, creating content and so on.
Link-Building Service Cons
No service is without its flaws. And while you may find the advantages outweigh the benefits in the end, here's what you need to consider:
It Costs Money
It’s a weird concept, but people want money for their time and effort these days. If you’re just starting off and don’t have capital to spare, a link-building service is going to be a tough expense to justify.
You Can Still Screw It Up
Even the best link-building services can’t protect your business from you. You could throw tons of money at building links for the wrong keywords (too competitive, not monetizable, low traffic) and not see a return on your investment. You could also over-optimize your anchor text and buy your way right into a search engine penalty. Now, a good link-building service will save you from yourself, but do you think some outsourcer from Fiverr really cares?
You can vet a link-building company till the cows come home, but this is SEO and it’s going to take a while for you to see results. After spending for a couple of months you could be looking at a lot less money and no results.
Google Can Flip a Switch at Any Moment
While there are some universal link-building commandments all good link-builders follow, search engines are a dynamic playground. All it takes is one tweak of the algorithms from Mountain View and the blueprint your link-builders have been following is torn to shreds. The recent decimation of huge private blog networks and the latest Penguin refresh showed a lot of people who thought they were beyond the reach of Google that, in fact, they were not.
Should You Roll the Dice?
At the end of the day using a link-building service is gambling.
You’re betting money (the cost of the service) that you will get an expected outcome (higher rankings) which will make you more money than you spent. Like any gamble, you can shift the odds more in your favor by being educated, staying on top of the latest trends/news and going with a high quality link-builder.
It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it or not.
Personally, I look at using these services differently considering the context. For example:
- In addition to writing for this awesome blog, I am also the Digital Marketing Director for a group of large automobile dealerships. I wouldn’t risk using a link-building service to increase our rankings simply because of what’s at stake. If we lost our organic rankings our sales would drop, hundreds of people who depend on these businesses to support themselves and their families would be affected and (most importantly/selfishly) I’d lose my job.
- Since I don’t like sleep, I also have a small business that provides online marketing services and consulting to local businesses. If the client is aggressive and willing to spend the money, I educate them about link-building services and clearly spell out the dangers and rewards. If they decide to risk it, then that’s their call.
- And because insomnia is really fun, I also build affiliate sites. If they are making money, then I proceed cautiously. If they aren’t, I don’t mind getting fast and loose with link-building. Best case scenario, I break into the top 10 and make some money. Worse case scenario, the site becomes a test site for SEO research and I’m only out the time and money it took to build the site and links.
Look at your own situation very carefully and proceed accordingly.
If Google laid your site and rankings to waste, could you still sleep at night? If Junior’s college fund depends on your marketing business or you’ll be greeting people at the local Super Store if things go sideways, then steer clear.What have been your experiences with link-building services? Have you reaped the rewards or been crushed by the risks?