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Link Development Forum

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Thoughts on outsourcing link building

 7:41 pm on Feb 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've got a proposal on elance to build links for one of my websites. I've gotten a number of offers for link buidng services..but am skeptical. Any of you use a service/company to do this?

I just don't have the time to do all of the link building and using a service to get 50-100 links for a reasonable fee sounds like a good way to augment what I'm doing..

Thoughts? I really appreciate any advice you can give me.

[edited by: martinibuster at 7:51 pm (utc) on Feb 14, 2010]
[edit reason] See TOS. [/edit]



 7:49 pm on Feb 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've never outsourced link building. I feel it's too critical a job to be trusted to be out of my control.

I have looked at getting the job outsourced and for the most part the low cost work is junk and the high quality work it too expensive for my budget.


 7:57 pm on Feb 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I agree with dertyfern, link building is too critical to outsource. Outsourcing this could be a recipe for disaster if they do a bad job of it.


 8:05 pm on Feb 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't outsource it via elance. I suspect you'll have no idea what you're getting. You might spend $3k and get links that do nothing for you. Pick your link style first - then go outsource.

IMO, in today's market, I personally wouldn't go with an off the shelf SEO package. I'd either fire up a paid blogging campaign or go high end. In the first case you know you're getting high volumes of low quality, and in the second you'd be getting lower volumes of higher quality. Both have their advocates.

In othr words, first spend some time reading and figuring out exactly what type of links you want. You want blog links? Directory links? High end hand built links? etc. Then go find a package or seo company will provide that style of link at the best price.

[edited by: martinibuster at 11:05 am (utc) on Feb 26, 2010]
[edit reason] Removed specifics. [/edit]


 8:35 pm on Feb 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

thanks for the advice guys.

Wheel and others, a few more questions-

1. Wheel mentions types of links..I'm new at this, and hadn't really thought of categorizing links. You mention blog, directory, hand built - what other categories would you suggest are out there? articles, perhaps?

2. Also, I take it Martinibuster would be someone you could outsource the higher value, hand built links?

3. "what types of links you want"..I assume you want a nice mix of all, right?


 9:05 pm on Feb 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

2. Also, I take it Martinibuster would be someone you could outsource the higher value, hand built links?

They should all be 'hand built'.

philipd, if you're not certain what types of links you want you'd help yourself out by educating yourself a bit on the subject.

The best links you can get are the one's that pass the most value to your website and those tend to be had with the most authoritative sites in your niche.

Ask yourself:

1. what sites are the "most important" in my industry? Those are ideally where you want links.

2. what sites link to the "most important" in my industry? You want those also.

Between the two you'll find yourself busy for some time.


 11:54 am on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

You shouldn't look at link building like a choir. Link building is the process of growing your business online when done correctly. You need to ask yourself if you want to grow your business online.


 4:18 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

1. Wheel mentions types of links..I'm new at this, and hadn't really thought of categorizing links. You mention blog, directory, hand built - what other categories would you suggest are out there? articles, perhaps?

You'll not get a simple answer. What's the best car to drive? Classify motor vehicles. It's a big chore what you're asking :).

Here's a broad overview. There are varying qualities of links. One one end, a link from the government agency in your nice - top quality. On the other end, a link from a free directory full of crappy sites.

There are varying ways to get links. Target high end sites, send a personalized email on one end. Fire up a program that autospams 10,000 forums or directories on the other end.

Then there's what works - at different times, varying combinations of the above. So you need to appraise the risk in the various approaches.

For example, I tend to target high profile, authoritative sites with personalized emails. This is an expensive endeavor in terms of time and money, but is very low risk. I don't think Google is going to review my site and decide it shouldn't rank - ever.

On the other hand, last year I saw someone do 1000's of paid directory submissions for a competitive term. They ranked for a few months, then are no where to be seen.

And in the middle, in my niche, is a top ranking site that's huge on buying blog posts. They've been ranking for a couple of years now on very competitive terms. Will the time come when their site doesn't rank anymore? What happens to their business then? It's a difficult risk to assess - I know their sales are in the 8 figures annually so is it such a bad idea? They don't have any backup plan if they do get lose their rankings but in the meantime they're laughing all the way to the bank.

Here's what I suggest. Go back and read every single post in this link development section going back a year or two. that will give you an overview of the environment. It may not tell you specifically what you want to do, but you'll get an understanding of what your options are, and you'll start getting an idea of what the risks are. Then you can either try stuff, or you'll know what questions to ask over at elance.


 11:55 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

wheel - thanks for the thoughtful reply. Time to start reading!


 12:26 am on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Nice post wheel, particularly the part about risk. To me these days your going to have to take a punt in order to play in most of the areas worth playing in... It's a bit of a balancing act.


 2:13 am on Feb 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I actually joined this forum to ask this question. Some great answers here. As an SEO by trade, link buidling is my most hated activity. I sincerely can't stand it. I am looking to build out some sites of my own now and was really going to look into outsourcing it to some Indian or Thai SEO firm. I knew there was probably a risk in that, but probably TOO much of a risk. I think directory links are all but worthless now, and that is about all outsourcing would likely fetch me.


 10:26 pm on Feb 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Unfortunately, link building is an integral part of projects for $2-3/hr on such sites like elance:

Craigslist Posting, Sales Affiliate, Link Builder, Facebook Accounts, e-data entry to spreadsheet, Lead Generation, 100 Phone Verified CL Accounts, Job boards submission.


 3:55 am on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Been on Elance, hired 'SEO' firms in the past. If your idea of SEO/link building is getting hundreds of links from 'resource' pages, thousands of links from 'everybody's-welcome' directories and mediocre things like yahoo posts, blog comments, social bookmarking etc.. you're going nowhere in the SERP's.

This is 2010, Google and likes have evolved and matured.. times have moved on. It's much tougher nowadays since inevitably, saturation is taking it's toll. Even a good quality site with something new and of 'value' will have a tough time, unless you actively seek out quality, related links.

What you'll end up from most Elance 'Super SEO' deluxe packages is a fat $600 bill at the end of the month with nothing much to show for it.

..Oh and, you're welcome!


 4:40 am on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just don't have the time to do all of the link building and using a service to get 50-100 links for a reasonable fee sounds like a good way to augment what I'm doing..

The flaw in this statement is "reasonable fee". There is no such thing as a good link builder at a reasonable fee. You can get people to get you tons of worthless links for cheap all day long. Good link building is expensive. Your lucky to get one or two good links a day on average when you do it right. It takes a lot of time and hard work to build quality backlinks. Also you have to have good content to link to. When I build links for clients most the time content needs to be created to attract links. Creating backlinks is an uphill battle if your website is not worth linking to.


 7:23 pm on Feb 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

One of the ways that I've out-sourced my link building is by training a few local college kids how to do it (a couple of years back). I had good results. That was years ago and things have changed. Google looks more carefully at links now. I've also tried using online sources, like forums, etc. and my serps dropped. I think some say that they do manual links, when they do automatic. The other thing was some links were on sites that had many gambling and pharmaceutical links, not related to my site... what I would call a bad neighborhood. I had to do a ton of manual link building over several months to reverse the damage.

I also think (my opinion only) that trust rank is a major factor in link building and a google patent. Google wants to see a balance of related links (to your category or theme of your site), links from trusted sites and then others. In other words, what looks like natural link building. It's a sensitive balance I would not trust to others. I am now doing all my own link building... lesson learned.

man in poland

 12:48 pm on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

If your online business is important to you, either do the link-building yourself or keep it in-house and monitor it like a hawk. No-one will be as passionate about your business and your niche as yourself.

Many years ago I spotted a fantastic place for a link from a site that was related to mine but non-competitive. After several emails and calls, I ended up flying overseas to meet the owner. We had lunch, got on great, and ended up with a link partnership that has served us both extremely well for almost 7 years now. It cost a lot of time and money, but the result was golden.

There are many ways to skin this particular cat (apologies to feline lovers) - but the more work you put into it the more you get back. Read my lips - there are NO short cuts.


 1:34 pm on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

I tried it on elance a few times, everytime they only offered links from sites where you can see they are only build to build links and those aint worth it.


 4:30 pm on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Let's put this in some perspective, put some $'s on it.

I'm talking in another thread about my hand building links. Let's say I've put 20-30 hours into it roughly. And I've got about 3 top quality links, links that are .edu/gov quality. (this does assume I've got top quality content).

Now lets say I drop $5K on a top notch link developer and they get me 50 links. On one hand, the 'cost' of that is $100 per link. However, I've saved 500 hours of my time. And as a small business owner who doesn't do SEO for a living, that 500 hours is substantial. I can be opening up new markets, training staff. Or spending time with my family.

However - I know exactly what type of link I want. I know what it takes to get those links. I know what I feel the cost of link development is.

Which highlights another 'cost' for many - the risk cost. If you don't know what links you want, how hard or easy they are to get, or how to evaluate the worth of a link, how can you determine who to hire, or how much to pay them? Particularly in an industry fraught with low end stuff like link development?

Personally I don't think I would pay $1000 for a link campaign. If it's that cheap it's either worthless, I can do it myself faster, or worse, it's harmful. If I was to outsource link development it'd be high end. I'd be building my house out of expensive brick, not cheap straw :).

Now let me put another spin on it. Let's say i decide that cheap links work for a project. What's the cost if my site gets penalized/filtered/banned? If spend $3000 but bring in revenue of $10,000 that was ok...except if my main business site gets penalized and now I'm out of business. I made $7K at the cost of all my future business. If I made that $7k on a site I spent $6 registering a domain and hosting somewhere for $10 a year....that may be worth it.

Lots to consider - lots of risk and it's all difficult to tell exactly what really works or is worth it until you know enough and can form your own opinion. I'm not so sure there's a shortcut.


 12:31 am on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well, I'll respond directly to the OP. We have in the last 4 months utilized elance for SEO work for two different websites. I intentionally selected two different companies to hopefully find the better of the two.

Without making this post too long here is what we basically got for ~$400/m:
-we established some goals we wanted to achieve, get us on page one for keyword X.
-We got some on site analysis which I expected, some minor on page work, then straight into offsite work in the first month on both companies
-Directory Links 20-30/m
-article submissions 1-2 articles submitted to 20 sites
-One company promised 20 non pr 0 links per month, basically we got link farms, sites setup simply to provide outbound links.
-The other company took a little better approach landing a decent link here and there and many junk links
-neither company got us relevant links to our niche

So, what were the results after 4 months of this?
Site 1 - Already a strong domain, well established, good back links already, but isn't quite on page one for our keyword, page 2 instead. Close analytics monitoring showed no measureable improvement, our main positions have only fluctuated within 2-3 spots up and down. Pretty much all I can read into that one

Site 2 - little more interesting, this site is basically less than one year old. We started on page 2 for our keyword target surprisingly, but also surprisingly with several hundred pages of unique products/content we got very little long tail searches, poor indexing of the site. After the first month of work our indexed pages increased significantly and over a months time analytics reported 4x the visits from google from various new phrases in our historically slowest month of the year. Concerning though is our SERPs moving from page 2 to page 6, all the way back to page 10 at its worst through all the months. Just recently has it moved back to page 3 for our target term. Long tail phrase traffic did not seem to be phased by this though. Mind you this is the only work being performed on this particular site. I believe this drastic movement was a result of the SEO blatantly using the same anchor text in nearly all of the inbound links.

My personal view on all this is NO, don't do it. Basically site 2 appears to be on thin ice with google. My theory is since it had very few links to begin with we saw the full effects of getting junk links (at a rapid rate). Site 1 appeared not to gain anything from it, looks like we're very lucky it didn't hurt the site. This work is IMO very risky and if you're not getting a relevant link from a reputable source don't get it. We had to learn for ourselves, but there you have it. Under careful supervision it would be possible to farm this work out, but personally I am rethinking our stragey at this point.


 2:47 am on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm really good at researching, so I like to gather all the links myself. I then put all links into an excel sheet with a text file for required fields (site name, description, photo url, etc..). Then post up a very detailed project on scriptlance/elance to have sites submitted to my list. I usually have potential bidders PM me to look at the list before they bid on project.

I would never let any "link builders" gather any of my links.


 3:04 am on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

There are good link builders out there they just charge a lot. Once you get a reputation for producing results you have more than enough work. I don't bother with companies that have low budgets or demand hundreds and thousands of links a month for there money. Real link building is slow going. A bad link builder can get you thousands of links and you won't move at all in the SERPS or sometimes fall backwards. A good link builder will get 20-40 links a month and you will move up in your rankings. It might take 3-6 months but you will move up and when you get their you won't bobble around like you will with bulk link building.

All this said there is room for bulk link building. As long as it is not a large percentage of your link profile. Don't let any one type of link dominate your backlinks.


 3:08 am on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yikes! I won't quote any of the replies but after reading this topic, now I know why I've never outsourced something of this nature, there is just too much risk involved. It's akin to dropping your children off with a Nanny you've never met.

Many sites involved in these activities are spinning their wheels, wasting their time and their money. If you're going to outsource anything, let it be application development that when finished will attract links naturally and without much effort on your part.

All this commodity link stuff will get you exactly what you paid for. Commodity links. Everyone has them. They are typically discounted and worthless for the most part. At the same time you're doing all of this, the flags are going up. Your link profile is being corrupted and it clearly shows when someone goes on a link buying campaign. Bad news if you ask me.


 4:18 am on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the well throughout answers all, I'm enlightened!


 5:52 am on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Even if the links you gain are valuable, seo wise, you have to consider how they are gained. Otherwise you might see this when you check your site in the serps...
'yoursite.com spammed me'
'yoursite.com conned me'
'I can't believe 'yoursite.com said this!' (linkbait)


 6:29 am on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)


I have been thinking about trying something similar. What were the most critical and most difficult things to teach them?


 7:17 am on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've literally just joined this forum and was quite frankly astonished that someone actually said: "I was really going to look into outsourcing it to some Indian or Thai SEO firm." I do agree that directory links are all but worthless now.

I will always offer SEO to my clients but no longer do I get involved in link building services unless it's a subject I know about and can write good copy for a company or individual I trust.

Even then, it's sometimes difficult to gauge how the stories hold, especially with social media sites on seemingly humdrum subjects like SEO. I seem to get nowhere with them. prlog, sitepronews and on-site blogging works for me.

As for outsourcing to Thailand, I live in Bangkok. Thai people do not speak, read or write good English, as their newspapers can attest. In general, expats are not much better. India is renown for buying links that don't work and their methods are now years out of date. Forget both.

Most comments on this post say do a DIY job and I agree with that.


 7:23 am on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

This can be done graeme_p, but even then you need to ALWAYS look over their shoulder (college students) to make sure they doing them right.

Give them a list of which anchor text you want them to use, and what url. I would start off with maybe 3-5 and let them do some comment links. You need to teach them how to look at pagerank on a blog, to make sure it's not penalized (I don't care if it's high pr or not--just has to be at least a pr1, anchor text should matter, if it is theme related). Of course, higher PR is better.

Teach them to look for theme related blogs, for example, "health" and to how to check to see if they are dofollow. In my opinion, I would never just do comment links.

Have them do the next five in articles, that they or you create with the links in it that you suggest.

Teach them how to do five signatures in forums. Put a couple of images in your siggy with keywords in alt text.

A big thing, in my book, is not to have all the links start with, "health", for example in the anchor text, mix up the words so that sometimes the word health is at the end of your keyword phrase or in the middle.

I would do maybe five directories, myself, since they have been scrutinized by google. I believe yahoo can build trust rank for you, so that one is a must.

If your site is new, start out with five links the first month. Most of my sites have been around for 7-10 years, so usually 20 links a month is adequate to keep it where it is or slowly move upward in serps. I've been front page of google for many keyword phrases, and my goal is to stay there, and 20 links is good for me. Trouble is, if you do too much link building, you can move down in serps.

It's late, so I apologize if I am all over the place with this post. In a nut shell, 5 each, comments/blogs, directories, articles and forums. Have 4/5 keyword phrases, repeat the most important one exact keyword phrase 3-5 times in anchor, mix up the rest. Don't put main keyword at the beginning of every link. Don't sound spammy in comments. Check pagerank, whether links are dofollow, and check on them every so often, to make sure they are doing links right. From that first batch of college students I still make about 10K per month on their efforts. They did 18 per month for me for about six months.

One thing I did was go to a few popular webmaster forums, buy a bunch of cheap link lists and go through them. Many and I mean many did not work, were spammy, but what I did find was a gold mine after working through the list. I think I paid maybe $10 for each list. Some of those links were high pr, off topic and had tons of spam links. I would teach them to avoid that kind of post or thread like the plague.

Oh and have them look for edu and gov links. That's how I did it, not sure how it will work for others. Apply whatever works for you. :)

Again, it 2 am, and I'm heading to bed. Was afraid I wouldn't get to this tomorrow. Oh and one more thing have them to an excel spreadsheet keeping track of date of the link, type, url that link was submitted to, keyword phrases, maybe pagerank, then compare... if you find a combination that really works well, you'll want to know exactly how you did it. Good luck


 7:25 am on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

I may go to a local college and try this again, too. Let me know how it turns out if you do it.


 10:54 am on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hiring a link builder works great if you know how to train them. If you want to hire somebody who claims to be a link builder have them tell you exactly what they are going to do. If they won't get specific run away.


 1:07 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

I may go to a local college and try this again, too. Let me know how it turns out if you do it.

Pubcon used to have a session on how to train inhouse SEO's. Not sure if it still does.

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