Is it hard to find a good link-building specialist? What should you pay attention to when looking for one? I’ve tasked myself with answering these and other questions businesses usually have when looking into hiring a link-builder.
Get ready to tap into the experience of leading SEO experts and marketing professionals to learn how they work with link-building specialists.
Link-building doesn’t require too much technical expertise or training. If anyone can get up to speed pretty fast, why hire a link-building specialist at all?
First off, link-building eats up a lot of time. It doesn’t happen on autopilot even in the most experienced SEO teams. Someone should be responsible for:
Next, a link-builder has a wide network of partners with whom they’ve been building relationships for years. If you do it on your own, you’ll spend the first months establishing connections and building ground for your strategy.
And lastly, you have to know a thing about earning quality links. If you have zero experience, you may waste a lot of time only to realize you haven’t done any good to your link profile (or, what’s worse, hurt it).
All things considered, if you want to build links at scale here and how (and don’t want one of your employees to spend all their time doing link-building outreach), hiring a link-builder is one of the ways to achieve it.
People can continue to debate the role of links as a ranking factor however long they wish, but the only truth is: link-building will remain one of the major contributors to a successful SEO strategy for years to come.
The key word here is “contributor,” which means that it’s by no means a standalone approach that will bring your website to success. A link-builder should work in tandem with an SEO team to align their efforts with overarching goals. They need to be more than outreach experts, they need to be strategic thinkers, which brings us to the next question — how do you choose a link-building specialist that will meet this criteria?
Start by defining clear criteria for what you’re looking for in your link-building specialist. These questions will help you hit the ground running:
Draft answers to these questions on a one-pager, and you’ll get a clearer idea of who you’re looking for and build up a list of potential candidates (later on, we’ll share a few tips on where to find link-building experts).
Once you’ve defined your needs, you also need a framework for evaluating your candidate’s proficiency. Their portfolio and past performance will give you more information than their words. Review the types of links they've earned for previous clients or employers, the diversity of sources, and the impact on the websites they've worked on.
Does the portfolio look good? Don’t stop here, invite the candidate for a quick interview. This is where you can assess your candidate’s ability to think strategically.
As you explore your link-building candidates, you should also make sure they have the five skills critical for this position:
A good link builder should be able to analyze your competitors’ link profiles and figure out how to do it even better. They should use competitor analysis to identify opportunities your competitors are missing and grasp them.
During the interview, ask your candidate to explain their process for analyzing competitors’ link-building strategies, what tools they use, and how their findings may affect their own strategy.
A continuous in-depth analysis of your link profile is the cornerstone for building a sustainable strategy and keeping it relevant. That being said, hands-on experience with major backlink analysis tools is essential for a link-builder.
Interestingly, most SEO experts agree that Ahrefs is a must-have tool in link builder's tech stack:
As I’ve already said (ahem, several times) link-builder’s responsibilities go beyond merely acquiring links and involve applying a strategic approach to help you achieve your SEO goals.
Ask your candidate to outline their process for creating a strategy, including how they identify target audiences, choose link-worthy content, and employ various tactics to secure high-quality backlinks. A skilled link-builder should demonstrate a nuanced understanding of your industry, competitors, and overarching SEO objectives.
A huge part of a link-building professional’s daily routine is communication. Whether they’re good at it or not will determine the success of their strategy.
Perhaps you’ve already seen your candidate’s outreach messages — what do you make of them? Do they sound professional yet not too formal? Are their messages personalized? Would you respond to them?
For instance, this message would be a rock-solid no:
Surprisingly, many aspiring link-builders severely lack proper communication skills. So no matter how good your candidate is with SEO tools, make sure they’re as good at outreach before hiring them.
Beyond the acquisition of links, a proficient link-building specialist should (obviously) be regularly monitoring their results and evaluating the impact of their efforts on overall SEO performance.
What key performance indicators (KPIs) does your candidate monitor? Have their efforts ever translated into increased website traffic, improved rankings, or enhanced domain authority? You should learn the answers to these questions while talking to your candidates.
If your main content distribution channel is Google search results, a link-builder will be the key person responsible for your site’s rankings. Most likely, they’ll use one of the following techniques or their combination:
Editorial links are backlinks from relevant, reputable websites, acquired naturally. For their significant impact on link profiles, editorial backlinks are gold in the world of link building.
While generally described as links that can’t be asked for or paid for, editorial links can be earned through link-building efforts… if you partner with professionals.
We at Editorial.Link build high-quality organic backlinks to help our clients pump web traffic and authority.
In contrast to working with individual link-building experts, your partnership with Editorial.Link will give you access to a much wider pool of websites and more diverse best practices. With us, you get over a dozen link-building professionals contributing their expertise to earn quality links for your website.
💼 PandaDoc Case Study
PandaDoc stands out as a top-notch software company focused on automating document workflows. Through their inventive solutions that enhance document management processes, the company has firmly positioned itself as a significant presence in the software and technology sector.
The company aimed to double its organic traffic year-over-year, surpassing a 100% increase.
Example of backlink we built:
Results of our collaboration:
Throughout a span of 22 months, we successfully established a grand total of 205 links, guaranteeing that the average Domain Rating (DR) of these links stood at an impressive 69.
The result is a rise in monthly organic traffic from 186,000 (initially) to 581,000 per month at present, showcasing a remarkable increase of over 312%.
You might have read a bunch of guest posts yourself. These are articles published on behalf of subject matter experts on third-party blogs.
While guest posting takes more time (well, you need to create quality content!) than other link-building methods, it also brings in more opportunities. Contributors can insert their own and partners’ links, mention their products or services, and/or establish a reputation of subject matter experts with blog readers.
Another avenue for acquiring new backlinks is addressing broken links on external websites. It involves a link-building specialist identifying broken links, reaching out to site owners, and offering relevant content as a replacement.
This method requires both problem-solving skills and effective communication.
Let’s say you’ve found candidates with all the necessary skills. What else should you consider?
Your new link-building specialist needs to understand the nuances of your niche. Have they successfully executed link-building strategies in your industry?
For instance, a link-builder with a wide network of ecommerce blogs will hardly help an insurance company to earn highly relevant links. You got the idea.
When considering the budget for hiring a link builder, evaluate the potential return on investment (ROI).
Add up the salary, toolkit price, and all the benefits an employee is eligible for — does it make sense to onboard a new hire, or working with a freelancer or an agency on a project basis will be more cost-efficient?
So far, taking on a full-time link-building expert makes sense for SEO agencies that need assistance with several projects.
Yet, we at Editorial.Link also work with agencies that re-sell our links to their clients because it’s more efficient.
Discuss the expected time commitment with potential candidates and clarify how their schedule fits into the overall timeline of your digital marketing strategy. Set realistic project timelines and encourage them to evaluate their capabilities and past results to determine if they are the right fit for the project.
I’ve already emphasized the significance of a link builder's adept communication skills in dealing with partners. Now, I want to urge you to establish clear communication with your link-building specialist.
Clearly outline your expectations regarding updates, progress reports, and any adjustments needed throughout the link-building process. A link-building specialist should provide you with comprehensive and timely reports on the results of their efforts at least monthly.
Before making a hiring decision, delve into the candidate's track record. Request references from their previous clients or employers and seek out reviews of their work.
The hiring criteria seem to be clear. It’s time to hire. Follow this simple checklist to find a link-building professional that matches your requirements:
Wait, there’s one more thing you should do even before you agree to a test run with your potential link-building expert. You need to define KPIs for your project.
This is a high-level metric to assess the overall productivity of your link-building efforts. But it's no secret that the quality of these backlinks matters more than the quantity, so don’t jump to conclusions just yet.
There’s a chance a large chunk of your links are coming from one or two sources. Monitor the number of unique domains linking to your site to get insight into the breadth of your link-building efforts. Don’t forget to check the Domain Authority (or whatever it’s called in your SEO tool) of each referring domain.
Quality backlinks positively influence the reputation and trustworthiness of your domain, making it easier to rank with new pages in search results. As you earn more and more high-quality links, your site’s own DA should be growing slowly but steadily.
Of course, you don’t earn links for the sake of earning links. Your link-building specialist should understand the correlation between their efforts and the rankings of your target pages. Keep track of your keyword rankings to make sure your pages are associated with the right keywords.
A proficient link-builder will not only acquire links but also nurture the relationships behind them. If a lot of placements result in lost and broken links consistently, it may indicate something is wrong with your approach to earning links in the first place.
While metrics provide valuable insights, some aspects of link-building effectiveness go beyond numerical analysis:
Onboarding the wrong person will cost you a lot of time and money. To avoid it, I’ve prepared a checklist that will help you identify red flags when hiring a link-building specialist.
The candidate that:
… is a wrong fit for your project.
That’s it. You’re ready to make an informed decision.
Unless… There’s one last question left: have you considered alternative options?
Employing a full-time specialist comes with salary, benefits, and tool expenses, making it a substantial financial commitment. Furthermore, an individual link-building expert may have a restricted network compared to an agency with multiple specialists, potentially limiting the diversity of link-building opportunities.
Outsourcing link-building can be more cost-effective, especially for smaller projects, as businesses pay for services rather than committing to a full-time salary. Also, you don’t have to worry about performance tracking and reporting — an agency will take care of it.
Not sure where to look for an agency? You’re in the right place.
At Editorial.Link, top link-building experts work tirelessly to earn high-quality links for your website.
Link-building is a full-time project. You can’t just assign the task to a team member who already has their share of tasks on the to-do list. Hiring a link-builder allows you to earn links strategically, without distracting anyone on your team from their responsibilities.
You can validate the link-building specialist’s compatibility with your project in three steps: