14 min read

Hiring a Link-Building Specialist: What You Need to Know and How To Do It Right

Dmytro Sokhach, CEO of Admix Global
Hire A Link Building Specialist

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.

Why You Should Hire a Link-Building Specialist

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:

  • Drawing up a link-building strategy;
  • Keeping track of all the partnerships;
  • Staying active in the community; 
  • Searching for relevant websites to partner with for a link exchange;
  • Working with content and often even collaborating with writers;
  • Backlink placement monitoring, performance analysis, and reporting.

Link-building is a massive contributor towards increasing technical SEO but also positive brand-building. It helps align you and your business with the right people and brands. Yet, actually winning links is such a heavy lift. Often, link builders will send hundreds of emails to only get a couple of hits. It’s a full-time gig.

Ray Slater Berry, Founder at DSLX
Ray Slater Berry

Founder at DSLX

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.

“Link building is hard. And it is getting harder every year.

To win links from the best websites, you need to build systems and follow them regularly.”

Irina Maltseva, Growth Lead at Aura and Founder of ONSAAS
Irina Maltseva

Growth Lead at Aura

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).

“There is absolutely a WRONG way to build links. Experts are able to take the time and effort to properly scout and funnel the right links to the right place. A link-building expert hopefully has built connections with other teams in the industry whose links are both powerful and relevant to my site.“

Head of Content at Scribe
Lauren Funaro

Head of Content at Scribe

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.

Role of Link-Building Specialists in SEO Strategies

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?

How to Choose the Right Link-Building Specialist for Your Business

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:

  • Are you looking for an expert in a particular niche? 
  • Are you offering a full-time or part-time position?
  • Do you already have a specific link-building strategy in mind? 
  • What’s your estimated budget for this project?
  • Do you have a preference for the tools the candidate should be proficient with?

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.

“They should be authoritative on the algorithm and versed enough in my industry to have partnerships with relevant businesses.”

Head of Content at Scribe
Lauren Funaro

Head of Content at Scribe

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.

“Review their portfolio of work (links they’ve built), and pick a few examples. Ask them to give a few thoughts for each link on why they thought that was a good quality link to build.

For me, an example of a bad answer would be “because it’s a famous site” (like Forbes), or “because it has a Domain Rating of 75”.

A good answer would focus on relevance (and potentially referring traffic). For example “The link target is a page on influencer marketing, and the referring site has 10+ pages ranking on page one for influencer marketing topics.”

Ryan Prior, Head of Marketing at Modash
Ryan Prior

Head of Marketing at Modash

Must-Have Skills For SEO Link-Building Specialists

Must Have Skills for Link Building Specialist

As you explore your link-building candidates, you should also make sure they have the five skills critical for this position:

  • Competitor backlink analysis;
  • Backlink monitoring;
  • Developing a link-building strategy;
  • Outreach and communication;
  • Analyzing link-building results.

Competitor backlink analysis

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.

“The real mastery lies in translating this analysis into actionable strategies for your brand. […]

It’s about learning and evolving, not merely copying.”

Regina M. Noriega, Founder at KONECTU
Regina M. Noriega

Founder at KONECTU

Backlink monitoring

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.

“Use tools like Google Search Console or Ahrefs to dissect your link profile. Find those low-quality, spammy links and get rid of them before Google gives you the stink eye.”

John Aspinall, Senior Account Executive at My Amazon Guy
John Aspinall

Senior Account Executive at My Amazon Guy

Interestingly, most SEO experts agree that Ahrefs is a must-have tool in link builder's tech stack:

“My Number Uno tool is Ahrefs! It has firmly established itself as a vital resource in detailed analysis, shining particularly with its Backlink Gap tool. This feature provides deep insights into the intricate world of backlinks, making it an invaluable asset for those who seek comprehensive data. 

Not tailored for beginners, mastering Ahrefs opens the door to well-informed, strategic decision-making. The learning curve is indeed steep, but the insights you gain are unparalleled.”

AJ Fall, Senior SEO Marketer at MarketerHire
AJ Fall

Senior SEO Marketer at MarketerHire

Developing a link-building strategy

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.

“We’re a small agency, and I would never want hundreds of irrelevant, stuffed links out there—it’s damaging. Ask your link builder to filter through the noise, find quality links worth going after, and tailor your outreach to those sites. Everything needs to be personal and relevant.”

Ray Slater Berry, Founder at DSLX
Ray Slater Berry

Founder at DSLX

Outreach and communication

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:

example of outreach mail

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.

“First up, [I’d be looking for] solid communication skills and creative language skills. Your link builder will need to be able to get their point across clearly and succinctly and do it all with charm and grace. The rest is history.”

Ray Slater Berry, Founder at DSLX
Ray Slater Berry

Founder at DSLX

Analyzing link-building results

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.

What Techniques Will My SEO Link-Building Specialist Use?

“Without serious promotion, your perfect content will probably just exist on your website and potentially generate you some impressions and a few clicks.”

Radomir Basta, CEO at Four Dots
Radomir Basta

CEO at Four Dots

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 Backlinks

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:

  • upcity.com (DR 85),
  • user.com (DR 74),
  • monday.com (DR 89),
  • learn.g2.com (DR 90),
  • eweek.com (DR 83).
pandadoc keywords ranking

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%.

Guest Posting

You might have read a bunch of guest posts yourself. These are articles published on behalf of subject matter experts on third-party blogs.

email marketing best practices

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.

Broken Link Building

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.

broken link building

This method requires both problem-solving skills and effective communication.

5 Considerations Before Hiring a Link-Building Specialist

Let’s say you’ve found candidates with all the necessary skills. What else should you consider?

Experience with Similar Projects

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.

Budget Consideration

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.

Timeline and Availability

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.

Communication and Reporting

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.

“Set realistic goals. I don’t mean go for a quantity here. Make sure you get backlinks from SaaS/Service domains. Always remember that 10 SaaS/Service backlinks are worth 100 paid ones.”

Nane Karapetyan, Team Lead at SayNine
Nane Karapetyan

Team Lead at SayNine

References and Reviews

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.

references and reviews

How to Find a Professional Link Building Specialist

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:

  • Write a job description. This step will determine whether you hire the right person for your project or not, so you’d rather take it seriously. Take time to clearly articulate your project goals and use them as the foundation for outlining responsibilities and requirements for an ideal candidate.
  • Use LinkedIn to find a professional. After posting an open position, try to proactively search for candidates on LinkedIn. Look into their networks, read recommendations, and assess their overall professional presence.
  • Ask for a portfolio. Connect with candidates who look like the right fit and evaluate their portfolios. 
  • Run an interview. Even if you liked your candidate’s experience, don’t skip the interview — you could miss a chance to assess their communication style and spot red flags.
  • Go for a test project. It’s safer for both ideas to run a small test project to validate your compatibility.

KPIs for Your Project

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.

KPI for Link Builder

Number of backlinks

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.

Referring domains

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.

Domain Authority (DA)

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.

Keyword rankings

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.

“I look at link-building as a rank and traffic play. How well was my page performing before I added links vs. after.

Head of Content at Scribe
Lauren Funaro

Head of Content at Scribe

Lost and broken links

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.

Other things to look at

While metrics provide valuable insights, some aspects of link-building effectiveness go beyond numerical analysis:

  • Niche relevance. You’ll need to click through your link placements to check if they’re relevant to your niche. 
  • Anchor text diversity. To build a healthy link profile, you need to make sure your link-builders use diverse anchor texts.
  • Toxic markers. Tools like Semrush provide insights into toxic markers that might be affecting the link’s quality. Check them out to identify potentially hurtful links.

Red Flags When Hiring Link Building Specialist

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:

  • focuses excessively on the number of links rather than the quality of those links;
  • struggles to articulate a strategic plan based on your goals;
  • isn’t familiar with essential tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, or Moz;
  • has subpar communication skills;
  • can't provide evidence of successful link-building projects;
  • promises rapid results or guarantees a specific number of links within a short period; 
  • lacks knowledge about your niche or shows an inability to tailor strategies to fit your industry;
  • has a history of employing black hat SEO techniques, such as buying links from link farms, cloaking, or other manipulative practices;
  • is unwilling to participate in a test project before a full commitment;

… is a wrong fit for your project.

“At DSLX, we’ve had a few link builders reach out from time to time, a huge red flag for me is when they try to hide what they’re doing under the guise of providing you great content. We all know you’re building links, so be honest with me from the start.”

Ray Slater Berry, Founder at DSLX
Ray Slater Berry

Founder at DSLX

Hiring or Outsourcing?

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.

FAQ

Why is hiring a link-building specialist crucial for my 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.

How can I ensure the specialist is right for my project?

You can validate the link-building specialist’s compatibility with your project in three steps:

  • Establish clear criteria for your project, considering factors like niche expertise, full-time or part-time availability, existing strategies, budget, and tool proficiency;
  • Review your candidate’s portfolio, analyzing the types of links the specialist has earned for previous clients, the diversity of sources, and the impact on the websites they've worked on;
  • Assess a candidate's ability to think strategically by discussing examples from their portfolio.

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