What's good value for money when it comes to link building? What's a fair deal when it comes to link building pricing? As one of the World's leading link building services, we're in a good position to help break down the different factors and reveal what a good price point is for link building.
Pricing Scale for Link Building
The price of link building varies greatly between $100 - $20,000 per month depending on quality and volume. You'll be better off trying to figure out a price point per link in the long term when judging your costs for link building.
Here's a pretty typical pricing scale for overall link building costs if you're considering an outsourced link building campaign.
DR and DA dependent pricing model
Another popular pricing system setup by link building vendors and agencies is a price dependent on DR (domain rating) or DA (domain authority). It's an imperfect system, because these are 3rd party metric scores which do not always reflect the true quality of a website. However, it's a well known fact that people across the industry use these scores as a benchmark system to gauge the quality of website, along with other factors such as organic traffic.
The prices might range from anywhere between $100 - $1,500 + depending on quality.
Below is a rough idea of how those average price points might look.
Please bear in mind this is a very broad average, and in reality these prices will overlap at all ends of the spectrum.
Be Warned - Link Farms
Many vendors selling single links such as guest posts are often selling crappy links on websites that only exist to publish these types of paid posts.
These are commonly known as link farms.
If someone is offering you a DA 70 link for a seemingly low cost of $100, I can absolutely guarantee that website is worthless. This has become a real problem in recent years, with sites being repurposed into link farms with fake-looking SEO metrics to make them appear valuable.
If you go down the route of buying one-time links, be sure to try and vet those websites in advance to make sure they’re genuine and get good quality organic traffic, whilst using a reputable vendor.
In-House vs Agency Pricing
If you're serious about link building and want to train and manage a dedicated team in-house, then it's a full time job. The time it takes to develop prospect lists, hit them with targeted outreach and nurture every opportunity absolutely warrants this.
Below, we have highlighted the estimated annual cost of running a link building team in-house
- Link Building Manager - $40,000-80,000 - If you want to do this right you're going to need an experienced full-time link building manager to oversee and lead the operation. In major US cities, this is going to cost you a minimum of $60,000 per year, and at least $30,000 even if you manage to attract great talent from overseas.
- Link Building Assistant X 2 - $30,000 - You're going to need assistants to help with prospecting, personalization and some of the outreach tasks as well. If you manage to hire from a lower cost-of-living country, for example in South East Asia, a qualified member of staff is still going to cost around $15,000 per year. So for 2 assistants, that's $30,000.
- Guest Post Writer - $50,000 - I don't know of any successful link builders that have operated without significant support from third party writers. If you want to land any contributions on excellent blogs (like HubSpot for example) you're going to need a talented writer on board that passes the smell test of any editor. If you under-invest on quality, nobody is going to accept your content. Let's say an experienced and solid writer from the US is charging $0.20 per word (including strategizing, editing, and images) - That's going to cost you $400 for a 2,000-word guest post. If you do 10 of those in 1 month, that's $4,000 per month. For that reason, I think a budget of $4,000 per month on content is reasonable.
- Link Costs - $25,000+ - If you want to build a meaningful link building campaign, you're going to need a budget in place to pay for links. It doesn't matter what other industry thought leaders say, most people are paying for links in one way or another. The only exception might be in the SaaS / Marketing industry, where you can get away just by doing guest posts and link exchanges. If we assume a $2,000 monthly budget (Which is honestly on the lower side) we can estimate $25k per year.
- Link Building Software - $6,000 - You're going to need a few tools here: Ahrefs (is essential) but we'll assume you're already doing SEO and therefore already have a subscription ($500+ month), so we won't include that in our costs. Besides that, you'll need outreach software, email-finding software, and link-monitoring software. So let's guess $500 per month all in.
That brings us to a grand total price of approximately $177,000 per year.
This is also making the assumption that you'll be actively building a minimum of 30 links per month (or 360 links per year).
The price can really stack up fast
As you can see, the cost of link building can seriously stack up fast if you're attempting to move this in-house.
If you attempt this without someone on your team putting in a serious amount of time to run the show, chances are you won't succeed.
This is what makes outsourcing to a reputable agency an attractive and more cost-effective proposition.
This all depends on which link-building agency you hire of course!
- Major content marketing agencies - Providing an end-to-end service might charge anywhere from $15,000 - $30,000 for a single campaign, especially top level companies in places like New York. The average link cost might fall between the $400 - $1500 mark, and link quality is not guaranteed.
- Specialist link building agencies - These vary wildly depending on quality of service and quality of links. But expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 - $15,000+ per month depending on the scale of your requirements.
- Freelancers - They'll normally charge you an hourly rate between $50-100, but they'll expect you to handle additional costs such as writers, link payments, software etc. Additionally, most freelancers simply don't have the resources to achieve sustained success, especially if you're only paying them for 10-20 hours per week - This just isn't enough time to run a serious campaign and earn good links.
At LinkBuilder.io, we offer a number of link-building packages at different price points.
Specialist link building agencies like us will charge far less, with the major price differences occurring when link volume increases. We also offer white label link building to other agencies at a slightly lower rate.
Of course, there are agencies who don't provide much insight or analysis on your website, but will rather work on a price per link basis, often providing guest posts for a set price. These are commonly known as guest posting services.
Return On Investment
Link building is an essential pillar of SEO, but it's also a major investment and can get expensive.
Most successful brands with an SEO team who are generating online traffic will be actively engaging in link building activities, whether in-house or outsourced.
Before you dive in and start building links, I'd urge you strongly to plan ahead. Consider which types of pages and keywords you want link building to have an impact on, develop a prioritized list and carefully research your competitors to see just what it's going to take in terms of backlinks to compete and eventually surpass them.
Planning and budgeting is absolutely key when it comes to considering a link building project, and building your own framework with realistic goals and expectations is strongly recommended whatever you do.
Studies on Link Costs
Since we're a link building agency who earns money for this type of work, I think it's only fair to reference other investigations and studies into what constitutes fair and average pricing in the link building game.
- Ahrefs finds the average cost of buying a backlink from a website is $361.44 (excluding labor and outreach costs) - See here.
- Siege Media, one of the most renowned content marketing agencies around, suggest a reasonable long-term price per link of around $500 - See here.
- Authority hacker ran a field test on 5 different services, with guest post price points ranging between $150 on the low end to $1,000 on the high end - See here.
What Factors Impact Link Cost?
If you have incredible content on your website, then people are going to be much more likely to want to link to it.
We've worked with clients with absolutely incredible content teams, churning out rich visual data-based content with impeccable design and genuinely unique insights.
When we launch outreach campaigns and show people the content, the feedback is positive, recipients are impressed and our 'win rate' (the number of emails we need to send to earn a link) skyrockets.
Conversely, we've worked with clients who don't really create much content at all. They rely on sales pages or landing pages which are very commercial. It's far more challenging to find websites who want to link to them at all, and it takes much longer to earn each and every link, thus increasing the price of links.
Some brands have extremely strict guidelines when it comes to how they want their company to be perceived, and that can filter through to impact link building. They don't want to create opinionated content, and they only want their company spoken about in a certain way, around certain topics.
Other brands are happy to get creative with outreach emails, and to really put themselves out there. For example, on some client projects we'll use cheeky and humorous emails or a controversial angle to elicit a response. Many brands prefer to play safe.
Having these limitations inevitably create an increase in link cost, because you're limiting the people you can reach out to, the content you're showing them and the creative angle you're taking to convince them to link to you.
It's an often overlooked area that can seriously impact the ability to build a high volume of links.
Whenever we're running link building campaigns on behalf of clients with household brand names, the response rate dramatically increases. People see a well respected organization and naturally want to respond, as they know we're legitimate and trustworthy. Link building pricing falls on the whole, because we're able to convince far more people to link to us.
There can occasionally be instances of a double-edged sword here however. Savvy bloggers recognize they're being pitched by a well known brand, and will sometimes request inflated sums of money in exchange for a backlink based on the assumption that we'll be standing over obscene budgets with sums of cash to throw at the situation.
If you are actively looking to buy backlinks, you should take some important considerations before doing so.
As we touched upon earlier, the quality of link is a major factor which impacts price.
The simple fact is that larger publications which have been around for years are much harder to earn links from. Trying to convince a journalist at the BBC or TechCrunch to link to your website is a very daunting and challenging task. We're talking about hardened, internet savvy people who get pitched every day.
Contrast that with a writer/owner of a small, independent blog about learning the piano - they're going to be much more approachable and easy to earn a link from, and although hardworking and honest bloggers like this are a fantastic source of links, they're going to be less valuable than a TechCrunch link in the eyes of Google.
There's a multitude of different strategies to get backlinks, and they will all yield a different quality level.
This is something we touched upon earlier. The average price of link building can depend greatly on the industry we're working in. There are certain industries like personal finance where bloggers will rarely link off their own back, and will always demand an inflated fee to place a link to those websites. On the flip side, there are industries where bloggers will are extremely free and easy about sharing links to anyone else who shares their passion.
If you're in an industry where most websites struggle to building any links organically (like payday loans or gambling), and other websites generally don't like linking to you, then it might be good value for money to pay $500 for every high-quality link coming to your website. However, if you're in an industry where bloggers, writers and editors tend to link out quite easily (like gaming or cars) then you'll likely want a cost closer to $200 per link.
Examples of industries where the price of link building is high
- Casino & Gambling – The only people who might link to you for free are other casino and poker blogs, and even then it’ll only be when they’ve established a financial partnership with you (e.g. affiliates). Otherwise, you’re going to have to pay a premium for links.
- Loans – The internet loan industry has exploded, and unless you’ve got incredible content assets, it’s going to be very tough to build links on the cheap.
- Finance – bloggers in this space are inundated with proposals from budget-rich companies in finance space. Think credit cards, loan services, insurance companies.
- Real Estate – This is a pretty competitive and challenging space, especially if you’re a locally based real estate company without much content. Generally speaking, you’re going to have to stump up cash for links, perhaps in the form of sponsorship deals.
Examples of industries where the price of link building is middling
- SaaS – Many SaaS companies create some of the best content out there, so the opportunity is certainly there to build a high number of links. On top of that, people working in this area will generally be open to receiving email pitches related to link building. The problem is that it’s a saturated area, often with a lot of talented people competing against you for backlinks.
- Technology – An incredibly broad industry, which includes hundreds of sub niches. Anything from cyber security to web hosting or VPN services would fall under this category. It’s an area where content is in high demand and the volume of link opportunities is massive. However it’s also an area with a ton of intelligent people and bloggers working within, who are aware of the cash they can earn from partnerships with your brand.
- Nutrition & Food – If you consider the explosion of Instagram influencers, you’ll understand why reasonable pricing can be hard to come by in this space. There are thousands of brands in the space doing extremely well, selling everything from protein powders to fat loss regimes. Brands with exceptional products and content can achieve a decent cost per link, but ultimately linking into commercial pages is often going to cost money and effort, because you’re also competing with hundreds of other companies pitching the same types of people.
- Legal – There’s definitely a demand for great legal knowledge and content on the internet, but it’s also seen (rightfully so) as a high-brow industry which is expensive for consumers.
Examples of industries where the price of link building is lower
- Hobbyist type sites (e.g. films) – These sites do well, especially when the website has a strong focus on content and education.
- Video Games – There’s such a huge demand for video game content and it’s very much part of the sharing culture with Reddit and social media. Links can be easy to earn.
- Charities – People like to feel a sense of helping society and those in need.
- Education – Informative content has always been a major backbone of link building, so companies in the education space have an opportunity to do well and build links at scale.
- Anything associated with childcare or helping those in need – Pretty self explanatory. Even in this internet-savvy age, people generally have a heart and will link to guides, articles or movements that they can see are genuinely there to help society.