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Linkarati

What Should I Look for in a Link Building Agency?

Jon Ball | July 8, 2015

Links form digital connections between your company and other websites. These connections are extremely important to your business for a number of reasons.

Links are essential to online success. They provide avenues for people to discover you site, signal trust and authority to search engines, act as endoresments from reputable websites, and create meaningful online relationships.

Links form digital connections between your company and other websites. These connections are extremely important to your business for a number of reasons.

What_Should_I_Look_in_a_LB_Agency

 

Links are essential to online success because they:

  • Provide avenues for people to discover your site
  • Signal trust and authority to search engines
  • Act as endorsements from reputable websites
  • Create meaningful online relationships.

Any link building firm you hire will be representing your company on the web. You need to be sure that they’re trustworthy, dependable, and able to represent your brand. You need to be sure that they will make a good partner.

As the owner of a link building company, I probably think about links and link building more than most. I am passionate about links because I have seen time and again the positive impact they can have on real businesses, and real people.

While I’m obviously not objective in this situation, my years of experience within the industry and unique perspective as a CEO puts me in a position to offer sound advice for those searching for link building services.

To ensure you’re entering into the right partnership, you should look for these fundamental traits in any company you consider employing:

  • Transparency
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Customization
  • Knowledge

Let’s look at each individual characteristic in more detail, and specifically why they’re so vital.

Transparency

Transparency is the single most important attribute you should look for when hiring a link agency.

In the 2012 Pre-Penguin era of link building the emphasis was on quantity over quality. The goal was to use automation to generate thousands of links in order to manipulate search algorithms and spam your way to top of the search results. However, Google’s Penguin algorithm cracked down on these tactics and formed link building into what it is today – now a handful of real, worthwhile links wins out over thousands of spammy automated links.

Unfortunately, there are still SEO agencies that employ old-school manipulative link practices. While spammy tactics may work in the short-term for sites that want a quick boost, any company interested in sustained growth online should avoid such spam. This is why transparency should be the number one trait you look for in a link acquisition company. Any reputable link building firm will be able to show you the types of websites they are contacting as well as the links they secure for your site. 

You’re paying for a valuable online marketing service, and should be able to see how your money is being spent. Any firm you hire will be representing your company online and building connections others will judge you upon, including Google.

I believe transparency is especially important in link building because manipulative practices can harm your business. If your link acquisition firm won’t show you what they’re doing to build links it should be a major red flag.

Communication

Open communication is critical with your link building service.

Transparency is key, but your link agency should also be explaining their processes and answering any questions you may have.

There needs to be open communication. It should be easy for you to reach your contact whenever you have a question. Rather than making you jump through hoops and deal with a hierarchy of people, you should have one specific point of contact who’s dedicated to your project.

Your link company should be prompt and responsive. In my experience, every minute counts in a link building campaign, and you can’t afford to sit around waiting to hear back.

Open and ongoing communication is not only what you should expect, but it’s also conducive to the project’s success.

Collaboration

You should also look for companies that are eager to collaborate.

Nobody knows your brand better than you, and you should absolutely be involved in your link campaign. Any link agency worth its salt will understand the value of your insight and want to bring you in during strategic planning.

The collaboration shouldn’t be limited to the beginning of a campaign, either. A good link building company will work with you throughout your entire project to ensure the campaign is specifically tailored to your brand and your goals.

A quality link company will involve you in the big-picture processes of your campaign wherever possible to ensure the most effective project possible. You don’t want to be waiting around for your questions to be answered, and you’ll need to make sure you respond promptly to any questions your link agency may have. Collaboration is key.

Creativity

Every link building campaign will be fueled in part by creativity.

I’ve said before that SEO is an art as much as it is a science. Even Matt Cutts has described link building as sweat plus creativity. Because link building and the SEO industry as whole change rapidly, an effective link building firm must be able to adapt quickly and utilize creative strategies to solve problems in new ways.

At Page One Power we look for creativity during the hiring process, because the challenges within link building are so unique you must possess creative ability to generate unique solutions. 

Creativity manifests itself within link acquisition through a variety of ways from creative ways to find prospects, to outside-the-box outreach methods, to overcoming any obstacles in between. In fact, the team here at Linkarati hosted a Twitter chat on this very topic, and a wealth of creative ideas were presented and discussed.

Creative ability is essential to link building success, and if an agency doesn’t exhibit this through either past work or conversations you should look elsewhere.

Customization

Every link building campaign absolutely must be customized.

Every link building project will be different because all businesses, industries, resources, and goals are different. Link building is not a one-size-fits-all marketing practice, by any stretch of the imagination. What may work well in one vertical may be completely ineffective in another.

To be successful, a link company must craft a customized plan that leverages unique website assets, utilizes proven tactics for a given niche, and supports specific campaign goals. You want an agency that will construct a custom campaign around your site to optimize all opportunity for your business.

Avoid any link building company that uses cookie-cutter strategies across all projects.

Knowledge

Of course, any link company you hire must be able to demonstrate they are knowledgeable.

Because things change so quickly in SEO and link building, the ability to stay abreast of best practices is crucial. Search engines frequently tweak and update their algorithms, as well as make changes to their guidelines, and your link agency must be aware of all these changes to acquire links successfully.

The ability to build future safe links is paramount in SEO.

Furthermore, a good link building firm should be able to consult you in other areas outside of link acquisition. While links should obviously be the main focus, a reputable link building firm will be knowledgeable enough to make suggestions that can help your business in other related areas. Some of these areas include:

  • Technical/On-site SEO
  • Content creation
  • Branding strategies
  • Relationship/partnership opportunities
  • Etc.

A legitimate link building agency will understand the fundamental principles of internet marketing as link building fits within the greater online marketing spectrum.

Recap

When searching for a reputable link acquisition company, there are a number of unique factors you should consider. First and foremost you must think about your specific marketing goals and how links can help you reach those. Because your business has unique objectives, every situation will be different, but I would highly recommend you look for a few important traits.

When evaluating a link agency, look for:

  • Transparency
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Customization
  • Knowledge

Ultimately your decision should be based upon how a particular company matches your individual needs. But any service provider you hire should at the very least possess these core qualities. 

Philosophy

About The Author

Jon Ball

Jon Ball is the CEO of Page One Power and co-Editor-in-Chief for Linkarati. Jon regularly speaks at SEO conferences and tradeshows all around North America. He is also a frequent contributor to Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, Search Engine People and the SEMRush blog. Jon lives with his family in Boise, ID.

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