What’s the Value of a Link?
Digital marketers know well there are three drivers of online success: great content, advanced SEO techniques, and building powerful inbound links to your site.
If you’re a Realtor, SaaS software entrepreneur, ecommerce shop site owner, or a small business owner, it isn’t enough to have fantastic, authoritative, engaging content. You must reach out, do promotion, and create links to your content.
Can you imagine if the top Hollywood films weren’t promoted? What if Apple never made a TV ad? What if McDonalds didn’t advertise and put up big roadside signs? It’s a fact, you must reach your audience through aggressive promotion.
And in the realm of free search engine visibility, the audience is all the people who might write about or mention your company on their site — bloggers, journalists, authors, marketers, industry reviewers, experts and consumers who give you a good review. When visibility doesn’t get the results you need, you can step it up by hiring companies who specialize in reaching that target audience.
The fact is, more money is being poured into promotion, including link building. The numbers you’ll see will surprise. Yes, this area of SEO has been evolving quickly for some time now.
Google’s Algorithm is Deeply Dependent on Links
Google’s algorithm is attuned to these backlinks as the key part of their ranking algorithm. It’s not necessarily the number of backlinks, but the relevance and authority of websites that link to your site. They’re passing on powerful “link juice” which helps you rank for your coveted keyword phrases.
Of course, you look to your SEO service provider to work all this out. Yet, the value of these links is so high now, that they’re not given away freely.
Great content is often not found, therefore it can’t generate backlinks. As a result, links have been monetized. This means one single link, given how difficult it is to obtain, has a big dollar value — sometimes many thousands of dollars.
Given these backlinks can boost a site’s rankings and traffic considerably, there’s an intense effort to capture them. You’ve likely received plenty of emails begging you in one way or another for a link from your website. That desperate spammy approach is rejected and it makes link building even tougher.
Today, we’re looking at the value of backlinks in this post along the fees and services of companies which generate them. It’s very likely you’ll be hiring one of these firms, even after you see their service fees. The fact is, if you’re not doing big promotion, you’ll be dependent on these firms to help you achieve your rankings.
Links are a Big Part of Google’s Algorithm
Links or backlinks some call them, have always been important. Given changes in Google’s algorithm and their attempt to cull out purchased links, links themselves are becoming extremely valuable.
Sellers of links offer them for sale (on pages they place them on) for anywhere from $50 to $5000 per link. And for non-paid, white hat links, the price is often higher because of the amount of specialized work needed and because it’s a free market.
Google Fights Back Against Paid Links
Google’s algorithm has dampened the sites that were selling them. This has changed the web. First of all, the deprecation of millions of links and hundreds of thousands of web sites, has altered the transfer of ranking power across the Web.
And old links acquired years ago are now less effective (for a number of reasons including spam link deletions by Google). This has impacted companies who enjoyed long standing search engine rankings, but now must go out and find new, fresh backlinks. The erosion of these legacy links might be your website’s biggest issue going forward. The freshness factor doesn’t only apply to content itself (however content freshened up does get a ranking boost, which is then passed to sites it links to).
That link from a powerful, authoritative website 8 years ago no longer gives your site the ranking boost it needs.
Overall, good quality links from industry-relevant websites are difficult to acquire. Many of them are within corporate networks, government, education, research, and the owners are not likely to link to competitors or outsiders without strong inducement.
So the competition to acquire good backlinks is intense. They are valuable and do drive rankings and traffic, and that in turn drives leads and sales revenue (along with customer loyalty).
Like you, they’re facing big price increases.
Hiring a Link Building/Outreach Agency
Link building and outreach requires special talent, resources and funds and SMB owners are feeling stressed about acquiring these skills with their budgets. I’ve been quoted fees as high as $10,000 a month for these services. Are they just capitalizing on website owners desperation, or are they delivering real value?
Many large companies I compete with or my client’s compete with can afford these services. And they do work. Their rankings and traffic are outstanding. For the $10,000 price tag, they generate big traffic, high brand visibility, and power up new business possibilities, along with the client’s sales revenue. They’re tough to compete with if your client doesn’t have this kind of budget.
These are just a few of the companies offering link building outreach services.
These companies have dedicated staff needed to do outreach on an effective and large scale, generate relationships, follow up for quality placement, and more. They connect you to website owners who can help. If they were to acquire 100 links for example, it would have a dramatic effect on your rankings.
Of course, there aren’t many companies willing to pay $30,000 to $60,000 a year for link campaigns, but for those that can, it often means market leadership and million dollar revenue results.
And let’s remember that the link builder’s work is built on top of what you already have now. That means it could catapult your company well up the rankings and launch big gains in traffic.
You and your top competitors may have achieved your rankings via advertising, content promotions and other business activities, and you likely don’t realize how much you spent on that. Out of a $300,000 ad campaign, a a certain number of backlinks are created — visibility and awareness that helped bloggers, business owners and journalists become aware of your website. People write about what they like and even a mention of your company may help too.
Should you Gamble Tens of Thousands of Dollars?
If you’re spending tens of thousands on Facebook ads and Google ads, and performance is lagging, it’s wise to look at the long term value of SEO. As I’ve demonstrated in other blog posts, Advanced SEO powers up the rest of your marketing from brand awareness, to social media connections, to email programs, to event participation.
This is why search engine optimization as a whole is so valuable. It’s not free, but marketers consider the most potent source of customer leads.
Many of my clients have enjoyed excellent results without $10k per month link building campaigns but as I mentioned, the search engine space has changed. Fewer bloggers and journalists are giving out free links, when they might be paid for them. They need an income and many content creators don’t want to link out from their content pieces.
There are risks in that the links may lose their value over time or get discounted by Google for whatever reason. Yet overall, they are a force and do power up rankings for companies who are paying link building companies for this valuable work.
With your advanced SEO consultant working with the link building company, more value can be gleaned and the link budget not wasted. Like anything, it needs to be managed and optimized.
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