For years, link building has been hailed as one of the most powerful and consistent strategies for generating traffic, increasing visibility, and supporting your online marketing presence.
Working with a link building agency can make it easier, faster, and more effective – but if you’re not careful, you could also set yourself up for a catastrophic failure.
The central question is: can you trust your link building agency?
An Introduction to Link Building
Link building is a digital marketing strategy that serves several purposes simultaneously. At the most basic level, you’re simply establishing links to internal pages of your website on the external websites of authoritative sources, preferably in your field.
These links have the power to pass authority to your website, making it more trustworthy in the eyes of search engines and rendering it more likely to rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Depending on the placement and anchor text of your link, it can also help you with increasing brand visibility. And it will certainly help you increase referral traffic, especially if you’re building links on sources with high traffic volume.
The trouble is, there are many ways that improper link building practices can hurt your brand. If you participate in spammy or unethical link building practices, it can harm your reputation directly and set you up for a manual Google penalty, which in extreme cases can negate all your other SEO progress.
The Problem of Trust
Most link building agencies are committed to effective, ethical practices. But because the stakes are somewhat high, you need to find an agency that you can trust.
- Work completion/follow-up. How can you be confident that this agency is actually placing the links they claim to build? Fortunately, this is something that’s easy to validate, as long as you’re willing to follow up. Even so, if your link building agency isn’t doing the work they claim to be doing, you could still lose a lot of time and money pursuing a more consistent workflow.
- Ethics and best practices. If you want to be successful in link building, and preserve your reputation, you need to practice white hat link building and follow standard, accepted ethical practices. Not all link building agencies are equally devoted to maintaining these strict ethical standards, and even one ethical violation could be damaging to your brand.
- Long-term support/reliability. Link building is a long-term strategy, and one that usually requires months of execution before it truly starts paying off. If your link building agency suddenly becomes unavailable, or if they drop you as a client, it could jeopardize the consistency of your campaign.
- Reporting and results. Most link building agencies regularly report on your results/progress to demonstrate their effectiveness and prove their value. But if you can’t trust your link building agency, you’ll never be sure that these metrics are accurate.
Can You Trust Your Link Building Agency?
So can you trust your link building agency?
You can’t simply trust your gut in this situation. You need to do your due diligence and look at the following for each link building agency candidate:
- Service descriptions and overall philosophy. Not all link building is equally valuable. Spamming links, exclusively going after low-hanging fruit, or disregarding the importance of quality content can all interfere with the effectiveness of your campaign. Pay close attention to service descriptions and the overall philosophies of the link building agencies you’re considering.
- Industry reputation. You’ll also need to consider the industry reputation of each agency. What do other experts in the industry think about them? What are their practices usually like?
- Results, ratings, and reviews. Next, you’ll want to take a deep dive into the agencies’ results, ratings, and reviews. In other words, how has this company performed in the past? Can they prove their results? Do past clients seem to think about this agency favorably?
- Transparency and honesty. Does this agency seem transparent and honest? Do they try to hide or skew their internal processes or dodge your most critical questions?
- Guarantees and assurances. Are there any guarantees or assurances in place? If something goes wrong with the link building strategy, will the agency take accountability for it?
- Overall communication. Are you satisfied with the overall communication with this agency? Do you have a dedicated account representative? Do they answer your questions straightforwardly and honestly?
Whether you’re just getting started with a technical audit or you’ve been practicing SEO for more than a decade, it’s important to find a link building agency that’s both trustworthy and competent enough to help you succeed. Due diligence isn’t fun, and it can take some time to find a truly reliable partner, but your initial investments of time and money are likely going to pay off in your favor.