Here at Serpreach, we always say that link building takes time and effort. But frankly, time and effort are not all it takes.
Link building will also “suck” most parts of your SEO budget.
Yes, “sucks” — at least 40-60%!
Let’s give you a quick overview:
On average, here’s what Ahrefs’ study revealed:
- A guest post backlink will cost $77.80 — based on the reply from 180 sites
- A niche edit backlink will cost $361.44 — based on the reply from 450 sites
Unfortunately, you can’t get to the zenith of your money keyword with just a guest post or niche edit. So, you’ll probably do a few hundred.
With that perspective, you’d probably pay around $10-20K monthly.
How did we arrive at that guesstimate?
We’ll discuss it all in this piece — and handle all your objections and curiosity.
But first, let’s talk about Google’s stand on buying backlinks.
What Does Google Say About Buying Backlinks?
Exchanging money for links or posts that contain links is an example of link spam.
And Google is against link spam. In other words, buying backlinks should be frowned upon. But it can get tricky.
If you got your backlinks from vendors that sell links outrightly. That is a complete violation of Google’s guidelines.
On the other hand, if you employ a link builder for your link building campaigns, you’ll pay them. Now, expert link builders will build links using natural, safe methods. Even at that, you will pay for their services.
In this case, buying backlinks is not wrong. So, you’re safe.
Now, let’s delve into link building pricing in detail. How much money should you budget?
How Much Does Link Building Pricing Cost?
Remember that we gave a guesstimate of $10-20k.
GOOD NEWS: depending on your link builder and industry, you might not spend up to that baseline.
That said, we’ll look at link building pricing from the two angles
- The link builder cost analysis
- The industry cost analysis
Link Builder Cost Analysis
If you can’t do link building, there are generally three builders you can hire:
- A freelancer
- An in-house link builder
- An agency
Freelancers’ Link Building Cost
Frankly, freelancers are the cheapest link builders around. And since the gig economy is remote and global, the prices vary greatly.
At the least, you’ll find link builders who’ll charge as low as $10 per hour to build links for you. And then, other freelancers will charge nothing less than $100 per hour.
Why the differences?
Freelancers live across different economies of the world. So, they mostly charge what will meet their needs. And hence the reason for the significant pricing differences.
Another way freelance link builders charge for “link building” is to offer one-off services. For example, a freelancer could leverage his relationship with journalists or authors on Business Insider and link to you on the site.
In cases like that, the rates are usually high — up to $1K, depending on the site’s traffic and DR/DA.
Overall cost: $19.2k to $193K
So, should you use a freelancer to build links?
Yes, but not as the foundation of your link building campaigns. We’d recommend that you only hire a freelance link builder when you’re not a rookie and have a solid plan of what you want for your website.
In that case, you can hire freelancers for specific and short-term tasks — such as guest posting, niche edits, and broken link building.
In-house Link Building Cost
Building an in-house link building can be likened to a mix of freelancers where each has a specific task, and you oversee their work as the manager.
If you don’t mind a seasoned expert overseeing the activities, outsource the management too.
Either way, you’ll be looking at building a team that comprises:
- Link building manager
- Link building assistant
- Guest post writer
Depending on where the link building manager stays, you’ll be looking at least $30K. That estimate is often accurate if the hire stays overseas — outside the US and Europe.
For hires in the US, budget at least $60K per year.
Once the manager position is filled, you need an assistant who will fulfill tasks such as link prospecting & qualifying, and outreach.
For such tasks, you don’t need a seasoned expert. Anyone willing to learn can do that. As such, prepare $12K yearly —$1K monthly.
If you want to fast-track your link building campaigns, you need at least two assistants. So, prepare $24K.
Next, your team needs a guest post writer. Again, the cost varies.
If you want a seasoned writer who understands your niche and with a string of high-performing articles, you’d be paying between 15-30c per word.
So, say you’re writing 20,000 words per month. The cost will be $3-6K monthly and $36-72k yearly.
In addition to the cost of personnel, there are additional expenses such as:
- Link building tools — subscriptions and outreach ($5K yearly)
- Link costs — for website owners and authors ($20K yearly)
Overall cost: $127K – $193K
So, should you build an in-house team?
Building an in-house link building team requires an expert-level understanding of SEO. Otherwise, you’d waste your time and money.
Agency Link Building
Agencies are similar to in-house teams. The only difference is that you won’t be the one to manage the team.
You’ll only need to talk to a spokesperson, and the link building campaigns will be managed from start to end.
However, ensure you hire the RIGHT agencies. And specify your needs.
Either way, here is an estimate you can expect;
- Content marketing agencies charge between $10-30k per campaign. But unfortunately, the quality might not be top-notch.
- Link building agencies charge between $3-15K per month. That could increase depending on your campaigns and their requirements.
Should you hire agencies for your link building?
Agencies can cover the gap if you don’t have the time to manage an in-house team or don’t understand how link building or SEO works.
Besides, agencies are cost-effective. They will save you time and get results.
At Serpreach, for example,
Industry Cost Analysis
Your niche/industry will also affect what link builders charge you for link building. New niches like SaaS will be relatively affordable compared to real estate or casinos.
That said, let’s take a closer look at the averages of the top industries in SEO.
High Cost Niches
As mentioned earlier, casinos are one of the first names that come to mind in this category. And the reason is straightforward:
Authoritative sites will hardly send backlinks to gambling sites unless they are affiliate links or related to the niche. As a result, getting quality links to sites here will be expensive.
What if you create a top-notch linkable asset?
It doesn’t matter. You’d still struggle to get authority sites to link back to it. And when it happens, you might spend at least $500 per link.
Other niches in this category include:
- Payday loans, and
- Real estate
Medium Cost Niches
Niches like SaaS, though new, are investing a lot of effort into link building. There are several articles online about the slightest change in a product or the launch of a new one.
ChatGPT is an example. After a few days of the version 4 release, several people are already tagging themselves as gurus. And in that short period, the gurus have posted different content on several use cases.
In a niche like that, you’ll pay competitive rates for links. At least, you’d pay close to $350 per link.
Other niches in this category include:
- Diet and food
Low Cost Niches
Link building in this category is seamless. You only have to build educational content.
However, make your approach a bit more engaging and practical. That will fetch organic traffic by itself without outreach.
For example, video game articles are always in demand. Everyone wants to read a new way to achieve hero status on their favorite console games.
For that reason, site owners are actively looking for informational articles that will keep their readers engaged. In other words, they (the site owners) will readily accept your guest posts.
Bottom line: if you’d pay for links for niches in this category, the most will be $150. The few exceptions might be backlinks from the leaders in your industry.
Now, you know the cost estimate of building links by “industry” and “preferred link builder.” What next?
Let’s discuss why link building is expensive. If you know the “why,” chances are that you can influence the cost of your campaigns.
3 CRITICAL Factors That Affect Link Building Pricing
If you patronize freelancers often, you’d see that their pricing is based on the domain authority of where your links will be placed.
In fact, the DR/DA is likely what you’ll see on their service thumbnails.
The entire system of link building revolves around getting respected sites with more authority to point to you. In other words, you want these authority sites to pass down some link juice to your site.
That said, getting backlinks from sites with DA 30 will likely do anything to improve your website. Hence, such links will be cheap.
But say the DA is 70. Such a site will significantly boost your rankings. A freelancer knows this and will increase the rate.
On the flip side: your site will likely receive lots of pitches if its DA is 70. At that stage, you might not necessarily do outreach. Yet, other websites would like to exchange links with you.
At this point, you’d earn your links and increase organic traffic with almost zero errors.
Further reading: How To Increase Domain Authority
Like domain authority, brands’ popularity always influences the cost of getting a backlink from them.
For example, imagine a backlink from an authority site like Forbes. And mind you, Forbes is not only an authority site. It has been popular even before the active lobbying for top spots on search results.
Journalists on sites like Forbes likely receive several pitches daily than they care to read. In other words, earning a link there will be almost impossible.
And even when you pay a seasoned link builder to help, it can be almost impossible. Either way, you’ll spend through the roof to make the Forbes backlink a reality.
On the flip side: say you’re POPULAR in your industry; other BIG brands will like to leverage your DA and traffic. You’ll spend less, if at all, and earn links naturally.
Big brands do that a lot — exchange links among themselves to grow traffic and income.
Remember the saying that “content is king.” Well, we’ll like to rephrase it as “good content is magnetic.”
Your content must attract the big shots in your industry to earn backlinks and spend less on links. It is not enough to rewrite top-ranking articles and add new spices.
Create fresh, original content!
Create something so rich, engaging, and value-packed that even the top people in your industry can’t overlook!
Can’t find fresh topics?
Pick the old ones; explain them from a fresh perspective. In short, be original.
Keep your originality up, add value, and get attention. Then, backlinks will come to you like iron filings to a magnet.
And say you will send pitches. The cost will be significantly reduced.
Be Careful Of BAD Links
Undoubtedly, quality links take time to build. Also, they are expensive to acquire.
With that premise, you might be tempted to get cheap links, thinking: “links are the same.”
If you have that ideology, kindly rethink it!
Links are not the same. Some will spur your site to higher positions on search results.
And others will get your site suspended on search results temporarily.
In essence, choose your links wisely. Avoid INCREDIBLY cheap links with short turnaround times.
For example, if anyone promises you a link on a site with DA 70 for $15, it is likely a scam. Otherwise, you’re patronizing a link farm — run!
Want to learn how to identify BAD links?