Does Link Building Cost Money? (2023)

Link building is a fundamental component of SEO, without it, you will struggle to build up significant authority online.

If you’re wondering why this is the case, it’s because backlinks are used by search engines in order to rank websites in the search results.

To say link building is a core component of your SEO strategy is a massive understatement.

Building high-quality links will increase third-party metrics like domain authority over the long term. However, this isn’t why businesses should be embarking on link-building strategies. Instead, businesses should be using link-building as a means of ranking individual high-power pages.

Better rankings lead to more traffic, conversions, and sales. When it’s done right, link-building can have a hugely positive impact on businesses.

But the question remains, does investing in link building require money?

The simple answer is no. You can do link-building on your own, but it does take a significant amount of time. Therefore, many businesses prefer to outsource link building given that there is usually a massively profitable ROI.

In this blog post, we will delve into the costs of different link-building strategies and explain why investing in link-building is usually a very good decision. 

You need an effective organic marketing strategy that delivers long-term results. Links are a big part of that…

The Importance of Investing in Link Building

A well-rounded link-building strategy has a positive effect on rankings, traffic, and brand awareness.

A website that has a strong and natural backlink profile is a key indicator to the search engines that your brand is a reputable and authoritative source of information. If search engines respect your website then they are more likely to display your content in organic results.

When your content ranks you literally get free organic traffic and increased exposure to your target audience.

Alongside your on-page SEO, it’s the quality and quantity of backlinks that dictate how well your content is able to rank.

A new website could write the single best, most interesting piece of content in the world on “credit cards”. However, with no backlinks, they will never rank well for those keywords. The truth is, to have a genuine chance of ranking they need to build a strong backlink portfolio.

High-quality backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites are a clear indication that your website is a credible and valuable source of information. That is the power of good backlinks.

On the other hand, low-quality, irrelevant backlinks do not have the same positive influence on rankings and traffic. Therefore, it’s critical that you focus the entirety of your link-building strategy on acquiring relevant backlinks from niche-related websites. For example, if your business revolves around freelance writing services, getting links from articles on the topic is the way to go!

Link building is about sustained long-term effort.

It’s not enough to just acquire a few high-quality backlinks and call it a day. Instead, you need to commit ongoing effort to build relationships with editors from authoritative websites and create content that is truly valuable to people, not just search engines.

The importance of link building and doing it efficiently and consistently can’t be downplayed. But how much does it cost?

The Costs of Link Building

Link building isn’t just guest posting.

This is a common misconception that some marketers have. Instead, a good link-building campaign involves a variety of techniques, each with its own benefits. For example, HARO link building is the best way to source high-authority editorial links and niche edits (also known as link insertions) are the best way to rank individual pages.

Naturally, the amount of money that you need to invest will depend on the technique used and how much effort goes into obtaining new links. 

HARO links are very expensive with some agencies charging anywhere from $300 – $600 a link. On the other hand, you can build incredible guest post links for as little as $200. Obviously, you can buy backlinks that cost considerably less than this. Unfortunately, these links are often “black hat” links that are unnatural, these will not have a positive impact on your SEO.

Outsourcing Link Building

Link building is hard and very time-consuming, there are no two ways about it.

This is why many businesses decide to outsource.

Working with freelancers or a dedicated link-building agency will save you lots of time and in-house resources. Going down the agency or freelancer route is a good idea because these people are dedicated link builders! Although, that’s not to say they are not prone to making the odd link-building mistake.

Most marketing people are not specialists. They may have a fundamental understanding of SEO, but they will also spend a lot of time doing email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, and paid advertising.

Therefore, when you find a reputable and trustworthy link-building specialist who has experience getting results for clients it’s an opportunity worth taking!

Small businesses with limited resources need to focus on content creation. Building high-quality links are great, but if you have content that isn’t worth reading, it still won’t rank.

AI tools like ChatGPT provide an easier way to create content at scale. However, you should still be editing AI-generated content and making it more “human-friendly”. Trying to publish at least a few awesome blog posts every month will give you a massive advantage over competitors with no dedicated content marketing strategy.

To make the most of this advantage you should be building good links to your content for the reasons we have already spoken about.

Outsourcing is the best approach to link building because it provides you with access to the expertise of professionals. This will enable you to build a more well-rounded link profile that is capable of packing a punch in terms of rankings.

Researching and vetting potential providers and setting clear expectations and guidelines for the work to be done is a key part of outsourcing. Being involved in the backlink acquisition process will help you to understand more about how SEO works.

Some SEO providers will charge a flat fee for a set number of backlinks (this is the best way to hire and measure ROI), while others prefer to charge hourly rates or offer ongoing monthly retainers. 

You need to evaluate the costs of outsourcing and weigh that up against the potential benefits before hiring. But, keep in mind that the effects of link building are not quick. Exactly, how long it takes to see results from link building varies. However, you need to think in weeks and months, not days.

In-House Link Building

Building out a dedicated in-house SEO team to do link-building is also a valid option!

As a result of building your own internal team, you can expect a greater degree of control and flexibility over the work.

You will find it easier to make adaptations month by month. However, the big downfall is the investment required in terms of money and time. You will need to pay monthly salaries to all your team members and the likelihood of a quick ROI is very low. So, you need to be okay with losing money in the short term. This is why building an internal team is only a good idea for significantly larger businesses.

It also takes a lot of time to hire and train new staff!

Internal teams are also a good idea for businesses that have a unique, niche audience. In this case, an in-house team who is familiar with your company will be better suited to deliver a tailored approach to link building.

It’s not the best idea to utilize your current in-house staff for link building. You need a team that can focus solely on link-building, without having to juggle multiple tasks. When people are able to concentrate on just one thing they deliver much better results consistently.

If you do decide to build an in-house team you will also need to be investing in tools and software like Ahrefs and Semrush, not only that but you will need to learn how to actually use the tools effectively. For people who haven’t got prior SEO experience, this is a significant hurdle in itself.

Also, if you do decide to take the in-house route, please make sure that your team is complying with Google’s guidelines and doing everything in an ethical way. As a result, you will avoid harmful practices which can have a negative influence on reputation and rankings.

The in-house route can work when you get it right, but usually, it takes months to see results from link building.

The Value of Backlinks

So, you already know that obtaining a good backlink can help to improve your rankings in search.

The main benefit of better rankings that will instantly occur is getting more clicks.

So, whether you are selling a service, or products, or even making money through affiliate commissions you will have more eyes in front of what you are selling. Naturally, this will translate into better sales and revenue numbers. 

But, not all backlinks are created equal. The value of a backlink is only worth as much as the impact it has. That’s why tracking link-building KPIs like position changes and conversions is so vital. 

I’ll quickly break down for you the different “types” of backlinks you can get.

High-Authority Backlinks

Firstly, high authority editorial backlinks. Getting backlinks from media outlets such as Forbes, CNN, or Huffington Post is the pinnacle. The more links that you have from these types of sites, the better. Unfortunately, unless you are an authority in your niche you will struggle to get them…

Cue HARO (Help a Reporter Out). This service gives you access to journalists looking for quotes to use in their articles. It’s time-consuming and your success rate will be low, however, if you follow the HARO best practices you can get backlinks this way from simple traditional journalism.

Because it takes a lot of time to reach out to journalists with well-crafted responses the price of these links is pretty high. Link-building agencies that specialize in HARO are able to charge a hefty price for these links. You can expect to pay around $500 a link. 

This is actually very good value when you think of the time involved and the impact that these links can have on your business.

Niche-Relevant Backlinks

Not all backlinks are so hard to acquire.

One of the main factors that make a link worth having is relevance. This is because these links are highly natural, additionally, they help to show search engines that you have expertise on a given topic. Whether you’re in the finance niche, the pet care niche, or anywhere in between. Getting topically relevant backlinks from websites in the same niche carries a lot of weight.

My SEO services focus on building these types of links from guest posts and niche edits. It’s a bit of a biased view, but I do think that we offer the best link-building services due to the amount of focus we place on strategy. 

Building links this way consistently to your individual pages will show Google that your articles have been consumed by other site owners and they have appreciated your insights. 

Quick summary. Contextual niche-relevant backlinks indicate authority in that specific area. The price of link building will vary based on the level of competition in the industry. The average cost of a single backlink like this will range from $50 to $700. 

That’s a pretty wide range. However, metrics like the website’s domain authority or domain rating and traffic play a huge role. A reasonable rate to be paying for an average high-quality niche backlink is between $200 to $350. If the price point is below this be suspicious, if it’s higher you should probably look elsewhere.

Low-Quality Backlinks

Avoid low-quality backlinks at all costs. They may be cheap, but that is for a reason. “Buying backlinks” outright is a bit of a gray area, but when they have been created through spam and automation that is definitely considered “black hat”.

The best case scenario of building low-quality links is that nothing happens and Google just ignores the link. The worst-case scenario is a tough algorithmic or manual penalty. Don’t be fooled by the allure of paying just a few dollars per link. 

Links at this price will do you no favors! So, to sum up, only pay for links that are created ethically through manual outreach.

The future of SEO offers no place for spammy backlinks, only great ones.


How many backlinks do I need to rank?

The number of backlinks needed to rank well depends on how competitive your niche is. For example, ranking well in the pet niche is a lot easier than ranking well in the finance niche. You also need to consider the authority of the linking websites, the anchor text of the links, and the naturalness of your link profile. So, there is no specific number of links that guarantees a high ranking, it’s more about quality.

How can I ensure the quality of backlinks I acquire?

To ensure the quality of the links you acquire, you should focus on acquiring external links from authoritative websites and niche-relevant websites. Backlinks carry more power when they are from unique domains, have natural anchor text, and are not part of any link schemes like link exchanges.

What is the cost of link building?

The cost of link-building varies based on the link-building techniques used and the agency you choose to work with. Content-based link building and outreach-based link building (which is more effective) can cost upwards of $300 per link, while broken link building is less effective but much cheaper.


Ultimately, link-building requires either time or money. It can never be entirely passive. 

It’s entirely up to you how much money you are ready to spend on your link-building campaigns.

You have the choice of outsourcing to freelancers or agencies as a means to save time and resources while delivering quality results. 

The other option we discussed is building an in-house link-building team. While centering control internally is great in theory it is much more expensive in the short term.

The point is that you want to get the best results, however, you get there and how much you spend is your choice.

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