What Should I Pay for Link Building Services?

Here are some real answers to the most commonly asked link building question.

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Last updated on March 5, 2024

A Tale of Two Link Building Services:

The first link building service charges a personal injury law firm $10,000 per month. They end up building 10 high-quality backlinks over six months.

The second link building service is an individual on Fiverr who charges a personal injury law firm $25 for 25 backlinks. They deliver 25 backlinks on terrible, spammy domains.

Which law firm is better off?

The first is out $60,000 and only got 10 links.

The second has 2.5 times as many links and paid only $25. But the links are terrible and could even get the website penalized by Google.

My answer:

Neither law firm is better off. They both got scammed — just in two different ways. And that’s because they prioritized price on the very high or very low end instead of looking at what actually matters.

What should you pay for link building services? That question doesn’t have an easy answer. And anyone who gives you an easy answer is probably overcharging you or delivering subpar results.

So, let’s figure it out. Here’s what you need to consider as you decide what to pay for a Link Building Service.
What Should I Pay for Link Building Services - Tom Desmond

Average Costs for Link Building Services

Backlink prices can vary widely. They depend on a lot of factors (which we’ll get into in a minute). But there are some averages we can look to.

For example, guest posts. Guest posts are one of the most common link building methods. And, according to Ahrefs, they’ll cost you around $177.80 per link on average.

Meanwhile, Ahrefs also found that niche edits — where a website inserts a link to your site in a piece of existing content — cost $361.44 on average.

But don’t expect to get away with a niche edit on a high-authority site at that price. Ahrefs also noted that on average, niche edits on sites with a Domain Rating (DR) of 50 or higher cost more than $600, for a single link.

Of course, that’s just one data set. For example, Siege Media posts that $500 will be the low end of what you should expect to pay for a long-term backlink.

The high end? Between $1,000 and $1,500.

What does this mean for your link building budget? It means you need to focus on the actual quality of the links you can get.

Yes, quantity matters. But only if the links are of good quality in the first place.

You can find links for $1. Or $1,000. But I’d argue that you’re likely to be better off with a single $1,000 link from a relevant, authoritative site with real organic traffic than you would be with 1,000 $1 links from worthless sites.

Factors That Influence Backlink Pricing

How do backlink builders arrive at the prices they charge? If they’re reputable, they’re considering many of the following factors:

The Quality of the Links

What does quality mean as it pertains to links, exactly?

Most link builders like to base it entirely on DR or a similar metric like Domain Authority (DA). I look at DA and DR, too. But I never forget this:

These are made up metrics. They’re built to sell links. They aren’t perfect, and they can be manipulated.

Yes, a high DR suggests that a backlink might be of high quality (and therefore worth paying a premium price for), but it doesn’t close the case.

So, what else are you supposed to look for?

Two things:

  • Relevance
  • Organic traffic

The linking domain should be related to your industry or niche in some way. So, if you’re a law firm and considering a 90-DA link from a travel blog, you’re doing it wrong.

But if you’re a travel agency looking at that same link, that’s a really high-quality link.

That is, as long as it has real organic traffic. Like I said:

DA and DR can be manipulated. But it’s much harder to fake traffic. So, look for organic traffic — that’s traffic from Google.

Why organic traffic instead of all traffic? Because you get the benefit of Google’s bot filters. Other types of traffic can be faked more easily.

The amount of monthly organic traffic you should look for will vary, depending on your industry and a few other factors. But in general, if they’re getting more than 1,000 organic visits per month, you’re in good shape.

Your Industry

The industry you’re in is going to play a big part in how much link building services cost you.


Because some industries are harder to build strong sites in than others.

Take law, for example. It’s a Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) niche, which means Google places extra high standards on the sites it’s going to rank in the space.

(Other YMYL niches include health, medicine and finance.)

That means the sites you’re trying to get links from had to work harder to get real organic rankings and traffic. That means they’re going to charge more.

There’s also the simple problem of competition.

Industries like consumer law are fiercely competitive. That tells link sellers they can charge more in those spaces.

Content Creation

Is your link building service going to create content for you? If so, expect to pay more.

This is common when you don’t already have a lot of content on your website. Or when your content is of low quality.

That’s because you need to have assets that other sites can reasonably link to. They want to link to high-quality content. (And they can’t all link to your homepage.)

Content creation takes time and money. Expect your link building service, whether it’s an agency or individual, to charge you a premium price if they have to do it for you.

Your Flexibility

Are you comfortable having your business name mentioned on a lot of other websites? Will you sit for a quick phone or email interview?

If your answer to either or both of those questions is no, you might end up paying somewhat more for your backlinks.
Why is that, exactly?

Because more flexibility on your part makes it easier to build links for you.

If you’re willing to have your business mentioned by name on a bunch of sites (giving up total control over how your brand is discussed and presented in some cases), you’ll have an easier time finding websites that are willing to link to you.

If you’re willing to share your expertise via an interview with a journalist or blogger, you can get high-value links from industry blogs and publications.

But if you aren’t willing to do those things, your link builder is going to have to work harder. They will have to go deeper in their field research. And they might have to sweeten the deal when they buy links on your behalf.

The Strength of Your Brand

Well-known brands get more links. It’s simple, really. If you own a website and a brand you recognize reaches out to ask for a link, there’s already a level of trust.

That means you feel more comfortable adding that link to your site.

But if it’s some brand you’ve never heard of, you’re going to be more cautious. You’re going to hesitate.

And to make up for your perceived higher liability, you’re going to charge more for the link.

Agency Link Building vs. In-House: Pros and Cons for Pricing

We still haven’t discussed one of the major factors that influences the cost of link building services.

It’s the type of service provider you choose. As you already know or will soon see, you have options here. And not all of them are good.

The safest and most common options for most business owners tend to be:

  • Working with a link building agency
  • Hiring a link builder to work in-house

Those aren’t the best options (we’ll discuss the BEST option below), but they are the two most common. Here’s what you need to know about the link building prices involved with agencies vs. in-house providers.

Agency Link Building Service Costs

Before I jump into this, I must pitch this page: white-label link building service…there. Check it out if you’re an SEO person who would like to look like a rock star to your clients. Really.

Ok…here’s the thing about agencies:

Anyone can start an agency. There’s no professional certification. No exam. No nothing.

You just have to start a website and incorporate. That’s it. And it happens all the time.

The result? A LOT of terrible link building agencies that don’t deliver for their clients.

That’s not to say that all agencies are terrible. I’m just saying that many will not deliver what they’re promising.

But here’s what they all have in common: They’ll charge you a pretty penny.

And in some cases, they won’t even guarantee a certain number of links or a certain level of quality.

(If you encounter that, run for the hills.)

I’m not joking when I say this — and if you’ve worked with an agency before, you know — you could pay as much as $10,000 per month for link building with an agency.

Maybe more.

Where do prices like that come from?

If the agency is doing high-quality link building, they’re investing in real relationships with major industry publications and creating amazing linkable content for you.

But even if they aren’t, your budget is going to what often amounts to a bloated staff roster and a third-party link provider.

In other words, you’re often paying a middle man when you’re paying an agency to build links for you. And middle men mark up prices.

Don’t get me wrong — some people are super happy with their link building agencies. Some really are reputable. But they’re few and far between and often in high demand.

Which is why many people go the in-house route …

In-House Link Building Service Costs

What does in-house link building look like? You hire someone directly to build links for your business (usually ONLY your business).

You’re a business owner, so you know:

The most expensive part of running any business is paying your employees. And an in-house link builder is an employee.

And link builders are expensive. According to the careers site Glassdoor, the average link builder pulls in a salary of $78,751 per year.

That’s the average, and it doesn’t account for benefits, training, etc.

The problem with that math, of course, is that link builders who are just starting out are not very good at building links. They’re certainly not going to build you $78,751 worth of links in the first year. Or two or three years.

Also, unless you’re a super experienced link builder yourself, how are you going to train a newbie? You won’t be able to — not effectively, at least.

So, you want to go with someone experienced. And you need to expect to pay more: Link builders with 10 to 14 years of experience pull in a salary of $102,676 on average.

The Alternative (Best Option)

Neither of those options is sounding great right now. You’re in the boat so many business owners find themselves in.

And this is where many business owners throw up their hands and decide to forget about link building. They buy into the myth that “all you have to do is create good content.”

(Don’t get me started.)

The good news is there’s an alternative. It’s somewhere between hiring a link building freelancer and hiring an agency.

All the fat is trimmed. And all the link power — and more — is there.

It’s the lean, targeted link builder.

It’s the person who has built so many links for so many people that they know every play there is to make.

It’s the person who has scaled not by building a bloated agency but by building relationships with other talented link builders — bringing them into the fold and training them to be the best.

It’s the team that doesn’t offer links on DA or DR alone. We build links that work because they have REAL organic traffic, topical relevance AND authority.

That’s the alternative to agencies and in-house link builders.

You’re wondering about the price. I get it. And you know it depends on a lot of factors. But I can tell you this:

Every dime you spend will go toward building links. Not padding agency owners’ pockets. Not training a newbie. Not some third party who does spam links.

That’s efficiency. And in business, efficiency is everything. It’s the same in SEO.

Measuring Link Building ROI

What you should pay for link building services depends on a lot of factors, which we’ve discussed above.

But remember that link building is an ongoing marketing cost. You can’t just build some links and then stop.

So, over time, you need to measure the ROI on the links you’re building. And adjust what you’re spending accordingly.

The logic is simple:

If you’re getting a lot of traction from niche edits, do more of those (or pay more for even higher-quality ones).

If you’re not seeing a ton of traction from guest posts, assess the traffic and relevance of the sites you’re getting guest posts on. Adjust up or down to make your link building budget go further.

How do you measure link building ROI? One word: tracking.

You have to track the links you build, the pages they point to and the anchor text they use.

You also have to look at the data you’re gathering and make sense of it.

You need to be able to trace a huge spike in your rankings to a particular link or several.

The best way to do that is to partner with a reliable link building provider who will do it for you and automatically invest more of your budget into what’s working.

The second best way is to do it yourself with software like Ahrefs or Semrush.

In any case, make sure you’re keeping track of the links you’re building and the ROI you’re getting from them. That’s the only way to make sure you’re paying the right amount for link building services over time.

Further reading: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting a Robust Link-Building Plan

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