Link building pricing: outsourced or in-house?

link building cost comparison: in-house vs outsourced

An overview, a calculator, and everything else you need to determine your cost and link building preference

“How much does link building cost?” — this is one of the first questions that pop into your head when you get serious about growing your brand’s organic search visibility.

Well, the answer isn’t as straightforward as the question. Because as simple as link building is in theory, when it comes to building high-quality custom links at scale, there are a lot of moving parts.

In this post, we’ll provide a comprehensive, impartial review of link building costs and pricing — for both in-house vs outsourced methods. By the end, you’ll be in a much better position to decide which route is right for your budget and needs.

How much does link building cost?

Let’s jump straight into the numbers. Here’s a breakdown of the cost comparison with different metrics and factors taken into account.

link building cost comparison

According to our calculations, in-house link building could cost between $11,000-$19,000 per month, while outsourced link building could be from $1,000 to $12,000 per month.

It all depends on your situation, location, and needs.

For example, you might be located in an expensive location such as San Francisco, which means you’ll need to spend a ton of setting up an in-house team and training them, as compared to hiring an external partner overseas to do the same work without sacrificing quality.

Here’s all the data we used for the above calculations, broken down by different cities around the US: 

Link building cost generator: in-house

Want to see actual costs specific to your business?

Here’s a handy calculator to calculate the approximate costs you’ll pay based on your startup’s in-house needs.

Not sure about wages in your area? Check on glassdoor.com, then input the results below.

Link building cost generator: outsourced

The costs of outsourced are much more straightforward. You generally pay one package fee (see examples below the calculator) and you may have to add in your staff's time spent coordinating with the link building agency. That's it!

Outsourced link building: costs, benefits, and drawbacks

In the following section, you'll get some more insights into how outsourced link building works. Get a glimpse of the costs, why it's worth it, and drawbacks you can prepare for.

Costs

When it comes to custom link-building campaigns, the costs can vary widely, depending on the quality of the agency you hire and the size of your campaign.

You can find link-building agencies at every corner, but when it comes to quality link-building work, there’s only a handful of options to pick from. Let’s look at the average costs for some other well-known agencies:

  • Siege Media: the cost per link range suggested by Siege Media in their pricing guide ranges from $250 to $1000 per link, depending upon the requirements and industry.
  • Link Fish Media: the most basic link building package is $1050 and will yield 3 links per month, while the average link building package is $5000 a month.
  • Page One Power: a typical link-building campaign for them costs $3,500 per month, but varies by project.
  • LinkBuilder.io: they offer multiple pricing plans, with pay-per-link starting from $300 per link (Domain Rating or DR40+), and monthly plans starting from $3000 per month for 9 links, going up to $8000 per month for 26 links.
  • Mediaberry.io: our pricing scheme is super simple. You can either get the small package for $6,000 (8-12 links per month) or the big one for $12,000 (16-24 links per month).

So you can expect to pay an average of $1,000-$12,000 per month for outsourced link building or at least $250 per link (from a website with a respectable domain authority).

Benefits

Let’s see why outsourcing link-building makes for a good bet.

1. It’s more cost-efficient

One of the biggest reasons to outsource your link building is the big bucks you’ll save.

We started with the costs comparison, but hiring just one full-time in-house link builder means you have to pay for their salary (which as you can see below, isn’t meager by any means), perks, payroll taxes, insurance, mandatory salary increments, and of course: the tools they need to do their job.

link builder annual average salary

And guess what? The sheer amount of work involved in building quality links continuously month-on-month is usually way more than a single full-time employee can manage, which means you’ll likely need a small team of at least two to three link builders.

Oh, and you’ll also pay for other stuff like time spent in meetings, holidays, sick leaves, etc.

Whereas, a specialist agency is able to provide better quality at lower costs as they have the advantage of economies of scale — which is essentially the cost advantage gained due to the larger scale of operation coupled with lower input and fixed costs.

So while outsourcing is certainly a considerable additional cost (usually as a monthly retainer fee that you can cancel on relatively short notice), most link-building services will cost you substantially less than if you were to do the labor yourself or hire folks in-house.

2. Link-building requires expertise

Link building is far from rocket science. Yes, it is simple in theory, but not easy to implement effectively — and at scale. Creating and executing an effective link-building strategy requires a variety of chops that you may not find in a single hire, such as:

  • On-page SEO expertise
  • Strong negotiation
  • Content writing and editing
  • Email writing and scheduling
  • Ability to prospect for opportunities
  • Ability to personalize all communication
  • Project management and task delegation

So, going the in-house route means you’ll have to find folk who can manage your link-building from start to finish! Whereas, if you partner up with a link-building agency, they already have a skilled, trained team of people who have a singular focus on getting your link-building game right.

3. You get access to established link-building systems

As mentioned earlier, specialist link-building agencies have the huge advantage of economies of scale. With all the specialization under one roof, they can work more efficiently and have bigger and better results at lower costs.

Think about this — is link-building something you or your team specialize in? Going the DIY route means you have to learn the ropes through hit and miss. You are almost bound to waste time and effort and distract from your core business goals.

So while DIY makes sense for custom business requirements, link-building is an area where you can access tried-and-true systems and grow faster if you outsource it to a specialist agency. You free up your (and your team’s) time to focus on other activities that have a direct impact on your growth and bottom line.

4. You can work with SaaS SEO experts

Join forces with the right agency, and you also gain access to years of SaaS knowledge to level up your own team’s SaaS marketing.

Mediaberry, for instance, has specialized in SaaS SEO and content marketing, with years of combined experience in the space. Our growing team of carefully vetted strategists, writers, and outreach specialists have already delivered impressive results for some of the fastest-growing SaaS companies globally.

So, it makes sense to outsource to a specialized partner who has already achieved stellar SEO results for numerous SaaS brands, instead of shooting in the dark.

5. Build links from an extensive and diverse network

Successful link-building goes hand in hand with relationship-building. And building fruitful relations takes time and tenacity.

Mediaberry has a network of 142+ SaaS brands. Our clients derive value from our large network with contextual content blurbs or relevant and natural link insertions in strategic guest posts on high authority publications.

Drawbacks

One notable drawback of outsourcing your link-building is that you’ll lose some sense of control over the links being built. Still, with the right agency partner, you’ll be kept in the loop with timely performance reports, and always have the final say about the type of websites and backlinks you’ll build.

Another drawback you need to dodge is black-hat SEO — steer clear of over-promising agencies that seem to be using shady tactics like buying backlinks. Externalizing link-building to an incompetent agency can cause more harm to your rankings than not doing any link-building at all.

But if you do your homework, check examples of past work and client testimonials, outsourcing is a safe bet and you get more accountability and value per link built at a lower execution cost.

Questionnaire

Trying to decide if outsourcing is the right route for your brand?

Here are a few key questions to ponder:

  • What’s your monthly link-building budget?
  • Do you have at least 10 blog posts on your website?
  • What evidence does the agency have of link-building success? (examples of the links they have garnered in past campaigns)
  • What is their link-building process? (from finding and reaching out to relevant websites to writing content and tracking progress)
  • What are their quality standards? (in terms of quality & domain authority of the linking site and the quality of content they produce)

Definitive answers to these questions will help you reach an answer to the original question.

In-house link building: costs, benefits, and drawbacks

If you’re an established brand with a big in-house marketing team, coupled with a solid content & SEO foundation and a distribution strategy (with lots of links coming naturally), then you can set up an in-house distribution team to leverage your brand name and relationships to scale link-building.

Costs

We’ve already talked about how hiring just one in-house link builder means you have to pay for their salary, insurance, perks, tools, training, etc. You’ve also seen their average salary in that image.

And if they don’t have writing chops, you’ll need to hire a content writer, who takes home an average paycheck of at least $50,000.

content writer annual average salary

Talking about tools needed to do the job, here are a couple of must-haves:

  • Ahrefs: To find link opportunities and do competitor link and anchor text analysis. The most basic plan (for just 1 user) starts at $99 per month.
  • Hunter.io: To find email addresses of link prospects. The starter plan is $49 per month.

There could be a need for more tools, such as for graphic designing, writing, task management, etc. As a modest average, let’s say you spend $200 per month on tool subscriptions and training. That’s another $2400 per year.

All things considered, you can expect to pay around $9,000-$10,000 per month (~$109,779÷12) for a two-person in-house link-building team.

Benefits

In nearly every regard, outsourcing your link-building is a sensible bet. Still, there are a couple of reasons in favor of keeping your link-building in-house.

1. You get more control over your link-building

If you have a big monthly marketing budget (in terms of money and time) and wish to exercise greater control over every marketing activity, then running your link-building in-house makes sense.

Or, if you aren’t looking for flexibility, and have a very specific SEO or PR-infused goal tied to your link-building, then you may be better off hiring in-house experts that are ready to work exactly as per your strategy.

Because externalizing anything always comes with losing some degree of control.

2. You can establish greater synergy between SEO and other teams

For enterprise websites — especially SaaS and eCommerce — your SEO team should ideally work in close harmony with the design, development, and marketing teams to establish synergy in achieving your business goals.

So if you have an in-house SEO team with link builders, they can better tie their SEO expertise with your branding guidelines and product’s USPs to deliver tailor-made results. For example, your in-house link builders can better understand your SaaS feature-set and thus, pitch it in a way that drives more contextual backlinks.

Drawbacks

Well, just think of the advantages of outsourcing listed above. By going the in-house way, you’re passing up on all of that:

  • A skilled and trained team of link-building experts whose core focus is to get you consistent and timely results.
  • Tried-and-tested link-building systems that achieve stronger results at lower costs.
  • Time to focus on other activities that have a bigger impact on your growth and bottom line.
  • Years of carefully-vetted experience in SaaS SEO and content marketing.
  • An established and diverse network of high-authority publishers.

Questionnaire

Trying to decide if in-house is the right route for your brand?

Here are a few key questions to consider:

Do you have…

  • A strong SEO team?
  • Spare time to spend on link-building?
  • The expertise to build links yourself?

And

  • Are you able to scale your link-building efforts?
  • Do you or your team already have a strong network of publishers?

Concrete answers to these questions will help you reach an answer to the original question.

How much does link building cost at Mediaberry?

You are probably here to see some actual numbers.

Here are the $ figures for our relationship-based link building services:

link building pricing at mediaberry

We charge on a per-link basis based on the Ahrefs’ DR of the publisher brand. For instance, a DR65 brand would cost $600 whereas a DR85 brand would cost $800.

Also, we only charge for successful placements. The monthly budget is a goal to work toward and not an exact figure. If we can fulfill only $5k of a $6k monthly budget, then that’s what you’ll pay. In this scenario, you’ll get an explanation of why we can’t fulfill your budget.

Need a custom quote calculated as per your requirements? Use our Instant Quote Calculator to get a custom quote within minutes!

The verdict

If you want juicy do-follow links from high-quality and reputable websites, you need to first do a lot of legwork to build relations. You can either build these relationships from the ground up by investing consistent and considerable effort or team up with an expert who has already done it.

While some brands do have the time, resources, and expertise to manage all link-building in-house, most emerging SaaS and eCommerce brands don’t. That’s where outsourcing can play a cost-efficient, high-ROI role.

Plus, link-building is a long-term game. Having access to an established, scalable system keeps you on the right track to scale from 10, 30 to even 50 links per month, leading to compounding results.

So, all in all, you might decide that your team can handle link building for the time being, but ultimately, outsourcing lets you secure the right links consistently, and the payoff is going to far outweigh the costs.