Even though several factors affect the pricing of link building, our experience and knowledge of the market tell us that average prices per link range as follows:
- Low End: $50 – $200
- Medium End: $200 – $600
- High End: $600 – $2,000
In this guide, we’ll try to explain what you should expect when it comes to the cost of link building.
Your Options When It Comes to Link Building
It’s no secret that link building is a multidimensional process with many stakeholders involved; writers and content marketing managers are only some of those usually needed.
However, who and how they’re involved in the whole link building process is highly dependent on the three options you typically have:
- To build it in-house
- To work with freelancers
- To collaborate with agencies
Each of those options has its pros and cons when it comes to factors like pricing, flexibility, and efficiency, so it’s vital that you know what they’re all about, in order to make the right decision.
Let’s dive deeper into the three options.
Option #1: Build an operation in-house
The first option is building the entire link building operation in-house.
This means setting up a link building team within your company (if you don’t already have one), or having existing team members acquire links.
Should you decide to follow the in-house approach, you should be aware of everything necessary to undertake the whole operation, as well as the costs that come along.
Requirement #1: Personnel
First and foremost, you’ll need to hire the right people.
Simply hiring a link builder can be quite limiting depending on the demands, so an operation for link building will need the right team around it.
The main hires you’ll need will typically have these roles:
- Outreach specialist: Responsible for reaching out to websites via email or LinkedIn, in order to acquire a link.
- Content writer: Responsible for writing guest posts on a target website.
- Content marketing manager: Responsible for overseeing the whole process.
Besides hiring, training a team of link builders can be a significant cost, but since we can’t really give a number for that, let’s have a look at the average annual salaries each role has in the US.
According to salary.com, an SEO Outreach Specialist in the US has an average salary of $53,070 which translates to $4,442 monthly.
Based on the same source, a Digital Content Writer will make on average $48,763 annually or $4,063 monthly.
Last but not least, a Content Marketing Manager will typically make $74,940 or else $6,245 monthly.
From the data above, we can see that in terms of personnel, a full-time link building team would cost on average $14,750 on a monthly basis.
Although people are a vital resource, another thing worth mentioning are the tools that will make the process faster and more efficient.
Requirement #2: Tools
People working in the world of link building – and SEO in general to take this a step further – are heavily reliant on the right tools to help them get their job done.
This means that, unlike in outsourcing, when building links in-house you’ll have to calculate the cost of using those tools which are usually, but not always, subscription based.
Notably, here are some of the most prominent tools that are part of a link building team’s tech stack:
- Ahrefs: SEO tool to check organic traffic, valuable metrics like the DR, conduct backlink audits, and more (starts at $95 monthly).
- Snov.io: Email finder tool to retrieve a link prospect’s email address (starts at $39 monthly for 1,000 credits)
- Mailshake: Email outreach tool to personalize and keep track of the cold outreach campaign (starts at $58 monthly)
- Oxylabs: Search engine scraper (starts at $99 per month plus additional costs for proxies)
- Manual data entry and research: Prices vary based on your capabilities and process, but a rough minimum would be $300
Keep in mind that there are tools that combine many functionalities into one, such as Respona, which happens to be our tool of choice.
Plus, in the prices above we haven’t taken content creation into account, which depending on the quality of the work you wish to achieve, will have additional costs for tools like Clearscope, Surfer SEO, or MarketMuse.
So how much does a link builder’s tech stack cost?
We would say that the minimum monthly cost for a well rounded link building tech stack is $591.
In general, the people and the tools are the two most important resources you should take into account, when calculating the costs of an in-house link building team.
So based on the data we gathered above, an in-house link building team would cost you on average $15,341 per month, not calculating the ideation and creation of high-quality content, as well as the strategy behind all that.
All in all, an in-house team will require a hefty budget, but it does have its advantages too.
According to Alexandra Tachalova, founder of Digital Olympus, in an episode of our own podcast, the SaaS SEO Show:
In essence, we could say that if you have the budget and other resources needed, this option could work well for you.
Option #2: Work with freelancers
Generally speaking, link building can be done by working with freelancers too.
This means that instead of hiring a full time employee, a business can collaborate with an independent contractor who can find suitable link building opportunities and reach out to them.
As in everything, this option has its pros and cons too.
On the plus side, building links through a freelancer has the following pros:
- Is less expensive than hiring an in-house team or working with a full-service SEO agency.
- They tend to be more flexible since they can work on a project-by-project basis.
- Some may specialize in specific areas of link building (such as broken link building) or even in certain verticals (such as the medical field) and might have expertise in those areas.
On the other hand, the cons are the following:
- The quality of the work can easily vary depending on the individual freelancer, and it may be more difficult to ensure that the work is being done to the same standards as a more established SEO agency.
- There’s usually less consistency since a freelancer may have other projects to prioritize.
- You may have less control over their work, so it’s more difficult to ensure that a freelancer only follows white-hat techniques.
When it comes to pricing, freelancers can fit almost any budget.
If we have a look at a popular website like Fiverr, you can find prices starting from as low as $10.
Image Source: Fiverr
…all the way up to almost $1.000 for a batch of several backlinks.
While pricing is very flexible with freelancers, you should be aware however that a low price often indicates low quality of service too.
Especially when it comes to link building, you should be willing to invest in it, because cheap link building in the short term can be a lot more expensive in the long term.
It’s actually not rare for websites to spend a great deal of time and money, trying to recover from low-quality backlinks that did more harm than good.
In short, if your budget is low then working with freelancers could be a good option, as long as you do thorough research to select the right one(s).
Let’s move forward with the third option.
Option #3: Work with an agency
Collaborating with an agency is often the best option, because it’s both more cost-effective than building an in-house team, and at the same time usually provides better results than freelancers.
Plus, it requires less time investment considering you don’t have to hire people individually, like in the in-house option, since an agency will already have a team of experts who are skilled, as well as the tools to execute campaigns effectively.
Meaning that you won’t have to invest in a link building tech stack either.
In fact, according to Alan Silvestri, founder of Growth Gorilla:
Another advantage of – the good – agencies is that they often already have a network of relationships with industry websites, bloggers, influencers and more, which make the whole link building process smoother.
Also, a good agency will provide regular reports on the progress of your link building efforts, as well as offer dedicated account management.
This can include regular updates on the status of campaigns, like bi-weekly calls, as well as any recommendations for improvement.
Does this mean that all companies are suitable enough to collaborate with a link-building agency?
The short answer is no, but according to Alexandra Tachalova from Digital Olympus:
“Links are not a magic pill that you can get and immediately improve the ranking of your websites.
On a general note, to see the most out of link building efforts, the company should have the following:
- Well-established content marketing process in place. On average, they need to produce from 5 to 10 posts per month.
- Well-delivered on-page SEO. There’s no way to make any page rank well IF it doesn’t target any search term.
However, even the best of the best content pieces might miss this or that element, so that’s why we at Digital Olympus start all our collaboration with clients by delivering an in-depth backlink analysis report where we analyze our client’s pages from both on-site and off-site SEO sides.
We’ve been working with very different pages and niches, and we’ve gained a solid understanding of how a perfectly optimized page should look.”
When it comes to the cost of working with a link building agency, there are many factors that determine the price, such as:
- The number of backlinks you receive
- Their quality
- Additional services included (guest posts, backlink audits, backlink gap analysis etc.)
However, by taking the prices of some of the most prominent agencies out there (we’ll call them agency A, B, and C) we get an idea of the price ranges you’ll expect to see.
Agency A: Prices start at $5.999/month and go up to $14.999/month.
Agency B: Prices start at $1.225/month and go up to $5.300/month.
Agency C: Prices start at $599/month and go up to $5.999/month.
On average, based on the data above, a monthly cost for working with a link building agency will be around $5.685, but once again this will fluctuate based on the number of links, their quality, and more factors that we’ll talk about further on.
To give you an even better idea, here are the prices per link that each of the three agencies offer on average:
Agency A: $375 per link acquired
Agency B: $296 per link acquired
Agency C: $148 per link acquired
Generally speaking, all three options have their pros and cons and there’s no right or wrong choice; it all boils down to your needs and expectations.
However, it’s quite clear that the high investment an in-house link building team requires, combined with the often unreliability of freelancers, makes the option of collaborating with an agency the most effective one.
In fact, as we can see in the chart below, assuming an agency and an in-house team provide an equally good quality of service, agencies require a smaller investment.
At the same time, although freelancers are cheaper, they tend to offer a lower quality of service, thus making agencies the most efficient choice (both cost- and service-wise).
To be more specific about the cost of link building, although there are many factors that affect it, let’s have a look at the most prominent ones to take into account.
Factors That Affect the Cost of Link Building
As we mentioned, several factors determine the cost of a link building campaign.
It’s natural that some factors have a larger influence on the cost than others, but they’re all equally important to consider.
Let’s start with the first one.
The Domain Rating (DR) is one of the most widely used metrics in the world of link building.
It’s a metric developed by Ahrefs and it: “Shows the strength of a target website’s backlink profile compared to the others on a 100-point scale”.
For example, a website with a DR of 91 has a stronger backlink profile than a website with a DR of 35.
This is because the higher the website’s DR, the stronger a backlink from it will be (although other factors should also be considered).
By “stronger”, we mean that more link equity is transferred to the linked domains.
However, keep in mind that the equity is split equally between the domains a source domain links to. This means that a website with a DR of 12 that links to 2 domains has a heavier influencer than a DR-70 domain that links to 100 domains.
Thus, link builders tend to pay great attention to a website’s DR and is often the primary metric they look at, when evaluating a link prospect.
In fact, according to research by Backlinko, a high DR positively correlates with high Google rankings.
Image Source: Backlinko
Making a website’s overall link authority an important factor to consider when link prospecting, so it’s only natural for it to heavily affect the cost of link building.
Referring domain’s authoritativeness and relevance
As you probably already know, backlinks act as a vote of trust from one website to another.
This means that the more authoritative website X is when it links back to another website Y, the better the results for the latter will be.
Although it’s natural to think that the more backlinks the better, it’s in fact the authoritativeness and relevance of a referring domain that play the biggest role.
First of all, what does it mean for a referring domain to be authoritative?
Ideally, a website should aim for search engines to view it as a trustworthy and credible source. On the one hand a high DR can contribute to this, but we should also mention the role of E-A-T.
In a nutshell, E-A-T stands for:
And is a principle Google follows to determine how trustworthy a page is.
Actually trust is the most important of the three, because no matter the experience or expertise of a website, if it’s not trustworthy then the E-A-T factor will be low.
For instance, WebMD is considered one of the most trustworthy websites in the medical field, because it has been providing credible information for many years and is often the go-to place for health related matters.
This can also be justified by its high DR of 92 from over 144M backlinks…
…with over 7.5K of them having a DR of over 95!
So by having such trustworthy websites linking back to WebMD, helps search engines perceive WebMD as a trustworthy source as well, among other reasons.
All in all, the more trustworthy a website is the higher the cost of acquiring a backlink from it usually is.
When it comes to relevance, it’s another factor that plays an equally important role and many link builders overlook.
It’s basically whether a link comes from a website that topically makes sense for your own website.
For example, if you own a SaaS in the email marketing field, it would make sense to acquire links from websites in that niche and not something irrelevant.
Although Google likes to see high authority links, it’s often their relevance that matters the most, since acquiring links from any website out there can be considered manipulative.
Obviously, only going for authoritative and relevant links forces a link building team to be more selective so their choices are naturally limited.
Therefore, the pricing is affected too. After all, what matters the most in link building is quality, rather than quantity.
Although it’s vital to acquire links from relevant niches, it’s important to mention that not all verticals are the same.
What we mean by that, is that in the world of link building some verticals are harder to acquire links from compared to others.
For example, for a certain industry there might not be a great deal of content out there, which makes things more difficult since there are less link building opportunities.
If we take the example of the email marketing SaaS again, you’ll correctly assume that this niche is “easy” to build links for, because there’s a lot of content around this topic from a variety of websites.
On the other hand, for something really specific like a SaaS in the maritime analytics industry, it’s hard to find good link building opportunities out there.
This applies to both active and passive link building.
It’s not only hard to find good guest post opportunities in that niche, but even when creating high-quality content (like linkable assets) it’s hard to earn natural links, simply because the content and the audience online is smaller.
Therefore, the “harder” the vertical, the more expensive link building can be.
Another factor that affects the price of link building is content quality.
This means that by having high-quality content on your website that can attract links, the whole link building process is made easier.
For example, linkable assets like:
- Tools & calculators
- Studies & research
- Original content
And more, are designed to attract backlinks naturally, because they include elements that people feel are worth sharing and linking back to.
To give you an idea, 4 of the 6 most linked pages on Ahrefs’s blog (excluding the main blog page) are studies and statistics:
Because they offer unique data and insights that people are interested in sharing and referring to in their own content.
Thus, should you choose to attract links through linkable assets, you can:
- Save money from links that could’ve alternatively been built through the manual link building process
- Have your link building team create them for you, which will increase the cost
Either way, the cost of link building is affected by the quality of your content.
Content pages vs feature pages
Building backlinks is important, but it’s not just for content pages.
Attracting links to your website’s feature pages is equally important albeit more difficult.
In fact, feature pages are often more important than content pages in a sense that they offer more monetary value to the website, considering they might explain how a SaaS product works in detail, its benefits, and more; so it’s more bottom-of-the-funnel content.
However, it’s more difficult to attract links to them for two main reasons:
- Feature pages don’t tend to attract links passively, unlike content pages that offer more flexibility and can be turned into valuable linkable assets too
- It can be easier to attract backlinks to content pages, as they typically offer more valuable and informative information than feature pages
In essence, blog posts are more likely to attract backlinks because they provide in-depth information and analysis on a specific topic.
These types of pages can be considered as “link-worthy” by other websites and individuals, as they offer valuable information that may be useful to their audience.
On the other hand, feature pages such as product or service pages, may not have as much link-worthy content, since they are oftentimes focused on providing information about a specific product or service.
As you can imagine, the harder it is for a page to acquire a link, the higher the cost will be, so backlinks for feature pages tend to be more expensive than ones for content pages.
Approval of referring domains
This factor applies when you’re outsourcing your link building efforts to an agency or freelancer.
In a nutshell, if the website wants to approve all the referring domains the agency/freelancer plans on reaching out to, the price usually increases.
This is because it’s another step added to the whole link building cycle and the link builders will have to spend more time replacing the links a client potentially didn’t approve.
Let’s continue to the next factor.
Another factor worth mentioning is link velocity.
Link velocity refers to the rate at which a website is gaining backlinks; in other words how fast the website wants to acquire links.
For example, here’s the chart showing Ahrefs’s growth over the years in terms of referring domains.
If we take the period from January 1st 2020 to August 1st 2020 we can see that the backlinks grew from 34.112 to 42.363, which is an increase of 24,18% in 8 months.
Meaning that the backlinks grew on average by 8.252 per month or a monthly rate of just over 3%.
Keep in mind that a high link acquisition speed doesn’t necessarily translate to better results and should be done with caution; earning a great amount of links in a short period of time can potentially be considered manipulative to Google’s algorithm, if it finds the backlink profile to be unnatural.
Which is why all backlinks should be relevant and high-quality.
Nevertheless, if the link building budget is $X, it’s only natural that it’ll be exhausted quickly if the link velocity is high.
Especially when a website aims for continuous link building, a high link velocity shortens a campaign’s cycle and therefore requires faster investments on behalf of the client.
Plus, you should also track the link velocity of competing pages, since if you want to successfully compete with them, you’ll have to either reach or pass their link velocity.
For instance, Ahrefs’s beginners’ guide on affiliate marketing acquired 333 new links in December of 2022 (either passively or actively).
This means that if you were to compete with that page with a similar guide, you’d have to continuously try to build new links, as competition has a high link velocity.
This clearly shows that the cost of link building is strongly affected by competition as well, and not just your own actions or the quality of the link you acquire.
Now that we covered link velocity, let’s have a look at a few more factors that determine the price of link building.
When calculating the cost of link building, there are more factors to consider that will affect your decision.
Besides the ones we mentioned above, additional benefits that can increase the cost include:
Benefit #1: Potential referral traffic
Whether a link will drive referral traffic to the target website is a great benefit.
After all, besides the link equity, receiving referral traffic is really important in order to increase a page’s visitors who can ideally convert, or whatever the goal is.
Think of it this way.
Assuming two referring domains are equal in terms of all the factors we mentioned above (such as the same DR, vertical, and so on), if:
- Website A has a monthly organic traffic of 50K, while
- Website B a monthly organic traffic of 500K
It’s only natural that a backlink from the latter will cost more, because it has higher chances of generating more referral traffic.
Makes sense, right?
However, apart from the referring domains’ total traffic, what’s even more important is evaluating the target page’s traffic.
This means that even though website A has fewer organic visitors in total, the page that links back to you can potentially have more visitors than website B’s page.
All in all, the potential referral traffic generated through a link is an additional factor to think about when evaluating its cost.
Benefit #2: Brand name
Receiving a backlink from a relevant website with a high DR is always beneficial, but there’s a certain factor that can’t exactly be measured, but is also important.
The factor we’re talking about is the brand name.
Each vertical has its own websites that are considered authorities and have a strong brand name, therefore when receiving a link from such a website both users and search engines see that it acts as a vote of confidence to you.
If we take the project management industry for example, it’s different receiving a backlink from a renowned SaaS like ClickUp, compared to a smaller one that’s not as popular, even though the latter can indeed provide good link equity.
After all, it all boils down to how strong the brand name is which can positively influence the website it links back to.
As you can imagine, the more recognition a brand has, the more expensive a link from it will be, although it’s a factor whose pricing can’t exactly be measured.
Benefit #3: Other synergies
A big part of link building is creating strong relationships that can generate different kinds of synergies.
Although receiving a link can provide many benefits to your website, it may also be the start of a new professional relationship with a website that can open many doors.
Relationships with big publications or relevant websites in your niche can turn out to produce great co-marketing activities and more.
What’s important is that you maintain a holistic approach when it comes to judging opportunities and by extension, choosing how much money to spend on acquiring a new link, depending on other potential benefits it can generate.
Let’s have a look at a general overview of the pricing of link building, depending on the factors above.
Link Building Pricing Breakdown
Now that we analyzed many factors that affect the price of link building, let’s have a look at what the prices per link generally look like, divided into three categories:
- Low end
- Medium end
- High end
Starting with the lower end.
Links in the low end are usually from poor quality websites that aren’t really relevant to what you do.
In essence, we’re talking about many of the links that can do more harm than good in the long term, or else what are known as toxic backlinks (low DR, poor content quality, irrelevant vertical, spammy CTLD, and more).
Prices in the low end typically are $50 – $200 per link and is a spectrum that freelancers tend to fall into.
This doesn’t go to say that all backlinks freelancers acquire are low quality, but the range is closer to the prices they offer.
Let’s move on to the next end.
In the medium end you can find links that are of good quality and from relevant websites.
These are links that can indeed provide good link equity and offer more benefits too, such as brand recognition, referral traffic, increase in DR, and more.
Prices in the medium end usually are $200 – $600 per link and is a category that agencies tend to fall into, as well as some great freelancers.
Of course, depending on the quality of an in-house team, it can also fall in this end.
The high end refers to links that are the best of the best.
Think of links that are from some of the most authoritative websites in your niche, their pages are of top quality, they can generate a lot of referral traffic, and their DR is really high.
Prices per link in this spectrum can be $600 – $2.000 depending on the referring domain and some agencies and good in-house teams tend to fall in this category.
Let’s wrap things up with some final words.
So far, it’s clear that link building isn’t only a multidimensional process but an expensive one too that you should be willing to invest in.
After all, poor link building can cost you more in the long term, so investing in it the right way from the beginning is essential.
Although we mentioned many options when it comes to link building, we can mainly talk about our point of view as an agency.
Each of the factors in this guide are things we pay close attention to when acquiring links, so we make sure you get the best links possible for your needs.
In addition, we never pitch just a link—we pitch something of real value. This can be a content piece or oftentimes—since we’re working with SaaS and tech companies—the product itself, if we actually believe that it fits the context.
Therefore, if you’re interested in collaborating with an agency like us that actually cares about the real value of what we promote, don’t hesitate to book a call with us so we can start something great together!