Link building pricing can vary from $100 to over $1,500 per link, depending on the industry you are in. A common campaign budget is $5,000-$20,000/mo, often tied to content marketing activity that also has secondary KPis.

However, if you’re Googling something like “link building cost”, you may have come in the door wondering how much you’ll need to pay someone to generate links for you manually. This answer is different, and can often lead you down the wrong path.

Siege Media is a 100-person content and SEO agency that generates thousands of links per month for our clients. Link building is what we do, and as part of that process we actually turn away clients, because they shouldn’t manually be generating them… or the ROI isn’t there.

In this post, we’ll break down why that is, how to know if manual link building is for you, and what to do instead if you find that it isn’t.

The Value of Links for Your Business

Manual link building isn’t for every business because the cost of doing it may not be high enough to warrant pursuing it. That doesn’t mean links don’t have value, it’s just that you’ll need to generate them in different ways to be positive ROI.

The way we calculate this at Siege is to look at the monthly traffic value on Ahrefs of the winning website in your vertical, and then divide it by the number of linking root domains it has. This tells us the average monthly value of a link for a website winning most of the traffic.

We’ll then multiply that number by 24 to create a “lifetime link value”… a reasonable duration of time that a link should pass value on the web. Some links fall off the link graph because a website is pulled down, or redesigned, and etc.

This number represents a solid number to work off in comparison to how much manual links cost for you to generate. Our suggestion would be to have lifetime link value be close to 10:1 to the cost of generating a manual link to account for uncertainty that comes with SEO.

As we can see above, CardRatings has a huge value per link. This is pretty rare, and you should expect to see a lifetime link number between $5,000-$15,000 for most businesses.

On average, the higher the lifetime link number, the harder it is to generate links.

This means that if the number is $8,000 and above, it’s almost always a good idea to have some manual link building activity as it’s unlikely brand or secondary marketing activities could generate enough links to carry your site on its own.

If the number is $5,000 or less, this means you should be generating links organically, or need to be in order to generate positive returns on investment. A counter example of this would be Facebook, who gets linked to so commonly given their brand strength that their lifetime link value is only $52.

In the middle area, you ideally would have a hybrid strategy where you are generating links manually to your most valuable pages, and also generating organic links through ranking. You could also be nudging content that generates links naturally higher via manual link building. This mix will often end up with lifetime link values more in the middle range of these metrics.

To recap, here are some lifetime link value ranges and expected strategies off each:

  • $7,000+ Lifetime Link Value: Manual link building recommended to win.
  • $3,000-$7,000 Lifetime Link Value: Link building is important but would ideally be part of a hybrid strategy based on generating links to passive link assets, and manual links to the most important pages on the site.
  • <$3,000 Lifetime Link Value: Links should be generated through ranking. Most of the focus should be on increasing link velocity through more and/or better content.

The Cost of Manual Link Building

So… if you know you need manual links, how much should you expect to pay per outcome? As mentioned above, if your lifetime link value skews into the $12,000+ range, I would expect quality links to cost around $800-$1,000+ to generate on average.

This is because these numbers occur in verticals where it’s difficult to generate them due to the commercial association with their topics, such as legal, insurance, and credit cards.

The further down your lifetime link value, the less you should expect to pay. You’ll often be associated with consumer-friendly verticals in these spaces, and it’ll also be easier to occasionally generate organic links. In verticals with $7,000-$12,000 lifetime link values, you should expect to pay somewhere between $600-$800 on average.

As you get under $7,000 and closer to $4,000 or $3,000, the answer is actually that you shouldn’t be thinking about the cost of a link at all.

Links should be a byproduct of other activity (such as SEO-focused content marketing or a digital PR strategy ), and you should instead be measuring the quality of that activity as an indirect signal of the value of your links.

What Do Manual Link Vendors Charge?

There are linkbuilding vendors out there that will charge you for one-off links. These will most often be generated through one of two processes, guest posts or paid links.. and sometimes both.

This is really the only way 95% of businesses can generate links unless content is associated with it. This means costs tend to be standardized, and often you’ll end up in the $500-$1,250 range depending on the link authority, topical quality, and etc.

We’re biased at Siege because we generate links through hosted content on-site almost always. We believe in this model because it allows you to generate passive links more often, as well as secondary if not primary KPIs such as direct sales.

In our experience, lifetime link value through this model can be as low as $250 for just the links, and that’s before all the secondary benefits content marketing has.

Add in the fact that links tied to content — generated organically — are definitely what Google prefers to reward, and you’re all-in hard pressed to warrant going the off-page route when you consider all the facts.

How to Think About Link Building Cost

To recap, the cost of link building comes down to the benefit links have for you, and how hard it is to generate links in your specific vertical.

If you do the math on lifetime link value, you’ll often find that paying someone $600-$1,000 for a manual link without any other KPIs does not make sense.

That’s why you should do that math, or ask someone good at doing it, before pursuing links that may not actually have any real value for you.

Befuddled by the math? Check out our link building services and get in touch for a free assessment of the value links and content have for you. One of the things we’re most proud of is only working with clients we’re confident we can generate significant ROI for.

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