January 25, 2018

9 Questions to Ask a White Hat Link Building Service

Link building is a shady thing – there is a ton of dangerous BS that SEO agencies do in order to secure links.

Some of these techniques work, but only in the short-run…then comes the penalty.

So, how not to get screwed and choose the best white hat link building service?

My name is Artem and I am the found of LinksHero, which is the home of white hat link building.

Here are the 9 things I recommend you ask your link building company before you sign up for their service:

  1. How Do They Build Links?
  2. Can They Show You the Process?
  3. What Kind of Links Do They Build?
  4. How Many Links Do They Want to Build Per Month?
  5. What Do They Guarantee?
  6. What Do They Charge?
  7. Can They Show You Results of Their Work?
  8. How Quickly Do They Guarantee Results?
  9. Do They Buy Links?

 

1: How Do They Build Links?

This is the first thing you should ask them about – how do they actually build links?

They will need to clearly describe the process behind and clearly outline the steps they use.

Checking for low hanging "fruit" is the right way to approach a white hat link building campaign, because it brings the highest ROI.

 

The White Hat Way

Here is how we do it at LinksHero:

  1. Assess current content
  2. Check for low hanging "fruit" (i.e. pages that rank 5-20 on Google)
  3. Create audience persona for outreach (this is your target audience pretty much)
  4. Search for link prospects
  5. Outreach to them with the pitch
  6. Build links using any of the white hat link building strategies

 

2: Can They Show You the Process?

Here is a snapshot of our link building process. Transparency is key.

A shady SEO agency will likely hide the process from you and this is how you can tell that it is what it is.

Besides that, you will be able to assess their level of organization, because link building campaigns require a TON of it.

 

The White Hat Way

Again, this is how we would do that:

  1. Show the entire process
  2. Explain the campaign flow step by step
  3. Show how reporting is done

 

3: What Kind of Links Do They Build?

Resource page link building - a staple of white hat link building campaigns.

You would ask this message in order to verify their approach. You are basically analyzing their offer from different perspectives, looking for hints that would point you towards who they really are – white hat or grey/black hat?

If you are looking for quality link building, then you should be alert when they bring up blog comments, forums and Web 2.0s.

If they can show you the list of the websites that can build links from, then you should be skeptical – what are those websites?

Pay attention and check if they are a part of a PBN (i.e. Private Blog Netword). This is fairly easy to spot.

They may also turn out to be the websites, where they buy links from. I talk more about that below…

 

The White Hat Way

If you are truly a "white hat person", then here is what you are looking to hear:

  • Guest posts
  • Resource Page Link Building
  • Broken link building
  • Skyscraper
  • Guestographics
  • Link Roundups
  • Claiming mentions
  • Local blogger links
  • (the list goes on)

 

4: How Many Links Do They Want to Build Per Month?

That amount of links can't be good for that price. No way!

This is yet another sneaky way to see whether they are white hat and know their thing.

The quantity, certainly, depends on your site’s niche, age and authority…but in the majority of cases your website is unlikely to naturally land 100 links per month.

Link velocity (i.e. how fast you get those links) is also very important. If you are looking for a link building service, then chances are you didn’t have many links built during the past month, so you will need to start slow (e.g. 15 links in the 1st month).

 

The White Hat Way

Generally speaking, anywhere between 15 and 30 links per month does the job in a natural way.

 

5: What Do They Guarantee?

Listen to their reply carefully when you ask this.

Be specifically cautious when they guarantee things like <anchor text>, because it may mean that they buy links (again, I talk more about link buying below).

 

The White Hat Way

I will use our example.

At LinksHero we guarantee that I will reach out to a certain number of people and, given that I know the average conversion rate (5% with blogger outreach), I can estimate the number of links we secure for you.

We also guarantee that you will get that minimum amount of links, have access to all the emails we receive and see all the prospects that we find for you.

Here is what our proposal looks like in more details (it has 10 slides you can click through):

Link Building Proposal - LinksHero from Artёm Klimkin

 

6: What Do They Charge?

White hat link building can’t be cheap, so if you find a crazy amount of links for a small price, watch out for black hat BS.

It can’t be cheap, because it’s very resource-intensive, monotonous, granular process that requires a lot of manual labor and concentration. I am not even kidding – it’s very hard.

 

The White Hat Way

A rule of thumb is $100 per link (that’s the absolute minimum though; if you hire a freelancer, then they are getting an amazing result with securing 0-3 links per hour for a minimum of $50 per hour).

Different agencies charge different prices, which are usually more expensive (that would also depend on where they are located – a UK link building service would naturally charge more than the one located in Philippines)

 

7: Can They Show You Results of Their Work?

If they can, take it with a grain of salt…unless they can prove they did do on those projects (that includes sharing outreach emails and links that they built as a result of them).

In other words, don’t believe it if you don’t see it – anyone can copy a GA report with a “hockey stick” traffic on it.

Here is the link that we actually earned. But how do you know we tell the truth? 😉

 

The White Hat Way

To walk my talk I would show you:

  1. a client I worked with
  2. their website
  3. the prospects I found for them
  4. the emails I sent
  5. the links we secured as a result

This is the only way.

P.S. Regarding that screenshot above. Here is the case study about that travel niche Airbnb-like site that I recorded to show exactly how it was done.

 

8: How Quickly Do They Guarantee Results?

The funny (and honest) part is that they shouldn’t be able to guarantee any results, because links are just one of the many ranking factors (even though a very significant one).

Same goes for ROI – they can’t guarantee that, so don’t fall into that kind of false promise.

How much time does it take for link building to show results? Sometimes - 1 week; sometimes - 3 months; other times - even more.

 

The White Hat Way

Link building is a time consuming process and it requires a steady process.

When would you see results?

Sometimes you see them right away and sometimes you need to wait for, at least, 3 months.

More to it – link building is a continuous process, so 1 month of link building (i.e. 20 links in 30 days) might not cut it.

 

9: Do They Buy Links?

Finally! Link buying…

First of all, I am not a proponent of link buying, but this technique can, in fact, “wear” all three hats.

Here is how:

  • White Hat: you would buy a blog placement and post your link in a “sponsored post”. That link would be “nofollow”.
  • Grey Hat: you would find a blogger that writes about your subject and pay them to include your link in either, already existing content or in a new post that you (or they) write. That post must not be tagged as “sponsored post”. This is crucial.
  • Black Hat: you buy links from link brokers. They come in packages from PBNs, hacked sites or any other shady place. Don’t do this.

Once you ask that question regarding link buying, see what and how they answer it.

Here is an example of a totally black hat link building scheme - Sape. Don't buy those links, if you are a "white hat".

 

The White Hat Way

To the date, I have never purchased a link because that’s against Google’s TOS.

Of course, you can buy placements for exposure, but they need to be tagged accordingly. That means “nofollow”.

More often than not, the Grey Hat thing I suggested above works because it’s supposedly very hard to pinpoint, but there are these precautions you must take and quite a lot depends on the person you buy links from. If they sell to you, they are selling to others. See my point?

 

Les Summarie…

Time to wrap up this, I hope, helpful guide for finding the best white hat SEO link building agency with this quick checklist.

Now to you – did I miss anything here?

Let me know in the comments below and I will be happy to include your point in the list above with a proper link back to your site.

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