Outsourcing Trends – Outsourcing Your Link Building

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Now, outsourcing your link building is a viable option for a lot of in-house SEOs within a company as well as SEO within an agency. As you know, there are good link building companies, and there are not so good link building companies.

Today, we’re going to talk about some different things to look for, impressions to ask when you’re looking to outsource your link building. We’re going to look at it first from if you are an in-house SEO looking to work with an agency as well as if you’re looking to maybe help someone with some of the more manual work with building links.

  1. First, if you’re an in-house SEO, you want to work with an agency. There are a lot of really good things that you should be looking for and some things that you should be avoided when looking for a potential partner. The first is when you’re meeting with someone if you want to find out if they have experience in your industry. That’s really helpful because you can know if they have potential contacts to work with, if they know what works and what doesn’t work within a particular vertical, and, while it’s not necessarily crucial, it’s definitely going to help you in the long run with having someone who can better understand your business.
  2. Next, you’re going to want to learn more about their link building attitude and philosophy. As we all know, there are right ways to build links and there wrong ways to build links, and when you hear about their link building philosophy, you want to know things that are going to be within Google’s guidelines and stuff that you would do in-house. Definitely look for a lot of red flags that would go off if they mention anything, such as directory submissions, putting links in comments, anything that seems spammy or very outdated. While that could also penalize your website, it could also indicate that they’re pretty behind in their SEO practices and don’t really know the best practices of today. Once you’ve learned more about their attitude and philosophy, you’re going to want to learn more about their overall approach to content creation. How do they go about deciding what they’re going to build content about, what the format of that content, and, once they have it, how do they actually go about promoting it and get people to place it, put links in it, make sure that the content stays up? It’s also good to know if they’re going to be doing all of this content creation in-house themselves or some of the writing or creative is going to be done by a third party as well. You want to make sure you are working with a company that is very transparent in terms of what you are doing and not doing anything behind your back that you wouldn’t want to be done.
  3. Then, after you’ve learned more about their link building and their approach to content creation, it’s always good to learn about their past experiences with references and to see who can give them a thumbs up, who worked with them, if you can talk to that client directly, that would be great. There shouldn’t be a reason that you wouldn’t be able to talk to an existing client or see existing work once you’ve had NDA in place.
  4. Then, once you know this is probably a company that this is probably a company that, you know, does good work, they’ve done good work for people that you can talk to, you really want to learn about what you are a relationship with them is going to be. Are you going to have an account manager and what’s the reporting going to be? When you’re working with a company, it’s important to know that you’re going to have a regular point of contact that’s really going to be the quarterback of your solution and be able to keep an eye on everything that’s going on, make sure that everything is on time, make sure the quality is what it should be, and keep you up to date with what exactly is going on with your campaign. You’re also going to want to know what kind of reporting is going to be available to you. That’s important because you need to be sure that their metrics that they’re watching match up with the metrics that you find important as well because you’re not just looking to make some one time purchase of some links or just have some content created, you really want to create a relationship with this agency and have them ultimately as an extension of your business and a strategic partner and you want someone that’s not looking just to have a quick sell but is looking for that long term engagement that you’re looking for as well.
  5. Now that we’ve covered what an in-house SEO might look for when looking to work with an agency, we’re going to go and take a look at what that in-house SEO or an agency might do when they want to get some of that more manual work is taken care of by a third party. Moving to this side, we’re looking at; Paddy provides a really great list of resources, as well as tactics for how you can go about finding potential people to outsource to and the process for it and it’s a really good overall step-by-step guide.

So first, you’re going to want to make sure you’re planning what these tasks are going to be. Obviously, you’re not going to want to outsource all of your SEO work, but some of the more manual such as link opportunities as well as finding potential contacts. It’s the very low risk because it’s more of a research position, not someone that’s going to be necessarily interacting on behalf of you or your client. However, you could, of course, have someone that does something a little higher risk where they’re actually reaching out to site owners and bloggers. When you do this, there are different levels of exposure you could have.

The first is you could just use a Gmail account, that way it won’t reveal anything about you, your business, or your client’s business, but that may turn off some prospects just because they may view it as kind of deceiving that you’re not upfront with who you are.

You could also get an e-mail address set up within your agency or within your client’s website so that way, the prospect who’s being contacted knows exactly who you are and what company you’re contacting them on behalf of. When you’re doing this entire process, you want to make sure you’re defining everything step-by-step, so the person you’re outsourcing to can easily complete it to the degree of detail and accuracy that you want.

When you’re completing it step-by-step, make sure you do a practice run yourself and while you’re doing a practice run, taking screenshots or video captures of your work is great so they can see exactly how to do it. Once you have sorted out what you want them to do and how you want them to complete those tasks, it’s about actually going and posting a job description for this potential outsource person to do it. Paddy mentions using oDesk, which seems to be a good source for finding someone to outsource work to. They offer some different filters where you can say only certain applicants with certain job requirements or attributes apply for it as well as certain feedback scores. While that doesn’t filter out individuals, it will push them as highlighted towards the top of your list. In terms of the actual job description that Paddy provides an example of, it’s a pretty standard job description that you would do any job.

The first is defining what the role and giving some information about what the tasks associated with this job would be. Then, of course, telling them what the skills required are, such as making sure they’re speaking English, a lot of these individuals on oDesk may not be from a country that predominately speaks English, that they must be able to follow instructions very accurately, and that they’re someone that’s trustworthy. A good way to do kind of a pre-screening before you even have to look through all the applicants, is at the bottom of the requirement, ask for them within their application to provide a summary of the tasks that they’re going to have to do and what they believe the objectives are going to be.

This is a great way to pre-screen people to see, first of all, are they very fluent in English and can speak it very well, as well as do they write very well. They are going to be, potentially, doing outreach for you. You wouldn’t want anyone that isn’t able to speak or write clearly reaching out on your behalf. It also just shows that they’re able to follow directions and they actually are reading the application and thinking about doing the job, not just copying and pasting a form application they made and be applying to fifty other positions for.

Then, of course, you’ll want to indicate what the compensation and the time commitment would be for the application. Once you’ve put out this application, you’re going to start to receive application requests, of course.

It’s a matter of then selecting someone. A good idea could be to select two applicants to complete the same task or very similar tasks, that way you could then ultimately decide on one to continue working with if one’s better. If they’re both great, then that’s fantastic because you could have two people working for you. These services tend not to be too expensive so you could definitely increase your productivity by hiring more than one individual.

When you’re actually then sending out the work for them to do, you’re going to want to include a more detailed task summary. If you’re running possibly a website that sells various workout equipment or nutritional information, tell them that you’re looking for them to find sites that talk about nutrition and working out, possibly blogs that talk about workout routines or have information about creating a tasty, nutritional menu every day depending on what you’re trying to obtain with your diet and workout.

Give them criteria for what each website needs to be for them to collect. Be very specific so that you don’t get a list of many irrelevant sites or low-quality sites. Obviously, you’re going to want to include something such as making sure everything is fitness or nutrition oriented. You can say that the home page needs to be at least a minimum page rank of two. If you’re going to have more technical requirements, which a lot of SEO’s going to entail, make sure you provide details on links to any tools for them to pull specific metrics such as Page Rank.

Also, have them check to see if the website has an updated post within the last three weeks, so it’s not a dormant blog, and that there’s a way to contact the owner of the website so that you can actually then do the outreach, or have that individual that you’re hiring do the outreach.

A great tool for this is to include a GoogleDoc. What you can do is create a spreadsheet that already has columns for the metrics that you’re looking to collect, such as the name of the blog, the URL, the homepage, page rank of it, the company’s Twitter or Google Plus profiles, as well as their contact information.

Providing a Google Doc is great because it’s something that the person can easily access, but it also allows you to go in then and check on it at any time to see the progress of their work to make sure they’re completing it, but also if you see them doing it incorrectly or not the way that you want it done, you can easily tell them how to correct it moving forward, so you don’t at the end get a spreadsheet that’s got consistent errors, or the data are not entered correctly.

Once you’ve actually collected the completed report from them, make sure you carefully review it. Sometimes, they make take shortcuts with collecting email addresses and just do something such as [email protected] It’s very important that they’re thoroughly completing the work as you had wanted them to. Then you can, of course, leave feedback for them on oDesk or continue to work with them for more work. These are some really great ways to create tasks for outsourcing your work.

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