Which of the following best describes the company that you work for?
We wanted to learn more about the type of businesses that in-house marketers worked for. We began by asking what type of business best described them. The most popular response (34%) was Enterprise, followed by National Business and Funded startup, both at 29%.
Very few respondents (8%) described themselves as local businesses.
There is a good possibility that local businesses, especially if they are young and/or are of small size, cannot justify having a dedicated SEO team in their business due to budget constraints.
So it's not surprising that the majority of the survey respondents are working for slightly larger companies that tend to have the budget to create a dedicated team or department to carry out their linkbuilding campaigns.
Do you use external agencies, freelancers, or contractors for link building?
64% of in-house respondents said that they don’t use external resources for link building which is an increase from 2021 when 56% said that they didn’t use external resources for link building.
I’m surprised to see that the majority of respondents (64%) do not use external resources, such as freelancers, for link building given that I’ve seen such a rise in the number of freelancers offering Digital PR services. I personally believe this is something agencies should be investing in more as they’re now getting access to excellent experts in the area that they can contract as and when it’s required.
This isn't surprising for me to read as an in-house SEO myself. We are all aware that the pandemic led to a rapid rise in the number of in-house roles available, and a lot of these have link building as a key role.
For businesses, building authority is now a key goal and link building helps with this a whole lot. With businesses creating new ecommerce sites in some cases to replace brick and mortar stores, it's crucial for links to be built quickly and well.
It would be interesting to know if people are just doing more link building in-house now, or if some companies stopped cooperating with external agencies (e.g. because of Covid savings, inflation, etc.)
There is a slow but growing awareness that it is useful to have in-house expertise to help with linkbuilding campaigns (as well as general SEO activities). After all, no one knows more about the company and industry than those working within such a company and industry.
But even if you are using external agencies/freelancers/contractors, the combination of having both internal and external influences will bring in-house teams the best of both worlds; an unbiased yet high-quality external expertise combined with well-versed and industry experts from the in-house teams.
Interesting that the use of external agencies has gone down YoY. I wonder if this is due to in-housing of resources, performance (lack of) or budget, meaning they could no longer afford to continue.
In an Enterprise environment, it's much more likely that the company has an internal PR team which manages all outreach to media outlets. With the possible exception of engineering, forming a strong working partnership with the PR team will be the most beneficial thing an SEO team can do for the company. PR works extremely hard to build trust with their media relationships, so it's important to keep that in mind when hiring external agencies or contractors to do link building, and make sure they are not doing anything to jeopardize that working relationship.
With this in mind, it's important to remember the PR team's primary objective is to simply get media coverage and/or mentions. As SEOs we need to work with the PR team to make sure they are taking link acquisition into consideration when appropriate too.
From my point of view, it is easier to make it in-house because you keep control of the backlinks and you know your target group.
When you use external agencies, freelancers or contractors, how much budget, on average, do you invest per month?
The most common budget range for in-house SEOs was $10,000-$25,000, with 25% of respondents saying that this was their average monthly budget for link building. Close behind with 19% was the $2,500-$5,000 range.
Up to $500
$500 - $1,000
$1,000 - $2,500
$2,500 - $5,000
$5,000 - $10,000
$10,000 - $25,000
$25,000 - $50,000
What percentage of your SEO budget is currently dedicated to link building?
Answers were fairly evenly distributed here, with the most selected answer by a small margin being 'less than 10%'. However, we can see that the three closest answers show that over 80% of in-house SEOs dedicate up to 50% of their SEO budget to link building.
As an in-house SEO this really does not surprise me. It's common for a lot of in-house SEO teams to outsource their link building needs to agencies and/or freelancers. It's something we've done and continue to do, although I also help link building efforts too.
For a lot of businesses, this means they can focus on content creation, SEO testing and other things that will help move the needle, rather than just link building.
It's so great to see that since last year's [State of Link Building] report budget distribution has increased, with more in-house teams dedicating between 10 - 50% of their SEO budgets for link-building. I think this is definitely a trend that we've seen reflected in the increased demand from in-house teams for digital PR services over the past year and is brilliant to see more and more teams seeing the value of investing in (quality) link building.
Following on from this, are you expecting this to increase, decrease or stay the same next year?
The good news for agencies and freelancers is that in-house SEOs said that they generally expect budgets for link building to either increase (46%) or stay the same (43%) over the next year.
I find it really interesting that over 80% of in-house SEOs dedicate up to 50% of their budget to link building, and that the majority of in-house SEOs intend to continue the investment or increase it.
As someone who worked agency-side in link building and now in-house, the conversations I’m having amongst the SEOs on both sides suggest that brands are witnessing the benefits of link building, running test campaigns, and developing business cases and forecasts for growth, with a view to bringing it in-house once they have their sums sorted.
Give it three years and I think we’ll see a significant increase in in-house job adverts for outreach teams compared to today.
It is interesting that nearly half of the respondents are expecting to increase their budget for link building. Curious about what this means: Will they be adding teammates, subscribing to a paid platform for the first time, and/or paying an external service to bolster the amount of links?
Working in-house, to what extent do you struggle to get buy-in and budget for link building activities?
Whilst the most popular answer here was midway between easy and hard, answers overall tilted toward easy when it comes to getting buy-in and budget for link building activities. Around 43% of in-house SEOs leaned this way, whilst only 9% said that getting buy-in was very hard.
This is moving in the right direction, but it's clear that it's not a straightforward process to get everyone onboard. It can be challenging for in-house teams to get a buy in from other stakeholders and departments, particularly if they have not been educated enough by the in-house team or lack the expertise of what the benefits are of a link building campaign.
This is why it is hugely important to educate and communicate clearly on the value of link building campaigns and the knock-on effect it can have in other areas of the business, e.g. positive PR, traffic, conversions, brand awareness, authority, etc.
When we think back to SEO over the past few years, so much has changed. One thing that hasn't changed? The importance of building high-quality and relevant links back to your website. So it's hardly surprising to hear that most SEOs don't have too many issues getting buy-in for link building activities.