Although it’s a widely accepted fact SEO is a necessary tool in any internet marketer’s toolbox, it’s always been debated how much SEO really needs to be done. Some people believe you need thousands of links ranging from high quality to low quality. Others say you just need a handful of high-quality links to rank for virtually any keyword.

In the past few years, it was clearly playing the “numbers game” with Google that was surprisingly effective. By the numbers game, I mean simply building as many backlinks as possible. Obviously this makes sense since the algorithm is designed to determine how many links are associated with a website and then rank it based on those numbers. 

Since the numbers game was so effective, outsourcing SEO became extremely popular. With outsourcing, you’re able to build a huge number of links while personally working on another aspect of your business. When used correctly, this is a great way to not only speed up the process but get better results at the same time. It costs extra money, but the amount of time you save is almost always worth it.

However, Google seems to be working hard to stop the numbers game from working. First with the Mayday Update and then with the Panda Update, Google is specifically targeting internet marketers who do not spend enough time writing their content or building natural backlinks. Google doesn’t like it when their system is gamed, so you can be sure they’ll continue to tweak the algorithm based on what their search engine results are looking like.

What Got Hit Hardest?

After the Panda Update, the internet marketing world was split. On one hand, many people say an increase in overall traffic and results. On the other hand, many people who were specifically targeted by Google’s latest change saw their incomes evaporate.

One thing is for certain: if you want to rank high on Google, it’s time to play by their rules. This means cutting corners isn’t going to be as easy as it was a few months or years ago.

Take article marketing for example. As few as five months ago, article marketing was still the best way to get a lot of links quickly. The links wouldn’t rank your website overnight, but they definitely did help with the whole SEO process. Now, article marketing is virtually dead. You can still gain a small amount of authority by using article marketing but it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to what it used to be.

Blog commenting and forum posting have been hit similarly. Where before you could get a few thousand spam links and see a noticeable difference, that kind of activity is dangerous now. We’ve seen it time and time again: websites that use spam techniques will almost always be penalized by Google within a short period of time.

It’s clear the “easy” ways to build links are both ineffective and dangerous to the future of your website. This leaves us with the “natural” way of building links.

Can “Natural Links” Be Outsourced?

Usually, outsourced SEO was limited to the lowest quality links. This is for two main reasons. First, the lower the quality, the less you had to pay. You could order backlinks literally for pennies. Second, it’s usually a lot more difficult to get a high-quality link. With low-quality links, all you need to do is post comments on WordPress blogs – something anyone could do. For higher quality links, strategies like guest posting and “link baiting” are necessary.

Since the skill level associated with high-quality links is higher, the price is higher as well. For these types of links, you could expect to pay anywhere from $1 to hundreds of dollars depending on the site you got the links from.

So yes, natural links CAN be outsourced. You can still use the same outsourcing strategy AND the same budget, you’ll just end up with a lot fewer links. However, it’s becoming clear a handful of high-quality links are drastically better than thousands of low-quality links. By only outsourcing high-quality link building, you’re giving yourself the best bet to rank for your money AND you’re using safe practices to ensure your website doesn’t get penalized along the way. 

Where Can I Get More SEO Tips?

With Google and the other search engines adding a wealth of new features all at once, it’s obvious the world of SEO is in for a wild time.

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