Link Building – 2020 POV

Links have always been a large influencer in Google’s algorithm. 

To combat spam, Google has adjusted its algorithms to discount millions of low quality, non-editorial links. Google’s attack against spam changed the methods SEOs used to obtain links. In the past, it was cheap and easy to acquire links that influence Google. Now, most of those methods bring a high risk of penalty. Getting out of a link penalty costs an extraordinary amount of time and money. At Greenlane, a penalty is something we take no chances with.

However, we still see plenty of influence from good links. We consider a good link one from a domain that receives its own traffic, cares about quality, and doesn’t have spam in its backlink profile. If you look at Greenlane’s backlink profile, you’ll see links from relevant and reputable sites like,, and many authentic bloggers who write about search engines. We have also received links from Mashable, Huffington Post, and The New York Times. Those are not search engine marketing websites, but the link was in an article about search engine marketing. So we think that’s perfectly fine. 

All our links were obtained both naturally and through outreach and promotion. 

The State of Link Building Today

People interested in link building tend to fall into two camps.

1. People who want high volumes of the needle-moving links cheaply (like the old days)
2. People who want high volumes of good links but understand the time and cost commitment

For those in the first group, I’m sorry to say those days are over. A good to great link can cost anywhere between $400 – $5,000. It all depends on the variety of websites and how willing the site owners are to link. Luck plays a big role. Sometimes you get lucky and find a bunch of websites that want to link. Other times, you strikeout.

Do websites pay these high costs with no guarantee? Yes. While link building can be like gambling, some websites realize the SEO cost is not a low cost. The gamble is worth it. While other websites refuse the table stakes and either don’t build links at all, or purchase dangerous black hat links for cheaper. In my experience, the person in the latter scenario is always at an SEO disadvantage.

Is it safe to use a link building vendor who already has relationships with websites? Sometimes. If the relationship is built on money, then no. But if the relationship is built on good content only, then yes.

To clarify, there are many link building companies who have made deals with writers to post a link for a fee. This is 100% against Google’s guidelines. Sometimes it’s against the website’s terms and conditions as well. For example, if you have ever been offered a link from Forbes, you are dealing with a broker who has a relationship with a Forbes writer. That writer, against the rules of Forbes, takes money to place a link. At this point, both Google and Forbes’ rules have been broken. You are in penalty territory. And if you think nobody will find out, read this terrifying story.

How does Greenlane help with link building? We take on the effort of prospecting and outreach. With our tools, we search for link partners at scale, and communicate with as many sites as we can to consider creating a link. Sometimes we provide a case to link to relevant content, sometimes we pitch a guest post, sometimes another angle. The tactics are endless – we choose the best tactic for you. We bill based on the time spent.

A Closing Analogy

In 2020, these links are much more difficult to get. Website owners know SEO and receive hundreds of pitches already. They are less generous about linking out. This means it takes more time to secure a link, and that time has a cost. It is not unusual for a company to invest thousands for a chance to secure links.

It’s very much like chartering a boat for deep-sea fishing. You pick a section of the ocean. You pick bait. And you throw in as many lines as you can. Sometimes after 10 hours of fishing, you catch nothing. But you still have to pay the boat Captain. Other times you get lucky and catch several fish. In those cases, the money you paid the Captain is well worth it. If you want to catch the biggest fish, there is no shortcut.

Greenlane takes the role of Captain in this scenario. We have the experience that helps our odds in obtaining links, though we cannot guarantee a placement unless you are taking part in our “Cost Per Link” model (which is an alternative to the standard model).