SEO Experiment: Agencies Vs Freelancers for Link Building

In this experiment I wanted to find out how and where one can quickly get valuable backlinks to newly created Web pages. In particular, I wanted to know who to pay for backlinks if I don’t want to spend my own time building links. In this article I will run you through my entire experiment, starting with the experiment questions.

I let the experiment run for two month to give enough time to let all the backlinks come in.

Experiment Questions

So here are the questions to that I want to find answer:

• “From which approach do I get the most and the most VALUABLE backlinks?”
• “How much are the costs comparatively (per hour)?”
• “How quickly can I expect results?”

Experiment Setup

I identified three sources of backlinks: Hiring another person (using Odesk for example), hiring a professional SEO agency or hiring amateurs/semi-professionals over Fiverr (a portal where people offer services for five dollars). I want to compare these approaches with “doing nothing” and see what happens.

To run the experiment, I created five pages that I want to target with two keywords each. I would give one of the pages to each backlink source and see how long it takes to get backlinks, how valuable they are, and how much they cost.

In the next section, I explain the five keyword groups for the five web pages.

Keyword Groups

Each Web page I created should be found using two keyphrases on Google. To make the competition fair, all keywords should have roughly the same statistics such as competition, number of backlinks that point to the top ranked pages for that keyword etc. So I aggregated some stats with a keyword research tool. Here are the five keyword groups:


I gave this keyword group to a professional SEO agency. The stats are as follows:

Keywords: funny comic strips / comic strips online
Broad Competition: 3,100,000 / 4,860,000
Phrase Competition: 77,000 / 137,000
Phrase InTitle: 8,030 / 6,150
Monthly Searches Broad: 12,100 / 22,200
Monthly Searches Phrase: 8,100 / 4,400
Median PR (T10): 3 / 3
Median Back Links Page (T10): 302 / 678
Difficulty Rating: Medium Difficulty / RelativelySommerseo Easy


I gave this keyword group to another professional SEO agency.

Keywords: best infographics / daily infographic
Broad Competition: 33,800,000 / 26,900,000
Phrase Competition: 69,200 / 81,300
Phrase InTitle: 6,000 / 1,760
Monthly Searches Broad: 5,400 / 2,900
Monthly Searches Phrase: 2,900 / 1,600
Median PR (T10): 4 / 5
Median Back Links Page (T10): 57 / 90
Difficulty Rating: Extremely Difficult / Difficult


I created a page for these two keywords as a baseline for the experiment, that is, I did not do anything for this page to get ranked.