Affordable Link Building Options: Manual or Automatic?

If you are a small business owner considering using affordable search engine optimization services costing under $1,000 per month as a way to rank your website and generate leads, you have two choices of link building style – Manual or Automatic.

A few days ago, I questioned whether affordable SEO for small businesses even existed anymore.  Due to sweeping algorithmic changes from Google Panda 3.3, which caused many SEO’d sites to drop in rank between January and March, many of us in the business have had to take a step back and re-consider the options we offer our clients.

Last year, the methods to rank a website were fairly straightforward:

  1. Do great on-page optimization
  2. Create backlinks using varied keyword rich anchor text
  3. Gets links from different sources

Aside from the on-page optimization work, the way we’ve been able to help small business websites rank was by using automated tools, private blog networks and other services that made the process of link building affordable.  But now, Google has changed the rules.
According to Google’s guidelines, any sort of link creation that is done for the purpose of improving search rankings is deemed “manipulation” and is against their terms of service.  Okay, but what sort of link building would we put any effort into unless it was going to help improve rankings?  Any inbound link we create to your site that wasn’t obtained by way of simply making your original content available to be linked to is seen as an “illegal” link by Google.  And the reason they view it that way is because the link was created to help you improve your search rankings.

As a marketer, isn’t it our choice whether we choose to send out 100,000 direct mail pieces vs. sending out 10,000?  If I decide to invest in Super Bowl ads while my competitor is just buying cheap cable TV ads, isn’t that my choice?

But here’s the rub.  Google is a private company that absolutely dominates the online search market.  At least 80% of all online searches in the U.S., Canada, and UK are performed on Google.  There is no regulation and there are no controls in place, so if Google decides it wants to change its algorithm, it can do so whenever it feels like it, hiding behind the veil of “we’re providing more relevant search results for our users.”

So, what worked yesterday to rank your website, may not be working today.  And what works today may not work tomorrow.  It’s not a stretch to think that maybe Google mixes up their algorithm to push more businesses into their PPC ads.  After all, Google is in business to make a profit and it makes billions a year through pay per click advertising (PPC).

I’m an aggressive marketer, always have been.  I’m not the kind to just sit back and focus on writing quality content and hope I get web traffic (and 100% pure and natural links).  To me, that’s like running a retail store, hoping you get shoppers, without doing any marketing at all.  I want to increase business.  I want to try different ways of marketing to see what generates more business.  That’s my style.

I expect to see growth and I expect to see results.  And so do my clients, otherwise they would not hire me to handle their SEO for them.

Link Building Choices

Earlier, I mentioned that affordable SEO link building now boils down to “manual” or “automatic”.  Up until this time, I have relied on automatic link building and I plan to continue doing it that way.  As your small business SEO consultant, I diversify your link sources using a variety of automated tools and I also make sure that the anchor text linking back to your site is varied.  This creates a link profile that looks natural and generally results in great rankings.

However, the downside to automatic link building tools and services is that links usually do not come from relevant sites.  And sometimes, as was the case with Build My Rank and other privately held blog networks that allow us to create affordable links, Google can de-index the sites, rendering the links useless.  So, it is possible that a rankings drop can occur, due to losing the “link juice” that the now de-indexed links had provided.

Below is a comparison of what to expect from manual link building vs. automatic link building.

Link Building:  Manual vs. Automatic

Link Building Style:



Content Written by hired experts/quality re-writes Re-written/spun
Links Built One at a time, by hand Faster, depending on tool/service
Link Targeting Relevant sites Random, may not be relevant sites
Ranking Speed Slower to rank Faster to rank
Ranking Stability More steady Possible ranking fluctuation
Costs $1,200/mo or more $300 – $2,000/mo


Rankings improvement from manual link building is generally slower, because far less work can be done in the same amount of time.  However, it is targeted and less prone to rankings fluctuation.  Typically, SEO companies charge $1,200 or more per month to do this type of work and it is very common to see SEO and link building services cost $2,500 – $5,000 per month.

If you are interested in Manual Link Building, I can give you an idea of how many links I can create, based on your budget.  Your ranking results will generally be slower (as less links are created), however, you are less prone to fluctuation in rankings due to future algorithmic changes by Google.

You can take a look at my SEO pricing or I am happy to develop a custom package to suit your needs/budget.  Feel free to contact me with any questions.

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