Feb 18, 2024

How Much Do High-Quality Backlinks Cost in 2024? [Calculator]


Nicholas Rubright

If you search Google for “average backlink cost” or similar, you’ll come across lots of different answers.

Some are from people who buy backlinks, where you’ll find links at prices ranging from $100-$800 per link. Sometimes more.

In this article, instead of going over the cost of buying backlinks, which is ultimately pointless if you want to drive SEO rankings, I’m going to discuss what it costs to earn backlinks from outreach campaigns.

The short answer is that, without accounting for things like niche, campaign type, or brand power, earning backlinks from an outreach campaign can result in a cost per link that’s anywhere from $500-$1500 per link.

Read on for a more detailed breakdown of what costs are involved in earning backlinks.

What is a “high-quality” backlink?

Our definition of a high-quality backlink is one that produces improved Google rankings soon after being placed.

Many SEO professionals look at things like Domain Authority, Spam Score, traffic, and other factors present in many SEO tools.

The problem with this approach to evaluating link quality is that Google doesn’t evaluate links this way.

Domain Authority, for example, was created by Moz to predict how likely a website is to rank in search engines. This metric is based only on a website’s backlink profile and no other factors that Google might consider (like content quality, user engagement, and whether or not they’ve been reported to Google for selling backlinks). Most importantly, Google does NOT use Domain Authority as a link quality signal.

Spam Score is another example of a metric built by Moz for predictions. A high spam score doesn’t mean a website is actually spammy, it just means that the website has factors that are similar to websites that have previously been penalized by Google. Spam Score isn’t used at all in Google’s algorithm.

So if using metrics from SEO tools doesn’t work for evaluating link quality, what does? After all, we still need to predict what websites will produce rankings for us before we start reaching out for backlinks.

Well, Google uses over 200 factors to choose what pages to rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs). In our 10 years of link building, we’ve found these to be the most important in getting high-quality backlinks:

  1. Anchor text relevance.
  2. Linking page content relevance and quality.
  3. Linking domain quality and relevance.

These factors are often taken care of as a byproduct of getting links on websites your audience is reading.

These websites care about their content and pay special attention to the things they link to, so backlinks from these websites are impossible to buy and are instead won through pitching, similar to how PR works.

How much does a high-quality backlink cost in 2024?

Now that we’ve established that the best backlinks are earned from pitching rather than paying for the link itself, we can figure out what a backlink might cost by looking at how much it will cost to pitch for links and what our win rate might be.

In general, the cost of pitching comes down to the cost of labor and the tools used to build efficient outreach systems.

For a link building outreach campaign to be effective, you need:

  • High-quality content to pitch out that people want to link to, which often comes from having subject matter experts draft the content and then having SEOs and PR professionals touch it up for newsworthiness or linkworthiness.
  • Audience research to make sure we’re finding websites to pitch that are going to improve Google rankings for your website. This work is always custom to the client so we can adjust to the nuances that may be present in their niche.
  • Effective prospecting that is done by hand rather than with web scrapers. This is important so that we have a good outreach success rate, but also so that we don’t get marked as spam and destroy your domain’s ability to deliver emails.
  • A well-written pitch so that the people we’re pitching actually respond. We follow these copywriting practices when drafting our link building pitches.
  • A good pitcher who knows how customize outreach emails to the prospect so we get a response, and knows how to negotiate with bloggers and journalists to win link placements. This is where experience is important, because this person needs to know what makes bloggers and journalists excited to link to something.

Other things that impact outreach success rate include:

  • Your brand. Larger brands usually have more success with outreach campaigns because of their brand recognition. A great brand makes outreach easier because bloggers and journalists trust you. Smaller brands face the challenge of overcoming trust barriers when they run outreach campaigns, which can lower our success rate and make the cost of earning a backlink more expensive.
  • Your website design is important because bloggers and journalists may bounce if they don’t like what they’re looking at.

All things considered, for our link building services, we charge $25 per pitch to run link outreach campaigns. On average, our success rate from outreach ranges from 2-3%. This is slightly higher than the industry standard for both PR and backlink outreach campaigns, which is around 1-2%.

All things considered, for our outreach campaigns, the average cost of a high-quality backlink is around $800-$1200/link.

The exception is guest posting, where our average success rate across the board is 10%.

The added cost with guest posting, though, is off-site content creation.

We use subject matter experts to draft off-site content because the linking page content relevance and quality are a massive factor in link quality. If the page content isn’t good, the link won’t improve your rankings because Google uses page-level ranking factors to evaluate backlink quality. So all things considered, we charge $500 for a piece of off-site content.

This puts the average cost of a link from guest posting at around the same as an outreach-only campaign.

These ranges apply as an average across all industries and websites.

How can I get cheaper backlinks without paying for them?

Technique #1: Sacrifice niche relevance

Sometimes, outreach campaigns perform better or worse depending on the difficulty of the niche.

Niches where link building is more difficult include ones like healthcare, legal, crypto, or gambling where linkers are more skeptical of new brands and websites.

If this is the case for you, you can try running an outreach campaign in a shoulder niche that may be more link-friendly than the one you’re in.

Ahrefs gives a perfect example of this in their guest blogging guide with “The Perspective Technique” where you can offer value in your area of subject matter expertise to write for different niches:

shoulder niche ideas

These links can still be powerful! We did this for a client recently, and 1 backlink boosted their organic traffic by more than 350 monthly visitors.

1 link more traffic

Technique #2: Sacrifice SEO metrics

Authority Hacker did a study where they sent out 600,000 outreach emails asking bloggers, journalists, and website owners for backlinks.

In that study, they found that Domain Rating (the Ahrefs version of Domain Authority, a very similar metric) was a factor in their outreach success rate:

outreach email DA distribution.

So what this means is that, if you reach out to only DR 70+ websites, your outreach success rate will drop by 18%.

This means that your cost per link will increase by 18%, making the range more like $1000-$1500/link.

You can also improve your success rate and drop per-link costs by reaching out only to DR 30-40 websites, which would improve your link cost by 20% putting you at $600-$900/link, but then you might miss out on some powerful wins.

Technique #3: Link bait

Link bait is content that you publish on your website to earn backlinks without having to do any outreach.

The idea is that you publish a piece of content that bloggers and journalists are searching for and then they find and link to it on their own.

For example, we ran a link bait campaign for IRC Sales Solutions that resulted in more than 500 backlinks without us having to do any outreach:


We published the full link bait case study so you can read through exactly how we did this.

Backlink cost calculator

As you can see from the above, a lot goes into determining the cost of a single backlink.

In our view, the cost of a link only matters relative to how much it improves your rankings. It doesn’t matter if you pay $1,500 for a link if it does the job.

That said, the calculator below can help you plan your link outreach investment:


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