SEO Experiment: Agencies Vs Freelancers

In this experiment, I want to understand how and where I can quickly obtain valuable backlinks to newly created web pages. If I don’t want to spend my own time building links, I mostly want to know who pays for backlinks. In this article, I’ll walk you through my entire experiment, starting with experimental questions.

I ran the experiment for two months to give all backlinks enough time to get in.

Experimental questions

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

• “Which method will give me the most and most valuable backlinks?”
• “What are the relative costs (per hour)?”
• “How soon can I expect the results?”

Experimental setup

I identified three sources of backlinks: hiring another person (using Odesk, for example), hiring a professional SEO agent, or hiring an amateur/semi-professional Fiverr (a portal where people get a $5 service offer). I want to compare these methods to “doing nothing” and see what happens.

To run the experiment, I created five pages, each using two keywords as targets. I will provide a page for each backlink source to see how long it takes to get backlinks, how valuable they are and how much they cost.

In the next section, I’ll explain the five keyword groups of the five web pages.

keyword group

Every web page I create has to be found using two keywords on Google. To make the competition fair, all keywords should have roughly the same metrics like competition, number of backlinks pointing to the top pages of the keyword, etc. So I used the keyword research tool to collect some stats. Following are five keyword groups:


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

Keywords: funny comics/online comics
Broad Competition: 3,100,000 / 4,860,000
Sentence Contest: 77,000 / 137,000
Sentence title: 8.030 / 6.150
Search Extended Monthly: 12,100 / 22,200
Monthly Searches: 8,100 / 4,400
Median PR (T10): 3/3
Median Backlink Page (T10): 302/678
Difficulty: Medium difficulty/relatively easy

information card

I gave this keyword set to another professional SEO agency.

Keywords: Best infographics/daily infographics
Broad Competition: 33,800,000 / 26,900,000
Sentence Contest: 69.200 / 81.300
Sentence title: 6,000 / 1,760
Search monthly comprehensive: 5,400 / 2,900
Monthly Searches: 2,900 / 1,600
Median PR (T10): 4/5
Median Backlink Pages (T10): 57/90
Difficulty: Extremely Hard/Hard


I created a page for these two keywords as the basis for the experiment, that is, I did nothing to rank this page.

Keywords: best proxy service/fast proxy server
Broad Competition: 7,550,000 / 4,550,000
Sentence Contest: 471,000 / 431,000
Sentence title: 24,900 / 24,600
Advanced searches per month: 49,500 / 9,900
Monthly Searches: 3,600 / 1,300
Median PR (T10): 1/3
Median Backlink Page (T10): 135/178
Difficulty: relatively easy/relatively easy


I gave this keyword phrase to 6 people on Fiverr. I chose people who promised me quick backlinks, pinterest promotion, twitter promotion and article writing.

Keywords: best video of the day/best popular video
Broad Competition: 3,030,000,000 / 2,580,000,000
Phrase Contest: 645,000 / 107,000,000
Sentence title: 495 / 1,210,000
Advanced searches per month: 6,600 / 90,500
Monthly Searches: 73 / 3,600
Median PR (T10): 3/4
Median Backlink Pages (T10): 132/394
Difficulty: relatively easy/medium difficulty


I make this keyword group available to an employee that I have hired on the Odesk work platform.

Keywords: best memes/most interesting memes
Broad Competition: 60,700,000 / 33,200,000
Sentence Contest: 145,000 / 68,100
Sentence title: 27.500 / 6.290
Search Extended Monthly: 27,100 / 4,400
Monthly Searches: 9,900 / 2,400
Median PR (T10): 4/4
Median Backlink Pages (T10): 83/727
Difficulty: Medium Difficulty/Medium Difficulty

SEO Provider Comparison

So how do the different link/SEO providers perform. I will quickly let you understand my experience.

Experience in collaboration with professional organizations (manga, infographic keyword group)

These agencies are really professional. I get a link report with a list of all backlinks and even a ranking tracking analysis for a particular keyword. I got backlinks from the following sources:

• Blog Comments
• Social Bookmarks
• contents
• Forum
• personal information

One organization wants two months, and the other I can tell to backlink

0 (six times five, of course), which is much cheaper than agents.

Odesk Employee Experience (Memes keyword phrase)

Thousands of people on Odesk claim to be able to do online marketing for your web pages and provide valuable backlinks, even on sites with a page rank of 6 or higher. Choosing one person is a bit difficult, and choosing another person can produce very different results, but this should apply to this little experiment.

I was given a full list of links from my staff, but the backlinks provided seemed to be of low quality. Most of this comes from profile pages on high page ranking sites. Google may not even crawl many of these fake profile pages.

It’s easy to pay on Odesk via Paypal, and my staff only needed 2 days to create all the promised backlinks. I spent about $22 to spend about the same amount as Fiverr employees.

Comparison table:

To summarize the different methods, I have put them in a table. The best value of each row is shown in bold. Most important is the row related to the number of verified backlinks and the page rank created on Google two months later.

My Odesk employees completed the fastest turnaround time in just two days. However, out of 100 links provided, only 7 can be verified by Majestic SEO, and two months later, the memes page was not in the top 100.

Most people on Fiverr delivered on their promises very quickly, but in the end I only got 11 verifiable links from 6 unique domains. Keywords not enough to rank Google’s top 100 pages in the simplest keyword group (video).

As we can see, doing nothing is the cheapest. I have no backlinks. After two months, the page for one of the two keywords in the proxy keyword phrase isn’t even in Google Ranked in the top 100.

Expensive agencies are actually the most effective, with over 100 backlinks ranging from 30 to 40 unique domains. An agency promised to provide more than 340 links. When I checked them with Majestic SEO, I could only find about 40% of the promised number, but it was still good enough for a page with a particular keyword to rank 27th in Google. I think the infographic keyword phrase is a bit difficult (see stats above), which is why while Agent 2 is better at providing valuable backlinks than Agent 1, its page rank is so bad.

Mechanism 1 (strip)

Cost: $100
Promised Backlinks: 340
Backlinks/Unique Domains Provided: 134/34
Duration: 2 months
Rank after 2 months: 27

Organization 2 (infographic)

Cost: $99
Deployment of backlinks: 50
Backlinks/Unique Domains Provided: 152/44
Duration: 1 month
Rank after 2 months: 90

No (agent)

Cost: $0
Deployment of backlinks: 0
Backlinks/unique domains provided: 0/0
Duration: 2 months
Rank after 2 months: >100

6 jobs on Fiverr (video)

Cost: USD 30
Promise Backlinks:-
Backlinks/Unique Domains Provided: 11/6
Duration: 8 days (average 4.8 days)
Rank after 2 months: >100

Odesk Worker (Meme)

Cost: $22.22
Dedicated Backlinks: 100 (80 PR4 + 20 PR6)
Backlinks/Unique Domains Provided: 7/7
Duration: 2 days
Rank after 2 months: >100


After the experiment I want to answer the first questions:

• “Which method will give me the most and most valuable backlinks?”

Hiring an agency is expensive, but relatively worth it. There is no other way to bring valuable links at nearly the same ratio per dollar. I think we should research very valuable link types and remove useless link types to save some money. For example, the directory link provided by institution 1 was not crawled and may not be useful.

• “What are the relative costs (per hour)?”

I calculated that the best dollar per backlink is $0.65 (setting 2), and for Odesk staff the worst is over $3.

• “How soon can I expect the results?”

Useless links can be made quickly in two days, but good and valuable links are made by a month of “drip irrigation” (setting 2).

Paying for backlinks to useless profile pages is a waste of money. However, manually selecting the right people on Fiverr can help you gain valuable backlinks and targeted traffic on certain pages in an inexpensive way.

It’s important to analyze your keywords in detail to avoid wasting money on keywords that are hard to rank for. Free keyword research tools (like Keyword Bee) and ranking tracking software (like Traffic Travis) can help immensely with these tasks.

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