Real valuable links are harder to obtain. We focus on helping others and then building up a network of website owners/SEO agencies and then basically helping each other. This method makes it very hard for a competitor to easily accomplish what we have built.
Easy links are a dime a dozen, anyone can visit website X and buy that link, these links are becoming less relevant. Just like most content writers hit this keyword phrase X amount of times in the article. But most SEO’s skim through it because it’s so boring that they don’t even want to check it.
I believe the biggest issue with link building and SEO, in general, is most of the time people get caught up forgetting who the page really serves and it isn’t Google. Also, a lot of people tend to just want it done and check off that complete box and tend to also forget that it’s about rankings and not tasks.
This increases your revenue generated not only for yourself, but your clients. There’s a cost to doing business and your client will understand that if they want the results you know you can provide them.
On the latter… if you spend that 60hrs link building… make it worth your time so you can add that valuable skillset to your tool belt. 60hrs of relationship development might generate you thousands down the road.
It’s all perspective.
I think the importance of link building depends on your category and your business. I think for local businesses link building isn’t that important compared to on-page and, also, reviews/endorsement.
So say you’re a service business that focuses on a single city, it might be more important to get those things right.
If you offer a niche service nationally, again the niche on-page can probably deliver.
But, If you’re the new kid on the block against established competitor businesses with (likely) decent on page SEO and link equity, on-page only will take longer than you have, and link building (along with better on page than your competitors) is key to jumping the queue and get in the race. Having said all that I hate link building too, I don’t like paying for it, and if you are in the latter of those categories it might be that marketing or PR could be a better way to build significant link value.
But that’s also a gamble.