When it comes to SEO, link building is one of the hardest tactics to get right. Quality backlinks are essential if you want to boost your search engine ranking, but earning these links can be tough.
One of the biggest considerations regarding link building is whether or not to buy backlinks for SEO.
Google’s stance on buying links is a tough one. Buying links could have a negative impact on your search engine rankings, or it could help you boost your rankings fast. It just depends on what strategy you take.
In this guide, we’ll cover some of the main advantages and disadvantages of buying backlinks for SEO. We’ll also provide an alternative solution, which could help you boost traffic.
Why Do People Buy Backlinks For SEO?
There are many different ranking factors that search engines use for SEO. In fact, Google uses over 200 ranking factors in its algorithm. Among these ranking factors, earning high-quality backlinks for your site has always been one of the most important and impactful.
Buying backlinks is actually against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This means it’s possible to get a penalty if you buy backlinks – which will affect your rankings. But more on this later.
Despite the possible penalty, loads of sites across all industries buy backlinks in the hope of boosting their rankings. Purchasing links has become a staple of how SEO is done, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it.
Here are some of the main reasons why website owners are happy buying backlinks for SEO.
Buying Links Saves Time
No matter what tactic you use, link building requires a major time investment. It takes a lot of work to earn quality links, especially if you focus on “natural” link-building tactics. That’s why so many SEOs end up paying for backlinks.
For example, some of the most common white hat link-building strategies include:
- Outreach: Prospecting for possible backlink opportunities or link exchanges. This could take hundreds of cold emails before you get a response. You then need to qualify any possible candidates to ensure you don’t earn low-quality links. Of course, you also need to create high-quality content for them to link back to, which takes time too.
- Guest posting: Paid guest posts or free guest post exchanges are other options for earning SEO backlinks. Like the point above, this involves a lot of outreach and prospecting. You also need to spend time creating the right guest post content for relevant sites. If you opt for paid guest posts, then you’re still essentially doing paid link-building.
- Other tactics: You could try using HARO instead of buying and selling links. This can achieve great results, but it takes loads of time and effort. You could also focus on creating thought leader content and distributing it to people’s inboxes, basically asking for a link where you see a relevant opportunity on their site.
These are some of the most common white hat strategies for building links. In each case, you need to dedicate hours of work and communications before you see results. And, even if you use these “white-hat” tactics, some site owners will still ask for compensation to place the backlinks.
Plus, there’s no guarantee that the backlinks you get will last. At any point, webmasters can choose to remove those backlinks or remove the content where the link is placed entirely.
You also need to set up processes for establishing link placements, determining the website’s authority, and screening link opportunities.
Taking the gray or black hat link-building route and buying links for SEO is way easier, which is why lots of websites still do it.
Paid links let you get results straight away. If you write a piece of content and try white hat link-building tactics, it might take months before you see any change in search engine rankings. This is because you will earn individual links very slowly.
Buying links delivers results straight away. With backlink buying, you can also be specific about how many links you gain. This gives you more control over the results of your SEO strategy.
It’s important to understand some basic things about links and Google’s stance on buying backlinks to improve search results performance.
First and foremost, links act as votes from one site to another, and Google interprets these votes as a signal of a site’s quality. The more links point to a site, the more Google trusts that site.
That’s the basis of Google’s link rating system called PageRank. Other factors also play into it, and some links do more for you than others.
That’s why backlinks from high-quality sites are valuable: they’re a strong indicator that your site is also high-quality.
Another important factor is the types of links you get based on their attribute. These attributes are placed as needed to classify links for search engines.
There are two main types of link attributes that Google recognizes: follow and nofollow. Technically, there’s no “follow” attribute, but it’s industry slang used to contrast regular links with nofollow links.
Follow links are the kind of links that everyone wants because they pass along PageRank. Nofollow links, in contrast, don’t pass PageRank — at least, that’s Google’s position on the matter.
So, in theory, you could get hundreds of nofollow backlinks from as many sites, and they would do very little to improve your rankings. That means yet another step in your process when purchasing backlinks is to verify if the links you paid for aren’t using the nofollow attribute.
The Downside Of Buying Backlinks
The choice to buy backlinks is certainly very appealing, and people buy backlinks for sites in just about every industry. However, there are a few possible downsides to these paid link schemes.
First of all, as mentioned earlier, link buying is considered a black hat SEO technique according to search engines under most circumstances. If they identify unnatural links on your site, this could result in your site being removed from their index.
Google’s Position on Backlink Buying
Google doesn’t condone buying and selling links, which it refers to as a form of “link schemes” that aim to manipulate the PageRank algorithm. This can result in penalties, which can be detrimental to your site.
Recovering from these penalties is extremely difficult. You would need to get rid of every single link bought to try to recover but even doing this doesn’t guarantee that you will. This results in wasted time and money.
There is only one instance in which Google allows link purchasing, and it’s by qualifying the backlinks with a third attribute.
In addition to the two main types of links (follow and nofollow), Google also recently implemented a “sponsored” attribute. So, to remain on the right side of Google’s guidelines, you would have to assign the sponsored attribute to every link you buy.
The issue with that is that the sponsored attribute eliminates any PageRank the link would pass, making it useless for search engine optimization.
Where to Buy Backlinks?
The link economy is booming, to say the least. A quick Google search will net you hundreds of eager link sellers ready to tell you why their links are the best value for your business.
A general rule of thumb with paid link building is that you get what you pay for. If you find someone on Fiverr that can sell you 100,000 links for the price of two cups of coffee, those links are worse than useless.
That said, here are some of the link buying options at your disposal:
Link Building Services
Link building costs money. You pay for each link, so you need to set a budget for each backlink’s cost. In addition to the cost of link placement, link building services also build in the cost of their work, so you’ll pay a premium for each link.
And, unless you’re working with a link building service that you already know and trust, you’ll have to consistently audit the links you’re paying for. Low-end link building services frequently cut corners by securing links from low-quality sites, placing multiple links on the same site, or selling directory backlinks that provide next to no value.
The top-rated and most credible link building services charge up to $10,000 a month and even more for bespoke enterprise packages. So, you’ll avoid a lot of the complications that come with in-house link building but you’ll end up paying quite a bit if you choose to work with a link building service.
Find Opportunities to Buy Quality Backlinks
There’s nothing particularly specialized about the service link buyers provide. And you could save yourself some money by either hiring in-house staff to do the same task or taking it on yourself.
However, you should be aware that buying links this way takes a lot of time and resources. Finding, vetting, and negotiating link placements at a scale that moves the needle is a full-time job.
And you need to factor in the cost of tools that are basically non-negotiable for this process, such as link auditing and outreach automation tools.
The basic process for this is to identify sites that accept link placements, reach out to their webmasters, and agree on a price for the backlink placement. In addition to that, each site owner will place different restrictions on what links they’re willing to place and how, so it’s a very tedious process.
With time, and as your team gets better and more experienced, this type of link building process will be comparable to a link building service in terms of costs. Until then, it will probably be a more expensive way to buy backlinks.
Buy Links From a Marketplace
Another option is paying for links from middlemen. These are companies that have built relationships with hundreds and sometimes thousands of sites in a wide range of industries.
Instead of finding link placement opportunities yourself, you can pay these companies for access to their network of publishing partners. The company arbitrates link placements and gets a fee for the service.
It’s a lot less hassle than in-house link building and a lot faster too. However, you still end up paying a premium to the marketplace. This is a good source of backlinks if you don’t need links for a highly specialized niche.
Still, you’ll end up paying between $150 and $250 for a good-quality link from these middlemen.
In theory, white-hat SEO tactics are an alternative to paid backlinks and let you build links for free, but those links are completely out of your control. It also doesn’t count your time spent with outreach and everything else.
In addition, paid backlinks don’t always provide enough value for site owners. When gaining quality links for your site, you need to ensure the website linking to you is within a relevant niche, has good domain authority, and that the anchor text reads naturally and covers the right keywords.
It’s important to avoid spammy sites and only buy quality backlinks from legitimate sites. This can take a lot of time and research to do.
You also need to avoid getting no-follow links which won’t really help your backlink profile.
When you buy links, you can’t always be sure that these elements will line up. When building links organically, it’s even more difficult to tick these boxes.
The Best Alternative to Buying Links: Build Your Own PBN
Building private blog networks (PBNs) is a safe and effective alternative to a paid link scheme.
A PBN is a network of websites that you create for the sole purpose of generating external links to your site.
A PBN consists of “feeder sites” that pass link juice onto the main site. This boosts your site’s authority and helps improve your rankings.
PBNs are especially useful if you have more than one website that you want to grow.
Of course, building a PBN isn’t the easiest approach. It takes time, effort, and budget to establish enough relevant domains, buy hosting for each domain, set up the sites, create “filler content” for the sites, and manage links across your network. However, when you get it right it can be a great way to boost rankings.
The Benefits Of Building A PBN
Building a PBN is a great way to earn backlinks and control your backlink strategy.
Here are some of the main advantages:
- Complete control: You have total control over how many backlinks you earn and what anchor text you use. You can also ensure all links are do-follow links, and that they are relevant. This results in high-quality backlinks.
- Cost: Once your PBN is set up, you can enjoy endless “free” backlinks. You can also continue to create more sites and more backlinks and reduce the marginal cost of future backlinks.
- Helps you win a competitive niche: If you build a PBN within a highly competitive niche, you can earn more relevant backlinks more easily. Plus, your competitors won’t be able to access your PBN. For some niches, PBNs are just about the only option to build high-quality links since publishers in the space charge exorbitant prices for buying backlinks due to their scarcity.
- Fast: Once your PBN is set up, establishing backlinks and seeing results from them is fast.
The Bottom Line
Relying on earning organic links only is just not practical for most websites. If you want to boost your rankings amongst loads of competitors, then you need backlinks fast. This is what makes buying links so appealing.
Building a PBN is a better option, as it still allows you to gain backlinks easily without running the risk of penalizing your site. With the right PBN strategy, your site can benefit from serious boosts in search results without going against Google’s webmaster guidelines.