Paying for links is exactly what it sounds like: an exchange of money between webmasters or site owners to secure a link placement from one site to another. There are many different interpretations within that framework, but the basic proposition remains the same: money for links. 

As widespread as it is, buying links is a strategy that requires trust because you can easily lose any links you buy if they’re removed. If you want more control of the links you build, a strategy such as buying PBN domains and building a private blog network might be more appropriate.

This briefly explains the “what” of paid link building, but there’s still a lot of ground to cover in regards to why, when, where, and how much. In this article, we’ll dive into the simple answers to those questions. 

Why Pay for Links?

Getting backlinks is difficult and time-consuming to do at scale, and it’s more cost-effective for many webmasters to simply pay for links than build them through outreach and content strategies. How well your site performs in search results is closely linked to its reputation in the eyes of search engines–this reputation largely depends on the links pointing to your site. In other words, the more links there are pointing to your site, the better chance it has to rank highly in search results. 

The basic premise is this: if you pay a certain amount for links to your site and those links produce performance improvements worth more than that amount, you’re generating profit. Paying for links makes sense as long as those links generate enough value to justify their cost. In some industries, paying for links is so widespread that it’s the only way to keep up with the competition. 

Of course, maybe the most compelling reason to pay for links is that you often don’t have a choice. Webmasters and site owners typically understand that links are a commodity, and very few people are willing to leave that money on the table–even if they would otherwise be willing to link to a site without asking for payment. 

Is Paying for Links Allowed?

Yes, paying for links is allowed under Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It’s not a matter of opinion, as Google has a page in its documentation called “Paid Link Quality Guidelines.” On that page, Google’s team writes that buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web. 

However, Google stipulates that paying for links that pass PageRank is against its guidelines. To show Google your links were purchased in alignment with its vague guidelines, you need to qualify the links with “nofollow” and “sponsored” HTML attributes. With those attributes in place, Google essentially knows to reduce the value of those links. 

But, can Google really detect which links were purchased and which weren’t? Well, if Google could detect purchased links reliably, it would beg the question: why would the search engine be asking webmasters to qualify their links? Why wouldn’t it automatically detect them?

How Much Do Links Cost in 2022?

Quality link building can cost anywhere from around $50 to over $1,600 per link. There are also link-building services that charge on a periodic basis, and the price for those varies too widely to give any specific figures. 

The price of a backlink for your site depends on a large number of factors–the most important being the site from where the link is coming. If the link is from a very reputable and authoritative site, it’s going to cost much more than it would coming from a no-name blog that’s been around for a year. 

A good rule of thumb is that a link under $50 isn’t worth paying for and a link over $1,000 must come with some serious clout and assurances from its seller. At the end of the day, it’s a question of how much the link is worth to you–and that may not always align with what a link seller might think it’s worth. So, it’s important to spend some time looking for links that have both the topical and ranking authority you need to grow your site. 


In a nutshell, paying for links is–and probably will remain–an important part of doing business online. There are, of course, alternatives, such as buying aged domains and building a PBN, and that is a better long-term investment for many people. If that sounds closer to what you want, start by looking at what’s available on sites to find expired domains.

Google does allow paying for links under specific guidelines, but following those guidelines makes paying for links much less attractive. So, if your goal is to pay your way to higher site authority, take the time to learn about what it takes to find and pay for links that are worth the investment.