If you’ve ever ventured into the world of link building, you’ve likely encountered the enticing proposition of purchasing links. It’s a daily occurrence for our link-building agency, and it’s a subject that sparks both curiosity and controversy.
But here’s the burning question: Is purchasing high-quality backlinks a genius move or a potential disaster waiting to happen?
When you’ve got the know-how, buying backlinks can open doors to a treasure trove of perks – think surges in organic traffic, sky-high search rankings, and search results that make you grin from ear to ear.
But, and it’s a big but, missteps in this game could leave you doing nothing more than fattening a website owner’s wallet with no real rewards.
In the SEO arena, opinions are as diverse as a buffet spread. Some folks are dead against buying backlinks, while others champion it as the ultimate strategy. Let’s roll up our sleeves and dive headfirst into this intriguing debate.
Buying links involves compensating another website in exchange for them linking back to your site.
Generally, the primary objective when people buy backlinks is to boost their site’s ranking with search engines. While some may also aim to increase referral traffic or generate conversions, these objectives are less commonly pursued.
The fact is, people do buy backlinks, and it’s no secret why. Many consider backlinks the golden ticket to search engine success, especially in Google’s book. They’re like the VIP passes that can make or break your website’s ranking in search results.
The secret sauce here is simple: the more quality links you have pointing to your website, the better your odds of claiming a prime spot in those search engine rankings. It’s like being the cool kid at the party – everyone wants to hang out with you!
This concept is at the core of Google’s PageRank algorithm, which influences a website’s visibility in search results. Enhanced search rankings translate into more website visitors, increasing sales and profits.
For businesses, the acquisition of backlinks is invaluable. Various methods exist for acquiring these links, including:
Typically, paid links involve a monetary transaction. However, it’s important to note that any exchange involving money, goods, or services to obtain a backlink is considered a “paid link” by Google.
When Google rolled out the PageRank algorithm, it left its competitors in the dust, and here’s the scoop:
So, what Google did differently was they put a big emphasis on backlinks in their algorithm. This move made Google like a pro at figuring out which web pages were super popular.
Because of all this, Google had the best, most accurate, and most reliable way of organizing and ranking search results compared to all the other search engines out there. That’s how they managed to gather a huge crowd of users.
As Google started pulling in a crazy amount of web traffic, many SEO professionals rolled up their sleeves and figured out what made Google’s algorithm tick.
Before you knew it, people in the SEO game began to catch on to how important backlinks were for search engines. And bam! That’s when the whole buying and selling links market blew up.
You might remember the good old Yahoo directory if you’ve been around the SEO block as long as I have.
In the early to mid-2000s, along with DMOZ, the Yahoo Directory was like the VIP club of directory websites. Back in the day, the Yahoo Directory used to slap a $299 price tag on inclusion. If your business grew, chances were high that you’d make it onto the list, although a few unlucky ones got the boot.
Here’s the kicker: SEO folks weren’t dropping cash for the prestige or traffic boost. Nope, they were all about getting that “link juice”. You see, the Yahoo Directory and similar paid directories were among the OGs when buying backlinks for SEO.
In the mid-2000s, the paid link scene was buzzing. Many link-building services popped up to meet the skyrocketing demand for paid links. It was like a gold rush in the online world.
You had these link-buying services, like Text Link Ads, selling individual links like they were on a rental spree. Many of these links were scattered throughout the site, whether in the sidebar or the footer. And you could secure one of these quality links for just $30 a month!
But that’s not all they offered. They also had some nifty link-building tools, like SENuke and SEOLinkVine, in their arsenal. These tools would send out articles to a massive network of blogs. So, these link-building tools were like magic wands, letting people create loads of those “special” editorial links without breaking the bank – just $97 bucks a month!
Now, the websites they had on hand weren’t always top quality, but back in the day, these tools were the real deal when it came to getting results.
Towards the end of that decade, you started seeing several private blog networks, or PBNs, popping up.
These blog networks had one clear goal: they were all about building links that could tinker with the PageRank algorithm.
But hold on, what is this private blog network? Well, it’s a group of websites you use to link back to one or more websites to boost their search engine rankings. These websites often have pretty terrible content and don’t get much, if any, traffic. In other words, they’re not genuine, high-quality websites.
The PBN craze in the late 2000s happened because these “high-PR, low-quality” PBN links were insanely effective. Back then, you could snag a handful of PBN backlinks pointing to an older domain, and voila, your search engine ranking would shoot through the roof in a matter of days, sometimes even hours. And get this – it didn’t matter if the PBN links were relevant or the content was good. If the backlinks had a high PageRank and you had enough of them, your target website could practically dominate the search engine results.
But then, Google dropped the hammer with its Penguin update in early 2012. Google Penguin was all about stomping out link schemes and sketchy link-building tactics. Well-known PBNs like BuildMyRank got penalized, and websites using PBN links saw their rankings plummet like a stone in the search engine results pages.
When Google rolled out Penguin, it wasn’t exactly gunning for private blog networks (PBNs), but those PBNs took a hard hit from that algorithm update. They were some of the major casualties.
After Penguin debuted in 2012, Google didn’t just sit back and relax. Nope, they kept the ball rolling for the next four years, dishing out a bunch of updates aimed at giving a hard time to websites playing dirty with link spam.
It started with Penguin 1.1 in May 2012 and didn’t stop there. Google’s crackdown on paid links was relentless, reaching its peak with Penguin 4.0 in September 2016. They made it tough for link sellers, who had to start getting sneaky to stay in the game.
But it wasn’t just about algorithms doing the dirty work. Google also poured more and more resources into its manual review team. Those caught red-handed selling links? Well, they found themselves facing the consequences more and more often.
They also impacted those who bought their services. Sometimes, the consequences would mean a drop in PageRank, while in other situations, it led to being completely removed from search results.
So, did all those hefty penalties end the link-buying game?
Far from it! What it did, though, was make everyone in the game have to switch things up a bit.
Many paid link-building tricks that used to work wonders in the past are now outdated and ineffective. Things like article marketing automation, private blog networks, and site-wide text links have lost their shine.
These days, the whole link-building game is way more complex and hidden in the shadows. Of course, you can still find some folks blatantly selling links on places like Fiverr.com.
Nowadays, the most popular paid links are usually paid guest posts, also called “sponsored posts,” and link insertions, sometimes referred to as “niche edits.”
As the name implies, a sponsored post is basically when you shell out some cash to get a guest post featured on someone else’s website.
Now, these posts could be written by you, the website owner, or some middleman vendor.
Interestingly, sponsored posts rarely come right out and say, “Hey, this is sponsored!” They often use that fancy “rel=sponsored” link attribute or drop subtle hints that this is a paid guest post.
Because of this, they can often fly under Google’s radar and go undetected.
You might’ve heard folks call them “niche edits” in the SEO world.
This is when you offer some cash to a website owner to tweak their existing website content by adding a link to your site.
Why are niche edits all the rage? Because they let link buyers snag links on well-established web pages without the hassle of creating new content.
Well, this question doesn’t have a straightforward yes or no answer.
But here’s the deal – if you reject paying for any backlinks, you might miss out on some valuable links from relevant, high-authority websites.
Buying backlinks might be your only ticket to getting those precious link placements in highly competitive industries. I’m talking about big international players in insurance, gambling and casinos, and SaaS – they’re shelling out big bucks for links.
However, considering going down the paid link-building route, you must be careful. Those links should genuinely benefit your readers.
Getting those quality backlinks boils down to a few key factors, including:
A strong brand does the talking for you. That means you won’t need to shell out big bucks on buying links or jump through all those link-building hoops. Other sites will approve your link if your website creates quality content and checks all those SEO boxes.
Your messages, emails, and calls will be like magnets, pulling in responses without much effort. And even your partners will be eager to spread the word about you, giving your sales a nice boost.
How you buy links depends greatly on how much creative control your brand wants to keep. When your brand is the cream of the crop, its reputation is solid, and that usually means the backlinks come with a hefty price tag.
Those big-name brands we all know and love already have savvy link metrics. So, trying to convince them to share their precious links can be quite a challenge, which, by the way, makes those links even pricier.
Besides, these companies usually put a cap on how many links they’re willing to dish out each month. This often means they have a lineup of other brands eagerly awaiting them to create links. So, if you snag one of their links it will cost you a pretty penny.
Links won’t come cheap when a website collaborates with an SEO agency for its SEO campaign, as the agency charges for the links and then adds on an extra fee. So, your company ends up shelling out more than it would if it hired in-house resources.
In up-and-coming industries, you’ll notice they’re charging a pretty penny for their backlinks. Take, for instance, those high-flying finance bloggers and cryptocurrency companies – they’re asking top dollar for their links.
On the flip side, you’ve got these less cutthroat sectors like roofing and cooking, where you can snag links cheaply. So, the more fierce the competition in your industry, the deeper you’ll need to dig into your pockets for those precious backlinks.
The cost of getting backlinks depends on the kind of websites you’re aiming for. It’s like a sliding scale – if you’re eyeing websites with a ton of organic traffic, you can bet the price tag will be higher. That’s because you’re investing in high-quality links to boost your site’s authority.
On the flip side, if you’re more interested in SEO metrics other than just traffic, the price will vary based on what specific metrics you’re looking at. It’s like a menu – you pick what matters most to you.
Do you know what most SEO experts might say? They’ll often mention how Google is dead-set against bought links.
But here’s the twist – Google doesn’t have a problem with them! They’ve even mentioned that paid links are a regular part of the web economy.
However, Google does have a problem with you buying links to boost your PageRank thing. They’re dead against people purchasing links to mess with their search rankings. That’s what Google labels as a Link Scheme.
There are quite a few links that don’t align with Google Webmaster Guidelines. Here are the main ones to watch out for:
However, there’s a silver lining: Links you buy for advertising are fine in Google’s book. Ensure they have the “rel=nofollow” or “rel=sponsored” attributes attached to them, and you’re good to go.
These “rel=” attributes, like nofollow and sponsored, give search engines a heads-up:
When it comes to links, whether they’re labeled as “rel=nofollow” or “rel=sponsored,” neither of them gives a boost in authority to the website they’re pointing to.
You’re clear with Google Webmaster guidelines if you buy backlinks with these attributes. But here’s the catch: These “rel=nofollow” and “rel=sponsored” links don’t usually bring much (if any) SEO value.
However, don’t write them off completely. In 2019, Google changed its tune a bit. They started treating nofollow links more as hints rather than strict directives. In simple terms, sometimes Google might “count” a nofollow link, and sometimes it won’t.
On big-shot websites like Entrepreneur and Forbes, they default to “no-follow” for all their paid outbound links.
Considering how reputable Entrepreneur is as a website and how picky they are about what they publish – you can pretty much count on Google giving some ranking juice to the pages you’ve linked to.
On the flip side, when it comes to followed links, they always share some ranking credit, like PageRank, with the webpage they’re pointing to.
Search marketers usually buy backlinks for three reasons: saving time and money or improving their effectiveness.
Buying backlinks is way faster and simpler than the grueling task of crafting content that naturally attracts backlinks.
If you’ve ever dipped your toes into organic outreach, you know it’s a real time-gobbler.
First, you must create amazing content that makes people want to link to it. Then, scout out websites you can reach out to, craft personalized outreach emails (if you want a response), and then juggle all the back-and-forths.
On the flip side, buying backlinks is relatively swift and hassle-free. Find a website willing to sell you a link, agree on a price, and your link is up.
It might sound ironic, but sometimes, paying for links can be more budget-friendly than going for so-called “free” backlinks. Let me break it down for you:
If you want to be successful with free link-building, it’s not as simple as it may seem. It requires a substantial amount of resources.
Let’s say you’re into free guest post-link-building. To pull this off effectively, you’ll need to create quality content. You must hire skilled content writers, graphic artists, and subject matter experts.
Additionally, you’ll need a team to handle outreach and subscribe to link-building tools if you aim to secure many links. When you add up all these costs, the expense of free link building can be higher than just paying someone to do it for you.
Let’s get honest here. Despite what Google might preach: Buying backlinks gets results!
And here’s the kicker. When done right, there’s hardly any risk of getting penalized because Google can’t tell the difference between paid and organic links.
If you’re considering buying links, make sure you only collaborate with bloggers and site owners with high standards. Signs to look out for include:
Oh, and they keep their link-selling business on the down low.
The cost of paid backlinks can swing all over the place!
It depends on a bunch of stuff like the type of link, the industry, and even how fancy the website’s Domain Rating (DR) or Domain Authority (DA) is.
A recent study by Ahrefs on 450 websites delved into how to sell links, and you won’t believe the findings! Prices for link insertions ranged from as low as $20 to an astonishing $2,500, and guest post prices ranged from as low as $15 and climbed up to $300.
If you compare that Ahrefs study to what your run-of-the-mill link vendor charges, you’ll notice that the prices are in the same ballpark.
Website owners ask for payment when they offer backlinks because they understand how crucial these links can be for businesses like yours.
It’s not just about the money, though. Placing a link on a website requires time and effort, so website owners feel it’s fair to get compensated for the value they bring.
Let’s take bloggers, for example. If you’ve ever checked out the income reports of well-known bloggers, you’ll notice that a significant chunk of their earnings comes from “sponsored posts.”
We’ve encountered cases where bloggers rake in more than $15,000 per month by selling backlinks.
Buying backlinks does have its risks, especially if done incorrectly, these include:
But here’s the thing: Manual actions related to link spam are uncommon these days. Google’s good at shrugging off spammy links and not making a fuss about them.
Creating links in-house is quite a journey. It demands time, human power, learning, and some real expertise. So, as a company, you’ll want to bring in some experienced professionals. But you have to watch those expenses too.
Picture this: hiring a small team to handle link-building won’t come cheap; you’re looking at a bill of no less than $50,000 annually. Plus, you’ll need tools like Mailshake and the Ahrefs Lite Plan, which will set you back about $800 annually. And don’t forget, there’s the cost of training your team, which means more money going out the door.
You’ve got a hectic schedule and probably don’t have the time to dive into the link-buying game. That’s where an SEO agency comes in as your go-to solution, especially if you’re after fewer links.
With an SEO agency on your side, you can fast-track your link acquisition process and say goodbye to the headache of recruiting and training an in-house expert. Instead, you can pay a monthly retainer and watch your site climb to that coveted first page on Google.
It’s also worth noting that some SEO agencies might ask for a retainer fee. But the amount you’ll shell out depends on various factors, like the quality of the links they secure and the agency’s reputation. Generally, reputable link-building services can charge anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 monthly.
You won’t find private link sellers promoting their services in the open. They prefer to sell their links discreetly, often through direct messages or emails, and they’re commonly known as backlink vendors. According to a study by Ahrefs, these individuals or companies selling links typically charge anywhere from $100 to $2,000.
Here’s a heads-up: There’s usually an outreach cost added on top of the link price. So, if the outreach fee is $150, the content costs $100, and the link itself is $200, you’ll be shelling out a total of $450 to the private backlink seller.
Now, let’s talk about the perks of buying links from these private sellers. First off, you’re likely to snag high-quality links. Plus, it’s relatively easy to secure live links, and you won’t be tied down by a retainer fee like you might with an agency.
It’s often more budget-friendly than maintaining an in-house team for this task. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows; risks are involved.
Want to save time and reduce risks? Here’s an option: Consider buying links from a link marketplace. These marketplaces offer a variety of links and benefit both the sellers and the link builders. They buy and resell these links, which can be a gamble, but the risks are lower.
You typically contact one of their account managers when dealing with link-selling marketplaces. They’re the ones who go out and get the link you need, then place it on your behalf. In return, these marketplaces often provide site owners and bloggers with free content, asking them to link it to other websites.
Now, let’s talk pricing. Getting a single high-quality link from a domain with a strong authority can set you back anywhere from $100 to $250. So, you’ll need a decent budget to make this happen. But the perk of using marketplaces is that they handle all the heavy lifting for you, including addressing the link gap analysis.
The easiest way to hunt down super-clean backlinks you can buy is by spotting websites that accept ads.
These websites are like a goldmine because they’re in the business of selling space on their site, so pitching them is a piece of cake.
To spot these ad-friendly sites, use some slick search tricks such as:
Make sure your keyword tweak matches your business, like your niche or your location.
Give different search operators and keywords a shot to develop a list of potential targets. After that, kick out any websites that don’t match your criteria.
Now it’s time to dive into your pitch.
The important thing here is to be clear that you’re on the hunt for a sponsored post, not a spot in a newsletter, a banner ad, or any other run-of-the-mill advertising gig.
Because a lot of the websites you’re aiming for may not have dabbled in selling links before, make sure to clarify two critical things:
If the person you’re targeting disagrees with these two conditions, shifting your focus to other potential targets is best.
This second method works like a charm, and here’s why:
For many bloggers, a couple of hundred bucks to include a link in their content is a good deal. Most aren’t making money from writing, so they’d jump at the chance for quick cash and just a few minutes of effort.
If you’re searching for bloggers to target, you can use these search tricks:
And if you want to take it a step further, also look for “Best Blogs” lists. You’ll stumble upon numerous opportunities in nearly any niche using this approach.
Once you’ve sifted through your list and tracked down the contact info for each blogger, you hit them up with your pitch.
Now, with this method, you’re after getting a link added to an existing piece of content. And, let’s be honest; most bloggers out there aren’t keen on accepting guest posts, especially the big ones, so it’s best to add your link to their existing content.
That way, you dodge the whole expense and hassle of writing a new article. Plus, you get to land your links on pages that are already seen as authoritative. It’s a win-win.
Rhino Rank is all about giving you top-notch curated links without breaking the bank, especially when you compare it to what other SEO agencies charge.
So, if you’re looking for custom-curated links, it starts at just $45. And here’s the deal – the more links you need for your campaign, the less each link costs. Which makes it undeniably affordable compared to the competition.
Rhino Rank is the real deal when it comes to link-building. They’re not just any agency; they’re a top-tier team of backlink experts. They know how to give businesses a leg up in this constantly changing digital landscape.
OutreachMama isn’t a budget option but is more wallet-friendly than other link-building companies. To give you an idea, you might shell out around $300 for a link with a Domain Rating (DR) of 40 or higher.
Outreachmama is pretty unique regarding guest posting and link building. Over the years, as a link-building firm, they’ve teamed up with all sorts of publishers and sources, building solid relationships between companies.
Page One Power typically initiates its backlink-building campaigns at a base cost of $4,000 per month, with the potential to go up to $12,000 per month. However, it’s essential to note that the final pricing can vary depending on the unique requirements of each project.
Page One Power is a well-known link-building agency known for its expertise in helping other websites improve their search rankings.
FatJoe won’t drain your wallet like some other link-building services. You can start their blogger outreach with just $50, securing quality links on DA10+ sites.
If you aim to boost your website’s authority with credible link-building services and target sites with a DA of 50 or higher, they have options starting at $490. But if you ask me, their most popular plan, which starts at just $95, hits the sweet spot, delivering quality links on DA30+ sites to power up your online presence.
FATJOE could be your go-to partner for link-building and content when you’re an SEO agency. They’ve got this super user-friendly Dashboard that makes handling and keeping tabs on your orders a breeze.
Niche Website Builders is your go-to agency for marketing through content publishing. They’ve got your back on all things, from content creation to promotion for your websites.
Google’s not a fan of people buying backlinks to manipulate your search rankings, and they’ll slap you with penalties if they catch you doing it. However, there’s a smarter way to go about it that won’t get you in hot water with the almighty search engine.
First off, keep things natural. That means making your backlinks look as organic as possible. Pay attention to your anchor texts – don’t go overboard with the same ones; mix it up a bit. And don’t try to grab a million links all at once; spread it out over time.
Secondly, steer clear of those sketchy, low-quality links that some shady platforms might offer you. You want your backlinks to be from websites that make sense for your niche and website users. And make sure those sites aren’t just selling links to everyone – Google’s pretty good at spotting patterns like that.
Purchasing backlinks isn’t illegal, but you’re treading on thin ice if you buy backlinks directly from a website that doesn’t clearly label it as “sponsored” or something similar. That’s a no-no according to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and it’s best to steer clear of it.
Regarding this quick and easy link-building method, paying for a link directly conflicts with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. There’s no getting around it, no wiggle room for discussion. The site owner should take it seriously because it’s a blatant violation.
Getting just one link or a few meticulously chosen top-notch links won’t land you in penalty territory. These links might give your SEO performance a nice boost. However, if you habitually buy links over the long haul, things might take a turn for the worse. This is especially true if you’ve got an agency buying the link.
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