Thought I’d do a quick post on the age old question of “should you buy backlinks?” Seems though most people have it either wrong for the right reasons or right for the wrong reasons in most cases.
“Buying Links” can be a number of different things and although Google states buying a backlink of any type is against their terms, we can get creative and get around very very easily.
It all starts with what you are trying to achieve. If you are looking to build a long term web property which for the sake of this article I will assume you are trying to do, then buying links is fine but the conditions need to be super strict. For example buying links from link networks, sape, fiverr etc is all a no go. Most of the time these are cr*ppy links anyway so by avoiding them you will be doing yourself a favour.
The amount of time I’ve seen clients and more commonly prospects state – “Why is link building so expensive when I can just get 100 “HIGH QUALITY LINKS” from Fiverr is beyond belief. Go ahead and try this and see what happens to rankings.
Black hat SEO is still crazy effective. Sape links mixed with OTHER GOOD SEO ELEMENTS works as well today, if not better than it did 5-10 years ago. Because less people know how to do it right. Same for PBNs and grey hat SEO, this works a million times better today than it did 2 years ago simply because so many other people (your competition) are doing it wrong. But assuming you don’t want to risk sape and don’t have the budget to build out high quality PBNs, what am I talking about when I say buy backlinks?
The phrase “buying links” is thrown around so much I think people actually forget that it can be broken down into white hat (ish) and black hat.
Buy Backlinks – But Which Ones?
To me there are 2 types of backlinks you can buy – White hat backlinks (more on how buying links is still white hat in a second) and grey/black hat.
Buying Grey/Black Hat Links
This is what most people think of when you hear the term – buying backlinks thrown around the interwebs. This refers to buying links created BY SEOs FOR SEOs. For example this includes but is not limited to; link networks, sape, PBN links, hacked sites and more. These are the types of links that if Google did pick up on (not saying they would) but if they did then you would receive a penalty as a result. Depending on how many you had would depend on the severity of the penalty. If you only have 2-10 links and you have 500 other high quality links then they won’t care. If 50% of your link profile are these types of links then you’d be looking at a hefty penalty.
Buying White Hat Links ?????
WTF you can’t buy links and call that white hat link building!!!!
No. Not possible I read an article on Moz that said so!
Google and Matt Cutts told me that I need to make good content and I will have 1,000,000 visitors a month coming to my site! I’m going to do that! Go away you black hat SEO snake.
Calm down white hat nazis.
You can still buy links and they be white hat (or appear that way anyway.)
Let’s go through a few examples:
Ever been on a personal blog that offers sponsored post options? £100-1000 for a guest post on their site. You get in front of their audience and of course can link back to your website. Are some of these nofollow links? Indeed. Are most of them? Nope. Because this person or the business offering sponsored posts knows that by adding the option to include a dofollow link increases the quality of the content. As a result they get more sponsored posts = More dollar.
Advertising on a website, say a banner ad or a text link in a sidebar, this is a link don’t forget and some of the most powerful links (especially locally) can be generated through sponsoring or advertising on local authority websites. For example all sponsors of sports teams have homepage links from DA60+ sites with local relevance. This isn’t exactly a cost effective link, but a powerful one none the less.
Below is a screenshot of a very high ranking website in Cardiff that (I think without knowing it) gets great links in term for sponsoring specific sporting events. We can see 2 huge rugby clubs as well as a radio station and a famous band all relevant to their local area target market… 4 of their top 6 links…. Not bad.
Ever see links back to corporate sponsors on the HOMEPAGE of a charity website? Wonder why they do that.
Free Product Reviews
Sending a product to someone with influence and asking what they think. Remember if no money is exchanged in this case then legally they do not have to state this is a sponsored post and hence this is infact a white hat link without buying links, but you have “spent money”….
This is a strategy I personally really like for our influencer marketing/backlink generation for eCommerce clients where generating links can be more difficult. It goes something like this – Stage 1: Find influencers in a horizontal vertical (They cannot be direct competition for a number of reasons.) The most important is they will be expecting money if they are. In this example lets say you sell little funky plants or Beer. Instead of looking for gardening influencers or food and drink influencers (that’s what everyone does and why the market is saturated.) Instead we would look for influencers in verticals other than this but who may be interested in our products. For example we could look for fitness influencers if our beer is low calorie or business owners who work from home if our plants look great in the office. Think one vertical across!
Stage 2 would involve reaching out to these people. I prefer the personal approach here which involves emailing or calling them up saying something like – Love the channel/blog/site. I know you don’t really promote this much but would love to get your opinion on our product from someone not directly in the industry. Do this for 100 people stating that you are not looking for anything in particular just their opinion. You’ll get about a 30% response rate. About 10 will take you up on your offer. And around 50% of those usually post a review to the site without even being asked. We can of course ask them once they have it (if they liked it.) That’s 5 great links that “cost” us nothing but the product price. You also get a ton of social exposure too which is always nice.
Stage 3: Follow up (because you will need to) and “close the sale”. The sale of course is the link in this case.
So there you have it. 4 methods that involve “buying” or using money at least to get high quality links that are not only relatively white hat (ish) but powerful. I’ve personally never seen any of these strategies lead to a penalty.