In a recent tweet by Brian Dordevic, the owner of a 7-figure web design agency, he claimed that large companies buy backlinks.
Regardless of if Brian is right or wrong. Should you follow suit?
Should you buy backlinks online?
Unfortunately, there is no straight answer. Yes or no depends on where you’ll source the link.
That stance won’t help much. That’s why I’ll probe into the argument further in this article.
- First, I’ll discuss the issue from the lens of sellers & buyers of backlinks.
- Then, I’ll discuss the risks involved and the variables to consider.
Ultimately, you’ll conveniently take a stand.
So, shall we delve in?
The Seller Perspective: The Why & Who?
Why Do People Sell Backlinks?
The answer is simple, really:
600M blogs are churning out 6M posts daily. WordPress only is responsible for 2.75M of the latter [WebTribunal].
Deductively, top-notch, skyscraper content is not enough to compete with such numbers; those are only the foundation.
You need upvotes from authority, high-traffic sites to get on the top pages of search engines.
Guess who also knows such information?
Site owners understand the dire need for upvotes. So they leverage their authority and traffic to make a significant income.
Who are even the sellers?
Let’s find out!
Who Are The Sellers?
Generally, I group backlink sellers into three categories:
- Freelancers — sellers across marketplaces
- Bloggers — they sell sponsored posts
- Link farms — they use black hat strategies
Which of the sellers can you trust?
I wouldn’t vouch for freelancers 100% — especially the ones with cheap rates promising high-quality backlinks. The chances are that they are getting the links from PBNs or link farms.
On the other hand, bloggers are trustworthy, and some are even well-known for their sponsored post revenue.
Here are three top examples:
- Fitnancials — $3K monthly
- Millennial Money — $17.8K in 2017
- The Savvy Couple — $16.6K in February 2021
Now, let’s talk about the backlinks cost. How much do backlink sellers sell per link to make such figures?
How Much Does Buying Links Online Cost?
I wrote an extensive guide on link building pricing. So, I won’t get into the depth again.
However, I’ll provide the overview.
Averagely, you’ll spend $77.8 for a guest post backlink. On the other hand, a niche edit link will cost you $361.44.
With the breakdown, it’s obvious why people sell links from relevant websites and why the industry is booming. But why do SEOs still patronize the sellers?
The Buyer Perspective: The Why & Who?
Why Do SEOs Buy Backlinks?
Gone are the days when skyscraper content was a surefire way to earn backlinks, and they still work as much as linkable assets — such as guest posts.
But here’s the issue:
Everyone now creates super-useful guest posts written with the skyscraper technique. The same thing applies to linkable assets and tools.
In essence, the industry is more competitive than ever before. Your pitch for guest posts might never be replied to.
On the other hand, when you pitch sponsored posts, chances are that you’ll get replies — at least 12.6% (niche edit backlinks) and 13.3% (guest post links) of the time [Ahrefs].
So to answer the question:
SEOs buy backlinks because it is a faster route to increase search engine rankings.
What Brands Are Buying Backlinks?
Unlike Brian Dordevic, I would not say top brands buy quality backlinks outrightly. But they do something similar: they exchange links.
Brands like Copyblogger & Problogger and Mashable & TechCrunch use this method.
Read more about link exchange!
If big brands are buying backlinks, they don’t do it directly. Instead, they employ link building agencies to earn the links.
What Is Google Saying About Buying Backlinks Online?
Google is clear:
“Any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site is link spam.”
Along the guidelines, Google highlighted “buying and selling links for search engine ranking purposes” as link spam. That was even the number 1.
Does that mean all forms of buying backlinks online are spam? Will your site be penalized for doing so?
Here is what Google says, word for word:
So, what should you do? Should you still buy backlinks?
Before I answer the question, I’ll discuss the risks of buying low-quality links. You deserve to know the pitfalls before deciding.
What Are The Risks Of Buying Backlinks Online?
Undoubtedly, the no. 1 risk of building links online is failing into a link farm scam. That concern was also echoed by Brook Hiddink — an eCom founder who has made $5M in sales in under 2 years.
But beyond link farms, there are other risks — as outlined below.
Penalty From Google
This condition is rare because Google only ignores spam links. Nonetheless, your site might still get manual actions if you use extreme black hat strategies.
For example, hacking a site for backlinks could lead to a temporary ban. But fixing such a problem might take a long time.
Lose Traffic & Sales
Depending on the severity of the penalty received, you might spend months fixing it. Now, that might not seem insignificant.
But what about the traffic and sales you’d lose?
Let’s say you receive 1k traffic monthly, each leading to a $10 sale. In other words, you’ll lose $10K each month of your temporary ban.
If it takes 3 months to fix the issue, you’ll lose $30K.
Is that a risk you’re willing to take?
Waste Of Time & Money
In the case of grey hat links, Google will likely cut off the link juice and ignore your site. But is that what you want?
You needed the juice to upvote your site and jolt your rankings. Anything short of that is a waste of money and time.
The wastage aside, you’d likely lose credibility. How so?
Prospects will check your backlink sources with tools like Ahrefs Site Explorer. If the anchor text and usage are shady, you’ll likely lose the prospect.
In essence, you’ll waste your time and still lose money. So, maybe buying backlinks online is not worth it.
Now, let’s answer the $1M question!
Should You Buy Backlinks Online?
No, and yes!
Let me explain…
No; don’t buy backlinks from unverifiable sources, PBNs, cheap link building services, and link farms.
On the other hand, paid backlinks via sponsored posts are 100% safe, and Google guidelines say they are legal.
However, the link must carry a “nofollow” or “sponsored” tag.
Note: even with paid backlinks, there are other factors you must consider. Otherwise, you’ll waste your time and money.
Below are the said factors.
5 Factors To Consider Before Buying Backlinks Online
Looks & Feels Matter
Before anything, would you trust any content from the site you’re pitching to? Do they look professional?
Would you spend 5 minutes on the landing page – let alone reading the blog?
Let’s say you checked the blog. Are there author panels on it? How about an “about us page”?
Could you find links to quoted figures/reports/studies in the posts?
If you don’t trust the site, don’t waste your time. The chances are that Google or prospects won’t be convinced either.
Is The Site An OBVIOUS Link Peddler?
A site owner who only sells links will hardly care about designs or content. On rare occasions, however, you’ll find top-notch articles and a well-designed site on a PBN.
On such occasions, check the content. Look at the anchor usage and placement. Are the anchors/keywords almost always lucrative?
Go beyond just one post. Check 2-3 recent articles.
If the same issues persist, don’t waste your time.
Does The Site Buy High Quality Backlinks?
Beyond selling links, you should also be wary of chronic link buyers. Why?
Whatever juice the sites have, they can lose at any time. When that happens, you’ll also be affected.
You might lose your ranking, for starters.
So, how do you confirm that a site buys links regularly?
Pro tip: you can also use the below steps to confirm suspicious big brands.
- Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer > Anchor Report
- Filter the result by “Dofollow.”
- Click “link to target.”
- Check the context for exact anchor matches and the natural use.
If you find that anchor usage is suspicious, it likely is. Avoid the site.
What’s The Traffic Graph Like?
If the anchor text analysis is not precise, use a traffic graph. But why graph and not just the current overview?
Present traffic is a fluke, and chances are Google has yet to catch the act. So, the juice might still be intsct.
Well, at least the site is ranking. Right?
I’ve had prospects reach out to me whose websites ranked no. 1. After 2 months, they are not even on the top 3 result pages.
A similar experience awaits black hat links patrons. And that’s why you should avoid them.
So, look at the graph. Check the site traffic at strategic points — mainly when Google updates its algorithms.
If there is a drop, the site has shady link building practices. Avoid it.
If your choice site passes all the conditions, be cautious. Check your content strategy.
Will you EASILY get backlinks from the safe site? What do you have that can help the blog?
Are there articles you can complement?
Let’s say your target site talked about the tourism opportunities in Los Angeles. Do you have anything that talks about the cost of the hotspot centers? How much do they charge for entrance? What is the operation time?
Here’s another example:
Let’s say you want to earn a backlink on this article. Ask yourself, what would complement the information provided?
Do you have any piece about how link buying affected businesses — with examples?
Have you written about how site owners recovered from buying black hat links?
With such resourceful, complementary posts, I would never say no.
The same thing applies to other site owners. Offer to help first, and getting quality links will be a breeze.
Wrapping Up: Buying Backlinks Online In 2023 And Beyond
I’ve already established that paid backlinks are not as BAD as discussed in the SEO world. In fact, they can be white hat links — when done right.
At the same time, I know these hacks might seem easier said than done. But don’t fret.
Below, I’ve condensed the guide into “safe” and “unsafe” link building methods.
Backlink Building Methods To Avoid
Private Blog Networks (PBNs) exist only for gaming search engine algorithms. Like the name, these networks are managed by an individual to send links to a money site.
Often, the sites use the same IP addresses, making Google bots identify them easily.
Even when the builder uses different hosts and professional designs, PBNs are still risky to build links.
With PBNs, you must be careful of exposing your URLs. Otherwise, your networks will be blocked.
Despite all the secrecy and shady methods, businesses still use PBNs, and they work. But it is only temporary.
Link farms are PBNs that have been discovered by Google. In other words, the links from these sites are ignored.
So, you’d only be wasting resources acquiring tons of backlinks from these farms.
Funnily enough, Google lets link farms pay for paid ad positions on search results. Behind, they disregard their link juice.
Bottom line: don’t be swayed by ads of link farms. They don’t count.
Other Grey/Black Hat Strategies
Whether grey or black hat links, none is sustainable — that’s if they even work to start. Besides sustainability, some of these methods are illegal.
For example, hacking a site’s HTML code to insert a backlink to your site. That’s borderline cyberbullying and a criminal offense. Depending on the site hacked, you could be fined or even jailed for that.
Other minor shady tactics like “backlinks hidden colorless texts” don’t work. Save your time.
You could have invested all the resources in securing high-quality links.
Safe Link Building Methods
As mentioned earlier, sponsored posts are COMPLETELY safe. While they are paid links, Google can still accept them.
However, ensure that the owners add the “nofollow” or “sponsored” tags.
Furthermore, you don’t have to stick to just sponsored blog posts. You can use the donation method.
Check the footer of top brands. You’ll often find sponsors’ logos. Those are backlinks sources and are paid for. And since they are on the homepage, they have more juice.
This method will likely cost you — because only the top sponsors get featured. However, it’ll be worth it. More importantly, it is 100% legal and safe.
Also, you can try sponsored posts on influencers’ social media posts, which also works.
Similarly, you can reach out to contributors of your target sites. This is a gray area. But it is not illegal.
What if the contributors turn down your payment?
That wouldn’t be the end of the world. But you can reduce the chances of such happening by following the steps below:
- Pick a contributor that writes about your niche.
- Check the contributor’s recent articles; are there any forms of paid links? Can you find backlinks to brands, products, or businesses?
- If there are backlinks, the contributor will likely listen to your offer.
- But remember, your pitch must be top-notch and value-packed.
Lastly, your industry matters. You’ll likely find more opportunities to buy sponsored posts in finance than marketing.
So, what should you do if your business is in niches like marketing?
Try broken link building!
Broken Link Building
The beauty of broken link building is that it works on “value first, link later.” Plus, you don’t have to pay for the backlinks.
Nevertheless, you’ll spend considerable time researching, finding broken links, pitching, and creating replacement pages.
In the end, it’ll all be worth it. How so?
- For starters, you’ll get a backlink for your effort.
- The replacement page will fetch you traffic.
- You’ll build a relationship with the site owner and can also use that for future link building purposes.
Ultimate guides, online calculators, “X” checkers, infographics, and reports are all linkable assets that will earn you backlinks.
They take time to build. But once built, you can use them to skyrocket your link building campaigns.
But you need to be creative. Be different from other businesses in building linkable assets. Do this:
- Look out for top authors of your target site
- Engage with their posts on LinkedIn
- Build a relationship and ask what they need with
- Now, create the asset of the conversation
Don’t Shy Away From Getting Help
Link building takes time, resources, and practice. And that’s even the typical guest posting and outreach.
The paid link aspect can even be more strenuous.
So, it’s okay if you are confused or out of depth. Confusion aside, you might be busy thinking about your business and closing deals.
Either way, you can get help. Hire a link building agency. That way, you can act like the big brands:
Avoid the entire paid link affair and let experts leverage their robust network to earn backlinks for you.
SERPreach is one such agency. Link building is not just work for us; it’s been a love affair — since 2009.
More importantly, we love seeing small businesses competing in the search results. We offer FREE audits and reports to help SMEs get started.
Paid backlinks are 100% safe when done correctly and from the RIGHT vendor. And while you are at it, ensure the backlink carries either a “nofollow” or “sponsored” tag as instructed by Google guidelines.
And if you’re worried that the tags will limit the juice sent to your website, hire an agency. With an agency, you won’t be buying backlinks.
Instead, you’ll leverage the agency’s expertise and network to earn high-quality links.
FAQs About Buying Backlinks Online
Is It Legal To Buy Backlinks Online?
If by legal you mean Google-approved, then yes, paid backlinks are 100% okay.
According to Google guidelines, you can buy backlinks. However, there are conditions.
- First, don’t buy from PBNs or link farms.
- Lastly, your backlinks must carry a “nofollow” or “sponsored” tag.
How To Buy Backlinks In 2023?
There’s no new way of buying backlinks in 2023. Stick to the evergreen methods:
- Sponsored links
- Guest posts
- Niche edits
How Much Does A Backlink Cost?
The cost depends on the link you want. But here’s an average baseline:
- A guest post backlink costs $77.8
- A niche edit backlink costs $361.44