Link Buying Pros and Cons – SEO FAQ

Author: Gab Goldenberg

 

What are the pros and cons of buying links? What risks and rewards should I consider in a cost-benefit analysis of a strategy of paying for backlinks?

Pros:

1) You typically control the anchor text and page that a link goes to.

2) Buying a link can engender less resistance than asking for a [free] link.

3) It can be faster than asking for a link.

4) Paying for a link can be easier than asking for a link.

5) You can control additional relevance factors, such as the surrounding text and the page title.

6) It can be a quick way to boost AdWords Quality ScoreMichael Gray’s split-test proved this by testing the age and trust of links; landing pages with more links got better QS.

7) There’s less dealing with rejection, which is something many link builders (including yours truly) struggle with.

8) The corollary is that there’s more certainty in the results of a link buying campaign – pay $X, get #Y links.

9) You don’t need to invest in quality content.

Cons:

1) You don’t need to invest in quality content.

2) You’re spending money on something that might otherwise only cost you time.

3) Your link building is limited by your budget.

4) Your competitors are more likely to take your paid links out to the crowd.

5) Competitors can more easily kill the value of the links you’re buying.

6) There are a number of ways you can mess it up, and increase your chances of getting caught. You might:

  • ‘Over-optimize’ anchor text and risk getting filtered or penalized since you won’t fit the normal patterns in Google’s link data. Use N Grams to stay safe.
  • Focus on the wrong metrics, like Pagerank. PageRank barely correlates with higher rankings.
  • Only use one technique and again end up looking unnatural.
  • Buy text links directly for the money site. Instead, buy links for intermediary sites that funnel the value onwards and absorb the risk.
  • Not disguise your highest risk purchased links.
  • Go through a network whose inventory is known to search engines.
  • Overlook footprints that are associated with buying text links. Note: This is a risk with organic link building, too.

7) Google may penalize your site or those you’re buying from by reducing traffic or Toolbar PageRank.

8) It may devalue the clean links you’ve already built for a site if the whole site gets penalized because of a few paid links.

9) It makes selling a site that much harder, according to my friend Jon Kelly of Sure Hits, who spoke on the subject at SMX Advanced 2009.

10) There are ethical issues with disclosure when buying links.

11) Paid links are easy to replicate. You’re not building a sustainable competitive advantage when you pay for links.

Conclusion: Choosing to buy text links can reduce the hassle of building link popularity and help you catch up to competitors. It won’t replace quality content, a viable business model, or a unique value proposition.

If you want to do it right, you need to follow that big principle of link buying: study link patterns, and do your best to minimize the risk involved.

If that’s not for you, then you can contact me to help you with your link buying, or approach one of the following pros that I recommend (and none of whom paid for the recommendation ;)).

Michael Gray’s Wolf-Howl SEO Consulting, a well-known proponent of link buying Brian Chappell, who has spent hundreds of thousands buying links
Wiep Knol, an all-around link building pro whose articles I read
Debra Mastaler, another link building expert I read
Todd “Stuntdubl” Malicoat, who doesn’t advertise the service but is probably open to hearing you out.

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