‘Should you buy backlinks for SEO?’
Ah, the secret topic discussed in hushed tones in the mysterious corners of the web.
While nearly every marketer has considered the possibility of buying links at one time or another, very few admit to the practice.
In some circles, buying links is nefarious at best.
But, let’s face it. The climb to the top of search engines is brutal, and if you aren’t prepared for the journey, you can fall as quickly as you scale.
So, what’s wrong with a little SEO courage along the way?
Google’s stance is crystal clear
If you care about being on Google’s good side, you should probably stop in your tracks.
According to Google’s Webmaster guideline, purchasing backlinks is a major breach of decree.
The punishment? Anywhere from a penalty to your page ranking to de-indexing your entire site.
A pretty large risk to run when your goal is to land at the opposite end of that spectrum.
No, Google doesn’t hate backlinks – quite the opposite, actually.
Backlinking is one of the most significant characteristics of favorable search engine results. So it only makes sense that the tech giant wants to protect its integrity.
You can imagine what type of chaos we’d be in if people were allowed to cheat the system.
To keep their users coming back for more, Google has all but guaranteed access to relevant, qualified information in a fraction of a second.
If you are new to SEO, you might be wondering, “what are backlinks in SEO?” Simply put, backlinking is any link to your website from another site.
Why, then, do people buy backlinks for SEO?
The answer is simple: Backlinks work for SEO.
And when you’ve exhausted your other strategies, paying a few dollars for results starts to look a lot easier than putting in the groundwork.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Plenty of people feel stagnant in their search engine marketing efforts and aren’t sure what to do.
We get it, and we’re not shaming you for it.
It doesn’t help that marketers have been debating black versus white hat SEO backlinks as a strategy for the better part of a decade.
Despite Google’s clear rules, some people still think that purchasing backlinks falls in a ‘grey’ area.
Let’s unpack this idea.
The debate between ‘white’ and ‘black’ SEO strategies
Much of the argument for and against buying backlinks for SEO lies within the first line of the Webmaster link scheme guideline:
“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme..”
Well, isn’t everything about SEO an attempt to manipulate search engine algorithms – which is clearly against the rules?
Take Instagram in comparison. There are thousands of companies out there paying influencers to backlink on their profile, and guess what? They aren’t disclosing it – which is against the law.
While both may be considered unethical, there is a big difference.
However, the fact remains that breaking Google’s rules can harm your domain.
So, is the risk worth the reward?
We’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s explore the difference between paid and unpaid links.
What a paid link is
What exactly qualifies a ‘paid’ versus ‘unpaid’ backlink? It’s a question we get asked a lot as experienced marketers and SEO experts.
In a world of sponsorships, donations, and other types of paid marketing, it can get seriously confusing.
According to Google, paid links and link schemes include:
- Exchanging money for links or posts that contain links.
- Exchanging goods or services for links.
- Sending someone a ‘free’ product in exchange for them to write about it and include a link (ahem, influencers this is for you).
- ‘Link me, and I’ll link you’ exchanges.
- Creating partner pages for the sake of cross-linking.
- Automated link creating services.
- Requiring links as part of any contract or terms of service.
So, sponsored posts for backlinks and paid reviews are off the list (although we hope that you weren’t seriously considering the latter).
What a paid link isn’t
A paid link doesn’t include any link that you receive organically, or for free.
In other words, unpaid links are backlinks that you receive as a result of another relationship. If you didn’t directly buy or exchange your product or service for that link, it’s likely a safe bet.
The fact is, if it feels shady, rather than earned, there’s a good chance you should avoid it.
There are plenty of ways to receive backlinks organically. You may need to work with an expert in SEO backlinks service, and it may take longer, but it’s not impossible.
A professional SEM and backlinks SEO strategy by an experienced marketing and advertising agency (like LiftIntent) can earn you real and viable results.
Plus, you don’t have to look over your shoulder every few minutes in fear of the internet police crashing through your door. Okay, kidding, but it isn’t fun sliding down search results into non-existence either.
Pro Tip: Whether you are looking for a California SEO company, central Florida SEO or anywhere in between, contact our experts at LiftIntent. We specialize in total online brand management, marketing, and advertising with the latest top rating SEO techniques.
A better way to SEO
There’s no way around it. Backlinks really do work.
If they didn’t, no one would wonder if they need to buy backlinks for SEO in the first place.
In fact, marketers have found that the #1 common factor between top-ranking sites in search results is the number of backlinks that they have.
Google says that the best way to get other relevant SEO quality backlinks to your website is to create highly relevant and unique content. Content that will gain popularity naturally in your community.
You can think of backlinks as editorial votes. The more useful content you create, the higher the chance that others will find your content valuable and want to link to it.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo all of your SEM and SEO efforts altogether.
Remember, Google wants to serve its users highly-valuable content. If you’re the one to provide that, they are happy to reward you for it.
Do you need help writing SEO quality content? Read An SEO Content Writer’s Guide to SEO-Friendly Content
6 Organic backlink SEO strategies to try instead
If you are still wondering if you should buy backlinks for SEO, try these five easy to implement policies on how to build backlinks for SEO instead.
These are real strategies that have helped launch our clients into first-page success. If you need help, reach out to our SEM and SEO experts at LiftIntent.
Keep in mind: Quality over quantity is vital in good backlinks for SEO.
1. List your business in directories.
If you’ve been anywhere near backlinking SEO lately, you’ve probably heard this tip. Directories are a perfect place to start because you want people to find your business wherever they might be looking for it.
Explore free and paid directories relevant to your niche. For example, if you are looking to boost SEO for law firms, the best real estate website SEO, SEO backlinks for casinos, or any other niche business, make sure that you list your company on relevant directories.
To get started, list all of your business information and website links on these sites:
- Google My Business (GMB)
- Bing Places
- Four Square
- Better Business Bureau
- Chamber of Commerce
2. Ask for credit.
This is where a lot of businesses fall short. No matter what business you are in, you likely have clients or customers you work with.
If your consumer expresses happiness or gratitude towards you, don’t be afraid to ask for credit or a positive mention. This can work in a lot of ways, depending on your service.
From positive reviews to online credit or a referral of your product, you benefit from others praising, discussing, and linking to your brand online.
3. Ramp up internal linking.
A great backlinks SEO strategy isn’t only about the other people linking to your site. Internal linking of your webpages helps build your natural link profile and even pass link juice throughout your pages.
If your brand can benefit from video marketing, social media marketing, or YouTube advertising, launch a strategy and make sure that you always link back to your website. This won’t always give you ‘link juice,’ but it can earn you organic sales while adding to your link profile.
The best part is that you have complete control over your links and where they lead!
4. Convert unhappy customers into brand proponents.
An excellent SEM strategy includes managing your brand’s online reputation. Pay close attention at all times to what is being said about you online.
When negative comments or reviews do arise regarding your brand, be proactive in helping them sort out their problems or offer an exclusive discount.
Many consumers are open to having their minds altered about a company following a poor experience and could even becoming proponents of your brand in the process.
5. Get involved in your community.
No one is going to talk about your brand if you don’t get involved.
Look for opportunities to join other small business in what’s happening in your area, or donate your money and time towards a cause that you believe in.
Remember, you’re not always going to do it for the link, but always ask how you can be featured organically. Organizations are typically happy to showcase generous local businesses as a thank you for your support and to encourage others to get on board.
6. Start blogging.
Blogging isn’t just a great way to serve your audience useful information. It’s also one of the best ways to build a web of interlinks and allow others opportunity to backlink to your high-quality content.
For the best results, work with an experienced SEO writer and make sure to implement a dedicated keyword strategy. Then, share your high-quality SEO content with other guest blogging sites whose audience could benefit from what you have to share.
Want more SEO and backlinks ideas? Check out High-Quality Backlinks: How to Get Good Backlinks for SEO.
Last Tip: Staying safe while buying backlinks
Do you still think you should buy backlinks for SEO?
We get it; it’s tempting.
Although we strongly recommend working with an experienced SEO agency (like LiftIntent) instead, people have and will continue to buy backlinks.
The truth is, even if you feel like you are treading safely, you can still run the risk of de-indexing yourself from Google with aggressive backlinking strategies.
Whether you are launching an organic backlink campaign or run the risk of purchasing backlinks follow these steps to keep yourself, your brand, and your domain safe online:
- Establish a well-grounded link profile. This means creating a foundation of high-quality backlinks first.
- Vet your websites carefully. If anything seems spammy regarding outbound links, PageRank, or domain history, avoid like the plague!
- Build slowly and intentionally. Gradually increase your links over some time. Too many at once is a major red flag to Google.
- Keep your anchor text diverse. Your link profile should contain no more than a 4% exact phrase match.
- Avoid corrupt linking practices like link farms and private blog networks (PBN). Keep in mind that a large volume of low-quality links will earn you a severe penalty.
- Stay far away from link-selling services. ‘Backlink packages’ or other similar link purchasing offers are nearly guaranteed to backfire.
- Never buy sitewide links. Links in the header, footer, sidebar, or navigation will scream “spam” to Google.
- Avoid red flag websites. These are websites that have been previously penalized or repurposed into link farms. They are easily spottable with content-thin and ad-heavy pages.
No matter if you have decided to buy backlinks for SEO or build them organically, it’s critical to monitor your backlink profile health.
Work with an experienced SEO agency to get SEO backlinks, measure the impact of your links, and trim low-quality links that could negatively impact your domain.
If you have sponsored or purchased any links, ask your SEO expert to keep a close eye on them, along with the page’s quality and authority.
Additionally, you will want to ensure there are no changes to your link’s anchor text and that none of your links have been changed to “nofollow”.
This is important because “nofollow” links don’t pass anything onto Google’s PageRank, so it doesn’t benefit your site in search engines.
So, is it worth it to buy backlinks for SEO?
In the long run, it’s probably not worth the risk to buy backlinks for SEO.
Think about it.
Purchasing backlinks is like purchasing your followers.
It might look good on paper, but when it comes down to your bottom line, it doesn’t do much to benefit your brand. It could even cost you much more than it will earn – and potentially lose.
Whether you are just starting, growing, or already established, an essential component of your brand is going to be its online reputation.
Instead, focus on gaining real customers, brand advocates, and authentic mentions.
An organic following is going to have a more relevant and realizing impact to your bottom line.
Partner with an SEO expert
At LiftIntent, we understand how important your brand’s online visibility is to your success.
We can help you discover the best backlinks for local SEO without cutting corners and compromising your brand’s integrity.
Still not sure?