In the early days of SEO, buying backlinks was so common that it was considered good business – even though it clearly went against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines (now known as Google Search Essentials).
There were plenty of directories that offered paid reviews and services that sold backlink packages in the early 2000s, and nearly every website used them.
As time went on, Google began to crack down on paid link schemes by improving its algorithms.
Many of the websites that thrived on paid backlinks were penalized and disappeared from the SERPs (search engine results pages).
As recently as December 2022, Google released its most recent update to fight link spam, and its primary target was paid backlinks. In particular, the update negated the impact that paid backlinks had on website SERP rankings – and it used Google’s powerful SpamBrain AI to detect them.
The Link Spam Update’s effects were drastic on websites that paid for links, as they saw huge drops in their SERP rankings literally overnight.
Having said all that, why would anyone still want to pay for backlinks in 2023? Doesn’t the risk outweigh the potential reward?
Yes and no.
While you definitely don’t want to receive a manual penalty or see your links discredited, plenty of websites still pay for backlinks, and plenty of them still get away with it.
There are still ways that you can pay for backlinks in a way that appears natural and provides value to the website linking to your content – so read on to learn how.
Why Do SEOs Still Buy Backlinks?
Since the risks are so steep (nobody wants to see their content get removed from the SERPs), why would SEO experts still choose to buy backlinks in today’s age?
There are a few reasons why, but let’s start with the fact that nearly every link-building tactic goes against Google’s guidelines in one form or another.
To Google, there’s only one way to acquire backlinks without taking part in a ‘link scheme,’ and that’s when other websites choose to link to your content because they enjoy it and find it valuable for their target audience to consume.
With excellent content and SEO, you’ll start to generate backlinks based on the merit of your content alone.
You likely won’t generate enough high-authority backlinks that way, as you’ll need a rock-solid backlink profile to compete for top-ranking spots on Google’s SERPs.
Also, link-building is undeniably time-consuming, as it can take months or years to develop an impressive link profile completely organically.
That’s why SEO experts take part in link-building strategies where they conduct outreach to other website owners to request guest posts, link placements, and to replace broken links.
Even these ‘white-hat’ strategies tend to move at a snail’s pace, which is why some SEOs choose to speed up the process by offering money for links.
Buying links saves lots of time
Arguably the #1 reason SEO gurus choose to buy backlinks is to speed up the link-building process.
Both white-hat and black-hat link-building techniques can take eons to yield results, and buying dofollow backlinks from a service speeds things up drastically.
Not only that, but a lot of site owners will ask for money in exchange for a link insertion, even if your outreach email doesn’t offer any.
Since buying links has been commonplace for so long (and the fact that links are undoubtedly valuable), many site owners are still accustomed to getting money for backlinks.
That means even if you’re attempting honest ‘white-hat’ outreach, you’ll probably still run into opportunities to buy backlinks.
If you buy natural-looking link placements from a reputable service, you’re sparing yourself all the time it takes to do the following:
- Uncover viable backlink opportunities in your niche
- Find related websites that accept guest posts
- Conduct outreach where you ask for link placements or guest posts
- Creating original pieces of content that add value to other websites
Instead of going through all that time and hassle, you can simply buy links and enjoy the boost to your online visibility almost immediately.
Increase keyword position rankings
Without high-quality backlinks pointing to your most important pages, it’ll be incredibly difficult to outrank your competitors.
For example, let’s say that one of your best landing pages is perfectly optimized for your target keyword, but you just can’t seem to crack the top 5 Google results.
Upon further investigation, you discover that the websites ranked ahead of you all have stronger link profiles. Not only do they have links from more reputable websites, but they have more of them than you do.
These situations pop up all the time, and traditional link-building techniques will take too long to yield results (unless your client doesn’t mind waiting upwards of a year to reach the top of the SERPs).
If you buy high-quality backlinks, you’ll be able to close the gap between you and your competitors a whole lot quicker.
Before you know it, your position rankings will improve for all sorts of keywords and phrases.
Less effort, yet more conversions
As a result, you’ll see vast improvements to your domain rating, lead generation, and revenue.
Not only that, but you’ll enjoy all these benefits without having to spend months working on traditional link-building techniques.
What to Avoid When Buying Backlinks
All these perks aren’t to say that there are no downsides to buying backlinks.
After all, one manual penalty from Google can cause massive losses to your business due to not appearing in the SERPs.
That’s why you need to err on the side of caution when buying backlinks as if you overstep your bounds – the house of links you built can come crashing down in an instant.
Bearing that in mind, here’s what you should avoid at all costs when looking for backlinks to purchase.
Unnatural link-building (PBNs)
If you want to get away with buying a backlink, then it has to appear as if you earned it naturally.
Google has no way to distinguish a paid link from an earned one, which can work in your favor. They only tend to penalize websites that take part in unnatural link-building, such as acquiring links from a Private Blog Network (PBN).
These are networks of blogs that only exist to sell backlinks, as the content of each blog is only skin-deep and provides no real value to readers.
Whenever a website gets links from a PBN, they tend to get them in bulk – which raises a red flag to Google.
For instance, if you suddenly receive 10,000 backlinks in one day from questionable sources, don’t be shocked when Google penalizes you.
It’s a lot easier to fly under the radar if you only acquire a few backlinks a month, which looks a lot more natural.
Sitewide links that appear in your sidebar, footer, or navigation bar are easy for Google to identify as spam.
So if you’re buying backlinks, double-check that they aren’t sitewide links, as you’ll be better off buying links that appear within your content.
Backlink ‘packages’ from untrusted sources
You can head to a freelancer marketplace and buy hundreds of backlinks for discount prices, but should you?
The answer is a definite no.
Not only will buying links in bulk scream spam to Google, but these are often low-quality, spammy links that won’t boost your online visibility at all.
If a backlink package seems too good to be true (especially for a super low price), it’s best to avoid it.
Unnatural anchor text ratios
In addition to the quality of the website linking to your content, the anchor text you choose (or the site owner chooses) also impacts your SEO profile.
Particularly, you need to utilize a proper anchor text ratio for your links that uses a combination of the following anchors:
- Branded anchors
- Natural anchors (no keywords)
- Exact match anchors (the anchor text is your target keyword)
- Partial match anchors (keywords mixed in with other phrases)
A mistake many SEOs make is to overdo it with exact match anchors, especially for their ‘money’ keywords.
However, if every backlink uses exact match anchors, Google will quickly take notice and penalize you.
That’s why anchor text ratios are necessary, where you mix exact match anchors with natural, branded, and partial match anchors. This will make your link profile appear more natural, which is what you want.
Buying Backlinks That Appear Natural and Boost Online Visibility
Okay, now that you know what not to look for, how can you buy backlinks that actually benefit your SEO?
We’ve already gone over how you need to avoid PBNs, backlink packages, and unnatural anchor text ratios, but where can you find high-quality backlinks for sale?
Generally, most SEOs stick to two types of backlinks that they purchase, which are:
These two are your safest bets for buying backlinks without drawing any ire from Google.
You should also go through a reputable, trusted dofollow link service (more on this in a bit).
Here’s an overview of the steps involved in buying backlinks the smart way.
Before you start buying backlinks, you need to know where you stand in relation to your competitors.
That’ll let you know how many high-quality links you’ll need to buy to outrank the competition.
Conducting a link gap analysis involves analyzing the domain ratings and backlink profiles of the websites currently ranked above you on Google’s SERPs.
Take a look at not only the links they have but also their domain authority score. This will help you determine how many high-authority backlinks you’ll need to buy in order to outrank them.
Plan your anchor text ratio
Before you start buying and placing backlinks, you need to determine your anchor text ratio first.
That way, you can avoid unnatural anchor text ratios that could wind up penalizing you.
Making your links appear natural is the name of the game, so you shouldn’t repeat the same anchor text over and over.
Instead, cycle through the types of anchor texts that we mentioned earlier.
On your homepage, you should opt for branded anchors more than others, but don’t forget to pepper in some exact match, natural, and partial match anchors.
For your inner pages, you should use partial match anchors the most, followed by branded and natural anchors.
Exact match anchors tend to draw the most negative attention from Google, so you should use them the least.
That doesn’t mean that you should completely ignore exact match anchors, as they can work well for your keywords that convert the most.
Strategically roll out your paid backlinks
As mentioned previously, the last thing you want to do is unleash a large batch of backlinks at once because that makes it easy for Google to penalize you.
That’s the reason why you shouldn’t buy large backlink packages or use PBNs.
Even if you’re buying backlinks from reputable sources, you need to be strategic about when you release them.
You must assign specific dates for buying backlinks to keep your profile looking natural.
For this reason, it’s better to buy links frequently than all at once.
Also, don’t buy links at the same time each month, as that can also raise suspicion.
The best way to keep a natural-looking backlink profile is to buy backlinks at random dates.
So instead of visualizing buying backlinks as a bulk purchase, think of them as a slow IV drip.
The beauty of buying backlinks one at a time is that you can avoid overspending. For instance, you may discover that you overcalculated how many links you need to buy. If you’re buying links one at a time, you will discover this before you overspend, which will save you money.
Wrapping Up: Buying Backlinks in 2023
To summarize, buying backlinks goes against Google’s guidelines, but it can be worth it when done right.
As long as you keep your link profile and anchor text ratios looking natural, you shouldn’t run into too many issues.
Do you need help building a robust link profile for your website?