Anyone involved in link-building will eventually find themselves in this Hamlet-style conundrum:

To buy backlinks or not to buy backlinks, that is the question. 

Backlinks are crucial for building Google’s trust, generating referral traffic, and achieving higher search engine rankings – but they’re difficult and time-consuming to acquire

It can take months worth of outreach and networking to secure a single backlink, which is why many site owners choose to simply buy backlinks instead. 

Buying backlinks was the norm for years, but Google has never been a fan of the process. 

Why’s that?

It’s because Google views paying for backlinks as a ‘link scheme’ that violates its search guidelines.  

Backlinks are ‘credibility votes’ that vouch for the quality and accuracy of a website’s content, so if a site owner pays for a link instead of earning it based on the merit of their content – it can goof up Google’s ranking system. 

As a result, Google releases periodic spam updates to negate the effect paid backlinks have on search rankings. 

However, this hasn’t stopped site owners from buying backlinks, as the practice is still alive and well in 2024. 

While Google discourages the practice, the truth is you can still pay for backlinks in a way that appears natural and provides value to the website linking to your content. Read on to learn how.

Why Do Digital Marketers Still Buy Backlinks? Top 3 Reasons 

While it’s true that buying backlinks violates Google’s Search Essentials (formerly Webmaster Guidelines), so does nearly every other link-building technique. 

Even if you’re conducting outreach to write guest posts (which most marketers believe is a ‘white hat SEO tactic’, meaning it doesn’t violate Google’s guidelines), you’re still asking another site owner for a backlink, which qualifies as a link scheme. 

In other words, there’s next to no way to build links without ruffling Google’s feathers in one way or another. 

Despite the risk, there are plenty of reasons why digital marketers still choose to buy backlinks, so let’s dive into the top 3. 

#1: Buying links saves lots of time

Arguably the #1 reason SEO gurus choose to buy backlinks is to speed up the link-building process – which is infamous for being ridiculously slow. 

Google has a pie-in-the-sky attitude towards link-building, and it’s not always realistic. 

The idea is that with excellent content and on-page optimizations, you will generate backlinks based on the merit of your content alone. 

Don’t get us wrong, this is certainly possible, and websites accrue backlinks for this very reason all the time. 

The problem?

Generating links based on merit is too slow and unreliable.

SEO is fiercely competitive, and it often takes a large volume of links to bridge the gap between you and the competition. 

For example, if you’re trying to outrank another website that has 100 backlinks and you only have 10, you’ll need to build at least 90 links to even the playing field. 

The chances that 90 websites will link to your content based on its quality isn’t impossible, but it will likely take eons to do so. 

Even white-hat tactics that don’t violate Google’s guidelines take months to yield results. 

That’s why site owners choose to buy backlinks from a third-party service offering quality link placements from trusted websites. 

Buying backlinks is a quick and easy way to bolster your link profile, which is often a necessity for outranking competitors. 

What’s white-hat and black-hat SEO?

The white-hat, black-hat metaphor originates from old American Western movies, where the good guy wore a white cowboy hat, and the villain wore a black cowboy hat. 

White-hat SEO refers to link-building and SEO tactics that don’t violate Google’s guidelines. True white-hat tactics aim to boost a website’s ranking power while also providing value to users. 

Black-hat SEO refers to SEO tactics that violate Google’s guidelines and aren’t concerned with providing any value to users. The goal is to manipulate Google’s algorithms to achieve better rankings. 

#2: Increased keyword position rankings 

Including a target keyword in your content is no guarantee that you’ll rank for it on Google. While proper keyword placement is a necessity, it’s not something that moves the needle if you’re trying to outrank a stubborn competitor. 

Take it from us: we’ve helped countless clients finally get the best of competing websites that have been outranking them for years due to the backlinks we built. 

In fact, backlinks are almost always the deciding factor for higher keyword rankings in our experience. 

You can have the greatest content in the world with flawless on-page optimization, but if the links aren’t there, your competitors will get the best of you every time. 

Why is that?

It has to do with the way Google judges the quality, trustworthiness, and accuracy of a website. 

Google will only grant #1 rankings to websites that it trusts, and backlinks are how you build that trust. 

Using backlinks as credibility votes is what made Google special when it burst onto the scene back in the 90s, and it still follows that principle to this day. 

That’s where the concept of domain authority (DA) comes from, which represents how likely a domain is to rank on Google’s search results. The higher the score, the more ‘authoritative’ Google considers the website to be. 

As long as you acquire backlinks from credible websites (ones with high domain authority scores), they’ll always have a positive effect on your SEO. 

#3: Less effort, yet more conversions

With a stronger backlink profile, you’ll see a considerable influx of organic visitors, leads, and conversions from your landing pages, product pages, blogs, and other types of content. 

This leads to vast improvements to your domain authority, lead generation, and revenue generation. 

In short, links are valuable, and it takes a lot of hard work and time to build them organically. 

As with anything that’s valuable, like vegetables, it’s always easier to buy something than it is to cultivate it yourself. 

Therefore, buying links is the equivalent of buying an avocado at the grocery store instead of growing and harvesting it yourself. The end results are the same (you get valuable backlinks; you enjoy a tasty avocado), but you put in far less effort.   

How Much Do Backlinks Cost? 

The cost of backlinks varies depending on several factors, such as the quality of the website, the relevance of the link, the industry, and whether the link is acquired through organic outreach or a paid transaction. 

Here’s a general breakdown:

Low-Quality Links: Cheap backlinks come from low-authority or spammy websites and can cost as little as a few dollars each. These links are potentially harmful to your site’s SEO because they signal to search engines that your content might not be trustworthy or valuable, leading to lower rankings. It’s best to avoid these types of links altogether. 

Medium-Quality Links: Obtained from decent websites with moderate authority and relevance, these links can range from $50 to $300 per link. Prices vary based on the site’s domain authority and niche. These links come in handy whenever you’re trying to build a large quantity of links in a short time. Since they have medium-quality domain scores, they won’t harm your SEO. 

High-Quality Links: These are from high-authority, highly relevant websites and can be quite expensive, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per link. The price reflects the link’s potential to positively impact your site’s search engine ranking. You should target high-value links like these whenever you have an adequate number of links but want to boost your authority to outrank a competitor. 

Guest Post Fees: Some websites charge for publishing guest posts, which will include a backlink to your site. Fees can range widely from $100 to over $500, depending on the site’s popularity and relevance. You should always check a website’s DA score (you can use our free tool to do so) before pursuing a guest post. 

Link Building Services: SEO and link-building agencies offer packages that can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per month, depending on the scope and quality of the service.

What to Avoid When Buying Backlinks

Infographic on What to Avoid When buying backlinks

All these perks aren’t to say there aren’t any downsides to buying backlinks. 

For instance, if Google determines that you’ve been paying for backlinks, they could devalue them all, which means you’ll have completely wasted your money. 

That’s why you need to err on the side of caution when buying backlinks. If you overstep your bounds – the house of links you built can come crashing down instantly. 

Should you get caught, your pages could appear lower in search results, drastically reducing visibility and organic traffic. In the worst-case scenario, your site will be removed from search results entirely until you disavow the offending links. 

Bearing that in mind, here are the top red flags to look out for when buying backlinks.

Unnatural link-building (PBNs)

If you want to get away with buying a backlink, it has to appear as if you earned it naturally.

We’ll cue you in on a little inside baseball: Google can’t distinguish a paid link from an earned one, which can work in your favor. 

They only tend to penalize websites participating 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.

Since the only purpose of these blogs is to serve as link placements for other websites, they’re effectively dummy sites that offer nothing to users. 

In fact, some PBNs feature blogs that post the exact same content (even though Google can crack down on these quite easily). 

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 much easier to fly under the radar if you only acquire a few backlinks a month, which looks much more natural.

Sitewide links 

Sitewide links appearing in your sidebar, footer, or navigation bar are easy for Google to identify as spam. 

Key Point: What is a Sitewide Link?

Sitewide links appear across a website, often found in the footer, sidebar, or header. They link to the same page from every page on the site.

An example of a sitewide link is when a website includes a link to its privacy policy in the footer. 

This link to the privacy policy page appears at the bottom of every page on the website, making it accessible no matter where you are on the site.

So, if you’re buying backlinks, double-check that they aren’t sitewide links. 

You’ll be much better off with links that appear within your content, and thus only appear on one page at a time. 

Sitewide links may seem like a great way to get your backlink numbers up at first, but they do more harm than good. 

Backlink ‘packages’ from untrusted sources often contain dozens of sitewide links (sometimes that’s all they contain). 

Finding hundreds of backlinks for sale at low prices on freelancer marketplaces is possible, but is it a good idea? 

The answer is a definite no. 

Not only will buying links in bulk scream spam to Google, but these are often low-quality, spammy sitewide links that won’t boost your online visibility at all. 

If a backlink package seems too good to be true (like 100 backlinks for $5), 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. 

What’s anchor text? 

It’s the text that contains a hyperlink. 

Copying and pasting a bare URL doesn’t always look nice, and anchor text provides a way to not only mask it – but also provide context for the page you’re linking to. 

For instance, instead of typing, we would use our brand name instead: The HOTH.

In that scenario, we used branded anchor text because the hyperlink text is our brand name. 

There are many different types of anchor text, and the type you use matters to Google.   

Particularly, you need 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. 

The Risks of Buying Backlinks 

Buying backlinks might seem like a quick SEO boost, but it can be a risky move with real consequences:

⚠️ Google’s Wrath: We’ve mentioned this above, but it’s worth stating again. Get caught, and your site could plummet in rankings or vanish from the search results entirely. If Google detects link schemes or a large number of unnatural links from harmful sites pointing to yours, they may temporarily deindex you until you disavow them. 

⚠️ Low-Quality and Irrelevant Links: Many backlinks for sale come from sketchy sites that only exist to manipulate Google’s algorithms. Associating with these can hurt your site’s credibility.

⚠️ Spam Alert: You risk linking to spammy content (like PBN sites that all post the same thing), damaging your site’s trustworthiness.

⚠️ Money Down the Drain: There’s no guarantee of a return on investment. You could end up spending big for zero gains. While it’s rare for Google to deindex a site, it’s far more common for them to devalue paid links – which can be equally as devastating to your bottom line. 

⚠️ Cleanup Headache: Trying to remove bad backlinks later is a nightmare that can consume time and resources. Disavowing links is no easy task and can cause all sorts of problems, like accidentally disavowing links or domains that were actually helping your SEO. 

⚠️ Quick Fix, Lasting Damage: Short-term gains can lead to long-term losses, undermining your site’s reputation and SEO efforts.

With that said, we’ll show you how to buy backlinks the right way to avoid these issues. 

Buying Backlinks That Appear Natural and Boost Online Visibility

Infographic on Steps in Buying Backlinks the Smart Way

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: 

Conduct a link gap analysis 

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. 

We can’t state enough how crucial this step is, and it’s something a lot of site owners fail to do. 

That’s because they falsely assume that it’s beneficial to build as many links as possible, which isn’t the case. 

If you build way too many links in relation to your competitors, Google may view you as a black sheep, which won’t reflect well on your rankings. To yield the best results, your link profile should contain roughly the same amount of links as the other top-ranked websites in your niche on Google.  

Conducting a link gap analysis involves analyzing the domain ratings and backlink profiles of the websites currently ranked above you on Google’s SERPs. 

You can use our free Backlink Checker and SEO Audit tools to help with the process. 

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 to outrank them.

Plan your anchor text ratio 

Before you start buying and placing backlinks, you need to determine your anchor text ratio first. 

This is how you’ll avoid using unnatural anchor text ratios that may penalize you. 

Making your links appear natural is the name of the game here, so you shouldn’t repeat the same anchor text repeatedly. 

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. 

You should use partial match anchors for your inner pages (about us, services, blogs, product pages, etc.), 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 you should completely ignore exact match anchors, as that would also be a mistake. 

Instead, you should save your exact match anchors exclusively for links directing to your highest-converting pages. 

Strategically roll out your paid backlinks 

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. 

As we’ve already gone over, this is 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. 

If you want your links to appear natural, assign specific dates for buying backlinks to keep your profile looking squeaky clean. 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, saving you money.

Wrapping Up: Buying Backlinks in 2024 

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 without having to think about it?

Then don’t wait to check out the HOTH’s Link Insertion and Link Outreach Services to simplify your SEO success. Our backlinks follow the cleanest practices, so you’ll be in great hands with us.