If you have ever done link outreach, you have been offered paid links. Now, whether or not you should buy backlinks from those sites is a fiercely debated question.
Today, we are going to look at the pros and cons of link buying, so that you can decide for yourself.
Once you know where you stand, it will be easier to find link-building services that are a good fit for you.
At Stellar SEO, we have run campaigns and ranked sites for extremely competitive keywords like “Mesothelioma” without having to buy links.
We also run campaigns that are a mix of free and paid backlinks – depending upon the needs, budget, and expectations of our clients.
When hiring an agency, just make sure you can have an open and honest conversation with them about where you stand, so that they can build and price a campaign accordingly.
Not all agencies will be able to build “free” links, and some of them will lie to you about how they are getting links. So, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you are looking to hire a link building service, check out our managed link building services and blogger outreach options.
Alright, let’s get to it – starting with a look at what backlinks are before we get into the pros and cons of buying them.
What is a Backlink?
Backlinks are the backbone of any search engine optimization campaign. Website owners are constantly on the lookout for strategies to increase the amount of organic traffic that interacts with their brand online. But the mere presence of a website is useless without good SEO practices.
When a person conducts a search online, they may search for keywords or a question that they have. The search engine will then return results for them based on what their algorithms have determined is the most relevant and authoritative content. A brand new website, or one that has poor SEO, is not considered authoritative.
High-authority sites will show up first on the results page, and research shows that very few internet users will scroll past the first few results, let alone click to the next page. For this reason, building authority for the site is key.
A Website’s Backlink Profile Affects Authority
Inbound links from other sites deemed authoritative by a search engine increase the level of authority for a business’s website. This is why many backlinks cost money in the first place. Publishers will sell outbound links to companies that want to improve the standing of their own websites. These outbound links, when clicked on, will send a person to a page of the company that is buying backlinks.
Website owners may be tasked with increasing the number of backlinks to their site in order to build more authority and move up the rankings, resulting in more traffic.
How many backlinks does your website have? It is important to note that the number of links is not the only factor in determining a website’s authority. Those links need to have a lot of “link juice,” or strength to be effective. Your business could procure 1,000 links through paid guest posts, link farms, or other tools, but they could have less of an effect than ten extremely strong links.
What Affects “Link Juice” and its Ability to Improve Search Engine Rankings?
Not all links are created equally. Whether you are buying backlinks or engaging in free backlink building, your backlink profile may not always be improved by procuring more. Your website’s ranking may be unaffected if the links you are acquiring have no “link juice.” There are several factors that will affect how powerful a link is, which will directly impact your position on the results page.
Creating quality content on your website has a major impact on your search engine rankings, but your page is not the only place where good content matters. The content that is linking back to your website needs to be high-quality content to give the link enough power to boost your SEO. Low-quality links could actually damage your site’s reputation rather than help it. The Google search console wants to deliver the best search results for any given query, and high-quality content will always be prioritized on the platform. It then follows that acquiring links from high-quality content will lend more authority to your website, raising the website’s ranking.
The authority that a website has will also affect the strength of a backlink. The higher the domain rating for the website that contains your link, the more juice that link has, passing on authority to your website.
Link building depends a lot upon relevance to create a strong backlink profile. When relevant websites link to your site, it can increase organic traffic due to your higher position in Google’s search results. the same is true in terms of link juice. If a link makes sense within the context of the content around it, then it is more likely to be an effective tool for SEO.
Another crucial factor that will determine the effectiveness of a link is the anchor text. This is the highlighted or underlined text that the viewer sees that can be clicked on to go to a new page. A backlink strategy can fail if poor anchor text is used from external links. For one thing, it can be confusing to the viewer if the anchor text does not reflect the content on the destination page. For another, Google may punish you if the anchor text is not relevant.
Building links in prime locations can also result in improved search engine rankings. If site owners are selling links at the very bottom of their pages, buried by other content, those links are unlikely to help you very much. If you acquire backlinks in the main body of a page, they are far stronger than links in footers or sidebars. Ideally, the site owner is willing to place your free or bought links in the main body of the content at the top or middle of the page.
Some links come from bad sources. For example, a link scheme such as a link farm that goes against natural link building can only hurt your search engine ranking. Other shady link schemes that would be considered black hat SEO methods include press release links, directory submissions, blog comments, and discussion forum links. Any of these practices could prevent improved search engine rankings.
Now that you know what backlinks are and the factors that affect their strength, it’s time to discuss the pros and cons of purchasing backlinks – Starting with a look at what Google thinks about buying backlinks.
What is Google’s Stance on Buying Backlinks?
Long story short: Google does not like when you buy backlinks or use any tactic with the intention of manipulating search results. SEO agencies literally get paid to manipulate the search engine ranking so that your company is prominently featured – even when a competitor might be more deserving of that traffic.
Now, here is the long version.
Search engine rankings for particular pages are usually based (at least in some part) on how many times those pages are linked to other quality, authoritative websites.
Google (as well as other search engines) tend to treat embedded links as endorsements of the pages they’re linked to and would prefer that those connections between websites are built organically.
The idea is that, over a long stretch of time, websites will earn their authority by being “endorsed” by other sites, and that the sites customers prefer will naturally rise above other websites.
The problem with that approach is that it takes a while to raise one’s ranking. Without help from an agency with a strong backlink strategy, the organic building of links depends solely upon the reputation your business has established with consumers and authoritative websites in your field. Even if you have a loyal customer base that raves about your services, you could struggle to rank for any valuable keywords without links.
Because of this fact, publishing sites have become aware of the value of quality links. This has led to an ever-growing number of websites selling links.
That leads us to the current link-building landscape. You can still get links without paying, but you generally need to be willing to spend more per link placement or wait longer to acquire the same number of links.
We explore some unpaid link outreach methods further in our, so be sure to check them out.
Paid Links vs. Unpaid Links: Which is Better For Your Business?
As mentioned above, at Stellar SEO, we’ve built links using both methods, and we find that both can be highly effective. If you do not want to buy backlinks, that doesn’t mean your SEO efforts won’t be successful. Let’s look at paid vs. free link building and what each requires.
Free link building is when you are able to build links without paying a publishing site, and can either be done yourself with the appropriate tools or by a qualified agency like us. Paying SEO professionals to build “free” links can be the best way to make sure that you get quality backlinks on reputable websites.
Paid link building is, in short, paying a publishing site to include backlinks to your site through a variety of methods, some of which are more effective than others.
Both free and paid links can be effective, with the right strategy. It’s important to note that when you pay an agency like ours, you aren’t paying for the links themselves: you’re paying for our expertise and our services.
With the correct placements, proper screening, and smart selection, purchasing backlinks can give your business a substantial advantage. Your strategy, which can be hashed out with one of our consultants, can make use of either or both, depending on your preference.
In the service of that, let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of paid link building, so you can see if buying links is the right avenue for your business to take.
The Cons: Reasons Your Company Might Want to Avoid Buying Backinks
Buying backlinks isn’t always the best way to go. There are risks involved, especially if you don’t have a solid SEO strategy or qualified link builders working on your company’s behalf.
Here are two scenarios where buying backlinks won’t be beneficial for your company.
1) Investing in Low-Quality Links on Spammy Sites
Not every link is created equal, and your SEO ranking won’t increase if you invest in low-quality links of any kind.
Some paid links, such as those selling links on forums or directories, are outright ignored by Google and other search engines as black hat SEO methods, meaning you’re not likely to get much benefit from those links.
Paying for links on sites that are less reputable or sites with a low domain rating will also not do anything for you. While the chances of such links turning around and hurting your ranking aren’t necessarily high, you’ll still be wasting your money at best.
When you employ a link building agency like Stellar to develop a link placement strategy for you, we screen websites for issues that might make a paid link overly risky or of low value. With the right counsel, you can buy high-quality backlinks that improve your rankings, traffic, and inbound leads. Years of experience have made our link-buying process powerful enough to avoid low-quality links that will damage your SEO efforts.
2) Existing Content Optimization Issues
When it comes to SEO, there are three main pillars: technical SEO, content, and links. If your site is not technically sound, the benefits of link building will be diminished. The same is true of content. Failing to optimize your website and create a solid foundation can lead to subpar results.
Thankfully, because of platforms like WordPress and Shopify, having a site that is crawlable and indexable is much easier than it was 10 years ago. While most sites will have some technical issues, we don’t encounter nearly as many issues as we did back in 2012.
Content on the other hand is causing more issues than it did previously. As Google has gotten smarter, the quality and value of content needed to rank have increased. In many cases, we are seeing companies with great websites, blazing-fast load times, and content that isn’t even remotely optimized.
Because of this, we have rolled out an on-page SEO service. This enables us to ensure your pages and blog posts are optimized to outperform your competitors. Many SEO professionals offer technical on-page SEO because simply cleaning up a website can make a big difference without doing any backlink building.
When combined with link building, these highly optimized pieces of content perform extremely well.
The Pros: Why You Might Want to Buy Backlinks
Paid backlinks are cheaper and faster to acquire. If you are a small business and can’t afford an in-house content team to produce high-value content that naturally attracts links, buying them is an effective alternative.
Keeps Your Cost-Per-Link Lower on Average
At the end of the day, most businesses are looking for the best ROI on their marketing efforts. Quality links, free or paid, can help you shorten the timeline and maximize the impact of your SEO budget.
After every update, there are innocent sites that fall victim to imperfections in Google’s algorithm. So, like anything related to SEO, there is some risk in buying links. Fortunately, with smart screening practices, the risk can be minimized significantly.
Google Doesn’t Tend to Notice When You Are Buying Backlinks
Choosing to buy quality backlinks rarely sets off Google, as there’s very little to indicate that said link was placed as a result of your company’s efforts.
The kinds of efforts that Google tends to target are those which are intended to spam the web with hundreds of shoddy links and attempts to mass-produce links to manipulate the results of a search. Sape link building, pbn links (or public blog networks), and mass-scale guest posting, for example, were targeted for these reasons.
With a sound strategy and thoughtfully built backlinks, you can maximize gains while reducing your risk level.
What about Manual Link Penalties?
An unnatural link penalty can be a scary surprise. Whenever you are pushing too hard or taking too many risks, your site could wind up with that dreaded notice in your Search Console account.
There are a number of tactics that could land you in this position, including free and paid link-building. Take Scholarship link building for example. This is believed by many to be a “white hat” method to build backlinks and is especially popular among law firms.
However, in 2021, Google issued a manual link penalty to a site and cited a scholarship page among the examples of problematic links. That just goes to show that without the right knowledge and approach, you could already be at risk. Even though a penalty will hurt your ranking in search engines, it is not irreversible.
You Can Recover From a Google Penalty
If a manual action is taken against your site, Google will notify you through the search console, give you examples, and provide a means to request reconsideration once you have corrected the issue.
Should this occur, the most common way to fix it is to just ask the publishing site to remove the links in question. When the website is unwilling or you cannot reach them, you can use the disavow tool to ask Google to ignore them.
After requesting a review, someone on Google’s team will review your request and reinstate your page, and your rankings should begin to recover.
However, it should be noted that if your rankings were being propped up by the links that you disavowed, you are going to need to build new links to replace them before your rankings return.
The bottom line is that while an unnatural link penalty can be unsettling, they are not irreversible. We have had many clients come to us over the years after falling victim to a low-quality link outreach service, and we have helped them recover and grow beyond their previous highs.
Why Hire a Link Building Agency?
While the age-old maxim might be “never pay someone to do what you can do yourself,” the person who coined that phrase did not have expediency in mind; nor, for that matter, did they have in mind the vast digital landscape that companies now have to deal with, or the ocean of competitors vying for a place at the top of search engine rankings.
At Stellar SEO, we sit down with you to organize a goal-focused and comprehensive strategy to improve rankings as effectively as possible.
How have we perfected the outsource link-building process?
We Recognize Which Factors Matter to Search Engines
At Stellar SEO, we’ve come to realize that two factors matter more than almost any other when it comes to buying links: the quality of the website publishing the link, and the relevancy of that placement.
If a link is placed properly, Google has no reason to single anything out: for all the search engine giant knows, that link occurred naturally.
As SEO professionals, we seek to help you outsource link building and buy backlinks on authoritative sites that are niche-relevant. Additionally, we use a 30-step screening process for any links we place – meaning you are getting the best possible placements for your link profile from your investment with us.
We Know Which Links to Avoid
Questionable link schemes that provide you with useless connections to other websites are at best a waste of money and at worst damaging to your SEO campaign. As important as it is to be buying high-quality backlinks for your site, it is just as important to avoid poor ones.
After years of helping site owners collect strong backlinks, we know exactly which link-buying schemes to avoid to protect your online interests. The goal is to give search engines zero excuses to rank your websites lower, such as a Google penalty, while also preventing you from wasting resources on buying backlinks that do not affect the site’s ranking.
If you think that you may have bought links that are negatively affecting your website traffic, then we can reveal some of these gaps in the auditing process. Then we will find site owners with high-authority websites to replace your bad links with high-quality backlinks on those stronger sites.
We Can Boost Your Search Engine Ranking Efficiently
As mentioned before, backlink buying is typically a faster way to move a website up the rankings. As the website owner, you may have a deadline for increasing the number of backlinks, and therefore, organic traffic. But link quality matters and not all backlinks that you pay for will boost domain authority.
If you want to be found at the top of a Google search, then you need a firm that understands how to procure a natural link. While purchasing links is not always damaging, organic links from relevant sites hold much more weight.
When links cost money, you need to measure the benefits of buying backlinks with the risks. Cheap backlinks will not affect your ranking, and therefore will not accomplish much for your website traffic. Some publishers that sell links may end up hurting your site’s authority when rated by Google algorithms. Agency link-building services at Stellar SEO can find high-quality backlinks from relevant websites to improve your ranking efficiently.
We Specialize in Good Backlinks that Increase Traffic and Raise Profits
We have served many clients since first launching in 2012. They have entrusted us with finding white hat backlinks that actually have an effect on their website rankings. Our clients trust us because we get results for them, including one brand which saw a 75% jump in traffic once they started working with Stellar SEO.
The success that our clients see from our work all comes down to finding the right sites that provide more link juice. With a proven link-building process for procuring guest posts, dofollow links, and bulk backlinks, our team can work with any website owner to quickly raise the authority of their business’s pages.
In doing so, these website owners will see positive results, just like many of our previous and current clients have.
Contact Us For a Consultation Today
At Stellar SEO, we strive every day to be the best at what we do. Since we have a tight focus on purchasing backlinks or acquiring organic links that boost your ranking, we have perfected our link-building strategies for your benefit.
Our link-building services have helped clients across multiple industries increase traffic and leads, resulting in millions of dollars in new revenue for our clients. The results speak for themselves, and whether you want us to help you with buying backlinks or finding strong organic links, we have the tools and expertise needed to get it done.
If you’re interested in taking a look at what our agency can offer you, check out our link-building services or get in touch now to schedule a free review call.
Paid Link Building FAQs
Buying links can be confusing and a little intimidating. Below, we look at some common questions that come up from those considering paid links.
Is It Illegal to Buy Backlinks?
(I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice) While buying links is against Google’s guidelines, it is not illegal. Some FTC guidelines have created confusion around this topic, but there is no precedent or clearly defined rules that apply to link acquisition. The “Disclosure of Material Connections” guidelines are what have people questioning this, especially after they released the disclosure rules for social media influencers.
Is it Worth It to Buy Backlinks?
Yes. If you have the right strategy and knowledge, these links can help you quickly gain rankings and boost traffic to your site. In turn, this can lead to more leads and revenue for your business. Just be sure to focus on quality when you buy links. Buying backlinks of quality can be costly, so you should weigh the benefits with the cost.
How Much Does it Cost to Buy Backlinks?
The cost of buying a link can vary drastically. If you are looking for a link on Inc. you could pay about $2,000 for a single placement. A more typical range for a paid link is between $300-$600 per placement, including blogger outreach and guest post content creation. There are, of course, low-tier sites that would be considerably cheaper to buy a link from – although I wouldn’t recommend it. Above all else, make sure you buy quality backlinks.
Is Paying for High-Quality Backlinks Bad?
If you are buying backlinks without a plan, and you do not screen potential link partners, it could end up very badly. However, as part of your overall strategy, this is effective, so long as you buy quality backlinks. Avoid buying backlinks on low-quality, irrelevant, or “guest post farm” websites. You should also avoid link buying on sites that mark them as sponsored posts, especially when those same posts contain do-follow links.
Are Sponsored Posts An Effective Way To Build Links?
Paid guest posts labeled as sponsored posts are not the best way to build backlinks. As with some of the methods mentioned above, this leaves a footprint that could be picked up by Google on a broad scale. Now, if you decide to use sponsored posts to promote your brand, just make sure you ask them to include no follow links, and you won’t be putting yourself at risk. Always know how much backlinks cost before buying backlinks.
Do All Link Building Services Buy Backlinks?
No, not all agencies are buying backlinks. However, it is extremely common practice with link outreach and PR services. If buying backlinks is to be avoided, just let your agency know upfront and verify that they can work within those guidelines. So long as you are willing to write content (or have it written) and you are not trying to get cheap backlinks, you can have success either way.
How Can I Get Backlinks Without Paying?
Creating linkable content is one of the best ways to get links without paying. If you find popular informational topics and create high-quality content, other websites are likely to link to them. Some of these links will happen naturally and others may be acquired through outreach. If you use this approach, you will generally get the most links when your content starts to rank in Google.