Buying backlinks pros and cons

There is a great controversy over purchasing backlinks. Google, for one, really frowns on this practice because it makes their ranking system hard to administer fairly. Google did put the word out that they would be “punishing” people who have bought backlinks but the fact is it will be very difficult to tell in the long run which links are natural and which are sold.

There may be a few ways for them to tell based on the domain of the person backlinking to you, but then again, that’s about the same as avoiding link farms. So, it doesn’t exactly isolate the fact that one link is paid and another is natural. However, there is more and more controversy over this practice as Google tries to get a handle on improving their algorithm yet again.

Google, though, is not the only search engine and many people are not trying to optimize their site for search engines as much as make money from their sites. Yes, quality backlinks can translate into money, a higher PageRank, and more visitors but bought backlinks can also generate traffic. If your purpose is to bring traffic, many of the sites that fell in rank after Google shifted its algorithm didn’t report a loss in traffic. So, it’s debatable whether it really hurts you to buy links or not.

It also appears that buying links to be listed in directories does not seem to be weighted as poorly as buying links from major sites selling them. You do want to be listed in the major directories under your relevant category and that’s something many search engine optimization companies will do for you, if you pay them. This also provides relevant backlinks to your site.

PROS

Numerous backlinks added quickly,
Less time-consuming for webmaster,
Can build PageRank very efficiently,
Brings in traffic to your site.

CONS

Can cause you to be banned and de-indexed by Google,
Might dilute the quality of your neighborhood,
Costs money,
No guarantees you get the results you want.

Obviously, when you choose to go the link buying route, you will need to gauge the reputation of the company selling links. If they are someone that Google has blacklisted, it could mean that you also would be blacklisted if your links were found to originate from them.

CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE YOU BUY

It’s really a personal decision whether you choose to buy links or not. Despite Google’s obvious distaste for this practice, many webmasters do use paid links as part of their marketing strategy. However, there are some things to consider before you buy.

Timeframe
Usually, you can buy links based on the number of links and/or a timeframe. You may have to decide on being in a six-month program if your site is relatively new and has little exposure. Otherwise, you probably won’t see any lasting effect from a one-shot deal.

Budget
How much are the links and do you have the money to spend on them? Include the timeframe in your budget estimations.

Featured Areas
As mentioned earlier, you want to get a backlink in a very visible area of the page that is referring you. Putting it near the top, highlighting it in some way, or paying to be a featured link can do this.

Relevant Links
The content of your referrer should have some relevance to your own website. Don’t buy links just to link farms because that’s just going to get you penalized.

Neighborhood
Are you paying to get into a great neighborhood or a slum? The PageRank of your referrers will tell the story there.

Ratio of Natural to Paid Links
If you have only sponsored or bought links, it will quickly become apparent that you are paying for promotion. One way to keep this from being obvious is to have some percentage of your links as natural free links so the paid links get lost in the crowd.

Choosing Anchor Text
See if you have the option to customize the anchor text. This can greatly benefit the value of the backlink. Be sure to vary the anchor text but keep it closely matching the content of the page you want backlinks to.

One-way
The links you buy should be one-way links to make them appear more natural and count more.

Edu sites
There is some indication that the credibility rating might have something to do with the extension, particularly .edu sites. If you can buy a backlink from an .edu site, it could increase your PageRank significantly.

BUYING LINKS DIRECTLY

The safest way to buy links discretely is one by one directly from webmasters or bloggers. These would be near impossible to trace for a search engine unless they were clearly labeled in a sponsors category. This is also the most time-intensive way to buy links and maybe the most expensive. However, it can be a very worthwhile endeavor as you have the most control of who is posting your link, what it says, and whether a search engine will be able to detect it as a paid link and ignore it.

If you do want to buy links directly, you will need to identify sites that are worth the effort of contacting individual webmasters or bloggers. These sites should have a high PR value and original content. They should not be too obvious about the paid links that are sponsoring them, as that might cause search engines to blacklist the entire blog. You should try not to be lumped in a grouping of links or a links page as this can affect your backlink credit and trigger the search engine to ignore your link. You should be able to ask for the anchor text that you want and the placement of your choice (within reasons).

Keep in mind that just because you are willing to buy a link directly from a blogger or website doesn’t mean they have to sell it to you. Many bloggers follow some ethical guidelines and might have trouble taking links from profitable sellers of payday loans or subprime lending, based on principle alone. Don’t take offense if that reason comes up. This is part of doing business on the WWW, where the rules of business become more independently managed and at the discretion of the owner of the site. Instead, see if you can offer the webmaster or site owner some compromise that will help you get your link while keeping their principles intact.