Tempted to Buy Backlinks for Your SEO? Read This First

A person checking their website’s ranking

Link building isn’t fun; it’s time-consuming and challenging. So it’s no surprise that many companies turn to buying backlinks.

You might’ve been offered links for money or been on the other end, being offered money for backlinks. Either way, knowing what to do is difficult — is it worth the cost, or will it be a waste?

Related: Finding and Building Link Roundups

The Risks of Buying Backlinks for SEO

As far as Google is concerned, any links you buy that pass its PageRank system violate the search engine’s Webmaster Guidelines. Google’s Spam Policies explicitly state that buying or selling ranks constitute spam, including:

  • Paying for links
  • Paying for posts that contain links
  • Exchanging services for links
  • Offering free products in exchange for a post about them containing links
  • Using automation to create links to your website
  • Requiring backlinks in a contract
  • Exchanging links for no reason other than cross-linking

If Google finds you violating these policies (and they will find out), they will either discount the links or penalize you, resulting in some pages or your entire site not showing up in the SERPs.

So paid backlinks will either have zero impact on your ranking or negatively impact them.

Want to get quality backlinks without worrying about the risks of buying them? Start publishing quality content that will naturally bring in backlinks over time!

So Why Do People Still Buy Backlinks?

Sometimes you can have amazing content and reach out to other website owners with the best, personalized outreach emails, and the recipient will still ask you for money to backlink to your site.

This means building links on merit alone is challenging, leading to many business owners who care about SEO buying them.

And because it’s not always easy for Google to tell who bought links and who earned them, many believe they can get away with buying backlinks. Some do, but it’s not worth the risk of how much Google will tank your ranking if they determine that you paid for your links.

Backlinks Are Extremely Expensive

Besides the risks of buying backlinks, doing so often costs more than it’s worth. If you look at freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, you’ll see people offering backlinks for next to nothing; however, these are almost always useless and won’t help improve your ranking.

But buying backlinks from “legitimate” sources that will boost your ranking is much more expensive.

There are two common ways to purchase backlinks: Niches edits and paid guest posts. Niche edits are when you ask a website owner to link to your website on an existing page of theirs for a fee. Paid guest posts are when you pay a website owner to publish an article you wrote that links back to your site.

A person working on writing a guest post to get backlinks

Ahrefs found that, on average, niche edits cost $361, and approximately 13% of websites were willing to sell backlinks. They also found that paid guest posts cost much less — less than $80. About half of websites that accept guest posts ask for a fee to publish an article with backlinks.

Related: 10 On-Page SEO Ranking Factors to Use

Why Are Backlinks So Expensive?

If you’re here, you know that ranking high for competitive keywords is extremely lucrative but difficult.

Over the years, website owners have noticed the value of backlinks for their SEO strategy, and demand skyrocketed.

But unfortunately, many backlink buyers and sellers don’t understand SEO or what makes a backlink help rank a page. This lack of understanding led to an industry in which even owners of low-quality websites demand high prices for poor backlinks because there’s always someone willing to pay.

So even if you decide to purchase backlinks despite the risks and costs, you have plenty of due diligence to do first.

Five Tips to Build Backlinks Safely

If you want to get backlinks without the risk of harming your SEO strategy, you have two options:

1. Work with a content agency to create content that will naturally attract links

2. Spend the time and effort performing cold outreach to earn links

The best strategy is to employ both options; however, outreach-based link-building still requires you to perform due diligence.

How can a content agency help you build backlinks safely? Our growth experts have got you covered.

Ask these five questions before reaching out to a website for backlinks:

1. Does the Website Seem Legitimate?

If you landed on the website you want to backlink to your site, would you want to read the content posted on it? If not, you probably shouldn’t pursue a backlink.

You might want to avoid it if it has poor graphic design, few links in its content, content without images, non-existent author bios, etc.

2. Does It Get Lots of Search Traffic?

If another website gets organic traffic, you know that Google sees it as a useful resource. However, you don’t want to rely solely on a site’s current organic traffic.

For example, if a website gets a decent amount of traffic but used to get much more, it likely took a hit from an update to Google’s algorithm, meaning you want to avoid trying to get a backlink from it.

Searching Google Analytics on a smartphone

3. Does the Site Sell Backlinks?

If you know a website sells backlinks, you’ll want to avoid them or you risk getting penalized by Google in the near future, rendering those links worthless (or worse).

You can check by going through a website’s recent posts and looking for links with lucrative keywords that are oddly placed throughout the content.

4. Does the Site Buy Backlinks?

On the other hand, if you get backlinks from a site that purchases them from others, you risk that site getting penalized by Google — this is no better than getting a link from a site that sells backlinks.

You can determine if a website buys backlinks with the same strategy as checking if they sell backlinks — by checking out the links in their recent content.

5. Does Your Link Fit In With the Website?

Finally, if you want to get backlinks that will help you rank, you need unique, valuable content to pitch to websites in your industry and niche.

For example, we wouldn’t pitch this article to a website that sells backlinks because we discussed how bad for your ranking it could be; instead, we would pitch it to a website that talks about building backlinks naturally and safely if we wanted to earn a legitimate backlink.
Related: 5 Best Link Building Strategies

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