If you’ve run your online business for some time, you may have already received a few propositions to buy backlinks – with prices going as low as a few bucks per link. They all sound like a good deal, right? You enter such a link scheme and rank higher in a matter of months or even weeks.
The thing is, Google discourages buying links and considers doing so a bad practice that may lead to manual action on their side. Yet, this doesn’t stop people and agencies from selling links and offering link-building services.
Why is this the case? Won’t buying links ruin your site’s ranking?
Providing satisfying answers to these questions requires an in-depth explanation. While buying backlinks as it is something you want to avoid, paying for the time and services of experts who can build links for you is an entirely different kettle of fish.
Want to learn where the difference lies? If so, buckle up because we’re in for a wild ride.
But before we go on, we need to clarify two things.
Why Do People Buy Backlinks?
First, let’s address the elephant in the room – although Google doesn’t want you to buy links, people do it all the time.
Sites from every niche engage in an endless struggle to secure top spots in search engine results pages (SERPs). They often buy backlinks or rely on link-building services to achieve this goal.
Why do they do it?
To put it briefly, having a well-developed backlink profile (meaning a significant amount of quality, organic links pointing to your domain) is among the key elements of SEO. High-quality links provide link juice (page rank), influencing your site’s ranking and helping you earn high visibility in organic search.
This practice brings measurable results, i.e., in the form of increased organic search traffic.
But how does that relate to Google’s guidelines?
Yes, it is true. However…
… Google would first have to determine you’ve built your links in a disingenuous way. And, as it turns out, it’s not so easy – provided you actually know what you’re doing.
It means that if you’ve acquired your backlinks from relevant websites, surrounded them with valuable content, and followed other time-tested practices, your links will stay up and provide immense value.
Conversely, if you’re careless and buy low-quality links or work with an agency that uses black-hat SEO, you could find yourself in a heap of trouble.
Is Link Building Safe?
It leads us to the question lying at the crux of the issue – is buying backlinks safe?
The answer to this question is: it depends on what kind of link building you engage in.
Do you buy cheap backlinks from unknown sources OR work with an agency that follows a transparent link-building process?
Do you buy links from personal blog networks (PBNs) and post your articles on link farms for quick gains OR focus on long-term improvements through genuine outreach, broken link building, and other white hat tactics?
At NoN Agency, we use reliable methods and follow a time-tested link-building process to earn backlinks that generate organic traffic and shine a spotlight on your site.
Essentially, we’re not selling links but the time and expertise required to create high-quality content and secure a link placement on a niche-relevant website.
Reliable link building takes patience and costs money – there’s no way around it. If someone promises you backlinks from high authority sites at an extremely low price, it might be best to pass on their offer.
But You Charge Per Link!
Think about such a scenario: you approach a self-proclaimed “SEO expert” and ask for links from the sites they claim they are connected to.
They show you a list of sites they will get your links placed on – you pick one, pay the agreed sum, and your link appears on the target page on the expected day. Sounds too good to be true?
Well, it probably is. More often than not, such links are placed on low-value or irrelevant sites. Instead of helping your ranking, they are highly likely to hurt it.
When you work with us, you still pay per link – but to be precise, you pay for the whole process that typically consists of:
- Analysis and prospecting – we first look for reputable websites relevant to your business, specifically.
- Outreach – our outreach team takes care of contacts and establishes connections with those websites.
- Content creation – our team of creative writers spins original content to be featured on the target sites – all with link relevance in mind.
- Link building – when everything is done, we place a quality-appropriate link on relevant pages to serve your SEO needs.
This is also why links “bought” from respectable SEO agencies appear much more expensive. Here’s an average cost breakdown of every link we build:
Can’t I Just Get Free Links?
Most SEOs recognize the value of a good link, so if someone offers you their services for free, it’s better to question why. However, you can try building a few links for yourself – paying only with your time (provided you don’t want any extra tools).
Now, we don’t want to curb your enthusiasm, but it’s much more challenging than you might think. Approaching a random website owner with a guest post idea where you can add dofollow links to your site may work once or twice, but it’s not a viable option for a comprehensive backlink strategy.
Most of the time, you’ll need to:
- Do your research and find relevant websites with high organic traffic that are not link farms in disguise,
- Reach out to said websites,
- Negotiate a satisfying deal,
- Create valuable content where you can place your links,
- Choose the correct anchors,
- Monitor the progress of your campaign.
That’s at least six things that take time and skill to pull off.
Other than that, you can use business directories like Google My Business, find co-marketing platforms, or build links by signing up for a free HARO (Help a Reporter Out) account and responding to journalist inquiries.
Ultimately, building a natural backlink profile will cost you – if not money, then your time and effort. Not to mention that most website owners will charge you a fee for guest posting on their site, regardless of whether your content is the most informative piece of writing on the whole web.
Publishing Articles Costs Money, Too!
Publishers know how valuable being mentioned by high-ranking sites is, and they use this factor to earn some cash – even big names like Forbes offer to publish your articles under a certain fee. And so, most of them get paid for every link they publish, much like affiliate marketers getting paid each time someone clicks an affiliate link on their page.
Needless to say, many website owners establish strict guidelines for guest posts to ensure that those posts fall within what their typical entries look like, as well as to avoid getting hit with penalties after publishing links to subpar sites.
So, the reality of link building today is that you need to come to the table with a well-written copy and cash to receive high-quality backlinks in return. If you fail to meet the requirements, you’ll struggle to acquire follow links that will make the difference.
Do Backlinks Really Work?
Yes, they do! And there’s a mountain of evidence to back it up – including our own case studies. As we’ve mentioned earlier, backlinks are among the most important parts of your SEO strategy.
This was true for the last decade, and it’s still true today. Search engine algorithms factor in organic backlinks when “assessing” your website. Good links signal trustworthiness and can help you secure a higher position in SERPs, especially when combined with other SEO strategy elements such as content marketing and website optimization.
Are Backlinks Still Important in 2023?
The recent push toward using AI-powered chatbots such as ChatGPT and Bard AI put some people in doubt that SEO, at least in its traditional form, will ever come back.
This is true to some degree. The emergence of ChatGPT, for instance, has changed the way written content is created. Now, a good prompt and a set of keywords can be enough to create a passing article or blog post in a few milliseconds.
The quality of such articles often is questionable, but in particular cases it can do the trick. Google went forward and openly allowed AI-generated content, putting even more emphasis on E-E-A-T and general content quality.So, where are backlinks in all this?
While we don’t know for sure how it will look like with Bard AI taking over SERPs, it is a safe bet that backlinks will remain irreplaceably important. They are proof of trust and integrity between websites – a factor that is difficult to replace without reinventing the way the web works.
In other words, investing in high-quality links today will serve you well in the long run, regardless of the search engine flavor of the moment.
Can You Rank in Google Without Backlinks?
It should be noted that backlinks aren’t the only option you have if you want to increase your ranking in Google and other search engines – even if the correlation between backlinks and higher rankings is quite strong.
Google’s algorithm has become sophisticated enough to value content, relevance, and user signals above everything else. This means if you want to build a strong online presence without focusing on building links, you can do it.
The skyscraper technique, for example, allows attracting backlinks as a side effect of producing high-quality content that expands upon what already-established content is out there.
Brian Dean, the father of this technique, compared it to how the skyscrapers in New York catch the eye of people walking around the city. The taller your skyscraper is, the more it stands out from the crowd.
The same goes for content marketing – if your articles are head and shoulders above the rest and contain more detail and original ideas while providing real value to readers, you can expect it to boost your rankings.
The problems begin when you try to put this method into practice. It can, and often should be used for strategic articles, i.e., an article describing types of wood for a website selling flooring or a piece on social media marketing for a tech startup. It’s safe to say you won’t be able to do that efficiently for every other piece of content you have (or plan to have).
So, yes and no?
We’d say largely yes. You can rank your site in organic search without building backlinks as long as it ticks other important boxes when it comes to content quality, optimization, and so on.
Should you avoid getting backlinks altogether?
The Risks of Buying Backlinks (from Dodgy Suppliers)
With that out of the way, it’s worth looking into the risks of purchasing links from unreliable providers.
Generally speaking, the risks associated with buying links are twofold – you can sink your money into backlinks that have little to no impact or receive manual action from Google.
Let’s break them down.
No Change of Position in Search Engines
If you buy backlinks from dubious sources, you roll the dice. At best, you will get some boost in your rankings thanks to a website that hasn’t been flagged as spam yet.
More often than not, these links will lose most of, if not all the potential power anchor links provide after a few weeks or months. This means nothing more than resources wasted on a short-term solution.
Another danger you need to be aware of – especially if you buy backlinks for the first time – is the possibility of receiving a Google penalty.
Such a penalty is always given through the manual action of a human reviewer and is based on evidence pointing to you breaking Google’s guidelines. It can severely limit your chances of ranking higher in search results. In extreme cases, it can even prevent your website from showing up in the results at all.
To recover from a manual action, you’d most likely need to disavow the paid links. It means your overall backlinks cost just became more painful to swallow.
Even worse, there is no guarantee your site will return to the state before you’ve obtained the paid backlinks that caused the issue. Probably the fastest way to solve it would be to remove all paid backlinks and rebuild your backlink profile from scratch.
Imagine a glass full of water and someone taking out the water one spoon at a time. With one spoon, you’ll take much longer to empty it, but if you used 50 spoons, the glass would be empty in no time.
The same analogy applies here. If a site is selling links, it means that its outbound link numbers will grow. As a result, their authority (or power) will decrease over time. That’s why buying the same links from link farms has zero long-term gains.
Again, the links you get from a domain that purposefully sells them are neutral to your rankings at best and toxic at worst.
When buying links from a random website, you have no control over what other websites it links to. This leads to having dozens or even hundreds of “neighbors,” which can be pretty toxic.
Yes, you can check the website’s link portfolio and check for anything you wouldn’t like to be associated with. But at the end of the day, there’s no guarantee the other websites linked from it will stay the same permanently – it can deviate without you knowing anything.
Let’s put it this way:
Google sees a website linking to you. At first, this may be a sign of credibility as it means someone trusts you enough to link to you. However, the same website links to some fraudulent or otherwise toxic websites that Google tends to blacklist.
What does it “think”? Suffice to say, you appear just as shady as those other websites. And you sure want to avoid this.
In case you want to quickly check if any of your links are toxic – try Backlink Blacklist, our FREE tool that allows you to perform a quick inspection on your links.
The Bottom Line
The decision to order bulk backlinks in hopes of increasing your site’s authority and visibility in organic search is a significant one.
First, you need to decide whether you want to do it. Assess the risks and rewards to make sure you know what you’re getting into. There’s a lot of caveats, and it pays off to do your homework – especially considering the potential a good backlink profile has.
Then, you need to decide how to approach it. If you are risk-averse, getting in touch with a reputable SEO agency (like ours!) and ordering white-hat link-building services is the best route. You still need to pay, but that price includes much more than just placing a link on a pre-selected page.
Nothing is stopping you from ordering backlinks from an unknown website, but it also isn’t your safest bet. Whatever your choice may be, do make sure to tread carefully and stay up to date with the latest SEO news. After all, it’s your business you are dealing with!