It’s actually kind of a common question if you think about it. I know with a lot of people that do SEO work and stuff, it’s definitely a common question.
I just wanted to give perspective here, and I just want to say that overall, I’m not saying that you should or shouldn’t. I think it would be irresponsible of me to recommend that you should or shouldn’t. You have to make your own choice and be accountable for your own choice.
All I can say is, from an analysis of hundreds of websites that I’ve personally analyzed, there’s definitely a spam problem in Google.
Examples of Spammy Listings
I’ve noticed that people think they need to buy links to keep up, and it’s not always the case. But we’re going to dive deeper into it.
If you look at it, I mean, why should you buy links? That’s one of the things. The basic reason, the only reason, I should say, is because it’s faster, simpler, and it’s easier.
Most of these platforms, the way they work is you go in a dashboard and put your anchor text in and hit order, and hook up your credit card, and you’re off to the races. Then in a few weeks, you’ll get your links.
It’s more scalable like I just said. It’s a lot easier, say if you have a bunch of websites to buy links than it is to manually do outreach, manually create content for each one of them. Just the truth of the matter.
Also, a lot of these link-building services will also provide the content, and it’s not going to be super-high quality or anything, but it is a way to get a lot of links quickly. Really, the only other reason why you should is that it’s extremely time-consuming to create real content.
It’s extremely time-consuming to do manual outreach. So that really sums it up. I mean, there’s really no other good reasons to do that. Of course, it helps you rank, because one of the biggest factors in the algorithm is the fact of links, other sites that link to you.
So why shouldn’t you buy them? First and foremost, it’s against Google’s terms of service. They basically say in there that you can’t exchange money for links.
Another reason why is it’s expensive. So first think about it like this. If you’re even thinking about buying links, you probably have a keyword that does very well, which is why you want to show up for it. But anything that’s really competitive, you’re going to definitely be in thousands of dollars, because it costs anywhere from $100 to $500 for most of these links.
There are some that are way more expensive, and there are a few that are less expensive. But generally, that’s the range for most of them. So if you think about it, four links in, take the average of that, four links, you’re already at $1,000. So definitely expensive.
Another reason why you wouldn’t want to buy links is that you lose out on relationships. It does cost you in the long run. You do get a short-term gain from buying links, but you lose out on relationships.
With me, I do SEO, website design, and Facebook ads. If I wanted to show up in industry blogs, it would be a little bit harder to build a relationship, but you have to build a relationship to get the best links. You can’t buy links on sites like MOZ, Ahrefs Blog, and/or Search Engine Roundtable.
That leads to the next point that is, why you shouldn’t buy them, is because you’re going to be buying lower-quality links.
Here’s what I mean. I’m not saying they’re complete garbage, because they will help you rank to a certain degree. But you’re not going to get the best links. They’re not going to be for sale. One great link can go a long way.
I could just show it now, actually. If you look here, these are some screenshots I took.
Link On The Left Built Through 4 Paid Links, Link on the Right Built Organically
Now, this link (on the right)was built organically. This was for a local flooring and tile guy. Can you guess when we built the link? We built the link at the beginning of the chart, and the beginning of March 2019.
Now, the link we got organically was very authoritative and industry-relevant. You can see obviously from the graph (on the right), it pushed him up. His rankings just shot up after that. They stayed there consistently. I mean, even to this day, the day I’m making this video, you can see that the chart has not dropped. That’s the power of a great link.
Versus if you look at this link on the left, these are paid links. I bought four of them for this site. I bought them in January, and they didn’t really have an effect for almost three months. Like I did nothing else. I just bought these links in January. I did nothing after that. Then you can see that it finally pushed them up two to three months later.
A lot of that has to do with because they’re not as relevant. Their domain rating or whatever metric you use, their domain authority was just not as high, and the content just was not as good. On this one on the right, me and the owner of this company sat down, and I wrote a 3000-word article. So it was easy to get another site to accept it because it was a great piece of content.
It took us like all day to make it, and I had to edit it, and then I made an infographic about it. I mean, there were hours put into this to make it work.
So let me jump into some of my personal experiences here. So I’ve used, I want to say, five of the major players in the game. There’s a lot of paid link-building sources. I’ve used the major ones.
So let’s start with the first one, Authority Builders is definitely one of the major ones, I think, and probably one of the best overall.
They have their own dashboard, which most of these link-building services do, which basically allows you to place orders in the backend and then pick your anchor text. Then you get your links a few weeks later usually.
One of the main selling points of them is, any site that they approve to sell links in their dashboard, the site does not anywhere on the site advertise. Like say, “Advertise with us,” or, “Guest posts here,” anything like that.
Basically, it’s undetectable is the whole selling point. They have hundreds of sites in their selection with them. You can pick the site directly. They don’t show you the site for obvious reasons; because if, say, somebody that worked at Google was to make an account on there, they would just be like, “Oh well, these are all the sites that are selling links, penalize all of them.”
So they don’t show you the domain, but they do tell you the categories that it writes about, what its authority metrics are, and stuff like that.
Also, they offer a package that I haven’t seen any other link-building service offer. It’s called ABC Plus, and they manage the whole link-building campaign for you. It’s like a monthly fee, and they’ll give you however many links depending on which package you select. They’re usually relevant, they’re high authority.
Then you literally just pay the fee, and then you get your links every month. The next one that I use … Oh, and I was going to say their content quality was good. You can definitely tell it was written by a native English speaker, so that’s good. That’s it. It was good, right? It wasn’t great, it wasn’t horrible. It was just good.
OutreachMama, their content was probably the best out of all the ones I tried. Once again, not going to be as good as if you did it yourself, but it was good. They have a dashboard with them. They do it a little bit differently.
You can select where you want the link posted. You’re going to select it out of a sheet. You don’t select from a huge list. They give you ones that they think are relevant to your site, and then you select from those. Then you have an account manager with them. Once again, usually a couple weeks to get your links.
The other one I used was SEOJet. It’s a link- building software. You put in your site, your keywords. They analyze your keywords and then basically tell you how many links you’ll need and what the anchor text percentages should be. It’s an interesting tool.
They sell links inside of that software. With them, the way they do it is it’s just by authority and it’s by traffic. They advertise the ones by traffic as the best ones. Their claim is, if a website gets a lot of traffic, it’s because it’s ranking for a lot of keywords. Based off that, they say that Google trusts it, because they said that Google’s not going to rank a site that’s not trustworthy.
So the links that I got from them were on relevant sites, and the content was good. Yeah, they offer discounts, and they have sale stuff sometimes too.
Click Intelligence is another one. I’ve never ordered a link from them, but I know they do have a dashboard where you tell how long you want the post to be. Yeah, you just order it the same as all the other ones pretty much.
HOTH SEO, I didn’t have the best experience with them. They don’t have the best link selection in my opinion, and the content wasn’t all that great. But this is just so I can share a little bit about my experience. That doesn’t mean that your experience would be as bad.
At the end of the day, you’re going to have to try for yourself. Another disclaimer is, I didn’t buy hundreds of links from each of these. It was just a select amount of links on a select few sites. So just keep that in mind.
One of the biggest things people want to know is do the links work? The answer is very simple. They do work. Links are the biggest ranking factor in my opinion. Of course, that’s subjective. Google never officially confirms most of the stuff we hear.
But you can tell that they definitely are one of the biggest ranking factors. They do work. When you have a bunch of sites that link to you, generally you rank better for your keywords. That’s a given.
How long does it take? We kind of covered this in these screenshots. But just to reiterate, it does seem to take a little bit longer with paid links; because generally, they’re not going to be as relevant, the content’s not going to be as good, and they’re not going to be as high quality as you could get with organic outreach.
Is it risky? Again, it’s breaking Google’s guidelines, so there is an inherent amount of risk. You can at any day be penalized.
In my opinion, though, the risk is astronomically low.
If you just think about it in common sense, unless someone tells Google or the site just has super-spammy practices, you’re not likely to get penalized. Once again, if you buy 200 links in one day … Once again, we need to use common sense here.
Of course, that’s probably not going to be good. You’re creating more risk for yourself if you do something that looks spammy. But if you just buy them naturally, and you buy a few a month or something like that, I don’t really think you have anything to worry about. But stranger things have happened, right? So there is a risk, point being.
So what would I recommend? I would say it depends on your use case.
I just broke it down into two of the biggest use cases that I could think of.
With me, I build websites for local service providers, and I do SEO for them, and I would not use it.
I would say it’s a last resort, and it’s not the best idea. If you decide that you, for whatever reason, you want to do it, 100% sit the business owner down, and you have to talk to them and disclose to them the risks and explain in-depth what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and the result you hope to achieve, what can happen, what has happened in the past.
I would say, you definitely should get permission from them. Especially in my niche, local service providers, a lot of their leads are going to come from Google.
Take a plumber, 80% to 90% of their online leads are going to come from Google. If you were to take that away, you would be losing them thousands of dollars in business. So it’s not a decision to make lightly. I would say, once again, last resort, probably not the best idea.
Lead gen sites, if you don’t know what those are, those are basically sites where you rank them, you get leads from them, and then you sell the leads to people who actually provide the services. A good example would be landscaping, snow removal, towing, stuff like that.
Here’s an example of one of my lead gen sites: https://www.plainfieldsnowremoval.com/
In my opinion, for these sites, it’s fine to buy links for it.
That’s just my honest opinion. I don’t see anything wrong with it. If that’s what you’re doing, it’s a good way to get them to rank. That’s how those ones go. Once again, as long as you’re okay with the risk, you understand that there’s a risk, you just make an educated decision. You take a calculated risk, and that’s all there is to it.
Overall, my opinion would be that it’s better to build the relationships, create the valuable content yourself, and do the manual link outreach. The reason why is because those relationships and the valuable content will take you much further than just ranking for some keyword, in my opinion, in most cases. Content, if you think about it is as an asset, right?
If you build great content, of course, people are going to … I mean, you’re going to get eyes on it. If it’s a great piece of content like this, right?
Not a lot of people are willing to talk about this, but I just wanted to share my experience, open up a discussion. Here’s an opportunity.
So overall, it’s at your discretion whether you decide to pay for the links. Once again, on the client website, clear it. with them. Probably not the best idea. Don’t risk someone else’s business on black or gray hat methods. For lead gen sites, I think it would be fine.
But overall, guys, that’s my experience with it. So hopefully, this was insightful.
If you liked this article, I’ll be posting a lot more about SEO, Website Design, Local Business Marketing, and more.
You can follow me on twitter at https://twitter.com/fjones416
I would say definitely let me know your experiences with paid link building. I would love to hear it. I think it would be helpful to other people, too.
Sunday, May 3, 2020