When you get to the bottom of it, there are two kinds of backlinks as far as search marketing is concerned. These are natural backlinks (also called organic backlinks) and paid backlinks.
Natural backlinks are the ones sent to your website by other webmasters without any influence from you.
For example, you pay Jerry $200 a week to place your link in his popular blog.
Whatever angle you look at it, natural backlinks will always be better than paid backlinks.
Truth be told, paid link building is considered as taboo in most search engine optimization circles.
Ask any SEO professional and he will always say that if you want to get the most out of backlinks, you should focus your attention on natural links and not on paid links.
This is true and maybe you should listen to the advice.
However, there are search marketers who still believe that paid backlinking works and that you should consider it for your online marketing efforts.
Are Paid Backlinks Bad?
This is one of the main questions we are going to answer in this article. Are paid backlinks really that bad? The answer is yes and no.
It’s bad if you are only using it to create backlinks without taking into account the source of the link and the people who are clicking on the link.
With that said, paid backlinks can be good and beneficial if the sites you are buying backlinks from are relevant to the contents of your website.
For example, if you are running a website about puppy training, it would make complete sense if you purchase backlinks from the website of a person who is an expert on puppy training.
The point here is that purchasing backlinks is a major online marketing and optimization strategy which can be bad if used inappropriately but it can be good if implemented properly.
For example, purchasing large amounts of backlinks from websites and blogs that are unrelated to your website is a recipe for disaster.
You will be tagged for engaging in link farming. Sooner or later, the search engines will catch what you are doing and your website will likely be demoted in the search rankings.
Or worse, your website will be banned altogether from appearing in the search results.
Paid Backlinks and Google’s Webmaster Guidelines
Here’s something you should know. Buying or selling backlinks is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. The search engine directly states that they don’t tolerate these kinds of actions.
If you are caught buying or selling links, you are going to get penalized.
The search engine is very strict about this rule and they are getting better in scrutinizing if a backlink is paid or not.
Because of this rule by Google, many webmasters are afraid of buying backlinks even from very reliable and influential websites.
But there’s a flaw with the rule in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Google’s detection system is not foolproof.
Let’s say that you get in touch with a blogger you know in the same industry and he writes a piece in his blog with a link to your website.
You paid for the link.
How will Google know that the link was a paid backlink if there was no disclosure. Needless to say, there are loopholes in the system.
Google has put forth the guidelines with regards to paid backlinks but enforcing these guidelines can be very problematic.
Paid Backlink Building Is Still a Common Practice
It’s no secret that purchasing backlinks is still a very common practice among online marketers.
So the question is why who do so many professionals still buy links if it’s bad and if it’s against the rules?
The simple answer to this question is that buying backlinks still works. It can still generate positive results for the marketer and his website.
It can still be beneficial to webmasters and their sites. There’s a reason why sponsored posts are still very common today. Sponsored posts are basically paid backlinks if these contain links that redirect to the sponsor’s own website.
The main takeaway here is that paid backlinking is bad if we are merely reading the rules. But this doesn’t mean that it will be bad for your website if you do it.
The secret is that you need to find a way to do it so that your website and your readers will benefit. Don’t purchase links just for the sake of increasing the number of links directing towards your website.
Purchase the links with the goal of providing more value and more content for your target audience.
This is why you should only purchase links from websites, the contents of which are very relevant to your website’s content.
If you have a website about vegan recipes, it would make no sense to purchase links from a hunting website. You should purchase links from websites about veganism.
How to and How Not to Buy Links
It takes time and patience to master good link buying practices. The general rule is that you should start with your paid backlink campaign as if you are starting an organic backlink building campaign.
That is you should be focused on getting backlinks from websites that are highly relevant to your website.
Your focus should always be on providing value to your core audience. Here are some practical tips that you can follow:
1. Vet a website before you purchase a backlink from it.
This is the most important step you should take when you decide to purchase backlinks. Always see to it that you are buying links from reputable and reliable websites.
If you purchase from a spam site, you will likely be flagged by Google and its strict algorithms.
Aside from the overall quality of the website, you should also consider the relevance of the website to your own website. The website’s content and your own content should complement each other.
2. Create a link building strategy that involves both natural and paid backlinking methods.
Don’t just build backlinks by buying them.
You should mix it up with organic and natural link building.
In fact, you should focus more on organic link building. Paid link building should be a secondary method. It’s still better if you generate more links from organic sources compared to links from paid sources.
3. Buy links slowly. Don’t buy dozens of links in one go.
If you do this, you are making it too easy for Google to catch you and what you are doing. The links you buy should be distributed in weeks or even months.
Always be in touch with the owners of the sites you are buying the links from to ensure that they don’t put up the links all at the same time.
4. Create diverse anchor texts</strong>.
Anchor text refers to the words or phrases that contain your clickable link. It’s important that you diversify your anchor texts. Don’t just make use of a single anchor text.
Use keyword tools like the Google Keyword Suggestion tool to find variations of the anchor texts that you want to use.
5. Avoid link-selling services and anyone selling backlink packages.
These services usually make use of spammy websites and linki farms. You should only buy links directly from the websites you want to place links in.
This way, you have full control over the websites that will feature your link. You minimize the risk of buying links from untrusted websites like link farms.
The main lesson here is that paid backlinking can be an effective online marketing strategy if you do it right.
The Google Webmaster Guidelines prohibit the practice but there’s a way around it by making sure that you are only buying links from reputable and trustworthy websites.