There’s no doubt about it: building links is difficult. And it’s getting more difficult by the day.
Site-owners, agencies, and individual SEOs all face the uphill struggle of generating high-quality backlinks on budget.
So what’s a little old link-builder to do?
One option is to buy them.
It’s a contentious topic. Some advocate it wholeheartedly. Others would rather eat rotten parsnips than hand over money for a link.
Yet when done safely, link-buying is a viable strategy. It allows you to build high-quality and cost-effective links in a fraction of the time it would take to gain them naturally.
In this article, you’ll learn nine tips for buying high-quality links.
Should You Buy Backlinks?
Studies show that links are still one of the most important ranking factors for Google. Extensive research recently carried out by Eric Enge of Perficient Digital, for example, concluded that: “…it’s pretty clear that links are very important.”
So what about the risks?
Buying backlinks always carries risk. It’s against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and the practice of link-buying definitely sits towards the more “black hat” end of the spectrum.
But that risk can be mitigated by opting for high-quality sites and tracking your links carefully. What’s more, Google stipulates that “any links intended to manipulate PageRank” may be considered as going against the guidelines. That covers practically all forms of link-building.
But there’s a bigger point, too. Irrespective of the industry you’re in, the likelihood is that your competitors are buying links.
And this represents a conundrum for you.
Should you follow Google’s guidelines to the letter and put yourself at a disadvantage? Or should you carefully go about buying high-quality links that Google is unlikely to detect?
For many site-owners and businesses, the second option is far more attractive.
How to Buy Backlinks the Right Way: 9 Tips
Ok, onto the tips. Here are nine practical strategies for buying links safely and cost-effectively:
1. Perform Outreach In-House
Direct, in-house outreach is hands-down the best way to find link opportunities. As a strategy, it’s simple, cost-effective, and flies under Google’s radar.
Outreach involves building a target list of sites in your industry then sending a pre-written email asking to purchase a link.
It works so well for two main reasons.
Firstly, many paid services repeatedly link from the same network of sites. An individual site might have hundreds of links. This makes detection by Google more likely.
By contacting site-owners directly, you’ll build links from sites that only have a handful of existing paid links, if any.
Secondly, because this strategy involves straightforward technical tasks, it’s easy to outsource inexpensively. With a few freelancers from Upwork, the whole process runs on autopilot.
2. Opt for a Good Agency
So you’ve implemented an outreach plan and you’re getting some good responses. Is that the end of the story?
Using certain paid services can be beneficial from an SEO perspective. Why? Because agencies often have contacts with top-tier online publications and journalists. Many also have access to well-maintained networks of real, high authority sites.
You just need to be careful. Ask any agency you’re thinking of using for reassurances about site quality. And monitor your backlinks with a tool like Ahrefs or Moz.
If you see a flurry of spammy sites linking to you, you’ll know where they’re from. You can then get rid of the offending culprit.
3. Diversify Your Anchor Text Profile
Assuming you’re not buying links on low-quality sites, ensuring a natural anchor text profile is arguably the best way to avoid detection when buying links
An anchor text profile that’s filled with a narrow selection of keywords is a huge red flag to Google.
But what does a natural anchor text profile look like?”
To answer this question, look at the anchor text profiles of high-authority sites in your industry using a tool like Ahrefs or Moz Link Explorer. Then come up with a strategy that maintains a “healthy” balance of brand mentions, keywords, random link words like “click here”, and so on.
4. Only Accept “Dofollow” Links
This seems like an obvious point, but it needs reiterating. Many sites will add a “rel attribute” to the <a> tag when linking to your site, indicating to Google that the link shouldn’t pass any “juice”.
Verify upfront that any purchased links will be “dofollow”, i.e. natural links without any rel attributes. Any webmasters that are unwilling to provide a dofollow link aren’t worth buying from anyway.
Google has also introduced two new rel attributes to watch out for: rel=“sponsored” (indicating sponsored content) and rel=“ugc” (for user-generated content).
5. Calculate Your ROI
For link buying to be an effective long-term strategy, you need to drive a positive ROI.
One study by Ahrefs put the average cost of purchasing a link at $361.44. You can, of course, get links for much cheaper. But most webmasters know the value of a link from their site. And costs can add up pretty quickly.
For link buying to work, it needs to be financially sustainable. And that means asking a simple question: “How much is a ranking worth to me and what will it take to get on the first page?”
Let’s say, for example, that you need to pay $1000 in links to rank a page in the top five for a keyword phrase like “best dentists in Melbourne”. If you also know the same page will generate approximately $100/month, it’s possible to calculate how long it’s going to take to get your money back.
Even if you’re building links to your root domain, you can track the increase in search-related revenue over time against your spending on links.
6. Evaluate Page Authority (Quality Over Quantity)
Most search engine-optimizers know to check the domain authority (DA), relevance, and link profile of a site before they purchase a link, thus eliminating low-quality and spammy sites.
But there’s an addition to this strategy that can turbo-charge your link-buying efforts.
Look for pages on a prospective site with high page authority (PA). Then ask to place your link on one these pages. Many site owners will be happy to slot a relevant link into an existing post or informational page.
This simple strategy can dramatically boost the power of purchased links, for no extra cost. Inquire if it’s possible to include a link on your chosen page after a target has expressed a willingness to sell links.
7. Pay for Links “Indirectly”
Direct link purchases aren’t the only way to buy links. Opportunities come in a variety of guises, many of which can be cheaper than purchasing a link outright.
Diversify your link-building strategy by taking advantage of other paid opportunities. These include guest posts, product reviews, sponsorships, and scholarships. All are viable “indirect” ways of buying links.
Furthermore, finding these link opportunities is straightforward. Keyword phrases like “submit a guest post” and “sponsorship opportunities” will usually yield hundreds if not thousands of results for a particular vertical.
Remember to evaluate sites rigorously and, if you have a limited budget, opt for those sites with the highest authority.
8. Perform Competitor Analysis
One of the best ways to discover link opportunities is by performing competitor research, especially in niches and industries related to yours but that you’re not in direct competition with.
There’s a strong likelihood that your competitors are purchasing links. This is usually the case if they’re using agencies, where link buying and paid guest posting is far more common than most people imagine.
Take a two-pronged approach and research sites in both your industry and related verticals. You’ll leverage links that are working for your competitors and give yourself a distinct advantage by finding new opportunities.
9. Consider Using a Proxy Site
If you’re worried about potential Google penalties, one solution is to use “proxy sites”. Rather than point paid links directly to your main site, you instead build the authority of “buffer” sites. You can then link from these intermediary web properties to the domain you want to rank.
You’re essentially building a private blog network (a network of high authority sites). PBNs have (rightfully) been consigned to the graveyard of SEO techniques, but this is one method of utilizing a personal network of sites that still works.
Taking this approach is costly and will result in wasted resources. But, if you are hit with a penalty, it’s unlikely your main site will be harmed.
Done properly, buying links is an effective long-term strategy for boosting rankings. There are risks. But all link-building carries a certain amount of risk.
What’s more, link-buying is cost-effective when ROI and spend are tracked fastidiously.
But there’s a key point to bear in mind.
Link buying should always be part of a broader link-building strategy.
The best SEO strategies combine link-buying with content creation, outreach for non-paid links, guest posts, and so on.
So, with all that in mind, it’s time to start building a target list of sites. And, if you’re careful, there’s no reason you shouldn’t sleep easy at night.