Links are the cornerstone of the Internet and every website requires links in order to rank for anything remotely competitive. If your site doesn’t have any links, you’re going to struggle from an SEO point of view.
However, as important as links are, Google frowns upon websites buying and selling links. Google considers the practice of a website selling links in order to pass on Google PageRank and ‘link juice’ to be against its terms of service (TOS), and will penalise any site it finds to be selling links.
That doesn’t mean the practice doesn’t go on however. It does, and in huge numbers.
Link buying isn’t the only the way to garner links though; link building is a much better way to do it. So what is link building and what is the difference between link buying and link building?
First we must look at what actually is link buying (in case you didn’t know).
Link buying is when a website purchases (or more commonly, rents) a link on another website. A fee is paid, often on a 12 month basis, for the link. The link usually contains one of the website’s main keywords and is usually irrelevant to the website that places the link. Link buying is often very cheap for low quality links, and sites can have hundreds of links on each page. Many of these links are required for any increase in traffic, and of course should Google find and penalise the site selling the links, the weight of the links will be eliminated, affecting your rankings.
After the 12 months the links are either renewed (costing more money) or they are removed.
Link buying can be done in massive quantities through link suppliers, which involves large sums of money but is usually handled completely by the supplier, so is done without any hassles for the website involved and is usually done very quickly. Many links can be built in a short space of time in this way.
Link building is very different. When you build links you sometimes create the links yourself on directories, free listing websites, blogs, forums and social networking sites. Link building is a very manual process and as such takes a lot longer than link buying. When you build links however you’re able to pick and choose the websites you approach to use. You can personally vet the quality and the relevance to your own website. Links that are built are also permanent, as opposed to rented for 12 months, so while it takes longer you’re creating something that will continue to have a positive impact on your website for years to come.
Most importantly, link building isn’t against Google’s TOS, which means you won’t be risking any penalties for doing it.