If buying links gets results, why shouldn’t I use them?

Posted on September 25, 2011


Ever since Google first coined the phrase PageRank, and started to rank websites based on the number of links they had as opposed to the number of times a keyword was written on the page, people have sought to gain more links. With such a direct correlation between the number of links and the rank of a website within Google, it was perhaps only natural that website owners, in an attempt to improve their rankings, would seek to buy links in order to gain one over on their competitors.

Now, many years on, little seems to have changed. There are still a great many SEO companies out there using paid, or rented, links as a means to improve their clients’ rankings, and there are many link suppliers who approach website owners direct offering to sell links with the promise of increased rankings. What makes matters worse, especially in light of Google’s views on paid links, is that these practices seem to still work.

The question you may well ask is ‘why not buy links when it works?’ – and you would have a fair point.

With so many SEO companies and links suppliers seemingly making, not only a living but, a sizable profit from selling links to website owners you could be forgiven for thinking that Google’s war on paid links was lost and it was time to throw in the towel and buy some links for your own website. While this would, most probably, have a short term positive impact on your rankings – possibly even a reasonable time if your industry isn’t competitive – you would be opening yourself up to a potential disaster from an SEO perspective, and would be setting your website up for a major fall.

Google’s last, biggest, update – Farmer, or Panda (depending on which name you prefer) – was geared towards throwing large spanners into the works of those websites that had based their strategies on low quality bulk links, and many websites felt the full force of the changes. Many SEO companies also fared badly in the Google update, and some even changed the way they built links directly after the dust had settled. They had to make these changes because the manner in which they had previously ‘acquired’ links for clients no longer worked to the same degree.

It’s changes like these from Google that mean you, as a website owner, need to be careful about how you have approached your online marketing as a whole. If you have used underhand tactics that Google has clearly stated it does not approve, then you are risking losing your rankings that you will have fought so hard (and paid so much) to achieve. What’s more, once your site has been penalised for this sort of thing, it can take a long time to regain your rankings and a lot of your online income can be lost in the meantime.

It also doesn’t make financial sense to ‘rent’ links, either from a links supplier or by paying an SEO company to do it for you. Links are typically rented for a period of 12 months, and the links need to be maintained just to keep the status quo, therefore you will need to pay again the following year for no additional benefit.

Alternatively, links earned through content or linkbait, or links that are built, have the advantages of being permanent (or as permanent as anything can be on the Internet) and, of course, means you can use your monthly budget to gain more and more links. Why pay to rent a low quality link that you know Google disapproves of when you can gain high quality links that are permanent?

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.
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