Why We Don’t Buy Links (and Neither Should You)

Building good backlinks takes time and effort. They’re about building relationships —  whether you’re emailing a site administrator, applying to write a guest post, pitching to a publication, or doing things so remarkable people can’t help but share them. Good backlinks take time.

For some marketers, the white-hat link building process takes too long. Impatient marketers want links right now. Naturally, they look for shortcuts by buying links from a link seller. Oftentimes, link vendors share great stories about how their links will skyrocket your business to success, and how a flood of traffic and authority will flow to your site after buying links from them.

Unfortunately, what gets delivered is lackluster at best, and damaging to your business at worst.

Here are 7 reasons why buying backlinks is a risky and reckless digital marketing tactic.

1. Buying backlinks is against the rules

Google is very clear when it comes to paid links — don’t buy them. It is a violation of the Google Quality Guidelines. Google lists several link schemes that may have harmful SEO results:

“Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links, or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.”

If you are looking to gain traffic from Google’s search engine, it’s best to play by the rules. Google has several ways to detect unnatural links and link patterns, and if you are caught, you could be penalized, demoted, or delisted from the index. Just ask Genius, JCPenney, or OverStock. In summary, remember this: Google doesn’t play around when it comes to link schemes.

2. Purchased links don’t have quantifiable monetary value

What is the value of a link on a popular site? What about on a site no one visits except bots? What if the metrics are the same, should they be valued equally? How much would you pay? $10? $50? $100?

The average cost from a link seller is much more than that. Ahrefs found the average cost of a paid link to be $361.44, a very specific amount for something which doesn’t have an easily quantifiable value.

3. There’s no guarantee backlinks will work

Having a link on a DA80 site is no guarantee your site will jump in rank, or that there will be an increase in traffic. There’s often no money-back guarantee if someone places your link on a site with great metrics but little human traffic. In fact, there’s little you can do if they choose to put your link on a penalized site.

4. Few humans will actually see it

Many times, links that are purchased are added to sites with little to know meaningful traffic. Sometimes it’s a private blog network or PBN, a network of interlinked blogs all owned by the same person, and made to look like they aren’t affiliated. Ask yourself this: If these sites have great stats, but  no one visits the pages, or reads the content, who really is learning about your site?

Sounds similar to the old adage: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does anyone care?

When you buy links, you risk your existence on a search engine.

5. Paid links can directly harm your site

More often than not, paid links will harm your site. They’re not good backlinks. Whether through spammy link text (like “top lawyer attorney best legal”) or a placement on a penalized site, or whether you received an unnatural link penalty due to 40 links popping up from a sketchy domain at once, paid links can leave your site worse off than before.

When you buy links, you risk your existence on a search engine.

6.  It’s not a solid long-term strategy

Are you going to buy expensive links every month, forever? Usually, a marketing strategy has several spearheads that help to open up a market. The plans can be measured, lead costs can be calculated, and decisions can be made.

If “keep buying links” is your only strategy, it will inevitably lead to a penalty. It’s just a matter of time.

Read more: Grow Your Business with Our Guide to Better Local Listings>> 

7. The positive impact is difficult to measure

How do we know this link generated any business? How do we know there’s been a positive return on investment? It’s only a matter of time before a manager or accountant starts to ask the question: what return on investment did we see from buying all those expensive backlinks?

While some might be quick to attribute the growth of organic traffic to the purchased links, can they say that conclusively? Or could that growth be due to improved SEO, newly added content, or a different marketing campaign?

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to determine the business return on investment that came from a purchased link. And that doesn’t make much business sense.

When considering which digital marketing tactics to pursue your goals, consider your end in mind. Avoid tactics that are hard to measure, have high costs with little upside, or could jeopardize the business entirely. In short, avoid buying backlinks.

Have any questions? Drop us a line!