Why Buying Links is NOT a Good SEO Practice

by Gary on February 26, 2008 · 11 comments

in Link Strategies,SEO,SEO Mistakes,SEO Tips

Link building is not as easy as some SEOs make it sound. The truth is that many SEOs that promise thousands of links in several days get these links by buying links. Buying links will get you a good amount of links way faster than organically building up the number of inbound links to your site but the truth is that it isn’t that good an idea because Google considers buying links in order to pass/get page rank to be a link scheme. According to GoogleBuying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.”

Of course Google wouldn’t penalise your site if it does not find out that you have been buying links to get your page rank up. However, there is a good chance that they will find out. Eric Enge, who explained why he doesn’t buy links wrote a good entry on how Google can find out that you have been buying/selling links.

For those who do buy/sell links but for only for advertising purposes you shouldn’t really worry since Google considers this as a valid reason. However, you should make sure that the links are properly designated as links for advertising only (no passing of page rank) by…

  • Adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the <a> tag; or
  • Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file

If you have been buying links as part of your link building campaign or has been doing so for your clients this is a good time to rethink your strategy.

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Jayson February 27, 2008 at 1:59 am

The article you mentioned has some pretty good points. I’ve never thought of some of them. However, I find it hard to believe that Google or any other search engine would do more than devalue a purchased link. This is just my opinion – otherwise wouldn’t SEO and individuals companies buy sloppy or easily detectable links for their competitors?

I personally don’t think buying links is a wise decision just in case – plus there are other ways to get good links. Either way, thanks for the the article.

pollen February 27, 2008 at 3:45 pm

I do not agree for link buying. For me its a form of cheating.

Jennifer DeRosa February 28, 2008 at 1:23 am

I understand and agree with the concept of not buying links but its okay to submit to a paid directory, correct?

Hannah February 29, 2008 at 11:50 pm

Paid directories are fine but the truth is that you should still choose the paid directories you submit too. Not because it will penalize you but because you want to make sure you’re not wasting money when you can simply use it for better things that would yield clearer results.

michaelj72 July 28, 2009 at 6:02 am

i’ve read in several places that paid directories are ok provided that there is real editorial review and the directory turns down some sites hence isn’t full of spam. most paid directories that i’ve checked out have been good about not allowing the spam sites, especially the more established ones that have been around for say 4-5 years or more and they usually have pretty good reputations and good page rank too. it may even have been matt cutts too who made a remark about directories and editorial review so they weren’t considered the same as ‘buying links’, in response to a question about the yahoo directory i believe….

Matan Media March 2, 2008 at 9:51 pm

If you truly want to rank for a competitive keyword term then you pretty much have no choice but to buy links, giving you control over anchor text etc.

All the top, recognized SEOs (Rand Fishkin, Jim Boykin, Aaron Wall etc) know this, and although they don’t state it, they too know that getting a website ranking for a competitve term needs strong inlinks with the correct anchor text.

I am not saying go out and buy a million links, but if you choose your purchases carefully, Google will not catch you and your rankings will no doubt improve!

Sam Sinton March 20, 2009 at 2:12 am

SEO is a very confusing concept especially in the early days. I have previously been guilty of purchasing links and i have not noticed any long lasting detrimental effect on my websites, however saying that and after reading much from the professionals (who obviously know more than i do) i have taken their advice at face value and now concentrate on obtaining natural relevant links. If you know more than the pros and still feel buying links is the best method of link building go for it – if not take the advice given for free on websites such as Phoenixrealm and stay well clear!

Dave C November 20, 2009 at 12:10 am

In my opinion paid links should be used carefully. I have had good sucess with quality Directory sites, especially Yahoo Directory, which is expensive at $300 a year, but all the sites I listed rank consistently in the top 5 on Yahoo search engine.
I have looked at a lot of paid link sites & used them in the past, but have noticed that one or two have had their Google page rank removed recently, which I think tells you exactly what Google think of them!

Goran December 8, 2009 at 6:19 pm

This was in the sidebar under Recent Comments, and I could resist having a look. This might be an old post, but it nevertheless is a goodie. I’ve experimented with a website, and did a link-buy. PR4 down to PR2 taught me what the nett worth of link buying is…..