Let me preface this whole article with a simple fact – backlinks are the lifeblood of SEO.
Without them, you can forget about ranking well and competing online in your industry.
If you’re not buying backlinks in some form or fashion, you’re missing out on one of the most cost-effective ways to grow your search traffic.
Yes, buying backlinks is a common practice, and you’ll find many people trying to sell backlink services on Fiverr, Upwork or Facebook Groups.
If you’ve done any type of outreach, you probably received an email asking you to pay for a backlink.
Most of the time they ask for enormous amounts like $50, $100, or even $2,000 in return for a backlink.
But before you go spending hundreds of dollars on shitty links (oops), let’s take a look at what Google has to say about buying backlinks.
What Does Google Have to Say About Buying Backlinks?
Google published an article called “Link Schemes” that goes into detail about their stance on buying backlinks in general.
“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behaviour that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”
Basically, in Google’s eyes: buying backlinks is bad, and if you do, you could potentially see some sort of penalty.
While Google is clear about the fact that they don’t like us exchanging money for links to manipulate PageRank.
Here’s where it gets tricky.
If we look at some of the biggest sites in the world eg. Huffington Post, Forbes, Buzz Feed News etc.
You can see that these sites accept money in exchange for a backlink, and yet their traffic and domain authority still stands!
On the other hand, buying bad backlinks from low quality, spammy websites will end up doing nothing for your website or even harming your search rankings.
This is because you won’t receive any “link juice” from spammy sites due to the “outbound link penalty” by Google.
Can buying backlinks cause a Manual Action Penalty by Google?
If you break Google Webmasters Guidelines, you can receive what’s known as a Manual Action Penalty.
However, when it comes to backlinks, it is very difficult for Google’s algorithm to identify a paid link vs a free link.
This is because the difference is very subtle between a paid link vs links you earned by producing a great piece of content.
In fact, in all my years running a link building agency, I have not seen any cases of manual action penalty from Google for buying backlinks!
Can I Buy Backlinks or Not?
Now that we’ve covered the basics of how Google views paid links, let’s focus on whether you should buy backlinks or not.
Obviously, Google doesn’t like it if we manipulate SERPs by purchasing backlinks.
On the other hand, it’s almost impossible for them to identify paid links vs free links.
So when it comes to buying backlinks or not – It all comes down to individual risk tolerance.
Do you have the risk appetite to run link building campaigns that could potentially be audited and penalized by Google?
If you don’t, then I recommend focusing on improving your rankings organically for now.
That said, if you’re in a competitive niche and all your competitors are buying links to build their PageRank, then it’ll be impossible for you to climb to the top of the SERPs without buying some links as well.
Trying to rank your website in competitive niches is already hard enough.
And if you put yourself in a position where you can’t even buy links, then you’re just putting yourself at a disadvantage and all your competitors will take advantage of that.
In summary: it’s okay to buy backlinks, but just make sure they are not spammy and only buy links from high-quality websites.
If you’re putting together a link building campaign and are not sure whether to buy backlinks or not, don’t worry – get in touch with us.
We’ll guide you in the right direction.