Anyone who has done SEO for a while knows the importance of links. However most are also aware that the use of paid links goes against Google’s guidelines, and if you’re not lucky, you could get a hefty ranking penalty from them.
However using paid links is one of the most powerful SEO strategies out there, so as a webmaster should you be using paid links in your own SEO efforts?
The answer to this question is not really cut and dry, so here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about venturing into this gray area of search engine optimization strategies.
Is Your Website Disposable?
I think the first question you really need to ask yourself before venturing into using paid links is whether or not you are ok with your website tanking. If for some reason you do get hit by Google, it’s likely you’ll lose all your rankings along with whatever income that website was earning from search engine traffic.
If you’re just an affiliate marketer building short-term affiliate websites, then the use of paid links is probably going to be an essential piece of your SEO strategy.
However if you’re working on a website that you can’t afford to lose like a personal blog or business website, then it really comes down to how much risk you are willing to take for an increase in search engine traffic.
Obviously risk tolerance is going to vary from individual to individual, so again this is something you need to sit down and ponder before you get started.
Does It Make Financial Sense?
Something you’ll need to also figure out is whether or not using paid links for SEO makes financial sense for your website.
Quality paid links can be very expensive, and many sellers sell them on a recurring monthly fee. It doesn’t make sense to pay $1000 a month on paid links if the results only bring in $500 worth of revenue.
So again you’re going to have to do a cost analysis to determine whether or not it makes sense for you to use paid links over other forms of free traffic like social media for example.
Build Your Own Private Blog Network
If you are going to go the paid links route, I highly recommend that you start off building your own private blog network. If you’re not familiar with a private blog network (PBN), basically it’s a collection of websites that are purchased solely to link to a main site and increase search engine rankings.
I think most low to medium competition keywords can be ranked on page 1 through the use of a private blog network. If you’re chasing high competition keywords, there is a good chance you’re going to need some “real” paid links from actual websites.
If you’re new to building private blog networks there is a popular guide on Black Hat World that you can find here. I build my PBNs a little different, but it’s a good guide for starters.
Again before you even decide to venture off and buy links from other places, I highly recommend you consider building your own blog network first. Yes it will be time consuming, but in the end you’ll get much more bang for your dollar, and likely better results too.
Avoid Publicly Available Paid Links
In general I highly recommend you avoid any website or service that is publicly selling links. These kinds of paid links are ripe targets for Google to hit, and there are countless cases of link sellers getting their web properties crushed by Google.
Buying a publicly available links or a link building service may be fine for your disposable websites, but definitely not for any website that you care about. Doing so is just asking to get hit with a penalty, so again I highly recommend you don’t do it.
Also I don’t recommend you purchase links that come from some sort of charitable donation. There are many websites that will add links to their websites to their sponsors (you) based on if you donate a certain amount, and these links are generally frowned upon by Google. You may not necessarily get penalized for them, but they aren’t worth much to Google either.
Paid links can be a powerful SEO strategy when used properly. Just understand that there is a possibility that your website can get hit hard by Google, so weigh the pros and cons thoroughly before you recklessly start buying links.
Again I recommend that you first try to build your own private blog network. Using a publicly advertised link service to start may be cheaper at first and work well in the short-term, but in the long run it will very likely damage your website.
If the website you are working on is one that you can’t afford to lose, I would highly recommend that you avoid paid links altogether. Just try to earn links the old fashioned way through great content, and in the long run you’ll likely come out the winner.