So you’ve read a few articles about good SEO practices and understand the value that high-Quality Backlinks can add to your website.
And now you’re venturing into the world of link building and offered the opportunity to pay for backlinks.
Is it legal? Should you do it? Do you buy just a few and keep it on the down-low? What if you get caught?
Let’s look closely at the world of backlink building and help you better understand the concept of buying backlinks to Improve Search Engine Rankings.
This article will answer a few common questions surrounding buying backlinks, including:
- Why do people offer backlinks at a cost
- How to select quality backlinks
- What to avoid when crafting a link outreach program
Let’s get into it.
Why are people offering me Backlinks at a cost?
There are many awesome websites out there. And website owners know the value a link from their website could add to other up-and-coming sites.
They often justify charging for links as compensation for the time and effort it takes to insert that link on their pages. As well as the resources it took to build a site with high domain authority to pass to other sites.
What is Backlink Buying?
Before you start, you need to understand what it means to buy a backlink.
Buying a link means paying a website owner to (a) insert a link into their content or (b) publish new content that you’ve written, which then redirects users back to one of your pages. Money is often exchanged through services like Wise or Paypal.
However, there is a right and wrong way to do it.
Search engines, like Google, are constantly adjusting their algorithms to weed out sites that abuse backlink buying.
In this guide, we want to teach you the right way to do it and hopefully avoid any penalties.
How much do quality Backlinks Cost?
The cost of backlinks differs from one website owner to the next.
The REAL question is, “Am I interested enough in this backlink to pay for it? If so, what is it worth to me?”
According to Siegemedia, the price of a link depends on whether you’re linking from authoritative websites or not. (6)
They estimate links to cost anywhere from $100 – $1500 per link.
“A common campaign budget is $5,000-$20,000/month, often tied to the content marketing activity that also has secondary KPIs.”
The above is the estimate of the price of backlinks in 2023. Below shows how the cost has steadily increased:
- 2016: One study found the average cost of backlinks was $352.92 per link (7)
- 2018: Ahrefs found that the cost of buying a link was $361.44. (7)
- 2019: SociallyInfused Media found that the cost per link was $391.55 in a study published in December 2019. (8)
Here’s a screenshot from one of the recent e-mails we have received offering to sell backlinks pointing to the batlinks.io website.
Dofollow links are links that pass authority on to websites and thus come with a higher price tag than NoFollow Backlinks.
This practice is surprisingly common and prices vary.
Rather than charging for link insertion, many companies or website owners will charge a fee for “editing content,” as can see above.
Should I pay for Backlinks?
It’s really up to you to decide whether or not to pay for links.
Is it illegal? No
Is it frowned upon in the SEO community? Yes
But know this, link building is complex.
And it takes time to generate backlinks organically and see the effects of a good SEO strategy. In fact, it can take months to see any significant results in Google search.
And link acquisition is a once-off. You must constantly work on your website and online presence to get noticed on the Web.
There are some pros and cons to consider that might just sway you one way or the other.
The Pros of Buying Backlinks
- Sometimes, it’s more affordable than employing an in-house content production team.
- It dramatically speeds up the SEO process, as manually building links through outreach campaigns tends to take months.
- When done right, Google shouldn’t be able to pick up that you’ve paid for links. So you’ll probably be able to avoid penalties.
The Cons of Buying Backlinks
- As your website gains traction and you need higher authoritative backlinks to rank, the costs eventually add up.
- Webmasters with high-ranking pages know how valuable link insertions are, and they charge accordingly.
- If you do get caught paying for links, you stand the chance of incurring a manual penalty from Google. This will cause your organic traffic to tumble, and some websites never recover from this.
What does Google say about paying for Backlinks?
Google places the most relevant websites as high as possible in their search rankings.
They want pages that match the user’s search intent.
The issue with buying links is that you’re, in a way cheating the system. You’re building the authority of your site based on the depth of your pocket, not on the value your content will add to the intended audience.
I use the term cheating loosely here. That’s because most companies that buy quality backlinks to rank higher actually have pretty good websites.
The competition is so fierce that if you decide to build rather than buy links, you will take an eternity to get noticed on the web.
View it more as bypassing Google’s algorithm in an attempt to drive traffic to your site – a site that you know is fantastic and users should see.
Beware the Penguin!
Google’s Penguin Update was first introduced in 2012. It has since gone through no less than ten documented updates, the last being in 2016.
And in 2017, Penguin was part of Google’s core algorithm.
Penguin. Sounds harmless, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled.
Google released the update to penalize websites and pages that deliberately took ‘shortcuts’ to get to the top of the rankings. It also rewards high-quality websites that have legitimately earned their SERP rankings.
Those “shortcuts” involved two main factors: Link schemes and Keyword stuffing.
Here’s a closer look at Google’s view of Link Schemes.
To say that the Penguin Update didn’t like ‘Link Schemes’ is an understatement.
According to Google, the Penguin update affected nearly 3.1% of all English search queries. (1)
Google Search Central
Google defined link schemes as “Buying or selling links that pass PageRank.”
It includes the act of exchanging money for links or posts that contain links.
It also involves exchanging goods or services for links and sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.
Therefore, you will be penalized if Google detects that you are buying links in any form.
How many Backlinks do I need?
You’ll see later in the article that it’s not only about the number of backlinks but also the quality.
However, a certain amount of backlinks is needed to help you rank well in Search Engine Rankings.
What’s the formula?
Well, there’s no exact science behind it. There are, however, three factors to consider when determining how many backlinks you should pursue.
1. Keyword Difficulty
This describes how hard it is to rank in the top 10 organic search results for a keyword or phrase.
Ahrefs has a great free tool that you can use to check keywords, as shown in the example below. (2)
The term “Balenciaga sneakers” seems easy to rank for It as it only has a KD of 10.
However, the volume (An estimation of the average monthly number of searches for a keyword over 12 months) doesn’t look all that promising, does it?
As you can imagine, not many people search the term “Balenciaga sneakers,” so less effort is needed to rank for the term.
But what about “White Sneakers”?
The Keyword difficulty is 52. That’s because way more people will search for the broader term “white sneakers” than in our first example.
The higher the keyword difficulty, the more backlinks you need to rank better on SERPs.
So you’ll have to build more backlinks for a keyword with a difficulty score of 52 than a difficulty score of 10.
2. Domain Authority
Backlinks and Domain Authority go hand in hand. It’s this DA rating that shows the strength of your website and it’s generally a good reflection of your SEO Efforts.
If you’ve just started building your site, you’ll need a higher number of backlinks from websites with a solid DA rating.
On the other hand, if you have an existing website that already boasts a good DA, you will need fewer backlinks to rank higher, as your pages already ‘carry weight’ with Google.
But there’s a catch-22. You need an existing Domain Authority to gain more backlinks, as other websites want to build off your strength.
And this process takes time, as discussed in this article.
3. Competitor Analysis
The idea behind building backlinks is to rank higher than your competitors in Search Engine Results.
Therefore, it only makes sense that you check out the competition.
Identify how many backlinks they have, and adjust your strategy accordingly. You want to build as many or more quality backlinks as your immediate competition.
Using a free backlink checking tool, you can easily identify a competitor’s number of backlinks.
Here’s an example of the backlink profile of a famous sneaker brand, Nike.
Ahrefs Backlink Checker
Nike.com has 188,274,627 backlinks pointing to its website when writing this article.
Therefore, gaining enough backlinks to rank higher than Nike for terms like white sneakers would be near impossible.
How can I find high-quality backlinks?
There are many websites in the world. And the number is constantly increasing.
So it goes without saying that there are many, many links available out there—all up for sale to the highest bidder.
But not all links are good links.
We recently posted an article on identifying website quality for link building.
In summary, there are three main aspects to keep in mind when doing prospecting:
#1 The Metrics
Some of the most important metrics to check are the value of the site and the Domain Authority.
You want your links to come from a reliable and authoritative source, so use the Ahrefs indexing tool to see the Domain Rating of the potential link source.
As Ahrefs puts it, “Generally speaking, the higher this number, the stronger and more authoritative the site is.”
When the site’s DR is this high, you’re sure it contains high-quality content from which you could potentially gain a link.
For example, the Domain Rating of the NY Post is 91.
#2 The Appearance
You can almost always tell a link farm by its appearance. That’s because the Webmaster or Website owners don’t generally put a lot of effort into the basic design of the page visuals.
Here’s an example. Notice the logo and theme? Definitely AI-generated with little creative effort put into the page.
Interestingly, in the example shown above, my antivirus software warned me that the site was potentially harmful.
Not the kind of site you want to receive a backlink from.
#3 Do an Indexation test
Link farmers don’t care whether your article or blog post gets indexed.
So they won’t build any internal links or assign a category to the post. Or they’ll assign a category that isn’t indexed or doesn’t get any internal links itself.
Always check if a potential site adds these internal links that allow the Google Bots to properly crawl and index articles.
No indexing is a tell-tale sign of a bad-quality site that will deliver low-quality links.
Once you’ve been through these initial steps and you’re sure about the legitimacy of a potential prospect, I recommend delving a little bit deeper and asking yourself the following.
- Is the subject matter Relevant?
John Meuller is a Search Engine Advocate at Google.
He recently said that relevance is more important than the number of backlinks. (3)
When prospecting, you should focus on gaining quality links from high authority sites.
Let’s say you are in the travel niche.
All the content on your website points towards booking flights travel tips, budgeting, etc.
Would gaining links from a dentist’s office make any sense? Nope, it wouldn’t.
And Google will definitely pick up on this too. So make sure you gain links from websites or pages that show Google you have something in common with these pages.
- Does this website adhere to high Editorial Standards?
Neil Patel (5), a well-known marketer and Entrepreneur, once described editorial standards as:
“… A set of guidelines for the writers and editors on your team. These guidelines will include standards for grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and image use.”
And speaking on why it’s important to have good editorial standards, Neil continued.
“An editorial style guide ensures a standard baseline for quality and consistency. This will become more critical as your in-house editorial team grows.”
Briefly scanning sites that have the potential for building backlinks will tell you if they adhere to specific editorial standards.
These standards show they care about the quality of their content, so their backlink quality will also be high.
- What is the quality of their Outbound Links?
Websites with high editorial standards will also ensure they link to websites and pages with the same high standards.
You want your outbound link to be present amongst other strong outbound links as it will reflect positively on you.
By using a site explorer, you’ll be able to identify a target website’s outbound link patterns and see if it’s worth it for you to pursue.
What types of Backlinks should I avoid?
- Link Farms or Link Mill Websites
Link farms have been around for years. And it’s easy to see why. There are considerable profits to be made by selling links to up-and-coming websites.
It’s an easy way to quickly build many low-quality links in a short amount of time.
However, the Google algorithm will pick up that you have links from sources that have little to do with your niche.
- Low-quality spammy sites
It’s not always easy to identify spammy sites. However, they are often categorized by one of the three p’s – Pornography, Pharmaceuticals, and Poker.
Stay away from anything in these genres, as google will view them as low-quality backlinks and penalize you for it.
- Press Release Links
Google wants you to avoid filling a press release page with dozens of keyword-heavy links back to your site and then spamming it to dozens of newswires.
They made this clear in their Search Central Guide,
Google Search Central
Notice they say, “Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.” (1)
So avoid press releases that are over-optimized and just stuffed with keywords. These links will be penalized by Google.
Do I have to do this on my own?
The good news is that you don’t have to go at it alone.
There are many SEO agencies out there that specialize in white hat link-building services.
Approaching an agency is often the best thing to do as it saves on time and effort and, in the long run, saves on money.
As the website owner, you need to set the parameters for the agency to work within.
If you’re ok with including paid links on your website, let them know and they’ll structure their link-building strategies accordingly.
How does the Batlinks team get high-quality backlinks for your site? By using a link-building strategy that works and gives you a high return on investment.
These link-building services include HARO, Guest Posts, Link Insertions, and Broken Link Building.
A final thought
Many people simply don’t have the time to build backlinks through traditional SEO efforts.
After months of trying to build links yourself, it can be pretty demoralizing to see little or no effect on organic website traffic.
Not every link is worth pursuing, and not every backlink is worth paying for, as they won’t improve your search engine ranking.
But when done right, backlink building can improve your ranking on the search engine results pages.
So, if you want a high return on investment and see your website soar to where it deserves, use a link-building agency that understands the intricacies of link buying.
3 – John Meuller
5 – Neil Patel