“BUY backlinks?” the so-called “SEO” shrieked, incredulously.
My eyes rolled so fast I almost caused a sonic boom. And this is just one of many such conversations I’ve had with fellow SEOs.
Yes, buy backlinks. You pretty much have to if you want to compete in a competitive niche.
But what about all the pearl-clutching you see “content-only” SEOs do when you suggest that buying backlinks may be necessary?
It’s annoying, but it’s born out of real concern. Because there’s a right way to buy backlinks and a very, very wrong way.
Those never-buy backlink builders are thinking of the wrong way. And the serious risks that can pose.
But link builders who are worth their salt know how to buy backlinks the RIGHT way.
And I’m going to show you how to do it, too.
Let’s make sure we’re caught up before we dive in:
A backlink is a hyperlink to your website on a website that isn’t yours. Here’s what a backlink looks like:
Backlinks are THE cornerstone of SEO.
The very first iteration of Google — back when it was just a research project called BackRub — relied almost completely on backlinks to determine search engine rankings.
And today, while there are many ranking factors, backlinks remain an absolutely essential one.
So, how does one “buy” a backlink?
The same way you buy anything. You give money to a website owner; they give you a backlink.
Of course, exactly HOW they give you that backlink can vary a lot. And we’ll get into the specifics of that a bit later.
But for now, you simply need to know that you buy backlinks by paying website owners to link to your website.
This is as opposed to the two alternatives:
Both alternatives are deeply flawed.
The first is fine, but it won’t scale the way you need it to. Ultimately, you’ll fall behind your competitors who ARE buying backlinks.
And the second doesn’t work. You’ll get a lot of professional BSers telling you they can rank you for competitive keywords with on-page SEO alone, but they’re lying. It’s just not how Google works.
Does that mean, then, that buying backlinks is the best approach and has absolutely no drawbacks or risks? Absolutely not. Let’s look a little closer.
This question always makes me laugh a little bit.
It’s like asking:
“Is it safe to jump out of an airplane?”
My answer: “That depends. Do you have a parachute?”
Buying backlinks the wrong way is like jumping out of an airplane with no parachute.
But do it the right way, and you’ll float gently down and land on a bed of higher rankings and more organic traffic.
So, WHY, exactly, is it sometimes unsafe to buy backlinks? Because Google has made it pretty clear that they don’t want people to do it.
Here’s what they say:
This is straight from Google’s guidelines on link spam:
“Google uses links as an important factor in determining the relevancy of web pages. Any links that are intended to manipulate rankings in Google Search results may be considered link spam. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”
Note that part about links that are intended to manipulate search rankings.
And here’s a prominent Google representative saying basically the same thing:
Uh, that’s the whole point. There’s almost no other reason to buy backlinks in the first place.
So, by extension, Google has essentially said you shouldn’t buy backlinks.
But here’s the thing:
Google says a lot of stuff. And a lot of it is to protect THEIR business interests. Not yours.
Remember: Google doesn’t want anyone to know how to manipulate search rankings. That’s not good for their business model.
For example, for YEARS, Google said NoFollow links passed no ranking authority whatsoever. Then, after nearly a decade, they acknowledged what SEOs have known for a long time:
NoFollow links from major websites can and regularly DO improve rankings. Massively.
So, Google says backlink buying is bad. But literally tens of thousands of SEOs and website owners do it anyway.
They’re all de-indexed and getting no traffic from Google now, right?
The vast majority of them are doing just fine.
Because Google can’t tell you bought a backlink if you did it right. And the best link builders have figured that out.
So, there’s a whole link building industry — complete with massive companies and freelancers alike — selling backlinks and backlink-building services.
And trust me:
Your competitors are already buying backlinks.
While that IS against the rules Google has set, they’re unlikely to get punished any time soon.
I’m not trying to mislead you. When you buy backlinks, you ARE running some risks.
And they can be serious risks.
Here are a few of the risks of buying backlinks the wrong way:
Pretty serious stuff.
But don’t fear: While these penalties DO happen, they really only happen to the worst offenders.
And after reading this article, you won’t come anywhere near “worst offender” status. Because I’m going to show you how to buy backlinks that move the needle AND stay under Google’s radar.
When I say “buy backlinks,” what do I mean, exactly? I am referring to several types of backlinks you can buy:
Let’s look at each a little more closely.
Guest posts are awesome.
They get a bad rep because people execute them so poorly and get penalized. But they’re seriously incredible for your rankings if you do them right.
A guest post is simply an article you write published on another website. And that article contains a link to YOUR website — a backlink.
I love these because you can control the anchor text — the text accompanying the link (a ranking factor) — in many cases. And if you can write or work with a solid writer, you can get a lot of backlinks pretty fast.
You just pay the website that’s going to publish the post. And in some cases, they don’t even want to be paid because they simply need the content you’re going to provide.
Link insertions are POWERFUL. This is when you pay a website to insert a link to your website in an article that’s already published on their site.
The power comes from the fact that the article the link is going into is already published. And, hopefully, getting traffic from Google.
While a guest post has to publish, get indexed, and THEN start funneling link juice to your site, a link insertion starts passing link juice right away.
The drawback here is that you’re not often going to get away with link insertions without paying a hefty price. A guest post is free content for a website, but a link insertion rarely offers much value to the linking website.
Still, you can scale with link insertions — sometimes referred to as “niche edits” — FAST.
Sponsored links are the safest way to buy backlinks. Because Google has said that it’s OK to buy backlinks as long as they’re tagged as “sponsored.”
You have to intentionally NoFollow the link with a special “sponsored” tag. Meaning you drastically reduce the ranking power of the link.
It’s a good idea to do some of these sponsored links. At the very least, they provide some “cover” in your backlink profile and maybe a little referral traffic.
But I wouldn’t make these a major part of your backlink purchasing strategy.
I talk about backlinks a lot. And when I do, I often hear people say they prefer to “build” backlinks rather than buying them.
Cue “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys.
Sure, I’d love it if every website could just skyrocket to the top of the rankings by “building” backlinks without buying any.
But that’s not realistic. Also, buying backlinks IS a way of building them.
What they’re talking about is, basically, sitting and waiting for backlinks. Maybe in the early days of the internet, people would just link out to other websites willy nilly.
But not anymore. Website owners are smarter. They know they can charge for those links.
And if you want to compete as a business in a packed industry, you can’t leave your backlink profile to chance.
You NEED to buy backlinks to even stay competitive. And you need to buy a lot of backlinks to outrank the competition.
When I say you need to buy backlinks, what am I setting you up for?
First, understand that the cost of backlinks varies WIDELY. I’ve gotten them for as little as $15 and as much as four figures.
Also remember that you get what you pay for (if you’re smart about it). Better, more powerful backlinks will be more expensive.
With that said, Ahrefs has compiled some data on backlink prices that can serve as a nice benchmark.
According to their data, guest post links cost $277.80 on average. And link insertions cost $361.44 on average.
And speaking from personal experience, the upper range for both is usually around $1,200 or so.
This is like anything else you might buy. If you buy in bulk, such as with a link building agency, it’s likely to cost you less.
And if you DIY it, pounding pavement and writing guest posts and outreach emails yourself, you might get lower prices.
Sold on buying backlinks? The next step is finding websites to buy backlinks from.
Here are a few places to look:
Link building agencies — like UppercutSEO — maintain massive lists of websites that sell backlinks.
So, if you partner with one, you get access to that list — either directly or indirectly.
This is the fastest way to find websites to buy backlinks from.
A lot of websites that sell backlinks are sly about it. And they signal that they sell paid guest post links by including a “Write for Us” page on their websites.
I always feel sorry for the content writers looking to get paid to write. When they reach out via those “Write for Us” pages, they get a price list for paid guest posts in return, instead of a paycheck.
But if you’re looking to buy backlinks, this is a viable way to find guest post opportunities. And you can do it with a simple Google search.
Type your niche and “write for us” into the Google search bar.
And you’ll get hundreds of results, many of which will be niche-relevant websites that sell guest post links.
Here’s what it looks like in the legal niche:
All of those websites could be great paid backlink opportunities for a law firm.
Similarly to the “Write for Us” strategy, you can scan websites that are relevant to your subject matter for “Advertise” pages.
Often, you’ll find that these sites tend to offer sponsored posts, rather than straight up guest posts or link insertions.
Still, sometimes you can convince them not to NoFollow your link. And some actually do just sell guest posts.
Remember when I promised you that your competitors are already buying backlinks? Yeah, they still are.
And you can find out EXACTLY where they’re finding those paid backlink opportunities.
All you need is an SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs.
Then, pop your competitor’s website into the “backlink analysis” portion of your chosen tool. And review the backlinks your competitor has.
You’ll start to see dozens of sites that clearly did not just decide to link to your competitor. They were paid to do so.
And those are the sites you’ll want to reach out to to inquire about buying backlinks.
People sleep on this last method, and they’re missing a big opportunity. It’s a big part of how I’ve found thousands of websites that sell backlinks:
Just ask them.
Seriously. If you see a website that looks good and is relevant to your niche, find their contact page and ask them if you can write a guest post or otherwise purchase a backlink.
Often, you’ll either get a “no” or no response at all. But keep at it, and you’ll start to hear “yes” a lot more often.
You know the how and why of buying backlinks. But you’re not ready to buy. Not just yet.
First, you need to understand something critical:
Not all backlinks are created equal. Some are worthless.
So, how do you find those and avoid them? By looking at a few key factors BEFORE you get your wallet out:
When you find a backlink opportunity that checks all those boxes, it’s worth buying.
Buying backlinks isn’t going away any time soon. It’s absolutely key to successful SEO.
But, as we’ve covered above, there’s a wrong way to do it — a way that can wreck your SEO altogether.
The right way, of course, is difficult. Unless you partner with the right link building agency.
UppercutSEO is that agency.
With decades of collective SEO experience and countless high-powered backlinks built in every conceivable niche, we’re ready to help you buy backlinks that actually WORK in 2024.
Ready to get started? Reach out.