Sunday Morning SEO: How Effective are Paid Links?

A couple months ago, We Build Pages stopped buying links for their clients.  This was a big change since We Build Pages is a well known link building firm in the SEO industry and they were notorious for buying links.  Also, just recently, I was surprised to see SEOmoz change their stance on paid links.  SEOmoz had previously recommended paid links.

Why is it that top SEO firms are now changing their minds on paid links?  Has buying links gotten so risky that you shouldn’t do it any more?

I think buying links is still viable.  However, the risk is higher than it was in the past.  Google has done things to lessen the effectiveness of paid links including allowing people to report the links and penalizing link buyers.

Therefore, you definitely have to stay under the radar with your paid links.

The basic principle is to make sure your paid link doesn’t look any different from the other outbound links on the site. For example, irrelevant links are a big tip off.  If you have a car blog, why would you pay for a link on a blog about gardening?  That’s an extreme example but relevance is very important.

Also, using the same anchor text over and over can be signal to Google.  Lessen your risk by varying your anchor text including non-keyword text like “click here” or “interesting post”.

Because the risk is higher, don’t make paid links a big part of your link building campaign.  I only buy links that are really high quality.  With the rise of social media, you’re usually better off spending your link building efforts by creating viral content that attracts links.  My favorite promotion method is simply emailing bloggers and ask them to link to the content if they like it.

Finally, avoid low quality sites. There’s no need to take the risk and get little to no reward.

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