Backlinks – they are the web’s worst-kept dirty little secret.
Practitioners of search engine optimisation know that a backlink (a link from another website to your own) is the biggest rank influencing factor in all of the SEO. Google too has admitted that a link from one website to another is the best indicator they have of a website’s value.
The more links (generally speaking) you have from other websites to your own, the better your search engine ranking will be.
Now, here’s the disclaimer; these links do need to be from quality websites, and they do need to be relevant, plus those links should point to a related page on your site and a dozen other things I could list here. But, “generally speaking” a site with lots of backlinks will beat a site with few backlinks in the search results.
To buy or not to buy?
As buying backlinks is often the fastest way to acquire them, for a website owner intent on increasing his search engine ranking it’s often the most appealing way. The problem with buying backlinks? Google clearly states that the purchase of backlinks to improve your ranking is in breach of Google webmaster guidelines.
Rigging your votes
A link from another website to your own is in a sense a virtual vote, so, it’s no surprise that Google deem paying for votes (backlinks) as unethical. A politician paying people to vote for him in an election would be deemed corrupt and removed from office, the same outcome is likely for your website.
Any website found to be engaging in the practice of buying backlinks is liable to be penalised by Google. The consequences of a penalty can be severe. It’s very common for penalised sites to lose rankings for long periods of 6 months or more. In fact, most penalised sites never fully recover their ranking after a penalty. This indicates that getting caught buying links leaves a permanent black mark on a site’s record. So, according to Google, who let’s face it control the search market and its rules, the answer is categoric “no” you should not buy backlinks under any circumstances.
For those website owners in search of a quick SEO fix, a dilemma is created by the fact that buying backlinks can and does work, if only temporarily. Paid links are readily available and lots of businesses buy them, especially in competitive niches. Plus, when many of them go months, even years without getting caught there is little wonder that it’s devilishly tempting to buy links.
The reason that many businesses have and continue to get away with buying links is because there are gazillions of links spread across the internet and it’s not always easy for Google to differentiate between backlinks that have been paid for and natural back links that have been placed on real merit (i.e. those links that have been placed genuinely on a web page in order to link a reader to useful content). Google’s algorithm and it’s manual review team are getting better though at detecting the difference. A host of algorithmic updates released by Google such as Panda has made it increasingly difficult to escape undetected.
Evaluate your risk
Riskier and more commonly available are cheap backlinks that may cost as little as $5 for 50 from sites like fiverr.com. Backlinks sold this cheaply are often from sites in spammy industries (gambling, x-rated and pharmaceuticals) and link to lots of completely unrelated sites from the same page often from the footer or sidebar. More often than not the websites are extremely low-grade and use copied or very poorly written content.
Less risky (only by comparison) are backlinks placed in a way that appears like they are the genuine link on a genuine site. If the site selling the links sells very few links, and those links are available only to website owners with relevant category themed websites then Google may find it hard to detect that they have been paid for.
So, should you buy backlinks?
If you want a risk-free approach to SEO then, no, you should not buy them. The consequence of getting found out (which really is just a matter of time whatever price or approach you take) is at least a penalty and loss of rank, or at most, a complete removal from the search results.
Whatever temporary gain you think you might get from buying links really aren’t worth the risk, even if you perceive it to be a low one.
What you should be doing is investing time and money in creating valuable content for your own site that real people want to link to, and in turn get genuine back links. Then to speed up your results you should consider hiring an SEO company that can promote your website on genuine properties giving more exposure to your content, and thus be building real organic SEO that is valuable and long-lasting.