You might be surprised to know that at Blue Ocean Search we open confess to not buying any links at all. Not one.

We are equally surprised to still see fellow SEO Agencies heavily advertising their link buying part of their business and particularly pushing link buying to new customers. We were at an exhibition recently where an SEO agency actively promoted at least two link builders as part of the strategy team.

Are businesses really buying into that (excuse the pun!)…? We know for a fact that agencies are buying many links for clients from poor neighbourhoods and whilst they may be trying to improve the quality of the links that they buy it is only inevitable that bought links will get traced by Google and ultimately penalised.

We recently had a client that had 90% of their linking profile from spam websites, all bought for by his previous SEO company and in November 2012 was completely hit, losing all his rankings and 90% of his business.

If you are looking for an SEO agency then be clear about the difference between link building and link buying. Link buying is where you pay for links. Link building is where you create links through various means, be it submissions, social media or through purchases. Make sure your agency is not purchasing them or you will be in for trouble.

Here are ten solid reasons why you shouldn’t be buying links anymore.

  1. Google have said so. No more said!
  2. Google’s tolerance of paid links is decreasing, some saying that the threshold is now as low as 50% of links coming from low quality websites before being penalised and some predicting it will go as low as 10%. Ie if you have any more than 10% of paid links in your linking profile then you will get slapped by Google. If your agency has ever paid for links then at some stage in the future you are at risk of penalty.
  3. Growth of social media and no follow links – up to 20% of linking profiles for top websites no contain no follow links. Instead of buying links, generate them through social means and increase social endorsement of content. After all, that is a ranking signal too.
  4. Link buying are provided by people who don’t care – they just want your money! A lot of SEO agencies I know are paying externals to buy the links for them. These people are freelancers, dotted all around the world, and are making pin money on the side by placing spammy links. They don’t care about quality, all they are interested in is getting paid for a link placement.
  5. Links are placed on websites where website owners are also only interested in making money. These are generally people who have built websites purely to sell linking space. If you are able to buy a link on a website then that website will just sell more and more, until 6 months down the line all link juice is minimal, it has been completely spammed, and is high on Google’s spam radar. This just adds further problems to the poor link profile of your site.
  6. It is old school SEO – welcome to the new world of SEO where finally it has matured into an established marketing avenue. Many old school SEO’s are hooked up on the technical elements of SEO; validations, meta keywords, link juice etc. New world SEO is all about quality content, keyword targeting, content worthy of going viral and social media endorsement.
  7. Links life – the average purchased link only lasts 4 months before disappearing. Many websites that sell links will just remove the links after being purchased, or websites shut down. This effectively is like having an SEO manager running around in a hamster wheel – you are getting anywhere and your SEO company continues to take your money.
  8. Link quality and networks – many of the websites that sell links are part of a network or reside on the same IP addresses. These are being clamped down on by Google in the Penguin updates and by the end of the year we should see a lot of them penalised.
  9. High quality paid links are sometimes called rented links, where you pay for a link to reside on the site for a duration. These are also known as advertorials and if they pass page rank then they are on Google’s hit list!
  10. Editorial Links have also been penalised – if you are paying for a link that is in the form of an advert and it passes authority then you will get penalised. It should be a no follow link.

We advise clients to participate in ethical SEO practices. Gone are the days of quick bucks with your SEO strategy. If you require quick rankings because your business needs high rankings to do more sales then tread very carefully with link buying – many SEO agencies will sell it to you without warning of the risks.

SEO and online marketing should now be an extension of your offline marketing, where it is about producing good products and services and getting them widely known whether that be online or offline. Many SEO principles remain the same, however there are some critical differences to a few years ago which if not changed can have disastrous consequences on your SEO, either now or at some stage in the future.

The simple thing is, do not buy links. Get your links naturally and succeed that way. If you want to find out how we do it for clients then have a look at our SEO service offering.