Paying for links, whether they pass PageRank or not, is something that Google has frowned upon for some time. It is not good practice, and it is often harmful to the websites that attempt to use it as a form of SEO. However, there are some legitimate ways to be able to pay for links that can boost up your ranking instead of kicking you to the back of the pack.
One of the most important things to watch out for when buying links is those links that would be deemed dangerous. So, how does one tell if a link is dangerous? There are a few things you should be able to see as ‘red flags’. Here are a few ways a link can show up as dangerous when it is clicked on:
The link comes from a paid directory or an article directory that falls under a ‘spam’ category
The link has nothing to do with the subject of the website it supposedly comes from
The link takes readers to a forum instead of to a site that has any real informative content that could benefit them
The link is sponsored, meaning that someone is paying for it and/or getting paid when you click on it
The link comes as a spam content response to something already on your website
The link requires you to allow it to be followed if it appears on your site—Google itself has recommended, strongly, that websites set links like this as ‘no-follow’ in order to avoid it being counted against the site as a whole
The link goes back to a press release that really does not have any useful or new information to provide to the people who click on it—again, Google recommends that if you are unsure, you set it as ‘no-follow’
Information That’s Not Informative
People who are looking to buy links are not always discriminating about the links they get. If you want your site to be seen as informative in the eyes of the search engines, you need to make sure that you are actually linking to regular information that will provide some benefit to your readers. When a web crawler looks over your site, including at the links you are using, if you are not providing useful information, your rank is very likely to go down.
Linking for Affiliate Purposes
Linking back to products or reviews to try and boost affiliate marketing is also something you’re going to want to avoid. While this does make some people money, it is not good practice when it comes to building up links. You want to make sure you are providing substance to your readers, not trying to take from them.
While buying links is not technically ‘illegal’, it can cause harm to your website. It can also harm your bottom line if your links do not lead to where people are wanting to be sent, causing distrust from your visitors in your products or services. Taking the time to build up your links the natural and ethical way is what is going to boost your website the most, and it’s worth the time it takes when all is said and done.