To Build Or To Buy Backlinks: That Is The Question

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Depending on where you’re at in your SEO career, and the size of the budget you have available to split between your content and your links, some of you reading this are going to spend more of your time manually building links than you will spend money on buying links.

A lot of people still question the viability of buying backlinks and how the major SEO players are able to do it while still turning a profit.  The answer is simple: each link they buy helps them increase rankings across the board, which increases signups and sales.

When you do finally realize the power of investing money into your links instead of devoting large amounts of time to build them manually, the SEO game is going to change for you.  You’ll learn to value your time much higher than the money that you will spend on the links, and see higher returns on the investments you make.

In this post, we’re going to compare 5 major strategies that people are using to build links, and then compare them against 5 major strategies that people use to buy links.  I’ll help showcase which strategies work better than others, depending on where you’re at in your career.

By the end, hopefully you’ll be able to see why investing money into links provides a much higher return on your investment than manually building links will ever be able to do.  For now, though, let’s get into the 5 biggest strategies that people are using to manually build links to their websites and blogs.

Building: Manual Guest Posting

This is one of the most common methods used to build links today.  It doesn’t matter which SEO, internet marketing, or digital business blogs you read, the primary strategy that they are going to promote for building high quality, traffic delivering backlinks is guest posting.

If you’re unfamiliar with what guest posting is, it requires you to search through the search results to find blogs that are willing to publish content from guest contributors.  Then you have to reach out to the owner of the blog with a few ideas for content that you think their visitors would like to see.

If they accept your pitch, you’ll need to put together a piece of content that contains a few links to your site, and pray that the blog owner keeps them in place.  When your content is published on an authoritative blog, you see higher search rankings and a fresh influx of traffic from outside of Google.

While this may be one of the most popular methods for building links in 2016 (and probably 2017) it doesn’t change the fact that this is a very time-intensive process if you’re doing it manually.  It’s also a fairly money-intensive process if you’re outsourcing it to an agency.

If you’re just getting started, and have more time than money available, there’s nothing wrong with building links to your website or blog using guest posts as your main strategy.  Keeping the strategy going requires a large amount of discipline, though.

Building: Your Own PBN

A large number of SEO, internet marketing, and digital business blogs still promote building your own private blog network as a great way to increase your search engine rankings.  There’s no arguing the fact that owning your own private network is one of the strongest strategies you can use, but it does have quite a few flaws that make it a bad choice for most people.

For instance, if you run more than one website, especially if they’re in different industries, running a private blog network could actually open you up to getting your search rankings penalized.  The power of a private link network comes in when you’re able to link to one website, or multiple websites that are all closely related to each other.

Running a private blog network also gets expensive when you’re in a competitive industry and need 50 to 100 sites to help maintain longtail keyword rankings.  When you stop and do the math, it’s easy to see how 100 websites can get expensive quick.

The monthly hosting fees quickly add up, the cost of renewing the sites every year add up, and if you want to maintain a quality network, you’re going to have a hard time buying $10 domain names.  Most cheap domain names don’t have the strength needed to rank you in competitive industries.

Unless you’re already earning thousands of dollars from a single website every month, building a private blog network probably isn’t a good use of your time or money.

Building: Web 2.0s

Web 2.0s, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, are websites that allow you to sign up, create a profile, and then post your own content.  They are a great way to pad out your link profile, but the ease of their creation also means that they are being polluted by spammers.  This is a strategy that still makes its rounds around the SEO community as being a great way to build links to your site.

On top of spammers taking over web 2.0 sites and ruining a good thing for everyone in the industry, web 2.0 content has a few other problems that keep it from being worth the time involved, and definitely not worth the money.

The biggest problem with web 2.0 sites is that even though the main domain may have strong domain authority, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the pages you publish content with your links included will have the same authority.  This is especially true when the content you publish is hosted on a subdomain of the main domain name.

If you do intend to use web 2.0 sites to build links, you do not want to count on the authority being transferred to your website.  Instead, you can use them to pad your link profile with unrelated links (like click here, this website, etc) so that you can use your keyword targeted anchor texts on the high authority links that you obtain.

Building: Link Building Software

This is one of the laziest methods for building backlinks, and one that’s actually not recommended, even though a few “gurus” in the industry do still tout link building software as being a viable way to grow your SEO based business.

Link building software works by spinning content that you put into it and then mass publishing the content across a wide range of platforms.  It’s published live on everything from web 2.0 sites, to forums, as blog comments, and on article submission sites.

Unfortunately, while this is a great tactic for building a huge number of links in a short period of time, it’s also one of the spammiest ways you can build links in 2016.

It’s so spammy, in fact, that participating it could have your website included into a “bad neighborhood”, preventing you from ranking at all.  The number of links built by link building software makes it hard to disavow all of the junk, too.

When all’s said and done, buying the link building software, paying for content to be spun, purchasing proxies to keep yourself anonymous and from getting hit by spam blockers, and then paying for captcha busting services, the amount of money you’ll have invested pales in comparison to the strength that purchasing a few high quality links can deliver.

Not to mention that this is one of the easiest forms of spam to detect, and Google is actively working to prevent this type of spam from showing up in their index.  If you intend to rank for any length of time, using link building software to do it is a pretty bad idea.

Building: Guestographics, Broken Links, Others

It’s hard to really pick these strategies apart, because they do work.  And they work well.  Using infographics to guest post on other websites, finding broken links and having them updated to point to content on your own website, and gathering multiple authoritative figures together for a “weekly content roundup” all work great for generating links.

However, as well as they work, they’re also very time intensive, and even money intensive in some cases.  Relying on other websites to publish your content, in the case of infographics, is a crap shoot.  If you create a high quality piece, chances of having it published are very high.  Unfortunately, those pieces usually cost a lot of time and money to have produced.

Broken link building isn’t nearly as reliable.  Praying for someone to link to content on your website because you’ve reached out to them and let them know that they have broken links on their website is like praying for rain.  Sure, it might rain every now and then, bust most times the sun is going to keep shining.

What I mean by this, is that the blog owner will usually thank you for alerting them to the broken links on their site, but they’re rarely going to put in the time to investigate your content, see if it’s worthy of having a link, and then updating their page to point to content on your website.

The same can be said for weekly content roundups.  They worked great in the past, but as time has gone on, more authoritative figures have begun sticking to their own circles, and are not as quick to fall for the “interview” process as they once were.  In other words, they’ve gotten keen to the gypsy ways.

Buying: Link Marketplaces

Now we’re getting into the strategies that require more of your money than they do of your time.  Link marketplaces are one of the most popular ways to buy backlinks to your websites and blogs because they have the highest number of sellers and the lowest rates.

Before you rush out and find popular link markets to start buying links from, though, there’s one major cause for concern.  The low price of the links on these sites makes them a prime target for spammers.  It also makes things easy when Google wants to figure out who is selling the most links and devalue the websites that those links are coming from — and going to.

In other words, these link marketplaces (while not actually hard to find) open the doors for Google to figure out who is spamming.

They use the same strategies they used to bring down public blog networks that let anyone and everyone join.  All they have to do is create an account, find the sites that are selling links, then track where those links are pointing to, and devalue everything in one fell swoop.

So even though the low prices and high availability of industry specific links are a huge allure to link marketplaces, I wouldn’t be so quick to invest money through them.  Even if they don’t get hit right away, the next time Google wants to make an example out of someone, you can bet that these link marketplaces are going to be prime targets.

Buying: Fiverr & Other SEO Gigs

If you’ve been around the industry for any length of time, you already know about Fiverr and how popular it is to buy backlinks using their $5 services.  Those services can land you in hot water, though, if you’re not careful.  While there are some legitimate sellers, most of them are selling mass quantities of their gigs, putting your website at risk.

Two of the most popular types of gigs on Fiverr are buying PBN links and buying web 2.0 links.  While you can use these types of gigs to build links to your website, you don’t want to purchase the actual links being offered.  Instead, you want to focus on gigs that offer to research you viable domain names to use in your private blog network, or available expired web 2.0 sites that are available to be registered.

If you’re buying links directly from sellers on Fiverr, you can expect that the same links have been sold to other people, and that their websites probably aren’t relevant to yours.  Getting yourself tied up in a link farm that’s full of irrelevant content and links is a quick way to get your website penalized.

By purchasing lists of expired domain names and expired web 2.0 accounts that can be registered, you’re taking the chance of landing your links on the same page as irrelevant sites out of the question, but you’re also increasing the amount of work you have to do by registering all of the web 2.0 accounts and purchase the expired domain names.

Buying: Press Releases

Everybody from niche site owners, to large website owners and local business owners can benefit from press releases, but are they really worth the money involved?  If you want to see any type of traction from your press releases, you’re going to have to spend good money — on both the content, and the press release service you use.

This is another strategy that works great when you’re trying to pad your link profile so that you can use keyword targeted anchor texts from the niche relevant links that you build and buy, but not one that necessarily directly impacts your search rankings.

Depending on the results you expect to see, and the amount you’re willing to spend, hiring a press release service to distribute your content can be a safe bet.  It will help you diversify your links, and give you more wiggle room to use keyword stuffed anchor texts from strong websites you happen to get links on.

Buying: “Sponsored” Posts

This is a practice that’s been around as long as it’s been known that backlinks help increase the search rankings of a website.  While the name “sponsored posts” may make it sound like you’re actually having posts sponsored by a website, in exchange for traffic, don’t get the strategy twisted up.

All you’re doing when you “sponsor” a post on a website is exchanging money for them to publish your content.  It differs than simply “buying links” because a lot of sites are against the practice of selling links, but are more than happy to allow you to buy advertising space in their content.

There’s a risk when buying “sponsored” posts, though.  The blogs that sell sponsored posts actually label your content as such, or list it as an advertisement.  When this happens, they typically use a nofollow attribute to reduce the risk they’re caught by Google and they get their search rankings penalized.

If you’re able to find websites that will sell you links, without using the nofollow attribute, or labeling the content as “sponsored” or an “advertisement”, it may be worth your money to actually buy the links.

Buying: Private Blog Network Links

In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to get links for a few different reasons:

  • It keeps you from having to build your own network.
  • They’re substantially stronger than web 2.0s.
  • They’re less time-intensive than guest posting.
  • They’re far from spam, compared to link building software.
  • They’re private, compared to link marketplaces.
  • Lower chances of spam compared to Fiverr and other gigs.
  • They’re cheaper than high end press releases.
  • They’re never labeled as sponsored or paid.

When you’re buying PBN links, though, you need to vet the services that you’re actually purchasing them from.  As a general rule, you want to keep the relevance high, making sure that the websites and pages you’re purchasing links from are actually relevant to the content you’re linking to.

You also need to make sure that the people you’re purchasing links from aren’t selling them for $5 or $10 a piece.  That’s a hard way to make a living, and a guarantee that those sellers are allowing multiple random people to purchase links from their network.

If one of those sites gets nailed on a manual review, you can bet that your sites are going to get hit, too.  That’s why you need to focus on purchasing links from networks that reduce the amount of people they’re selling to, by charging higher rates on the links that they do sell.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but following this one simple rule will help you earn substantially more in the long run than you’ve paid up front for the links themselves.

In our opinion, buying PBN links is one of the best uses of your time (and money), and as long as you research the people you’re buying the links from, ensuring that they have a high quality network and aren’t selling to every person that requests to buy links, you can see huge movement in your rankings and even more money in your pocket.

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