Glossary | 3 mins
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Paid backlinks are any backlinks that webmasters and marketers pay for with the intention of improving their website’s search engine rankings. Paid links can be bought through various paid link building services, which will create those links on various referring pages such as articles, blog posts, or other types of content on sites with a high domain authority.
Paid Links in SEO
Paid links can be a contentious subject, as often it’s not entirely clear how to define “paid links” in the first place. The official line from Google is that using paid links in your SEO strategy won’t improve your rankings, and their algorithms are becoming progressively more effective at identifying them.
Having said that, outsourced SEO is a huge industry that countless businesses rely on for their organic search marketing, and reputable link building agencies specialise in building links through quality content aimed at providing genuine value to a given target audience. To put it simply, not all links that you pay for are “paid links” in the sense that they’ll risk a Google penalty.
The Risks of Paid Links in SEO
While cheap, poor-quality paid links may seem like a quick and easy way to improve a site’s ranking, there are various risks associated with these services which can mean they’ll do more harm than good. Here are some of the risks associated with paid links to be aware of:
Search Engine Penalties
Google is constantly updating their algorithms to crack down on spammy and manipulative SEO tactics like using paid links. If a site is found to be using paid links to manipulate its rankings, it can penalise the website by lowering its search engine ranking or even removing it from SERPs completely.
Though it usually won’t mean as much to human users as search engine bots, paid links also have the potential to tarnish a brand’s reputation. If users discover that a business is using paid links to manipulate its rankings, they may lose trust in the site and be less likely to consume its content or engage with its products and services in the future.
Paid links also have the potential to attract irrelevant traffic to a website. When a paid link service uses referring domains and content that’s not relevant to its industry niche or target audience, it can quickly start to attract visitors who are not interested in its content or products. This will not only waste marketing budget, but can also lead to a high bounce rate and low engagement, which can hurt a website’s search engine ranking in the long term.
Paid Backlinks FAQs
Is it worth paying for backlinks?
This depends on the website that will be hosting the link to your landing page, and the benefits of using the budget there. Generally speaking, unless very high volumes of traffic are going to be sent from the page, it is likely not worth paying for – as the risks of Google ignoring the link, or even issuing a penalty for the most shady tactics will likely outweigh the gain.
On the other hand, organic link building through high-quality, relevant content creation and outreach is a more sustainable, safe, and effective SEO strategy.
Are paid links bad for SEO?
Paid links are usually bad for SEO as Google explicitly forbids using paid links in its webmaster guidelines. Whether it’s in-house or outsourced, link building campaigns should focus on creating high-quality, relevant content and earning organic links through honest and ethical outreach.
Questions to ask your link builder