I was on a panel at an SEO conference. An audience member asked “So I shouldn’t buy links?” The panel’s clear answer was no. But somehow unanimous answers make me wonder if we’re giving the full truth. We weren’t.
You should buy links. Just do it right.
Panda and Penguin took practices that made sense on an individual level and penalized you if you did them on a large scale.
For example blog comments. Yes, you should comment on other blogs in your industry. Engage people. Show an interest. Show appreciation. Add to the discussion. Make friends. All good stuff.
But do not scale the mechanism to automated comments from fake accounts. That might have worked in the past. It doesn’t now.
Guest posting is still a good idea. Find respected sites in your industry. Sites that can bestow authority upon you. Sites that can send you relevant traffic. Give them good content. Invite them to post on your site. All good.
But don’t scale this by putting lots of crap content on crap sites.
In the age of Panda and Penguin, Google is using document classifiers to determine whether your site looks more like a good site, or a crap site that some SEO optimized. So the very tactics that yesterday were most effective and efficient at improving your rankings are precisely the tactics that today get your site classified as slime. And the tactics that are most widely used to promote crap sites today will make you look like slime tomorrow.
Buying links is just like blog commenting and guest posting. It’s valuable when done carefully but it can crush you if you try to scale it.
So find the sites whose links will most benefit you. The sites whose endorsements would most convince your market to choose you. And then find out what you can do that will encourage them to link to you. Establish a relationship. Do something for them. Make them want to link to you. And ask for the link.
Matt Cutts mentioned that the worst kinds of links are when it’s a direct exchange of cash for link, and that the further you get away from that, the better you are. So try to avoid the direct exchange. And don’t write in an e-mail that you’d like to buy a link. But do engage and find out how you can help them.
In a free market economy, you usually need to determine:
- What do I want?
- Who can give it to me?
- What can I do for them?
So you’re looking for Google to consider you highly authoritative in your niche. You may be better off trying to get your market to consider you highly authoritative in your niche. That should cause the right signals to emanate into the Googleverse.
Then figure out who can bestow such authority upon you. Then find out what they want and give it to them.
We often like to pretend that content is king and that if we build it the links will come. You can try that.
You can also try being proactive in enticing specific sites to link to you. Don’t call it buying links. But that’s what it is. And that’s what you should do.