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3 Minute Read | May 20, 2024

Should You Buy Backlinks to Improve SEO?

No.

Well, that was an easy one. Feel free to move on to another article.

Just kidding. Stick around to find out why buying backlinks is rarely (if ever) a good idea.

Why Buying Backlinks is Rarely (If Ever) a Good Idea

High-quality backlinks do drive traffic and lift search rankings. At first glance, buying backlinks appears to be an easy way to attract new traffic to your site. You give a site owner or link building business a sizeable chunk of your marketing budget in exchange for links to your site within its content. Those links then drive traffic from their site to yours.

Easy! What a time saver! No more hours of researching authoritative, relevant link partners. And no more writing emails begging  prominent websites to link to your content.

Well, there’s a catch.

What Determines a Backlink’s Quality?

The catch is quality. The most useful backlinks come from authoritative, respected websites in your industry or business area. That means these sites generally:

  • Follow SEO best practices
  • Provide valuable, relevant content that users engage with
  • Regularly post fresh content
  • Maintain and update existing content

Quality backlinks from well-maintained websites can boost your search visibility. Low-quality links can hurt your search rankings, and paid backlink operations almost always enlist low-quality sites.

Paid backlinks might win some short-term traffic gains, but they are just as likely to tank your search visibility in the long term.

How Paid Backlinks Can Harm SEO

Most major search engines, including Google, have explicitly stated that buying backlinks violates their community guidelines. That hasn’t done much to stop the practice of buying links, and Google hasn’t done much to enforce this policy at scale.

Paying for a high-quality link won’t necessarily stir Google to action. However, as with anything in SEO, this is subject to change at any moment.

When you buy backlinks, you technically break search engines’ established rules. In the past, sudden enforcement shifts – like the recent March 2024 Google core update focused on spammy content – have exposed many sites to surprise penalties.

Most backlink sellers deal exclusively in low-quality links. As a common practice, link builders create or work with massive sites that comprise nothing but backlinks. These sites typically contain no useful content. Some write the backlinks into the site’s code, so they’re not actually visible on the site. These are not reputable sources of traffic.

It gets worse: The traffic (if any) they drive to your site is far less likely to engage with your content or purchase your services or products. Paid backlinks have one purpose: to boost short-term keyword rankings. That means you miss another key benefit of backlinks: engaged, relevant referral traffic from other websites in your industry.

Each year, major search engines get better at recognizing and shutting down spammy link sites. Even if you’re not penalized today for having paid backlinks, you risk penalties tomorrow and every day after that. That penalty could be complete removal of your site from results pages. That’s a big risk for a short-term numbers gain with no direct value to your site.

How Do I Build High-Quality Backlinks to My Site?

Create Good Content

Devote your time and resources to creation of high-quality content that, on its merits, attracts links from the humans who run reputable websites in your business sector.

The more compelling and useful the content, the more likely you are to attract quality backlinks no additional effort or expense.

Reach Out to Prominent Sites

Contact webmasters of authoritative sites and point out the mutual benefit of a link exchange. It’s a laborious, time-consuming process, but it builds your link profile organically.

Target Sites that Reach the Audience You Want

Paid backlinks offer one benefit: Increased short-term keyword rankings. Organically built backlinks offer that and the opportunity to reach another site’s audience and drive it to yours. 

Organically building backlinks takes time, but it’s always the better path. The risks of paid backlinks always outweigh their meager benefits.

Now you can definitely move on to another article.

Need help building your backlink strategy? Reach out to our expert SEO team!

Authored By

Alex Boston

Alex Boston

Digital Strategist

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<p style="margin-bottom:11px">No.</p> <p>Well, that was an easy one. Feel free to move on to another article.</p> <p>Just kidding. Stick around to find out <em>why</em> buying backlinks is rarely (if ever) a good idea.</p> <h2>Why Buying Backlinks is Rarely (If Ever) a Good&nbsp;Idea</h2> <p>High-quality backlinks do drive traffic and lift search rankings. At first glance, buying backlinks appears to be an easy way to attract new traffic to your site. You give a site owner or link building business a sizeable chunk of your marketing budget in exchange for links to your site within its content. Those links then drive traffic from their site to yours.</p> <p>Easy! What a time saver! No more hours of researching authoritative, relevant link partners. And no more writing emails begging &nbsp;prominent websites to link to your content.</p> <p>Well, there&rsquo;s a catch.</p> <h3>What Determines a Backlink&rsquo;s Quality?</h3> <p>The catch is <em>quality</em>. The most useful backlinks come from authoritative, respected websites in your industry or business area. That means these sites generally:</p> <ul> <li>Follow SEO best practices</li> <li>Provide valuable, relevant content that users engage with</li> <li>Regularly post fresh content</li> <li>Maintain and update existing content</li> </ul> <p>Quality backlinks from well-maintained websites can boost your search visibility. Low-quality links can hurt your search rankings, and paid backlink operations almost always enlist low-quality sites.</p> <p>Paid backlinks might win some short-term traffic gains, but they are just as likely to tank your search visibility in the long term.</p> <h2 style="margin-bottom:11px">How Paid Backlinks Can Harm SEO</h2> <p>Most major search engines, including&nbsp;Google, have <a href="https://developers.google.com/search/docs/essentials/spam-policies#link-spam" linktype="3" target="_blank">explicitly stated</a> that buying backlinks violates their community guidelines. That hasn&rsquo;t done much to stop the practice of buying links, and Google hasn&rsquo;t done much to enforce this policy at scale.</p> <p>Paying for a high-quality link won&rsquo;t necessarily stir Google to action. However, as with anything in SEO, this is subject to change at any moment.</p> <p>When you buy backlinks, you technically break search engines&rsquo; established rules. In the past, sudden enforcement shifts &ndash; like the recent <a href="https://www.nwsdigital.com/Blog/Googles-Latest-Core-Search-Update-Targets-Low-Quality-Content" linktype="3" target="_self">March 2024 Google core update</a> focused on spammy content &ndash; have exposed many sites to surprise penalties.</p> <p>Most backlink sellers deal exclusively in low-quality links. As a common practice, link builders create or work with massive sites that comprise nothing but backlinks. These sites typically contain no useful content. Some write the backlinks into the site&rsquo;s code, so they&rsquo;re not actually visible on the site. These are not reputable sources of traffic.</p> <p>It gets worse: The traffic (if any) they drive to your site is far less likely to engage with your content or purchase your services or products. Paid backlinks have one purpose: to boost short-term keyword rankings. That means you miss another key benefit of backlinks: engaged, relevant referral traffic from other websites in your industry.</p> <p>Each year, major search engines get better at recognizing and shutting down spammy link sites. Even if you&rsquo;re not penalized today for having paid backlinks, you risk penalties tomorrow and every day after that. That penalty could be complete removal of your site from results pages. That&rsquo;s a big risk for a short-term numbers gain with no direct value to your site.</p> <h2>How Do I Build High-Quality Backlinks to My Site?</h2> <h3>Create Good Content</h3> <p>Devote your time and resources to creation of high-quality content that, on its merits, attracts links from the humans who run reputable websites in your business sector.</p> <p>The more compelling and useful the content, the more likely you are to attract quality backlinks no additional effort or expense.</p> <h3>Reach Out to Prominent Sites</h3> <p>Contact webmasters of authoritative sites and point out the mutual benefit of a link exchange. It&rsquo;s a laborious, time-consuming process, but it builds your link profile organically.</p> <h3>Target Sites that Reach the Audience You Want</h3> <p>Paid backlinks offer one benefit: Increased short-term keyword rankings. Organically built backlinks offer that and the opportunity to reach another site&rsquo;s audience and drive it to yours.&nbsp;</p> <p>Organically building backlinks takes time, but it&rsquo;s always the better path. The risks of paid backlinks always outweigh their meager benefits.</p> <p>Now you can definitely&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nwsdigital.com/Blog/Googles-Latest-Core-Search-Update-Targets-Low-Quality-Content" linktype="3" target="_self">move on to another article</a>.</p> <p><em>Need help building your backlink strategy? <a href="/Contact-Us" linktype="2" target="_self">Reach out</a> to our expert SEO team!</em></p>
/Northwoods-2020/Hero-Images/Hiker-Looking-Out-Over-Mountains.pngPaid backlinks might win some short-term traffic gains, but they are just as likely to tank your #search visibility in the long term. https://nwsdigital.me/4dKBb59 @northwoods #SEO #SEOtipsAlex Boston/Northwoods-2020/People/Alex-Boston.jpgThe author standing in front of a log cabin with soft, warm lightinghttps://ctt.ac/Y6bAb<script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//js.hsforms.net/forms/embed/v2.js"></script><script>hbspt.forms.create({ region: "na1", portalId: "23630176", formId: "40c5bbae-05a2-42ea-94dd-1662181fd56e" });</script>/Northwoods-2023/Blog/Social-Cards/Should-You-Buy-Backlinks-to-Improve-SEO---Social-Card.jpg?LargeShould You Buy Backlinks to Improve SEO?2024-05-20T00:00:00/Northwoods-2023/Blog/Social-Cards/Should-You-Buy-Backlinks-to-Improve-SEO---Social-Card.jpgThe quick answer? No. Paid backlink operations almost always enlist low-quality sites, and low-quality links can hurt your search rankings. Here's what to do instead.395356/People/Alex-BostonAlexBostonDigital Strategist<p>Alex blends his academic background in creative writing with rigorous data analysis to conceptualize, create, and assess content for Northwoods clients. As a digital strategist, he applies more than 10 years of digital marketing experience to his work in content strategy and governance, SEO, and user testing. Alex prioritizes flexibility, simplicity, and the needs of his audience, and is Google Ads and ScrumMaster certified. When he&rsquo;s not at work, he enjoys playing music, riding his motorcycle, and leading a Dungeons &amp; Dragons game for his partner and friends.</p>Alex Boston/Northwoods-2020/People/Alex-Boston.jpgAlex BostonAdd-In Type - NWS Data ModulesCategory - NWS Data ModulesCommittee - NWS Data ModulesDivision - NWS Data ModulesEvent Audience - NWS Data ModulesEvent Service - NWS Data ModulesEvent Type - NWS Data ModulesLocality - NWS Data ModulesModule - NWS Data ModulesNWS Data ModulesTopic - NWS Data ModulesPackage Type - NWS Data ModulesPersonID - NWS Data ModulesAlex BostonProductVersion - NWS Data ModulesRecorded Webinar TopicsRegion - NWS Data ModulesSite Display - NWS Data ModulesSkillLevel - NWS Data ModulesTopic - NWS Data ModulesVideoAudience - NWS Data ModulesVideoClassification - NWS Data ModulesVideoStatus - NWS Data ModulesTeamAll StaffStrategistsAdd-In Type - NWS Data ModulesCategory - NWS Data ModulesCommittee - NWS Data ModulesDivision - NWS Data ModulesEvent Audience - NWS Data ModulesEvent Service - NWS Data ModulesEvent Type - NWS Data ModulesLocality - NWS Data ModulesModule - NWS Data ModulesNWS Data ModulesTopic - NWS Data ModulesDigital MarketingSEO & Content MarketingPackage Type - NWS Data ModulesPersonID - NWS Data ModulesAlex BostonProductVersion - NWS Data ModulesRecorded Webinar TopicsRegion - NWS Data ModulesSite Display - NWS Data ModulesNWS DigitalSkillLevel - NWS Data ModulesTopic - NWS Data ModulesVideoAudience - NWS Data ModulesVideoClassification - NWS Data ModulesVideoStatus - NWS Data Modules02024-05-20T00:01:01.51000