If you want to rank your website on Google or on any other search engine, you need backlinks. But building backlinks to your website is hard and that’s why a lot of SEO “gurus” do Backlinks Buying. In other words, that’s the reason many people pay for backlinks.
Which is totally fine, right?
You should NEVER pay for backlinks.
In fact, paying for backlinks goes against Google’s policy and it’s a surefire way to get your website banned.
What’s more, practicing backlinks buying is short term and overly expensive, especially if you’re looking to grow your site’s traffic organically and on a tight budget.
So, how do you get backlinks if you don’t pay for them? That’s what I will show you in this article in a moment.
But first, let’s take a quick look at what backlinks are and how they work.
What are Backlinks and How do They Work?
There are over 200 factors that Google uses to rank any website. But one of the most prominent factors that Google uses is backlinks.
Basically, when someone links to your website from their site, that’s a backlink. So, the more sites that link to you, Ideally, the higher you will rank in Google.
But here’s the truth about backlinks you might not know: not all backlinks are equal.
Here are some of the things Google looks at when analyzing backlinks:
1. How authoritative is the site linking to you?
In addition to the number of sites linking to you, Google looks at quality. For example: If Neil Patel links to your site, it’s way more effective than Afro Hustler linking to you. Why? Because Neil Patel is considered a more well known authoritative site than Afro Hustler.
Therefore Google trusts a link from Neil Patel more than a link from Afro Hustler. However, there other details to consider, and situations vary in different contexts. Keep reading as I breakdown those details!
2. Authority is measured by a metric called “domain authority”
It’s from a scale of 0 to 100 with 100 being like Google, Facebook, YouTube. The higher the number, the better. You want to get backlinks from sites with a domain authority that is higher than yours. You can use the tool Ahrefs.com to learn what your domain authority is or to know the domain authority of any other website.
3. The more related a site is, the better the link
Another thing Google uses within its algorithm is how related that link is. If you are in the fashion space, a link from Neil Patel isn’t as good as a link from Gucci (which is an authority site in the fashion space).
Try to get links from high domain authority sites within your space.
As you can see, it’s not just about anyone linking to you that tells Google to rank your website higher. It goes way beyond that.
Google looks at how many backlinks you’re getting and how many of them you’re getting over time. How related those websites are, and at the domain authority of the websites linking to you.
So, if you can get a ton of backlinks from authoritative sites that have a high domain authority and from relevant sites, your rankings are going to climb.
Buying links from other websites could be an attractive option for you.
You hand over a few dollars and you get what you want—a link. You hand some more money and you get more links.
There’s no need for you to spend hours researching prospects or crafting personalized outreach emails, or dealing with the inevitable feeling of rejection when most prospects never reply.
No. It’s a simple value exchange. Money for links.
Why you Should not Practice Backlinks Buying
Unfortunately, there are two big reasons why buying links isn’t the best idea. That’s aside from the risk of going against Google’s guidelines and getting your site banned.
Backlinks buying is an overly expensive adventure
In 2016, Ahrefs estimated the average cost of buying a link at $352.92.
According to the SEO tool provider, that figure increased to $361.44 in 2018.
So, that’s how much a link costs when you actually ask to buy one.
For most people, $361.44 isn’t cheap. If it is for you, good for you!.
But remember, most websites won’t rank with a single link. That burns through money pretty fast. You would have to buy as many links as possible. How sustainable is that for you? I’m guessing it isn’t.
Truth is, every link is a paid link, even those you build through natural outreach. For one thing, outreach takes time and time is money. And the “BIG G” prefers it this way.
You could either pay a blogger at least $361.44 to get a link. Or, you could spend time and effort building relationships with bloggers in an effort to earn natural links from them.
Either way, it will still cost you money.
But, let’s assume you paid someone $40/hour to build links for you via outreach. If they only built 1 link every 9 hours (on average), it would still be cheaper than buying links outright.
That’s something you can deal with.
Not $361.44 for a single link. Even the worst link builder knows this is hilariously ridiculous.
You can get very low-quality backlinks
Let’s assume a blogger agrees to sell you a link from their site.
Do you think you’re the only one buying a link from them? Most of the time, the answer is No.
I get a ton of emails from marketers. And they’re all requesting to pay for links from Afro Hustler, a business and entrepreneurship blog for Africa.
Here’s why I turn down most of them:
If Afro Hustler accepts links based not on merit, but cold hard cash, Afro Hustler will likely end up linking to a lot of unrelated junk.
And this is similar to hanging out with bad influences (i.e. the sites Google told you not to talk to). You might even end up linking to a site that is in Google’s “black book.”
But can Google know you’re hanging out with blacklisted sites?
No one knows for sure.
How to Build Backlinks Without Paying for Them
So, how do you build backlinks without doing backlinks buying? There’s a really simple way to do this but it does require hard work.
I’m not going to tell you that you’re just going to wave a magic wand and do nothing and you’ll get these links.
But if you’re willing to do the work, it’s not that hard to get these backlinks.
Here’s how you do it.
Head over to Backlinks. It’s a free link building tool on Neilpatel.com.
In the search bar, put in your competitor’s URL and it will show you all the people linking to your competitor.
While you’re there, search for the pages that they have that are the most popular. It will show you that. You can see all the links, all the links that people are pointing to other than their home page.
Through the Backlinks report, you can also see the backlink count for the whole domain and a specific URL. When you find the right articles your competitor is going after, you want to look at the backlink count for that URL.
If you’re struggling to find really good pages, another easy thing to do is to click on Top Pages in the sidebar.
It will show you the top pages that your competitors are writing on. Look at the ones that are most similar to you. You can also click the backlinks button and it will show you every single person that’s linking to that article.
Write a better version of that article your competitor wrote that’s similar or related to your industry.
If it’s 1,000 words, make it 5,000 words. This might sound crazy because it requires a lot of work, but you have to go in-depth.
I’m not saying you should just shove in keywords and make it long for the sake of hitting 5,000 words.
I’m saying you should create great, amazing content.
But what the heck is amazing content?
If you’re going to write about how to make coconut oil, break down everything to:
- How do you pick the coconut?
- Organic versus inorganic coconuts
- How do you remove the husk?
- Do you need to add water before squeezing the juice out of the shredded coconut?
- What’s the right heat temperature to warm up the coconut mixture?
All the way to:
- How the quantity of water in the coconut influences the quality of the oil
- Do you use a hand grater?
- Do you use a food processor or blender?
- Do you skim the fat off?
- What do you use to strain the oil? Do you use a sieve or a cheesecloth?
I don’t know how to make coconut oil because I’m not a coconut oil producer, but you get the point. If that’s how you make coconut oil, you want to go super in-depth, and why not go even more in-depth than that.
Also try animating the article by including images, GIFs, videos, etc, showing the process of squeezing the coconut, skimming off the fat, straining it.
So, you would do all these things. And making it super detailed is how you create better content than other people–your competitors.
Whether it’s images, infographics, or videos you also want to add to your articles.
Whether it’s having a custom designer to create graphics for you, all that adds up.
You want your content to be better. This is the most important part of this step.
It’s not using Neil Patel’s Backlinks tool. You can use any other tool if you want. Neil’s Backlinks tool is just free.
This step is the most important in this process and you want to be very thorough.
So, you’re done with steps one and two. The next thing you have to do is to email everyone who is linking to your competitor, telling them why your article is better.
But the real key is to do custom emails.
Here’s the thing.
If you do generic emails or just use an email template, at best, your email will be ignored. At worst, it will just get deleted.
Here’s a really great video by Sam Oh from Ahrefs that shows you how to write outreach emails that don’t get deleted or ignored.
Writing custom emails is more effective, takes more time, but it works.
That’s how you build links without paying for them. Most of it is manual labor on your end, and that’s why a lot of people don’t have links. It’s because they don’t want to take the time to build all those links because it’s just so time-consuming.
However, if you’re willing to take the time to do that, you’ll outpace your competitor, rank higher, and gobble up their traffic.
Sidenote: This is in no way the absolute and only way to get backlinks without buying them. In fact, here are 7+ other techniques you can use, according to Backlinko.
If you’re trying to rank a website in 2020 and you seem lost in the waters, check out this guide that shows you how to rank any website in 2020, using the latest approach.
Backlinks Buying Best Practices
But, if you are going to pay for links, do it right.
Check out this practical guide from the guys at Loganix that tells you everything you need to know about buying backlinks if you’re bent on going down this route.
Here are a few best practices to have in mind when buying backlinks.
Remember those three things we looked at earlier about what Google looks at when analyzing backlinks to rank? Well, the same things apply here.
- If you must buy links, get them from authoritative sites.
- Only buy backlinks from websites that have high domain authority.
- Get backlinks from high domain authority sites within your space.
That way, Google knows your link is somewhat natural and your rankings are going to climb.
In fact, if you do it right, there is little risk of penalty because it is almost impossible for Google to distinguish between a paid link and a natural one.
Final Thoughts on Backlinks Buying
Now you know what backlinks are and how they work. You know why you shouldn’t practice backlinks buying. More importantly, you know how to build backlinks without buying them.
It’s up to you to decide whether $361.44 is worth your money and worth the risk of getting caught and penalized by Google.
If you ask for my advice, backlinks buying is rarely worth your money. Why? Because it’s riskier and more expensive than building links naturally in most cases.
Over to you!
Are you doing backlinks buying? If you are, would you consider stopping or taking the right approach? Let me know in the comments below!