Paid Links Go Underground

How to buy a link without buying a link

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For every abolition an underground emerges. Google’s not exactly the law, and bootleggers during Prohibition didn’t exactly offer seminars about avoiding the revenuers. Todd Mailcoat, Rand Fishkin, John Lessnau, with six middle fingers between them, offer no such discretion and invited PubCon attendees under the table in a session titled Linkfluence: How to Buy Links With Maximum Juice and Minimum Risk.

(Coverage of PubCon continues at WebProNews Videos.  Stay with WebProNews for continued coverage from the event this week.)

About this time last year, Google issued steep ranking penalties to paid link directories, making very clear to webmasters wanting to benefit from the search engine that reaches two-thirds to three-fourths of the market that paid links without nofollow commands to drain them of their link juice were officially taboo.

Most of the paid linking world either tried to hoof it out there without Google or reluctantly complied. But guys like Fishkin, Lessnau, Aaron Wall, you could call them outlaws, but really they are the leaders of the paid link underground that was a certain eventuality.

Paid Links Go Underground

Besides the juice, why would someone still be interested in buying links after all the Google strong-arming? “You get the anchor text want,” began Lessnau, “you get on the page you want, you get the location on the page you want.”

People have reasons other than Google for not buying links he continued, like the upfront cost, the time, effort and salesmanship, the “hoping for a wave of natural links miracle.”

Apparently, that’s just silly. Lessnau then provided an outline of “safe” paid links, which includes:

A link that is relevant in the text of a webpage
A link that is the only link on the page or one of very few on the site (this is important)
Links with varied anchor text
Links from inside pages
Links that are long term.

Lessnau recommends moderation. It’s always greed that gets people.

Which type of site should one seek out? Lessnau recommends a site with good rankings and lots of natural links that is not a major link seller. He described a cautious process that involves searching for the keyword phrases he wants to rank for, finding websites and pages that would be a good fit, verifying the potential partner does not link to major link buyers, and then making a fair offer to the webmaster.
Not only should a webmaster “know when to quit buying links,” she should also keep an eye on websites where links were bought to make sure the webmasters “stay clean.”

Fishkin followed Lessnau’s presentation with less advice that sounds like the sort you’d hear on “Intervention.” His “How to Buy Links Without ‘Buying Links’” segment involved more roundabout (read: untraceable) methods of link exchange. Less drug lord, more money laundering, then.

“It pays to have alternatives,” he said.

Fishkin suggested the nonprofit route, acquiring links via event sponsorships and online charities. Buying food for an event, or supplying t-shirts, etc., and thereby earning a sponsor’s link means “essentially you aren’t directly buying a link.”

Bullet points for this process:

Find nonprofits/charities online
Locate sponsorship pages
Check to see links pass juice, then get in touch
Avoid the standard donation forms and personally check with the webmaster about listings

Another way of buying links without buying them is indirectly bribing bloggers with free stuff and then following up with an email. “Don’t ask for a link. Ask if they liked the product.”

Yeah, slick right?   



Paid Links Go Underground
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  • http://www.devnetapps.com Webmaster

    ok so google how about a free link to everyone on the net?

  • http://creativeherb.com creativeherb

    For anything highly specialized like this, I would prefer to outsource it to an SEO firm. The problem is, there are so many shady SEO firms out there that might help short term, but damage your site long term.

  • http://local.genieknows.com Local Search Global Reach

    This is what I like about this site, the ability to see snippets of seo related news, that I can act upon.

  • http://www.waroengbetawi.com indonesia internet marketing

    nice trick for the last paragraph… never cross my mind before ;)

    thanks bro!

  • http://www.interactdesigngroup.com Ohio Web Design

    Thanks for the info, I enjoy your topics and discussions very much

  • http://www.ssrichardmontgomery.com ron

    Writing comments in places like this is also a good way to get free links to your site (grin)

    • http://www.adverzum.net Adverzum

      You do not get do follow links from here – this is my guess.

      • http://www.belajarmembuatwebsite.com Cara Membuat website

        I read some report that no follow still count but less power than follow.

  • http://www.uscardoffers.com Paul

    Proper link building tactics seem to change on a daily basis.Thanks for regular ideas and input to keep us current!

  • http://www.factoringforce.com Terry

    The suggestion about sponsorships and charities is a great idea and, I think, the type of link that really doesn’t contradict Google’s desire for link authenticity. What Google wants to discourage is artificiality which obscures valididty of search results. There is real value in a sponsorship and deserves mention on a website. Even though there is a monetary strategy behind the link there is really no artificality. I think that Google understands that.

  • http://www.sunspotsproductions.com/ Quinky McFurkle

    I think that’s a total win/win idea when helping out others and getting the link back. Great idea and part of that paradigm shift in values we need. I too think that Google wouldn’t look at that negatively. Now, the payola idea (sending a treat in exchange for a link), is legit, but still feels a little smarmy to me, although it does get the job done.


  • http://www.fishcr.net Central America Realtor

    Links continue to be one of the most important discussions in the area of SEO. Thank you Web Pro News for keeping us informed on the latest trends in this area.

  • http://www.sugardaddies.nl SugarDaddy

    Are free link directories also being penalised?

  • http://www.moscowbeauties.ru Guest

    Its the most fast way to high your ranking when you buy links. But there is some problems: 1. Not everyone have money to buy links. 2. In this case some bed sites become sites with a high ranking and unfortunatly some good sites not became because of absence of buying links. For example my site   http://www.moscowbeauties.ru  has any buying links. This is the reason why I receive only some cents for my Ad Sence. But I try to high my rankings with the help of interesting topics, with the help of interesting gadgets and with the help of people who know how to high site ranking acording with seo sience.

    Best wishies to all readers! From Russia with love,



  • http://www.moovinonup.com/search_engine_optimisation.html search engine optimisation

    very intresting indeed

  • http://www.diamondonnet.com/ Diamonds

    Like the ideas here, thanks for the tips.

  • http://www.creativebox.ltd.uk SEO Yorkshire

    As Google cannot discriminate between a paid link and a free link, it has simply chosen to ignore all links from those thousands of nominal business directories that have appeared over the past few years. I think that someone at Google bought Directory Submitter software and simply blanked off all the directories featured within it. The problem is that I have some of my own free, list yourself directories which have now been bundled in with the above.

  • http://www.seocompany.co.in seo company

    In this article there is no where it’s discussed that how we can buy links with out bying links!

    A link that is relevant in the text of a webpage
    A link that is the only link on the page or one of very few on the site (this is important)
    Links with varied anchor text
    Links from inside pages
    Links that are long term.

    These 5 points observed by almost all major seos. So what is new ? Have I missed some thing ? Would love to get an answer … please.

  • http://www.tmdesigner.it/tmdpromozioneaziendale.html tmdesigner

    great ideas for marketers..

  • http://www.straughan.ca Jim Straughan

    As someone who works primarily on his own site it would seem not to make any sense to try and game Google .


    .The idea of approaching charities etc. would seem like a win-win situation to me which is the best way of doing business after all .

    Thanks for the interesting articles.

    Jim Straughan

  • http://www.effectwebmedia.com Professional web development

    Rand goes into this a little further on his blog at SEOmoz.  As always, he gives great advice, but actually implementing these will take some time.  Better for clients with big budgets…

  • http://www.jjseo-solutions.co.uk internet marketing

    As the director of a seo company I would say there is no new information available in this post. This is simply advice on how to manipulate Google by creating links that are not relevant or natural. There are many ways to gain links that are high quality – for free.

    I have never understood the mentality that seems to think having 100’s of links placed on insignificant directories will help your rankings. It won’t!!! Google doesn’t acknowledge directory listings.

    Surely the need for links primarily is to drive traffic to your site!! If you create links with this at the forefront of your mind, you will then be creating links worth having which Google will deem as high quality.

  • http://www.myinkpro.com MyInkPro Printer Ink

    I’m a big fan of the charity route myself… I suppose in a sense it’s not charity if you’re getting a valuable return link out of it, but it’s not a whole lot different from the idea of donating to charity in hopes of a tax break, when you think about it. Besides, you get a link, and someone in need gets warm clothes or a hot meal… how can you go wrong with that?

  • http://www.yourdatacenter.com Al Thiel

    Why do you all want to push the link thing so hard?


    I know you all think that lots of links to you will help.  Truthfully, it does a bit, but the best way to get real visitors is to sub-channel another site.


    Sub-channeling is easy.  Say you have a website that sells John Deer tractors.  well, who would be the best site to have a link on?  John Deer of course.  You want to align yourself with your master-sellers.  That way you are a value to them, and them to you.


    Having the website indexed means nothing if you do not have a traffic flow that is natural.  We do that for our customers at hostlongisland.com and yourdatacenter.com every day.  As a result they are happy to have the words "Hosted by HostLongIsland.com at YourDataCenter" listed proudly!


    Good selling to you all.  -Al

  • http://investmentpropertyrumours.blogspot.com Investment Property Rumours

    Well I never! To think that such a thing could ever go on!

  • http://blogxite.blogspot.com Guest

    Bribing bloggers is unlikely. Not the right words of course but an incentive or a gift… :)

  • http://www.mynewswire.co.in news headlines

    thanks WPN for this good information..as quality backlinks always count and all point mentioned here perfect good way to get backlinks and if you have done some link building withour checking link partner then bust review all of them and filter it with badsite…hope this will help..:)

  • http://www.socialmediamarketingwatch.com smmw

    I liked the idea of buying links yet not paying for. Good! As you not only get links but you also get publicity and good deed rewards after death. :0)

  • http://www.CyberSiteSearch.com Site Search And Online Marketing Tools For ECommerce Sites

    So do listings in DMOZ also get penalized and discouraged? How about Yahoo’s directory? Did anybody tell them? I suspect not since they have not lowered their price!

    • http://www.bestchoiceforebooks.com Private Label Rights Ebooks

      I beleive Google has begun devaluing links from DMOZ and Yahoo within their search results. Appears to be a popular topic recently.

  • http://www.freeporndirectory.net Guest

    FreePornDirectory.net Is a free porn directory organised by category with non reciprocal link

  • http://www.adproducts.com.au Promotional Products

    I’m curious how much google REALLY notices paid links. Do sites actually get demoted for this… there is a lot of talk of it but rarely any evidence I have seen.  I’m also curious how in reality (as opposed to the "official" answer) those websites/directories thats say they charge for "review" as opposed to inclusion get treated?

  • http://www.seosean.com Affordable SEO Services

    Regardless of whether or not paid links can be undetected it’s still unethical to engage in such practices. I know I might sound like a seem like a 5 year old but it the truth. If Google says not do that, and you want to be included in their search engine, then just don’t do it. You always have the option of not being included in their search engine.

    Gained I understand it’s much more work to come up with ways to get quality links without simply selecting a link and buying it. But in the end it’s rather rewarding to now you did that all your self.

    That’s what we do in our SEO company. We come up with creative and effective ways for getting quality links pointing back to the site. It allows us to remain ethical and not have to worry about the ranking of a client’s site being pulled or dropped.

  • http://www.seosean.com Affordable SEO Services

    Yes, link pages are not that good. Most link exchange page or directories on sites just are not a good place to get links. In the past these types of links might have been good and effective but for the most part now these types of links are not going to benefit you.

    2 reasons why:

    1. These pages tend not to get index in Google thus your link won’t ever get counted. Reason being that most of these link exchange directories are just hundreds of pages with links pointing out to other website. Google usually would rather focus their time indexing pages with real content than crawling hundred of pages on someone’s site where each page simply has links to other sites on it.

    2. Most link pages or link exchange directories tend to have a very low amount of PR, thus the benefit from obtaining a link from that page is rather low.

    All in all, I’ve just about completely stopped exchanging links as I’ve found it’s more of a wait of time. Instead I’ve been focusing on creating quality content and researching and coming up with creative ideas for obtaining links. The effect is natural quality links back to your site and thus a much higher return on my time invested.


  • http://www.wingsdove.com WingsDove Web Design Solutions

    The idea of finding a way around Google’s "Laws" can be tempting.  It IS so difficult and so much hard work to find good quality inbound links.

    BUT, the truth is that a paid link is an artificial link. It is not a natural link that reflects good quality content.  Good content will always naturally generate inbound links. 

    In the end, Google tries to serve up good quality content for it’s users. This has worked for them — Google is at the top of the search engine heap.  Over the years, I have seen a lot of linking schemes and systems get caught by a Google dance and then it’s bye-bye rankings.


  • http://forum.5voq.com/ Guest

    thanks For you I like Google So math

  • http://vb.maas1.com/t77254.html ???? ????

    thanks for post

  • http://www.pr-interactive.com web design company

    I have had no luck with paid links

    Check out my Florida web design company, my website design portfolio and learn more about my web design companies website

  • http://www.smartin.in kerala web design

    Many Bloggers are now doing paid posts . It has became on of the tactic of seo professionals , as Google find outs paid text links . Paid posts are now the alternate source of income for Bloggers .

  • http://www.designz23.com Kim Murphy

    It seems there are some black hat SEO technique that google will never ever be able to penalize people for. Unless a web site specifically advertises that they blog for money, google will never know. Paid blogging, paid articles, paid links in an article (calculated to look like an article not written for seo purposes) – how can google regulate such things? There will always be ways around google.

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