A HIPPO Internet Marketing Training blog by Corey Creed

The Jungle Map, your guide through internet marketing

How to Buy Links – From #Pubcon 2010

November 11th, 2010

This session is on Link Buying.

Jamie Steven, VP of Marketing at SEOmoz is up first. He is formerly of Rhapsody, Best Buy, and Microsoft.

SEOmoz recently did a survey:
14% of surveyors bought links from websites/web masters.
8% of them bought links from link brokers or service.
People who bought links are twice as likely to file a spam report about their competition.

NOTE: If your competitors are buying links, they are much more likely to report you if you try to. (In other words, it’s a dog eat dog world to play in.)

Jamie is promoting the idea of not buying links. He states that the companies he has worked for does not want to be in the market of buying links. It’s not because they don’t work. It is because they are too risky. He feels there are better ways to spend your money, such as “business development”.

He gave some data on three examples of how SEOmoz bought 3 different links and pointed them to different sites. The jump in ranking within 4-8 days was very impressive. Buying links does work.

If you do get “caught” buying links, getting penalized is terrible, awful, & horrible. Reconsideration can take months or years. If your competitors are buying links, they are more likely to report you for buying links.

Matt Cutts acknowledged just last night that some of the people at Google that have been working on web spam have been working on other projects. But there will now be a renewed effort toward getting rid of web spam. Even Matt admits that spam has been on the rise in Google and they are about to do something about it – soon.

At SEOmoz, they get inquiries from their customers that have been penalized. It is not uncommon to hear of websites that have bought links suddenly lose rankings. The penalty is hard to overcome. They file several reconsideration reports. They have even sent letters directly to Matt Cutts. Often it takes many months to gain back what you’ve lost.

He acknowledges that buying links is an option for businesses are turn and burn. If you plan on killing the domain, buying links can propel you to the top quickly. It’s just risky, that’s all.

6 Creative Ways to Spend Money and Earn Great Links…

1. Earn links through business development. Partner with legitimate businesses to produce valid and powerful links.

2. Political / Non-Profit Donations will often result in a good link.

3. Events – If you throw or sponsor an event in your city. Find Twitter influencers using the Top 50 users in your city via Twitaholic.com. Verify that they have blogs and websites and invite them.

4. Buy existing content – Host content on your site and pay to have a cross-domain rel=canonical to your site.

5. Corporate scholarship – Offer a corporate college scholarship and the scholarship will get listed in a bunch of directories. Universities and high schools will also link to you.

6. Target influencers on Facebook. Create Facebook ads targeted to specific people using “employees of” targeting. Direct to content on your site worthy of a link, or content specifically tailored to that influencer.

Jim Boykin of “We Build Pages” is up next.

Three years ago he was on this same panel and said “Don’t Irritate Google” and “Stay Under the Radar”. Those are the only two rules to buying links.

Use MajesticSEO, OpenSiteExplorer, and Blekko to determine links.

He admits that buying links is a Risk vs Reward. The odds of getting penalized is debatable.

Top 10 ways of getting caught by Google…

Trip a link buying filter
If your broker gets caught.
Someone blogs about your buying links
You are #1 for competitive phrase and not the best site
You irritate your competitive people below you.
You buy links from brokers that do it a lot.
You have no natural back links.
Start bragging about your rankings.
Report your competitor to Google when you buy links.
Talk on a panel at Pubcon about how to buy links.

Do you think you are penalized?
Just because you drop rankings in Google does not mean you are banned.
Remove links. All of them.
Do a reinclusion request. Beg. Tell Google you fixed it. Tell Google you fired your SEO agency that bought links. Have the CEO tell Google that they fired the guy that hired the SEO agency that bought links.

Todd Malicoat of MarketMotive is next.

He says that the “buying links” issue is real. He explains that you can call link buying “business development”. But either way, you are buying links. So the discussion will continue.

He encourages using MOZrank for determining the value of a link as opposed to PageRank.

Paid link brokers are generally a bad idea now. It doesn’t work or is too risky.

SEOQuake is a great toolbar for determining the value of a link.
Unique domains linking to the site is probably the most important aspect.
Domain age is important too.
Total number of pages indexed in Google.
Check the CPC of the keyword being targeted.

At MarketMotive, they have a full chart of what to look for.

Find good websites to get links from by using the Google Directory.

NOTE: The main takeaway from this entire session was that buying links is very risky. Yet, it’s about the only way to win in very competitive markets. So you need to know the risks.

Also, the difference between “buying links” and “forming partnerships” can be a very thin line. Google determines the difference. So be careful. How close you get to that line can be dangerous.

That being said, links work.

Each situation is different as to how you go about getting them and what you feel is appropriate or necessary for your site (or your client’s site).