Many businesses find that buying backlinks is often much easier than having to naturally acquire them. It offers a faster way of building your link profile – but is it really worth it?

What is a backlink?

Backlink is a term used to describe incoming links to your website.

Backlinks are great as Google uses backlinks as a ranking factor, helping you rise up the search results pages as a credible website. Backlinks are also great as they also generate referral traffic, i.e. people click the backlinks on the websites where they are cited and visit your website as a result.

Can you buy backlinks?

Years ago, it was the number of backlinks and not the quality and relevance of backlinks that helped you establish your website in search engines. Due to that fact, people were gaming the system and selling 100s of backlinks to your site from fake websites or link farms set up purely to link out. Google eventually caught up with this practice and this update was known as the Penguin update (Google names all of its major updates), which demoted sites that had bought-in a lot of low-quality backlinks.

Buying good quality backlinks can sometimes generate more income than the cost of the link itself, which is why some business owners consider it a good investment. But unfortunately, this is very risky. Google clearly states that it’s against their guidelines to buy backlinks to improve your rankings.

If it’s found that you are guilty of taking part in this practice, Google may penalise you. This is never good as the consequences can be devastating for your business. You will lose your valuable rankings and this can continue for up to six months. In fact, it’s a well-known fact that some websites never recover from this setback at all. Since Google clearly dominates the search market online, it’s in every webmaster’s best interest to avoid buying backlinks at all costs.

Backlinks Are Good

That being said, you should never stop building backlinks – naturally. It will increase your organic search results and improve your overall rankings. Especially if these links come from reputable sources.

You can do a lot to boost your SEO efforts and remember, great content is at the heart of your website’s success. Speak to the experts at The Content Works to help you craft great content for your website, and to help boost your incoming links.

The irony is that even backlinks that are paid for can work wonders.

A lot of businesses do it, especially those in competitive industries. They’ve gained good rankings because of it, and haven’t been penalised for it yet. One reason may be that there are literally billions of links all over the web and it’s often not easy for Google to differentiate between natural backlinks and ones that were paid for. Most times, paid backlinks look exactly like natural links on a website.

High quality links can be very expensive, which is why people are often tempted to buy the affordable options. But this often means cutting corners and getting links on substandard websites. Low quality links will likely not benefit you at all, and are often a waste of money. Some low quality paid links will also link to unrelated sites or dodgy industries like pharmaceuticals and gambling. This is where Google can easily pick up that you are involved in bad practices and you’ll very likely get penalised.

Under no circumstances should you think it’s acceptable to pay for backlinks, especially not the low quality kind. However, if you do have an opportunity to purchase a good quality backlink from an authoritative website, you should know that there are risks involved. You need to be prepared to take responsibility, should Google decide to penalise you. These links can provide great value for your rankings, so it’s understandable that webmasters find it so tempting.

Here are a few basic guidelines when it comes to buying links:

  • Don’t buy links in packages, buy them individually instead
  • Don’t buy through a third party service
  • Don’t buy links from a website that openly states they sell them
  • Only buy links from relevant websites
  • Keep the percentage of paid links you have to a minimum

Matt Cutts from Google Webmasters outlines Google’s policy on paid links

We can help

Improving your rankings isn’t just about backlinks. You need quality content too, so that visitors and clients can find something useful to link to. To learn more about how to create great content that will boost your rankings naturally, speak to the experts at The Content Works. Give us a call on 0207 305 55 99 or email for more tips and advice on how we can help you make your site the best it can be.


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