Should You Buy Links From Random Emails?
Every day I get emails from people I don’t know offering to sell me links.
In fact, in the past 24 hours, I’ve received 12 emails offering to either sell me links or perform white label link building services.
I understand. Link building is hard.
And a lot of people attracted to SEO don’t necessarily like nurturing the relationships needed to organically build quality links.
Even so, should you buy links from that cold email contact?
The danger in the inbox
Most people understand that buying links is against Google’s Terms of Service.
Apocryphal stories of manual penalties and lost fortunes circle every SEO group.
But desperate website owners still respond to spammy offers to sell links that arrive unsolicited in their inboxes.
Lately, these offers list a number of websites where links are “available” for purchase.
In some cases, websites appear to offer legitimate linking opportunities.
But in reality, these websites have either been hacked or some rogue writer accepts money under the table to insert links into their copy.
Most of these link building offers are worth about as much as the space they take up in your inbox.
Manual penalties are the least of your worries
I am going to tell you a secret.
You probably won’t get a manual penalty from Google unless you do something obviously wrong.
And if you receive a manual penalty, lifting that penalty is a pain but a fairly simple process.
The biggest concern for most when going gray or black in their link building efforts are the algorithmic penalties that can arise.
In my experience, Google just ignores most purchased/paid links.
And in many cases, Google can tell when a link is purchased.
In this case, you paid for a link that gives you no value.
And in some cases, you might see your ranking drop inexplicably.
This happens because Google recognizes purchased links and algorithmically downgrades your site.
When this happens, it is impossible to know if the drop in ranking is due to questionable links or some other reason.
This scenario is worse than a manual penalty, in my opinion.
We can do something about a manual penalty.
An algorithmic slap is much harder to diagnose and fix.
Why would someone link to you?
Ultimately, all marketing accelerates the inevitable.
If a product or service is going to be successful, marketing (including SEO and link building) will speed up the timeline for success.
If a product or service fails, marketing will help it fail faster.
If you have a great product or service, you have something worth linking to, but it’s up to you to tell the world.
If you want to be successful in SEO, you have to create something that others want to link to.
It means digging deep and really understanding your unique selling point.
Ultimately, the competitive analysis is excellent. However, if you just do what your competition is doing, you might match them but won’t beat them.
It’s best to focus on your own site and figure out what others will want to talk about you – and what it will link to.
Successful and linkable content is different for every site.
There is no silver bullet to creating a desirable link destination.
And of all SEO tactics, link building is the hardest to scale if you do it right.
Without a doubt, link building is hard work. But it’s not rocket science.
Essentially, all you need to build quality links is to create something worth linking to and tell the right people about it.
In most cases, you don’t need thousands of links to be successful.
In fact, I’d rather have a Wall Street Journal link than 1000 random blog links every day.
But I’m not going to get a link to Forbes from some guy who sent me an unsolicited email.
Trust me, that’s asking for trouble – the kind of trouble that hurts your SEO more than it helps in the long run.
So, should I buy links?
In my career, I’ve purchased millions of dollars worth of links.
But about five years ago, I decided that buying links was too risky for my clients and my agency.
That’s not to say I haven’t had customers buying links. I don’t do it for them.
If you want to buy links, you must understand that there are significant risks, as mentioned above.
The old adage: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the problem is, I don’t know which half,” has never been truer than when it comes to purchased links.
My best advice is that if you’re going to buy links, make sure the links are going to get you valuable traffic – not just PageRank.
And if you plan to buy links, I suggest you buy them directly from the site.
Don’t respond to random unsolicited emails offering amazing links at an amazing price.
If it seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
Key points to remember
Link building is hard. Scammers and spammers know this; in fact, they count on it.
That’s why your inbox is filled with link building offers that, more often than not, are too good to be true.
Don’t fall for the trap of buying links in your inbox.
Understand that when buying links you could be wasting your time and money.
You could also suffer the consequences, and a manual penalty is the least of your worries.
Diagnosing an algorithmic degradation is much more difficult than correcting a manual penalty.
Create link-worthy content – content that top sites will want to link to.
Create this linkable content, then tell the right people about it. Showcase your content to influencers with the best links. Pick up the phone and tell them about your great products, services, and content.
I promise you will have more success talking to someone than randomly emailing them.
You need to stand out in your link building efforts, so pick up the phone and start pitching.