For years the search engine giant Google has told the online community that paid links are not acceptable and are outside of the webmaster guidelines. So it’d be reasonable to assume that Paid Links are going out of fashion faster than MC Hammer’s trousers. WRONG!
Buying links can be a precarious technique which in most cases is not needed. You can still mimic its effects without breaking the rules by using creativity, ingenuity and of course, hustle.
Personally I don’t buy links. Never have, but it’s not all about the risk. These links come at a considerable cost and if the links are devalued by the search engines they will soon cost you a damn side more in subsequent lost revenue. I’d rather build, promote and earn links that I know will be in place at the end of the month.
BUT…I do think there is a time and a place for opening your wallet, and that’s “white hat paid link building”.
What is White Hat Paid Link Building?
You know what…maybe white hat paid link building is the wrong name. I like to think of it as paid brand exposure. Earlier this week, I spoke with Rishi Lakhani about this and he absolutely nailed it:
The line in the sand is the intent behind the purchase. Are you intending to manipulate the search engine results with links or is the link a happy bonus? It’s difficult to think of this as link building but bear with me. There are many ways to pay for a link that goes beyond link value.
For example, when you become a member of a respected industry website such as Econsultancy or the Chartered Institute of Marketing (which can be very expensive), you are helping build your brand’s authority and credibility. Sure, you are getting a link, but many industry sites offer their members free resources, specialist knowledge/training and industry accreditation can be a great selling point to potential customers which makes it worth the cost.
If you need a perfect example of how to be white hat about obtaining links check out the BrightonSEO website. At the bottom, there are a number of sponsors at the event. These guys have paid money to sponsor the event. Why? Because it gave them exposure to their target audience both online and offline at the conference itself. I wasn’t in the room when FreshEgg decided to sponsor the event, but I’d bet my life that a link opportunity didn’t even come into the equation.
There are many more examples of increasing your brand’s reach with your target audience, most of which will get you links. I’m sure each of the conference’s sponsors had a nice influx of links from the sheer numbers of BrightonSEO writeup posts from bloggers and agencies alike.
My main point is this: If you are thinking about buying some paid links for your campaign, don’t. Buy yourself some real exposure, extend your brands reach, and watch those links follow naturally.
What are your thoughts? Have you had experience of buying exposure? I’d love to hear from you.