Sunday, May 1, 2011

Buying Links from Blogs to Increase Rankings

There will always be two sides to the story of whether or not buying links is an effective strategy to increase your rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). All things being equal (quality of content, on-site optimization etc.), it is necessary to understand that a website that has a large number of high quality links will outrank a competitor that has a less impressive backlink profile. As a result, I don't necessarily think that whether or not you should buy links is the appropriate question to ask.

If your site is generating a significant amount of natural links (unpaid) from around the web, it may be unnecessary to implement such a strategy as your rankings may be on par. And, if you are someone that abides by every inch of Google's Webmaster Guidelines, it is unlikely that you are comfortable buying links in the first place. If your site needs that extra "boost," however, and it is unlikely that acquiring natural links in a short period of time is an option, the most important question that needs to be asked is, "Exactly what sites are appropriate to buy links from?"

While there are a number of sites that one could potentially purchase a link from, blogs have predominately risen to the top of the "most likely to be selling links" list - and that is what I will focus on today. The following 3 factors are essential to consider prior to determining whether it is a good idea to buy a link from a particular blog you may be researching:

1) Niche. For example, if you are operating a website that sells auto parts, you want to make sure that the blog is relevant to the car industry. Google prefers natural links. End of story. Don't push the envelope when you buy links, or you could get slapped with a rankings penalty a la JC Penney and, especially if you are a major player in your industry.

2) Backlink profile. If the blog you are researching has a weak backlink profile, then purchasing a link from that site is not in your best interest as the link will not carry significant value. Ideally, you want to look for blogs that have backlink profiles in excess of 1,000, and be sure that the backlinks come from unique URLs. For example, 5,000 links from 10 sites is not as strong from an algorithmic perspective as 5,000 links from 5,000 unique sites.

3) Type of link. Most blogs will sell two types of links - blog posts and blogroll. Blog posts are preferred as the link will be wrapped in text as opposed to standing on its own. This appears more natural, and since we know Google has stressed quality content of late, integrating the link in to 150-250 words of informative content is a more effective strategy.

While this concise list does not capture every factor that one should consider, it is a helpful start for those with little to no experience that are deciding whether or not a particular blog they are researching is worth buying a link from. Recently, Google has increased their efforts to punish websites that have purchased links from sites that are considered below average or not valuable for online users, making this initial assessment absolutely essential. And as a result, it is always important to remember that acquiring natural links from around the web is a more effective, risk-averse long-term strategy that should be favored over paid links.

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