Link buying in competitive industries

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  • February 22, 2008

We all know that link buying is against the guidelines but to get high rankings in industries such as insurance or loans you simply have to buy a few choice links.

The situation has got a lot better in the last 12 months as Google discounts more and more obviously paid links so you don’t need to buy quite as many to compete with the big link buyers players.

Imagine you have a client who wants to rank highly for “loans”. In the past you would get as many links as possible with the anchor text “loans” and watch the rankings rise, nowadays this is actually a risky tactic to use. Can you think of any legitimate reason why somebody would link to with the anchor text “loans”? In my view any blog post with some general ramblings about a company and then a keyword rich link in the middle is clearly either a paid post or one that Google is going to be suspicious about.

Footer links have a similar stigma, any footer link with keyword rich anchor text probably isn’t going to count for very much unless the site is above a certain trust threshold and has very few outgoing footer links.

Does Google look at this?

Google probably has the ability to bring up a report on all suspected paid links to a site, they can also bring up a report listing every link to a site with a specific anchor text. If somebody at Google decides to run a report for a finance company and finds 10,000 links all with the same anchor text then it is pretty clear that a lot of these links will be paid.

The consequences will vary, in most cases Google will just manually go through your links and mark some sites as link sellers and remove their ability to pass PR but in extreme cases you could end up with a penalty.

Patrick Altoft

About Patrick Altoft

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events.

  • Stephan Miller

    It’s good to find someone who hasn’t totally thrown paid links in the waste basket. I still think they are worthwhile and maybe with the current Google scare, even more so, because it should cause prices to drop a bit.
    I have only started in the link buying game, but I have done reciprocal links in the past a lot for a multitude of sites. I find that a gradual backlink increase works wonders. A few this month, a few more the next. Buy links to specific pages and never just the homepage. We’ll see how it works out.

  • Matt Ridout

    I agree with Stephen, it’s a nice change.

  • Tom Beaton

    Buying paid links is gaming the system. The problem is that someone will always do it, so you probably have to do it too in order to keep competitive. Where does it end?

  • Chetan

    Fake linkbait ha ha.. A good trick there to be a bit out of suspicion and also to get some good buzz all around.
    Btw not sure about how frequently the report on links in posts is seen, but i think google is devalueing footer links pretty well, one of the common ones is sponsored wordpress themes.

  • Charles

    Keyword in domain name is the way to do it. If your company was called “Cheap Loans Inc”, and people linked to you with that text, then Google couldn’t say that was particularly spammy as it’s your company name.

    The fact that it has “Loans” in it means you’ll eventually start working your way up the ranking for that term.

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  • Lee

    In the bingo space the top 2 sites (Dream and Foxy) in google are fairly new in the market and have been aggressively link buying through little text ads here and there.

    They’ve shot up the rankings for Bingo and “online bingo” (the only anchor text they’re using) which seems to point in the direction that link buying still works.

  • Tripti

    Fake link bait ….sounds good .I never heard this term before .Now i really eagar to see the outcome of this practice.

  • Craig

    If you look at the big boys you can see evidence of link buying and it does seem to work, but not only do you have to think if the risk is worth it but is the amount you have to pay for them worth it? You are not going to get an instant boost with the 1 link so prepare to dig deep, and then if you get caught prepare to get the drain ready because that is where your money is going to end up going.

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