4 Pricey Link-building avenues that could get you banned

Written by neatly.io on 15th August 2018

For those of you already wondering what link-building is, it’s the practice of getting links from your site (backlinks) placed onto other sites to push your site up those SERPs. Search engines like Google will attribute value (measured in domain authority) to a site with more, high domain-authority sites linking to it. Resultantly, boosting the site’s search rankings for different keywords.

And it’s is one of those practices which can have even the best of SEOers scrunching their hair in tension. There are a ton of link-acquisition strategies which exist out there for obtaining backlinks. They aren’t easy to action and can leave the link-building newbies, likely to end up forking over a hefty buck for these backlinks. On top of a solid payment, they could end up receiving no significant value whatsoever or worse yet – a Google penalty.

We’re here to avoid precisely that and provide some effective alternatives for those pesky-yet-pricey link-building tactics you’ll come across on your SEO journey.

  1. Paid Guest-posting & Blogging Tactics

Figure 1.1. An example of an article’s by-line with an embedded backlink.

Guest-posting and blogging is one of the most common link-building tactics out there. It involves reaching out to publications and blogs within your industry, in hopes of getting a content piece placed there. Which is of course, constructed by you. A link to your site is embedded either in the content itself or the author by-line (See Fig. 1.1). And while this can be considered a PR exercise due to spreading brand awareness, make no mistake – the end-game here is backlink acquisition.

Once you’ve scoured a few blog sections and publications to gauge what type of content they write, pitch a few potential topics. The editor will get back to you with their contributor guide-lines, featuring the word limit, writing styles, backlink policies and (potentially) examples of ideal contributions. Some publications could however also send you a rate card with pricing options for featuring your content. While these are most likely to be the higher domain authority sites that request payment, there are similar ones out there who will publish your article free of charge.

Google previously issued a warning for marketers that blog-post for the sole intention of building backlinks. Paying to have a guest-blog falls right under this. However, if the contributing blog post educates the site’s audience to your brand then it’s all good with Google.

For those sites which don’t charge for guest contributions, be sure to write exclusive and genuinely engaging content for them. If published, gripping work will come in handy for demonstrating examples of previous works to future content pitches. Tip: Avoid writing the article prior getting a placement secured to save yourself a lot of time and effort.

  1. Paid Directories

Figure 2.1. An example of a business directory listing with a URL hosted on the profile.

Directory submissions are great, little helpers in giving you that effortless backlink boost. Directories are online profile collections of various businesses, where you can list your business through registering. Their golden-lining is in that your business profile hosts a URL of your website, among other information such as company description, phone number, e-mail addresses and more. While many argue that any backlink is a good backlink, it’s important to keep your listings contextual when adhering with Google’s guidelines. For example, an Australian marketing agency listing their site in a directory for American landscaping services would be irrelevant. Best to keep them contextual.

Google’s Webmaster link schemes guidelines clearly forbid purchasing backlinks which pass through all the backlink juice (aren’t “no-follow”), including low-quality directories.

The high domain authority directory sites look attractive, but these are the ones that are likely to ask for payments. Many businesses may consider them as their only options for high-quality directories. However, there are many free directories available and many of them being high domain authority. Compile a list of directory sites through Google searches and you’ll find that many have high domain authorities.

  1. Private Link Networks

A private link network (or a private blog network, PBNs) are a collection of blogs or sites owned by the same author, which are designated to distribute backlinks to other sites. These networks request a payment to feature your link on a bundle of their sites. Most of these sites will usually write (or get you to write) content which will be duplicated or re-iterated for their other sites. These PBNs will try to make the content seem organic in Google’s eyes and cover their digital footprints. However, if Google catches this they’ll take down the PNB and hence your paid backlinks. Therefore, your traffic, domain authority and backlink count are partially at their mercy. Additionally, Google could penalise your site if found exercising such Black/Grey Hat SEO strategies.

When weighing in on link building via. PBNs, you’ll find that the risks outweigh the rewards. You’re better off placing guest-posts to sites that accept free submissions. It’s effort you may need to exert when dealing with PBNs anyways, which may lead to no outstanding reward.

  1. Automated Link Building Software & Services

Automated link-building software and sites are services which request payment to generate backlinks on your behalf. These services can come in subscription packages which offer an x number of backlinks for y dollars per month. These sites will manually find forums and build links all over the internet. While the numbers may look great at first, these sites are usually in violation of Google’s guidelines and are likely to offer non-contextual, low quality links, providing no genuine value for your business.

An example of a link-building exercise with such services is forum posting your backlink with no genuine advertorial reasoning behind it. This is a form of spamming which you have no control over. Apart from associating your brand with spammed advertising, it can leave you open to receiving a Google penalty or violation.

Google recommends that the best way to build backlinks is to ‘create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community.’ Save yourself the wallet stab and risk of paying for sketchy backlink acquisition methods. Instead, focus on genuine PR and let your brand prosper in the long-run.

This article was written by Jay Bedi, a content writer and distributor from Indago Digital. Jay’s work spans from content marketing to entrepreneurship. He is also keenly interested in the Australian & American film industries.