13 Nov 2008

Link Influence: How to Buy Links With Maximum Juice and Minimum Risk

It’s time to learn how to buy links! Er, um, I mean it’s time to learn how other people buy links and why they’re bad. Don’t buy links. Links are bad. The room is packed. Oh Jesus..

Up we have Rank Fishkin, John Lessnau and Aaron Wall. Todd Malicoat will moderate.

John Lessnau is up first.

Link buying is NOT link building.  You have to be careful with your link footprint.

Why should you buy links? You get the anchor text you want, you get on the page you want, you get the location on the page you want and you get the links that help you rank better.

Why people don’t buy links: Fear of Google and a PageRank drop. They don’t understand link buying. The upfront cost is too high. They’re hoping for a wave of natural links miracle. It takes time, salesmanship and effort.

What is a safe paid link? The link should be in relevent text. It should be the only paid link on the page/one of the very few on the Web site. There should be lots of variation in your anchor text. It should be on inside pages. It should be long term and you should do it in moderation.  Like drinking. [John pays a “subtle” dig to Rand and his “seo comany” and those of us in the know quietly giggle while Rand grins real big.]

What’s a powerful link? The host Web site should have good rankings. They should have lots of natural links. They should not be a major link seller. Obviously, the link should be dofollowed.

John’s Link Buying System

  • Search Google for the various keyword phrases you want to rank for.
  • Look through the results for Web site and Web pages where your link would fit.
  • Verify that the potential link partner does not link to major link buyers.
  • Contact the webmaster and make a fair offer for the text link you want.
  • Your links should pass a handcheck to avoid being reported by competitors looking for personal gain. Google “embarrassment to Google” to learn more.

After The Buy

  • Monitor your links to make sure they stay up and the host sites stay clean.
  • Use your rankings as a springboard to gaining natural links.
  • Keep making your site better.
  • Know when to quit buying links.

He talks about prices. He sold a PR9 link for 2k a month.  If you go through a link broker you’re going to pay a lot more than if you do it yourself (about double).

Rand Fishkin is next. He’s going to talk about buying links without “buying links”.  Not that Rand doesn’t recommend that route, because sometimes he does.

Event Sponsorships: SEOmoz sponsored Seattle Startup Weekend –$250 for pizza and beer. He paid $250 for that link. He didn’t “know” they’d link to him for that sponsorship but he “thought” they “might”.

Process: Locate the event. Get in touch with them. It’s often $1-$500 for a permanent link from a good page. You also get branding, networking and goodwill.

Charitable Donations: Google “bought” a link on the FreeBSD Web site.

Process: Find the nonprofit. Locate their sponsorship page. Check that the links are passng juice. Call them personally to ask for the link to aid in “brandng”.

Web site Purchases: CondeNet bought a bunch of Web sites and now links to them.

Process: Find relevent Web sites. Negotiate ownership. Create relevant links that help with your needs.

Content Buying: BuddyTV bought Wentworth Miller’s Web site because they liked the blogger and wanted the content. Now they rank well for his name.

Process: ID valuable contet. Negotiate Purchase. 301 to our site and host. You can also buy articles on sites.

Viral/Linkerati Traffic Buying: Put your Web site content in front of the types of eyes that are likely to link to it. SEOmoz worked with FareCast. They were doing well when they got the right people to look at the site.  Went to the StumbleUpon guys and used their paid program to buy traffic, which then got them links

Process: Create viral worthy content and then find the relevant viral traffic sources. Buy traffic/ads. Measure/improve “link acquisition” Conversion Rate.

Bloger Product Reviews: SEOmoz blogged about a free book they got and linked to their Web site.

Process: Meet bloggers in person. Send bloggers free stuff. Follow up with email. Don’t ask for a link. Ask for a review. The smaller the blogger and the bigger your brand, the more likely you are to get it.

Content Parternships: VentureBeat and Read Write Web have partnerships with the New York Times.

Process: ID sources that could use your feed. Get in touch with them.

Blog Incubation: McCain’s political party incubated (aka paid to launch) blogs to try and pass out messages from the campaign.

Process: Put out ads for bloggers. Have them use existing sites or give them a marketing plan to grow their blogs. Explain the marketing you want.

Aaron Wall aka Catt Mutts is next.

Alternatives to Link Buying

  • Syndicate Content: Builds authority, reputation, traffic and PageRank
  • Barter: Give stuff away. Offer discounts for certain sectors.
  • Buy competing Web sites
  • Social Interaction
  • Public Interactions & follow up publicity

Encouraging Organic Links

  • Cumulative Advantage: If you look popular, more people will read you. It makes them feel better about themselves.
  • Regular editoral voice
  • Community Participation
  • Show social proof
  • Beautiful social design
  • Signs of crediblity — About Us

Yahoo Directory: Pick the best category that you have a chance at being listed on. You want to be in the first 20 result. You can the sponsor category if you’re not.

The Directory/Purge of 2007: Google killed many directories in 2007. Only buy in if the home page Page Rank is where you expect, if the cache dates are recent and the listing quality is decent. He likes niche directories like JoeAnt and BOTW.

AdWords Ad For Linkbait: Create industry leading content for authoritative easy-to-link-at topics. Buy adWords for a wide basket of related keywords.

Clean Bought Links

  • Blog about new Google products and wait for someone to blog about your blog post.
  • Sponsor Events
  • Contest & Awards Programs
  • Donate or Give Stuff Away
  • Affiliate Programs

Dirty Links: Try to buy links in content or organic looking links list — without disclosure. Run really dirty stuff through your affiliate program.

Link location matters. Yahoo doesn’t count links located at the bottom of the page.

The bigger your brand is, the more aggressive you can be without worrying about being penalized.

No matter what you do, you have to assume that eventually someone will see it. Google hires about 10,000 quality editors from remote locations. Some popoular SEOs like to out sites to cause contoversy and get attention. [coughRANDcough]

Question and Answer

When you’re asking or a link, what percentage of these deals are done by email vs phone calls?

John: Sometimes its hard to get a phone number. They start out as personal emails and then evolve into a phone call. You have to build a person’s trust.

Is there more power given towards a relevant link that pertains to my topic over sheer quantity?

John: He’d like to say yes but sheer quantity does still work. He still says to keep it relevant to be safe.

Rand: At the top of rankings you’ll see big brands ranking and stuff that just has a ton of targeted anchor text.

Aaron: He asks if there are any Lindsay Lohan fans in the room. He ranks in the top ten for [lindsay lohan nude]. When you have decent domain authority, you don’t need that many links to get pages to rank.

Brent Payne chimes in and says that if you have been mentioned by any Tribune article and they didn’t link out, Twitter @brentdpayne and he’ll fix it for you. Send him ONE page.

What if someone linkbombs you?

John: Post on Matt Cutts blog.

Rand: You can send it through the spam reports, but that takes time. The stuff that gets acted on the quickest are the things that are public. You can post about it on the forums or Sphinn or your blog.

Aaron: Turn it into a story and write about how that person is trying to manipulate Google. [It’s fun watching Rand turn colors. 😉 ]

Todd: Email Rand. He loves outing spam.

I’m seeing competitors putting my site on a bunch of spammy sites and it’s affecting my rankings. How do I combat that?

Rand: That’s tremendously rare. The engines have tended towards saying rather than penalizing a site we’ll just discount those paid links. File a reinclusion request and tell them what happened. Write about it publicly.

John: If you DO do that, make sure the rest of your site is clean. Because Google will look at your whole site.

The search engines have come to say that cloaking is always bad and buyng links is always bad. With cloaking there are legitimate reasons if you don’ say cloaking. Where’s the semantic line with buying links?

John: He thinks the engines draw the line where money changes hand. He thinks relevant links in content, regardless of how you get them, are inbounds.

Rand: He thinks it comes down to three questions: Intent, Character and Relevancy. Are you buying this because you know SEO and you know this will help your SEO? Who you are and what you’ve done in the past.

Aaron: If the money is just incidental. If the link is editorial, that’s okay.


  1. Barry Wise November 14, 2008 at 5:05 AM

    If I didn’t say it before (which I didn’t) let me say it now, you’ve done an excellent job liveblogging at pubcon! Those of us who couldn’t make it really appreciate it!!

  2. Link Building this Week (46.2008) | Wiep.net November 14, 2008 at 12:36 PM

    […] sessions titled ‘Real-world, low-risk, high-reward link building strategies‘ or ‘Link Influence: How to buy links with maximum juice and minimum risk‘, and after seeing interviews with Aaron Wall and Eric Enge, I have definitely added PubCon […]

  3. John Lessnau November 15, 2008 at 7:16 PM


    Nice round up on the Link Influence section. I am not sure if I’ll be doing “how to buy links” sessions anymore.

    It seems I end up being the only one foolish enough to give out buying links secrets while the others play it safe and close to the vest.

    One regret is I should have pimped out http://www.linkxl.com more so people know what my new site is actually all about.


  4. Hung Out To Dry On “Buying Links” Pubcon Panel | The Lessnau Lounge November 17, 2008 at 10:58 AM

    […] Lisa Barone does an excellent play by play write up at the WeBuildPages Blog […]

  5. Gab Goldenberg December 4, 2008 at 1:19 AM

    @John: Rand’s point on buying content and redirecting it was pretty original imho. His slides at SEOmoz also impressed me a lot.

  6. Come acquistare link: ottenere il massimo dall’acquisto di link con il minimo rischio | Seo Copywriting January 1, 2009 at 1:28 AM

    […] ero segnato questo write-up di Lisa Barone a We Build Pages al PubCon 2008 di novembre su come acquistare link ottenendo il massimo risultato e rischiando il […]

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