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What Are Paid Links: Is It Worth The Risk?

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Paid links are a bit of a controversial topic in the SEO world. But what are paid links? It is a question that many business owners and website owners ask themselves, as it can be a bit of a grey area.

Paid links used to be a huge factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, but this is no longer the case.  However, there are still questions about whether paid links are considered a spammy practice and can damage your chances of ranking.

Let’s explore what paid link is and whether or not it is worth the risk. We’ll also discuss tips on getting quality links without paying for them.

What are Paid Links?

Paid links are links that you buy from another website to increase the visibility of your website in search engine results pages (SERPs) or improve your website’s PageRank. 

There are two types of paid links: direct and indirect. Direct paid link building is where you pay for a link placed on another website. Indirect paid links are those where you pay for a link placed on your website.

Paid link building can improve your website’s SEO strategy, but it should be used sparingly and with caution. When used correctly, they can boost your website’s search engine rankings. Otherwise, you could end up harming your SEO efforts. 

When it comes to paid link building, quality is much more important than quantity. Excessive link exchanges can hurt your ranking.

A few high-quality paid links can be more beneficial than hundreds of low-quality ones. Reach out to the website’s owner and see if they’re interested in selling links. The key is finding relevant websites to your own and pass PageRank.

Paid Links vs. Organic Links

Paid links are advertisements you pay for, while organic links are earned through good content and SEO strategy.

Paid links are where a brand pays you to write about them or banner ads on your site; most people will not click on them. Sponsored links are less effective than organic links because they’re not as relevant to the content on your site.

On the other hand, you earn organic links through good old-fashioned hard work. These are the links you get when another site mentions your brand or links to one of your articles. The more likely you earn organic links when your site is more popular and relevant.

Organic link building is a process of slowly and steadily earning links from other sites through high-quality content. The payoff is worth it, but it may take months to years. Paid links, on the other hand, are a much quicker way to get links to your website.

Is paid link a Google Ranking Factor?

Google’s position on paid links is clear: Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is against their webmaster guidelines. Google says:

“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It includes any behaviour that manipulates links or outgoing links from your site.”

However, it’s essential to note that not all paid links are created equal. A link from a high-quality, relevant website will be worth much more than a link from a low-quality or irrelevant website. So, if you pay for links, ensure they come from websites relevant to your industry.

Overall, paid links are a Google ranking factor that you need to be aware of. As long as you’re careful about the purchased links’ quality, don’t worry too much about it. Just stay within Google’s guidelines, and you should be fine.

webpages and hands pointing back to a computer

There are a few ranking benefits of using paid links “theoretically”:

  1. It can help to increase the number of links pointing to a website, which can, in turn, improve the site’s ranking on Google.
  2. You can use paid links to target specific keywords, which can help to improve a website’s search engine optimization (SEO).
  3. Paid links can help to build relationships with other sites, which can lead to more traffic and exposure for a website.

Evidence as a Ranking Factor

page rank text with rankings reflected on a computer

There is no doubt that Google uses links as a ranking factor. They have even said so themselves. Links pass PageRank and impact search rankings.

If you’re paying for a link, Google prefers that you always disclose the relationship of your link. It helps Google keep their search results as relevant and trustworthy as possible.

Google can identify paid links in a few ways, but rel attribute values in links’ markup are the most common. The rel attribute values tell Google what the relationship of your link is.

  • rel=” sponsored” – tells search engines that the link is part of an advertisement. It can help your ad to appear more prominently in search results.
  • rel=” ugc” – tells search engines that the link is from a reputable source and used for links included in user-generated content, such as comments or forum posts. It 
  • rel=” nofollow” – tells search engines not to follow the link. It will help to prevent your site from being associated with low-quality or spammy sites.

Paid Links Can Harm Your Ranking

Paying for links is risky and can damage your ranking in search engines. Before you pay for links, be sure to understand the risks and potential consequences. Otherwise, you may find your site relegated to the back pages of the search results.

Paid links can always be manually reported or detected as undisclosed paid links by Google or your competitors. While Google will ignore such links if the algorithm detects it or you disclose their paid status yourself, it could result in a manual action and a potentially dangerous drop in your search rankings.

Paid links can manipulate search engine results and Google’s algorithm. Adverse outcomes will happen if you manipulate Google’s algorithm.

a computer with red banned icon
  • Your website can be banned from Google: This means that your website will no longer be in SERPs, and people will not be able to find your site. 
  • Your website can be penalized: If you are caught using undisclosed paid links, Google will push it down in the SERPs, which makes it harder for people to find your site.
  • Google can sue you: This is a grave matter, and it can lead to a lot of paid-out money by you.

How to Get Quality Links Without Paying for Them

You can still do a few things to get quality links without paying for them. This section is for those who don’t want to risk paying for links and getting caught by Google.

1. Make connections

haking hands with odometer icon on top

When you build a strong relationship with others in your industry, they will be more likely to link to your content.

You make connections by guest blogging on their site, participating in online discussions, and writing helpful articles or blog posts to build relationships and get your name out there.

When you build relationships with authoritative industry insiders, you can reap several benefits. First and foremost, you’ll be able to get your foot in the door with some of the most influential people in your field. It can open up opportunities for you, professionally and personally, down the road.

Additionally, these relationships can provide valuable insights and feedback that you can use to improve your work. Being associated with these individuals can help build your reputation and authority within your industry.

2. Make a range of excellent content, and do it frequently.

a mobile with group of words on the screen

Content making is hard work – there’s no getting around that – but if you can manage to produce high-quality, original content regularly, people will start to take notice. And when people begin to take notice, they’ll start linking to your content. If you want quality links without paying for them, you must make a range of excellent content and do it frequently.

Of course, it’s not enough to produce any old content – it needs to be the good stuff. Make sure your content is engaging, well-researched, and informative, and you’ll be well on earning those all-important quality links. Keep at it, and you’ll have the link profile you’ve always wanted before long.

People will start to notice if you produce high-quality, original content regularly. It can result in increased traffic to your website and links from other websites, which can improve your search rankings.

Additionally, producing good content can help build your brand and establish you as an expert in your field, leading to more customers or clients.

Finally, excellent content satisfies you and your audience and can help create a loyal following.

3. Return the favor

a mobile, a laptop, and a computer connected by a chain icon with backlink strategy text

If someone links to your website, look at their website and see if you can link to their site. It is a great way to build relationships with other web admins and get high-quality links.One way of starting a fruitful relationship with another website is to return the favor when they link to you. You also benefit from a backlink from an already well-established site by returning the favour. It is called “reciprocity” and is just one way of building backlinks.Backlinks can benefit your website in many ways. The more backlinks you have, the higher your site will rank in SERPs.High-quality backlinks also increase the visibility of your website and attract more visitors. Finally, backlinks help build relationships with other websites and improve the overall quality of your website.


Paying for links is a risky proposition. Paid link building has advantages but could damage your website in the long run. If you’re looking for quality links without paying for them, focus on building relationships with others in your industry, producing excellent content regularly, and returning the favour when someone links to you. These strategies take more effort and time than purchasing links, but they’re worth it in the long run.

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