Being that I’m starved for content ideas I’ve decided to start a new category called “Buying or Selling.” The concept behind “Buying or Selling” is pretty simple when you think of it in terms of buying or selling stock. When a stock is going down in price you obviously want to sell and when it’s going up obviously you want to buy. So what I want to do here is look at SEO tactics and determine whether I think they’re something that’s useable and effective, in which case I would be “Buying” that tactic, or if the tactic is dead and no longer viable than I would be “Selling” that tactic. This week I want to look at paid links.
Buying or Selling: Paid Links
In the case of paid links there is one big detriment to using them and that’s getting outed by one of your competitors because frankly I’m not too high on Goog’s ability to sniff out paid links on their own… at least when you know how to buy paid links but that’s a post for another day…
Recently it’s become sport to out big, brand names for buying links or other nefarious tactics and some pretty big names have gone down. Brand names such as J.C. Penney, Forbes and Overstock. The penalty for buying links is a big slap to your rankings and to the back of your dome for thinking you could ever pull one over on Goog. This fear alone is more than enough to keep most webmasters and small business owners away from the likes of paid links but is that smart on their part?
When I think about SEO tactics I don’t ever think in terms of ethics or morals. When I think about SEO tactics I think about effectiveness and I look at the work or investment/return ratio. I can guarantee you the Board of Directors at all of the companies listed above think in the same way. I can guarantee you the Board at J.C.Penney’s wasn’t thinking about Goog’s feelings or their TOS as they took their profits from multiple front-page rankings to the bank. Not to beat a dead horse but buying links was a calculated move and it paid off big time for J.C. Penney. They front-paged for a bunch of buying terms right before the holiday season and they took flak for it after the fact. Their rankings were “slapped” after they had already proven to themselves that paid links work and are effective.
So I’m buying links for the simple fact that they work and Goog is atrocious at finding them.
Granted there is risk involved and that’s where as an SEO I pull myself out of the equation. When it comes to paid links, if you’re working with a client your job as an SEO is to apprise the client of the risk involved in buying links. Risk assessment is up to the client, not me. I simply say here is what is in my tool belt and this is the risk/reward ratio of those tactics in my tool belt. And when they ask me about paid links the response is always: “Paid links work but you have to be careful and you have to buy the right ones. And you have to be willing to take a “slap” to your rankings if you get caught.”
How can Google tell the difference between a paid link and a natural link? It can’t and neither can the search engine spiders or the algorithms if you know what you’re doing.
So when it comes to paid links I’m obviously buying. On my personal affiliate websites it’s a no-brainer and with clients it’s up to them to determine how much risk they want to take to achieve higher rankings. Generally speaking paid links aren’t something I would propose to a client but when I start to here comments and chatter that sound like “things aren’t happening fast enough,” “is there any way to speed up the process,” and my favorite “are we there yet?”
Yea when I start to hear stuff like that, I let it be known that there are options and alternatives but that they also entail a lot more risk. Personally I’ve been surprised at how many peeps are more than willing to take on more risk but maybe I shouldn’t be. We live in a results driven world and in a results driven world, paid links work.
I’m buying paid links. Chime in in the comments. Are you buying or selling paid links?