As the value of the highest quality backlinks continues to grow, so too does the efforts of those looking to turn a profit by selling them. Or should that be, those pretending to sell them though actually able to do nothing of the sort.
Over the past few months, there’s been a distinct rise in reported cases of completely random individuals and supposed ‘businesses’ offering do-follow links on high-profile websites for a one-off set fee. Such persons pretend to be the only means by which such extraordinary links can be procured, often charging $500+ to get your link on site like Huffingtonpost.com or Guardian.com.
The only problem being that while it seems like an offer too good to pass up, what you’re actually looking at is the very definition of an offer that is too good to be true.
Right now, there’s absolutely no debate or argument whatsoever with regard to the power and value of these kinds of backlinks. Which in turn would argue that purchasing them when available is a good idea. Or at least it would be, if it wasn’t for two very important reasons.
First of all, it’s safe to say that somewhere in the region of 99% of the individuals peddling this kind of merchandise are actually selling nothing at all. The moment they have your money in their pocket, they will disappear permanently. Secondly, even if they were somehow able to hack their way into their proposed site to get a link placed on your behalf, this is exactly the kind of practice that Google is referring to specifically as both wrong and dangerous.
Or in their words:
Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.
Roughly translated – they know exactly how to detect links that haven’t been earned organically and will tear you a new one in the instance that they find out you’ve taken the low road.
What’s important to remember is that while the value of a high profile link can be quite extraordinary, it doesn’t even come close to the kind of damage that can be done by way of a manual penalty. If you find yourself struggling or dropping in the rankings, this isn’t a good thing. Nevertheless, it isn’t nearly as bad as being handed a manual penalty directly from Google, which could see you either plummet in the rankings or fall off the table entirely. When Google personally puts a black mark against your name, trying to recover treads that very fine line between extremely difficult and impossible.
Even if you manage it, you are usually looking at months of hard work just to get back to where you were before.
All of which essentially points to the same long-standing conclusion – any black-hat approach to link-building is an approach you should stay away from. And when you find yourself presented with an offer that appears far too good to be true…well, you really should be able to work the rest out for yourself!