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I am not a Link Communist Revisited: Perspectives on Buying Links

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 14 years and 68 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

I like to buy links. In fact, I love to buy links. As powerful and relevant as possible. The more they are such, the more they will help search engine rankings. Search engine rankings help sales. I love to buy sales even more than I like to buy links. I love to scale this process too. I am a capitalist. Capitalist theory may have it’s downfalls, but overall it has served our country pretty well. I think a case could be made for just about any link on the web being purchased in one way or another. You can read my thoughts on not being a link communist here.

About two years ago, I formed an opinion on buying links that is contradictory to that of search engineers at Google. I obviously have a vested interest in doing so. The above is my disclaimer. I like to make money buying (and sometimes selling) links. Engineers make their employer money by keeping search results relevant. That is two perspectives. The third (4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th) perspective is the Visitor, Owner, Consumer, or Partner. They are what I truly try to justify my biased perspective off of because they are the most important. I think the FUD is really only doing detriment to them in the long run, and creating unwarranted confusion to those who have legitimate needs to purchasing links in various forms.

Maintaining perspective is the important part of the link buying debate. Staying informed, and being able to defend your case should the issue ever arise, and knowing that there are no hats, only goals in this business.

Article link buying

Perspective: SEO

  1. Quantity – I write a press release which takes time to write or resources to have written. Hopefully it is worthwhile news. The anchor text linking back to the articles sometimes helps as a link. Submission services take money.
  2. Quality – I spend a LOT of time writing a superior article to have it published and have links put in. I send it to someone, and they review it and publish on their site with relevant links. I value my time as money.

Perspective: Engineer

Anyone can publish a crappy article. Some are relevant and well written, but they will get aggregated to higher quality sites if they are high quality press releases that are truly citation worthy. These links probably should be severely dampened in terms of their quality score.

Perspective: Visitor, Owner, Consumer, Partner

It’s probably good to publish any relevant articles I have, but I’m concerned with the value of doing so, because it is difficult and time consuming to write good articles uniquely for a lot of different sites.

Directory link buying

Perspective: SEO

Yea, okay – the engineers are right on this one – it was only for the rankings. Yahoo directory and two or three others is probably as much as we want.

Perspective: Engineer

Muahahaha. We’ve eradicated 99% of directory link popularity since update Florida.

Perspective: Visitor, Owner, Consumer, Partner

I know a bunch of great directories we can get links. I have a list of awesome places we can submit!

Press Release link buying

Perspective: SEO

These aren’t going to help a whole lot, but every little bit helps. We might as well pay the extra money to get our link embedded in the release, as the anchor text could help a bit.

Perspective: Engineer

Any press release sites probably shouldn’t pass a lot of link weight because anyone can buy them.

Perspective: Visitor, Owner, Consumer, Partner

Will the links even count if we put them in a press release?

Partner link buying

Perspective: SEO

I’ll buy some links from their sites, and sell them some from mine in trade if the partner is a good fit through non-reciprocated (or some reciprocated) sites.

Perspective: Engineer

We know all your partners. Have you seen touchgraph? Our data is WAY better.

Perspective: Visitor, Owner, Consumer, Partner

Is this a link scheme that will get me banned? I’d ask someone at google, but all I ever get is canned responses.

Affiliate link buying

Perspective: SEO

I don’t really want to piss off the affiliates, but a few extra links where it doesn’t is kinda nice.

Perspective: Engineer

Not enough people have figured this out yet anyways to tell if 301’s are really working for affiliate urls.

Perspective: Visitor, Owner, Consumer, Partner

Our affiliate program is either really important, or hasn’t yet been started.

Paid link buying

Perspective: SEO

I’ll buy some links for my clients where it is relevant.

Perspective: Engineer

No comment. Send in your spam reports.

Perspective: Visitor, Owner, Consumer, Partner

Is this a link scheme that will get me banned? I’d ask someone at google, but all I ever get is canned responses.

Viral link buying

Perspective: SEO

Good content is expensive – we’d better make sure we can promote it effectively.

Perspective: Engineer

Please send in your linkbaiting reports.

Perspective: Visitor, Owner, Consumer, Partner

Is this a link scheme that will get me banned? I’d ask someone at google, but all I ever get is canned responses.

My question is – if paid links are going to be discounted – where will the link juice come from?

Overall perspective on link purchase:

Perspective: SEO

Links help my rankings. Rankings help my sales, and the sales of my clients. We need to develop strategies for more effective links.

Perspective: Engineer

People are always trying to find the short road to rankings. We frown on our search results being manipulated in any way, and want to stop it wherever possible.

Perspective: Visitor, Owner, Consumer, Partner

We need traffic and sales. We want relevant results when we search.



Every link has an inherent cost – whether it be time, money, or a combination – most links are sponsored in one fashion or another.

Google can certainly discover your links and discount them, but they hopefully also respect the effort it takes to purchase effective text link advertising. Labeling purchased links as "grey area" makes the job of engineers a bit easier, by buying time until the algorithm is more effective by becoming dependent on other factors. Links has long been a MAJOR factor in rankings – and making the most of links is the job of a good SEO.

You should purchase RELEVANT on-topic links. If you can NEARLY justify the purchase for clickthrough, it’s probably well worth taking a leap of faith on the link passing link popularity. As a visitor, owner, consumer, or partner – your site NEEDS links, and the handful of links from friends and relatives just isn’t going to cut it.

More on the paid link debate:

Public aside to Matt and the world’s greatest spam fighters:

With all the great things you guys do for webmasters, this is truly a disservice. They look to you for clarification, and having the average webmaster expect they can rank at all without paying in some form for some links is sending them on a fool’s errand. With the highest level of respect, I really think this is a debate/ problem which will work itself out through the marketplace – and NOT with the help of the FTC. I hope you will continue to consider the nature and philosophy behind paid links without resorting to creating this level of fear, uncertainty, and doubt with web publishers.

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  • Jeremy Luebke

    All I know is when I read Matt’s post the first thing that popped into my head was a picture of the Iraqi Information Minister

    Nothing Matt said was new. They have been battling paid links for years now and losing. The only real change was an open call for people to report their competitors. If a new link busting algo comes out, the only thing that will change is HOW links are bought.

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  • Alex Shapiro

    Your data is better then TouchGraph? We use Google’s similar page results which admittedly are not perfect. We’re investigating other data sources, if you have more precise results we’d be glad to build a visualization around those. Thanks.

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  • Site Reviewer

    The multiple perspectives (especially that of the often forgotten engineer) is useful.

    I hadn’t been to touchgraph or its predecessors for a long time. That is amazing technology Alex. I discovered relationships in my verticals that I hadn’t know about it, the moment the chart came up. Particularly useful is the simplicity – click on a link and see the home page in a new window.

    I don’t think Todd is trying to discount your technology but to scare us with how much better tech is behind the curtain. I’m sure Google has a similar chart but with the spam and trust numbers for each website popping up. As they analyse a single vertical forensically, to improve the SERPS (at this point that’s pretty much what they’d have to do, as SEO spam is getting better), they can apply the algorithm tweaks across dozens of verticals hypothetically. If they like what they see, new algorithm gets rolled out.

    You just don’t and can’t have that supporting data Alex. Great job with what you have though.

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  • Rajeesh


    I do appreciate buying links but only when needed. As far as I could I prefer staying away from paid links.
    This is my personal opinion.