As a webmaster I do question whether I should look into other ways to enhance the pagerank of my websites. It’s not an easy thing to do, and even if it was, it’s still incredibly time-consuming. I was never meant to be an SEO genius because I simply don’t have the patience to be involved in the nitty-gritty of SEO: the keyword investigation, the link exchange requests, ensuring site-wide optimisation – all three are beyond my patience limit! However, it doesn’t stop me (every so often) getting a bee in my bonnet and “blitzing” my site(s) and emailing people and websites I think may be interested in back-linking, or exchanging links.
It’s tricky – we know that Google doesn’t like a lot of what SEO guys get up to, and I hasten to add that I am not an SEO “guy”, just an interested amateur. Google is, however you look at it, the bread and butter for a lot of people. That being the case we have to listen to its guidelines and recommendations.
The title of this topic is “Shoud I buy text links?” and I mean it as both a question for myself, and as a title for a discussion. That probably doesn’t make sense, what I mean is that I am not yet decided. I have a feeling that I’ll err on the side of caution, but one never knows.
Text links are certainly valuable, no matter how you source them. The text of the link is given a higher weight if it contains keywords that your site focuses on, eg. examine these 2 links to this very page:
#2 should I buy text links
The second example is a much better link for your site and this page. All this is fairly obvious, but it’s also worth noting that a text link is also more valuable than a graphical link or banner simply because of this potential keyword text. (It is suggested that ‘alt’ information on a graphical banner will also pass on importance in the same manner, but this is less well investigated.)
So certainly text links themselves are valuable. The next thing to think about is: where are these text links going to be placed?
In order to get the most out of a text link, the link needs to be on a page or site that is actually related to the page or site it links to. Google knows that a link to a hair care product’s website from a hairdresser’s website will be more important that a link from a telephone sanitiser’s website and will therefore “value” the back-link higher. How easy is it, when buying a text link, to ensure that you are purchasing from a relevant site? Well, from what I’ve seen (and I’m not going to be advertising the sites that allow you to buy links) adverts to purchase links are usually categorised according to sector, along with some information regarding page-rank, Alexa rating, and sometimes a brief description of the page you might be advertising on. So, with a little nous and time, it seems entirely possible to cover this area pretty well.
Indeed, it seems like these text-link brokers have everything just about covered. So why the hell wouldn’t I buy text links? There are two reasons that I can think of:
1) Money. Naturally it can be as cheap or expensive as you care to make it, dependent on the quality of link. I’d say that on average you’re looking at a 6 monthly spend of between $150 and $600.
Remember, you’re doing this for pagerank so you simply have to advertise in the same place for, at the very least, 6 months. Be honest with yourself: are you going to make that money back? And if you do, will you have many any extra profit from the pagerank boost?
Also, this example assumes that you’re requesting a link from only 1 page. This isn’t going to have a huge effect on your PR (look at examples of page rank calculations for more details). Therefore, you’re going to have to request links from (I reckon) about 4-5 pages with PR5-7
2) Pagerank is only one factor in your SEO. It is no substitute for content and it’s worth considering whether simply spending the money on content development would be a better way to spend your money. After all, the more content you have on your site, the more likely you are to have people naturally linking to your website!
3) Are you willing to “run the risk” of Google finding you out? To be fair, it’s probably a low risk since it is alledged that Google will not penalise you for incoming links (since you don’t necessarily have power to control who links to you). At worst, realistically, I can your bought text link having zero effect on your own page rank…but hey – are you a nervous webmaster?
At the end of all this I’m more resolved than ever that buying text links is a pretty much risk free venture…but at the same time I could probably buy myself a lot of content for similar prices (or keep my money and develop the content myself!).