SEO

101 Advanced Tips For The Next Time You Buy Text Link Ads

You need discretion to buy text links effectively, and there’s more to it than just avoiding paid link networks. Here are 101 tips to reduce your risk and maximize value for money the next time you buy links.

A few quick notes before I start:

1. Some of these are “paid links” that come with the purchase of something else. I’ve included those to create a comprehensive, go-to guide on buying links.

2. Sites named here are just random examples; I’m not saying that any of them buy links. They’re just for illustrative purposes.

3. Some of these tactics – especially #5 – is in a gray legal area, so you’d be wise to consult a lawyer before attempting any tactics that common sense suggests may run afoul of the law. They’re in here mostly for entertainment purposes and to help you think creatively.

4. This article is mostly just a long-winded version of this 1 simple, old link building tip. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but you can’t eat wit for breakfast…

Without further ado, here are my 101 advanced text link buying tactics

1) Buy a tweet with a link from someone whose tweets are syndicated [without the nofollow] on their blog or elsewhere.

2) Pay for a spot in web and/or graphic designers’ portfolios.

3) Buy links to your linkbait content pieces. It’s more credible than getting a link to your ‘buy now’ page.

4) Pay for ReTweets or StumbleUpon traffic such that the links you buy for your linkbait can credibly be explained as organic.

5) You can dress your text links up as AdSense. AdSense is ubiquitous, so one more block of ads should suffer from the same banner blindness as all the rest. (Note that this is for illustrative purposes, only; check with your lawyer before doing this, as there are likely TM issues.)

6) Dress your paid link up as a CPM ad network spot, with the requisite redirect URLs that have incredibly long-character-strings. These traditionally use 302s. Yours will use 301s.

7) Have someone ghost-write a WordPress theme where you get to release it and claim to be the author – you get to have the ‘designed by XYZ’ links. This is not to be confused with buying a footer link in a theme that isn’t the ‘designed by’ link.

8) Buy a spot in a link roundup, whether it’s a list of resources, bloggers, blog posts etc. There are as many ways to do this as there are list posts!

9) Buy a text link in a ‘How Not To Do ABC’ post. These are popular in the web design community, such as the famous Web Pages That Suck. (Note: I’m not suggesting that site sells links; it’s just an example.)

10) Pay for inclusion in some widely syndicated ‘Recent Blog Posts’ widget. For example, SEO Chat distributes widgets you can put on your site featuring their most recent blog posts.

11) Buy family. Wouldn’t you like to be part of the Gawker media network, or the Tribune Interactive network (with such sites as the Chicago Tribune and LA Times)?

12) Buy a membership in some business association. Ex.: Chamber of Commerce, SEMPO.

13) Pay to be cited in some news article. Be the expert giving the journalist his quotations… instead of your stingier competitor (who’d just say the same thing anyways).

14) Build paid links by circulating a meme .

15) If you run a community site and/or an aggregator, you can have bloggers link back to you with their post tags or categories. Think Technorati.com

16) Buy text links via classified ads that let you include a link.

17) Make a donation to a charity.

18) Buy [ranking] content and redirect it .

19) Send someone a gift.

20) Buy a forum link signature. Or buy 100, as they’re usually sold by the caseload anyways ;).

21) Buy a link in the ‘friends’ sidebar category, which is inherently a little random/offtopic (unless all your friends work in the same industry!)

22) Buy a guest-contributor link in the masthead of a magazine.

23) Pay bloggers you hire to add “guest author badges” to their sites, which badges link back to you.

24) Send webmasters holiday greetings. A parking provider I worked with did that for me once and it made them stand out in my mind. Small gestures can go a long way. Like $20 bills in ‘hope you’re having a nice January 17th’ holiday greetings ;).

25) Pay to be interviewed 1-on-1 by a blogger.

26) Pay your own bloggers to interview others, so that the “hey, I was interviewed at this site” link goes to you.

27) Work link requirements into standard contracts with suppliers.

28) Offer discounts to clients who link to you from their sites.

29) Buy links to your free sample contracts or aspirational documents. Bruce Clay Inc could buy links to its SEO ethics guide, for example. Ditto Creative Commons, legal info sites offering sample documents etc.

30) Buy a partnership from the site’s “Partners” page.

31) Buy affiliate links.

32) Buy fake affiliate text links, which are really just a URL parameter and 301 redirect. Or those of you on WordPress can go with a URL shortener plugin and get creative…

33) On a related note, you can combine techniques 31 and 32 to buy a batch of links from any given blogger. 7,000 bloggers use my Internal Link Building plugin, many of whom have it auto-link externally to affiliate products they endorse. Whenever the product is mentioned on their blog, the plugin automatically turns it into a link. Have them set up your link with the Internal Link Building plugin.

34) You can make this even smoother by imitating the pattern with legitimate affiliate links, where bloggers use a redirect folder for their affiliate links. This tends to look like bloggersite.com/recommended/product or site.com/go/product .

35) Pay for people to install your social proof widget. Instead of Hacker Safe, how about they install “The World’s Greatest SEO Had A Drink With Us At SMX, Which Makes Us Cool” badge? Besides, this is guaranteed to lift their conversions. Or the bounce rate, whichever comes first alphabetically.

36) Buy a publicity stunt. Have someone make a replica of Chris Sherman out of macaroni and cheese, on your behalf.

37) Purchase a spot in those 1999-era “Pages I Like” resource pages. It’s similar to the blog resource list roundups, but here you’re getting yourself added to an existing page, rather than creating one from scratch. Also, these usually aren’t on blogs. You can include the money incentive as part of your normal approach to ‘the reciprocity method‘ (no, it’s not about reciprocal links).

38) Buy reciprocal links.

39) Pay people to use your creative commons licensed pictures, with a link credit back to your site. You’ll need to take some nice pictures for this to work.

40) Buy stock photography for others and trade it for a link.

41 – 50) Repeat tactics 39 and 40 with video, audio, slide show, webcast or flash embeds.

51) Buy things for people that are on their wish lists at a given retailer in exchange for a link.

52) Adopt orphaned WordPress plugins and bring them up to date.

53) Sponsor a whitepaper, webcast or other educational material.

54) Create something controversial, then hire forum members in the relevant communities to start “Did You Guys See This??!” threads. The more initial comments you can get on the discussion, the better. You can also try this with sock puppet accounts, but they’re more likely to be flagged as spam than if established community members do it.

55) On Q&A sites, have established members ask a question that people have about your product category. Pay other members to answer with multiple links to articles that you and others [who don't compete with you] have written on the topic.

Mixing in your link with others makes it harder to tell that there’s payment going on, as opposed to only dropping a link to your own site. This avoids getting the link removed as spam.

Bonus points if the Q&A page ranks afterwards…

56) Buying text links can also be done to reinforce existing links, and thus distance you from the risk. For example, suppose you got a link organically from some Q&A site. Why not hire members of that site to reinforce that page with internal links to it?

57) Buy traffic, video embeds and/or links for your Youtube video. What are the odds Google will penalize Youtube? They’re pushing it into the SERPs harder than ever, with 2, 3 and sometimes even 4 videos in one search results page!

58 – 60) Buy links for your Google Places, Knol or Profile page.

61) Make a $1M donation to McGill’s Law Faculty. Ok, fine, I’m being facetious. The cheque goes to McGill Law’s webmaster.

62) Pay for a table at your local college’s career day.

63) Buy an interactive ad with several [non-SEO-value-passing] links embedded in it. Image-map a portion of it to link to your site. Get creative with what portion you image-map.

64) Buy links for your competitors in the same place(s) you buy links from. But make the links go to nonexistent locations, either because they never existed or they expired and weren’t redirected etc.

Initially, it will appear like the linker is just mentioning some of the players in the industry (e.g. “For SEO, try firms A, B and C.”). Later, the links to competitors can be removed since they’re link rot. The idea is to make the item look clean initially, and then reveal its true nature. It helps if you have the competitors’ names be deliberately misspelled so that they don’t show up on reputation management dashboards.

65) Buy links in ‘related posts’ sections of blog posts.

66) Ask bloggers selling you ‘related posts’-links to also link to non-competitive bloggers in the same ‘related posts’ area. Your purchase thus flies more easily under the radar. This is like the foliage that lets a camouflage suit blend into the background.
QNA SITES…

67) Set up dummy sites that you “buy” the ‘related posts’-links for, while including your real money site in one of those secondary sites you ask to have included in the foliage. This cuts the risk that the blogger will name your site if competitors or others ask about paid links.

68) Buy text links that will help you establish a brand in your niche. If you can build a brand before you get banned, you have a winning hand. (Inspired by ‘If the glove doesn’t fit, you have to acquit.’ )

69) Buy advertising so that you can get the associated editorial news coverage.

70) Buy a spot in a trade-show, cocktail meeting, or tweetup wrap-up post.

71) Find a social way (eg Twitter) to contact your prospect for a link that doesn’t involve email (or gmail). Via Joshua Sciarrino / Refuge Design.

72) Buy links to a tweet of yours. Again, you’re one-step removed from the risk. The advantage over buying links for pages on Google is that a Tweet page is hyper-focused on 140 characters, including your link. It’s like ranking an AdWords ad.

73) Buy a negative review or complaint regarding your site. Best to make it from some obscure blog so that it doesn’t rank.

74) Create a social media community and buy links to profiles. (And if you run a social media community, you might want to revisit that member list for members named Buy Viagra …)

75) Purchase installations of your social media community’s ‘vote this up’ badge. It’s a decent way to seed the badges anyways, if you approach influencers in your niche.

76) In hyper-competitive markets where every search for “blog” + your main keyword turns up a competitor, look at related keywords. EG If you’re working on an SEO site, look up SERP analysis. This will help you find genuine writing on the topic that was not written specifically for search engines. (As opposed to “10 Ways To Buy Your Health Insurance From Me”…)

77) Create a contest and pay people to participate in it.

78) Buy an “rss-feed-only” link from a blog who you know is syndicated by scrapers (eg to get the scrapers to link to you).

79) Find “top movers” charts and similar items, then pay to influence whatever metrics the rankings are based on so that you rank high enough to get a link. Of course, this would probably be a pretty expensive link unless you got a little crafty with the metrics and the data input…

80) Pay to have your link dofollowed on sites that moderate the comments and allow some to be dofollow.

81) Buy priority access to key news releases from important organizations. This is based on the idea that people reporting [important] breaking news get links. Think TMZ and Michael Jackson.

82) Imagine nutty news and pay for people to talk about it. This way, you can go for the conspiracy theorist community. (See #32) Disclaimer: Aliens don’t have a great interest in mortgages, credit cards or viagra. (Unless they’re aliens of a certain age…)

83) Buy inclusion in CSS galleries. CSS galleries show off sites that look good by making creative use of CSS.

84) Bribe people at conferences with chocolate chip muffins, when you know the conference had a crummy breakfast/lunch. (Sadly, SMX‘s food is too good to make it susceptible to such tactics.) Via Keri Morgret, who sells model battleships.

85) Disclose the risk in selling links. And pay a risk premium. Competitors may suggest the nofollow attribute to your link sources, and being up front in this way can mitigate that risk.

86) “Sell items on eBay and offer to donate the proceeds to charity. Many charities will link both to the eBay auction and to your site.” (#60)

87) Buy most of your text links without optimizing the anchor text.

Most of your organic links will come with your name as anchor text. Your paid links should be the same, if they’re going to blend.

88) Heed the hub patterns in your industry, so the sources of your paid links match those of competitors’ organic links.

Got a job site? Pay for colleges’ career development offices to link. Got a hotel? Get conventions, events and conferences linking. Got a software site? Create the free trial versions and distribute them to the freeware sites.

89) Don’t mention your site in an initial email or phone message. That’s taking silly risks, as you don’t know if the person is open to it or not. They may even be connected to a competitor or might spam report you. Michael Gray has more on avoiding Kamikaze SEO.

90) Purchase vanity-bait links. Vanity-bait links are where you cite and compliment other bloggers in the hopes of them mentioning you in return.

One common example of this is Top 100 Bloggers In {Niche X} lists. Those lists aim to get those top 100 citing them back…

For example, write a commentary on a popular meme, and cite others who’ve commented on it. Throw in some compliments as to the strength of their analysis.

Then buy links saying things like, ‘John commented on this topic too and aggregated a bunch of key ideas from around the blogosphere.’ The compliments serve to make the links look like authentic vanity bait.

(Adapted from SEP’s 75 Ways to Build Links, )

91) Follow the principles of linkable content to defend the credibility of your paid links. Hold off on ads, proofread your grammar and spelling, use quality graphics…

92) Instead of buying links purely based on contextual relevance, buy your text links based on demographic targeting.

It’s no secret that coupon sites skew towards moms, especially those who are at home. Why not buy links from the myriad work-at-home-mom blogs? David Szetela of Clix PPC Marketing always lectures on picking content-network keywords for the demographics…

93) Ignore Dave Szetela and go the traditional contextual relevance route with your content-network campaigns on AdWords. This lets you identify relevant sites to buy links from. (#7 via Tom Critchlow).

94) Pay off Wikipedia editors to protect your link addition to ranking Wiki articles. This works on the rich-get-richer principle of link building.

95) Hire publicists. “Press agency employees usually know the right people in the right places, which can result in a higher acceptancy rate of your press release.” (#59)

96) Encourage staff to contact their family and friends to get you links. Heck, make it a company-wide contest and see who can get the most and the best links. It’s up to them whether or not they buy the links…

97) Get links from other companies’ staff bio pages. “Joanna does graphic consulting on the side, in which capacity she is working on ‘Your Site Name.'”

98) Create fictitious, citation-worthy characters whose names include a keyword. This works for exotic keywords, but probably not for common words like “refrigerator.”

99) Follow seasonal patterns related to your industry. Now, in mid-October, the candy and costume markets are feeding newspapers with stories about safe trick or treating. Yyou’d be well advised to buy links that flow with the time of year, too.

100) Be a RAT. Or at least know the rat.

100) Hire a professional. Like yours truly. Or Search & Social. Michael Gray. Wiep. Brian Chappell. Social Media Rockstar. (I don’t know if Brett still buys links though, given his social media success.) Alliance Link. Search Engine People.

101) Buy a spot in an SEJ list-post advertorial about text link buying… Kidding, I swear ;D.

Conclusion:

One thing I tried to demonstrate in this article is that you can take virtually every organic link building technique and achieve the same thing with money.

You can earn links to your linkbait or you can buy them or both. You can develop relationships with bloggers, Wikipedia editors, hubpage curators etc… Or you can pay them.

Practically speaking, the net result is identical.

So unless the quality rater team emails every webmaster around to inquire about intent, there’s no way to ever be sure if a link was paid for or given freely.

Which is why Bing and Yahoo sensibly count quality paid links and reject the junk.

I’d love to hear your comments below! Note: Please stow the personal attacks and propaganda about how paid links don’t work, since you’ll just be moderated as noise. They work, there’s a risk to them, we minimize the risk, now let’s move on.

This article was written by yours truly, Gab Goldenberg. I offer link buying services focused on 1) Minimizing risk, 2) Passing ranking value 3) Maximizing value for money with rankings, referral traffic conversions and demographic/psychographic branding.

Gab Goldenberg is the owner of SEOROI a full service SEO and link building firm which offers SEO consultation and link acquisition strategy or email Gab at Gab@SEOROI.com. SEO Services For Serious ROI. Blog Posts For Serious SEOs.

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48 thoughts on “101 Advanced Tips For The Next Time You Buy Text Link Ads

  1. Absolutely outstanding post! The biggest companies in the world buy links like crazy, bloggers do it still, affiliate marketers..everyone’s doing it :)

    If you have to do it, do it smart. This goes above and beyond that!

  2. This is a ‘serious’ post Gab. I love the thought and effort you’ve put into it…Printing this out and putting it in my link building folder.

    1. Something like this I imagine:

      “Hey Gab
      – Hey Matt :D
      – So I was reading your post…
      – Yeah, what’d you think?
      – I was looking for some ways to enhance the pittance Google pays me, n you really helped me be discrete about it :D!”

      Yeah, that’s what it’ll be like ;).

  3. Gab, I’m afraid to ask how you thought of all these? Now, I can agree that it would be hard to bribe people at SMX with food, but networking at conferences is definitely a form of link building!

    Bookmarking this and might even print! SUPERB post!

  4. Wow.. I love Google :D

    Thanks a LOT for sharing this information, Gab. I was just done writing a lengthy post in my blog and I’m almost falling asleep here, so I’ll have to bookmark this beauty and read the rest later. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing, this is pure awesomeness and exactly what I need for my next project (entering CPA territory for the first time).

    Regards,

    Haavard

  5. Seriously awesome list. I’ve had some luck with posting copy writer and editor job listings on college web site’s “career services” section. Also, the same can be done for a fee on craigslist….

  6. Ha, I love this post. One of the best I’ve read in a while. This hits the arguement that I had when Google first started going on its witch hunt for paid links, that it is nearly impossible to tell the difference when you do stealth methods similar to any of the 101 above.

    Great list

    Long live paid text links…

  7. Although, I never recommend purchasing links (for link popularity increase only), this list is very well thought out. My own opinion is if a paid link source will bring your company and website new visitors and business, then it is okay. You are not buying links but trying to build your reputation, brand and drive business.

    I thought everyone reading this post, might want to know Google’s view point about paid links:
    http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66736

  8. That’s some comprehensive link information, thanks for sharing. Personally, I’m a strong believer in the relevance factor. A small number of very relevant links from content rich pages does the same as tens of ones that are not so relevant.

    A good read, thanks for sharing,

  9. Wow! This is an amazing post with lots of useful information. Will definitely be using some of these techniques. Thank you so much!

  10. Just to give another perspective on these techniques… they aren’t so good when taken in the context of the risk for what is, or should be, nofollowed links, paid links; which are a main ingredient of some negative SEO… beyond the Proxy and 301 highjacking variety or links of very low quality. So what is at stake is your SMM credibility if caught buying influence… which could also be unlawful in the context of the FTC ruling. Besides links as SEO is dying it’s come to bribery and law breaking… isn’t the old mantra of content and links becoming just about content and the right choices of content?

    1. There’ve been no FTC rulings, only guidelines. Second, stop spreading FUD. Third, people buy ads everywhere. It’s not bribery, which connotes corruption. Again, stop spreading FUD and trying to make a perfectly acceptable practice seem unethical. It’s comments like that one that are unethical for spreading misinformation.

  11. and when the FTC provides a guideline where there was none previously how is this not a ruling? When you pay people to tweet is that not bribery? So if I pay a cop to look the other way that is not bribery you are paying people to do what they wouldn’t do of their own accord which if not bribery is what it’s not advertising it’s paying people to deceive the public and if caught is not good for credibility. Call it FUD I’m still saying some of these tips are stupid tricks that have the potential to kill your credibility. If found out, this is not a risk that you made clear enough. I was just pointing out a risk that you didn’t bother to point out in fact the impression I got is that this is standard procedure. So call it names it still is what it is.

    1. A ruling means that there was a case that was decided. Look it up.

      “you are paying people to do what they wouldn’t do of their own accord which if not bribery is what [?]”

      By your reasoning, every employer-employee relationship is bribery. If we follow your logic, everyone should be 100% self-sufficient and never interact commercially with anyone else.

      If you pay a cop to look the other way, you are corrupting the law and hurting society. If I buy a banner without dofollow on it, I’m not hurting society in the least.

      As to credibility, have you noticed how many RTs and compliments this piece got?

      1. Gab, I was wrong about the ruling by the FTC, however it is because I’m Ca. and when fines are handed out… I assumed that is a ruling, my apologies I was wrong. Matt cutts did a whole vid on sock puppet marketing and a company was fined 340,000 for doing not exactly what you proposed but… in the ballpark. Not to say it was the same but… risk?

        Bribery well… again… I apologise I went a tad over the line. I still see it as deceptive to users and not a good Social Strategy… again the Risk? Note I’m saying as a social strategy

        That doesn’t seem sociable it looks like using social for links when that isn’t the primary thing it’s customer engagement. Difference of opin ‘spose…but.. Risk to Rep more than a chance?

        Please quote where I discussed nofollow or dofollow… sorry I’m an agnostic. I don’t care I’m buying advertising and #SEOfollowdrama has nothing to do with advertising metrics. I manage SeoPros Directory where there are dofollow links and nofollowed advertsing… see I’m a webmaster who undertstands the difference based on what the HTML 5 RFC spec says not some engineers in Mountainview, who make rules for themselves not me or my users so… I prefer to think for myself. I suggest you try a search of Google or WebProWorld my views on paid are on the table, I do it but not for SEO, dofollow/nofollow I really don’t even look. So assuming my rant is about anything but the way risk is dicussed is assumption on your part. Just check out your warning it’s highlighted and it says these are “less risky”… Then what? Buying from a text link broker? If so how much less… a little… a lot… could I get banned for anything you’re discussing here, Do you know? Do you care? Should it have a “do not try this at home” warning.

        Another things is I get clients telling me they should be doing this so if you’re going to piss in the fountain… expect a little splash back, As to calling me unethical I knew a guy on a forum and that was his last line of defense, Anyone who knows me is laughing their asses off that you called me unethical….and seriously I could care leass about being an SEO Rockstar.

        Before you assume things about people you should really try using Google you might be surprised what you learn. I just prefer that agressive link building tactics be seen as advertising not SEO. Like Danny said in his personal blog just to differentiate myself from these types of techniques, not saying don’t do em just call it what it is advertising not SEO, IMO there is a difference. You more or less said it is advertising… so… it is what it is… lets agree to disagree.

        As to RT several likely didn’t even read the article or include your name in the RT, know that cause I agonized over RTing all I saw with a headsup. Have you ever audited that shite… I have! If you’re interested Just head on over to the FireHorse Trail I have a post on just that subject with similar numbers of RT that I audited. Just because you don’t know me… don’t assume I’m some idiot just pissing in your cornflakes… # jussaying

  12. Amazing article, one of the best I have read in a while regarding the topic of link building. Can’t wait to read your follow up. Well done!

  13. The interesting thing about this list, in my opinion, is what Gabe says at the end about the net result being identical to using the organic link building counterparts to the techniques listed. If they’re identical, why not just use the organic versions and save your money for building good content? That may not be the spin he intended, but it leaped out at me.

  14. I never recommend purchasing links (for link popularity increase only), but, this list is very well thought out. Good effort you have given thanks.

  15. Hi Gab,
    Awesome post. I’m glad someone had the kahunas to write this. I believe these tactics are the exact same tactics large “white hat” seo companies use every day. They just articulate what they are doing differently. The truth is, any time you hire an SEO to do link-building you are buying links. Period!

  16. OK, so I’m a little late in seeing this and responding, but this is an exceptionally great post. Whatever your feelings are about buying links it is great and informative information.

    Much of it this info can be turned around and done without purchasing. It would be a much longer and drawn out process and in the internet world taking longer when your competitors are not can be a definite problem.

    In conclusion, I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.