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 .

Gab Goldenberg
Gab Goldenberg wrote The Advanced SEO Book - now available with $0 up front. You can alsoget a free chapter from his book by joining the newsletter on on advanced SEO and usability, or read more on those topics at his blog.

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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 😀
      – 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 😀

    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).



  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:

  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.