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.
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).
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.
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 .