Link Buying Guide : Directories, Ads and Reviews

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Loren Baker
Loren Baker SEJ STAFF
Link Buying Guide : Directories, Ads and Reviews

Link building has been an essential part of the online marketing mix since the first commercial sites and Internet resources originated.

As search engine optimization has evolved over the past decade, links have become the core of defining the value of a site. Whether links are obtained via the old fashioned email request, building or buying relevant authority sites, directory listings, blog comment participation, and the recent phenomena or link baiting; link building has become a satisfying, frustrating and entertaining challenge for SEO’s.

Some of the most valued links can be obtained via payment, and many successful SEO campaigns begin with buying links or paying for editorial review; whether such links are purchased for PageRank, Google Juice, co citation or the old fashioned goal of traffic generation.

The following is an overview of different online channels which should be a part of your link buying menu.


Before there were search engines, there were Internet directories. Yahoo, MSN, LookSmart and Netscape have all been involved in the directory business at one time or another, and directories can be an effective way to define a site’s niche while generating some valuable links.

Netscape’s Open Directory Project (DMOZ) took the ‘free’ approach of having volunteer editors review directory submittals, but the realistic business model of paying editors to review the quality of directory listings can assure a fast and efficient turn around.

Here are 10 valued web directories which you can submit your site to and have that listing reviewed and hopefully approved in a prompt fashion:

  1. Yahoo! Directory : The most popular and possibly oldest web directory still lists and reviews sites on an annual basis and these listings are long term traffic generators. $299 per year.
  2. Best of the Web : Another older and well used web directory which takes pride in the listing and categorization of quality web sites. $69.95 per year or $199.95 lifetime.
  3. MSN bCentral Small Business Directory : Microsoft’s online directory of small and web businesses is a proven and well valued buy for buying quality links. $49 per year.
  4. : Another proven and well priced directory of business, both brick & mortar or online. $199 first year, $149 to renew.
  5. Aviva Directory : One of the newer directories in this list, Aviva has built its reputation with smart 2.0 oriented marketing, link baiting and blogging. It’s a sleek and well thought out directory which your site should be listed in. $34.95 review fee.
  6. RubberStamped : Owned by popular SEO and blogger Peter Da Vanzo, RubberStamped is a diamond in the rough of 2nd and 3rd tier directories. $29.95 review fee.
  7. JoeAnt : Like Best of the Web, Joe Ant is an older and valued directory which is a hybrid of paid and volunteer editing. $39.99 review fee.
  8. Gimpsy : Very similar to JoeAnt, this is also an authority directory and excellent for link building. $40 review fee.
  9. : Back during Y2K, ABC & Disney launched, their Internet portal and directory. They later closed a good thing but the original editors of used their community and technology to continue their goal of ‘spam free web search’ at $69.95 review fee.
  10. Umdum Directory : Umdum is a directory owned by Search Engine Journal’s parent company, it receives high traffic, has over 100,000 inbound links, has been well received by the SEO industry and is growing daily. $40.00 review fee.

There are many, many other valued web directories out there which offer paid express reviews. A list of some can be found on the left sidebar of this site, and via resources like StrongestLinks, Search Engine Colossus and

Bonus Tip : A good amount of these web directories offer featured or sponsored listings which will list up to two or three sites at the top of the directory categories, above all other directory listings.

Such listings can be very valuable in terms of traffic generation and building your site’s reputation and authority as a business which wants to attract visitors via serious online advertising. You can find some real bargains amongst such directory featured listings!

Link Advertising and Brokerages

Over the past few years web publishers have figured out that by offering organic text links in the high usage areas of their sites, they can bring in extra income which is competitive with display banner advertising or contextual advertising such as Google AdSense, Yahoo Publisher Network or AdBrite.

Since not many publishers have the time or energy to negotiate link advertisement prices, handle insertion orders and invoicing, they tend to prefer contracting with Link Advertising networks which take care of the management hassle for them.

When putting together a text link advertising plan, here are some good tips on buying:

  • Buy links on relevant sites which cover your industry or are somewhat similar to your industry
  • Mix up your anchor text, don’t use the same text and keywords for each ad
  • Buying a link on one very relevant page of a site can be much more powerful and effective than site wide link buys
  • Ask these agencies for their help and guidance on link buying, they are the professionals

With an ad buy managed by one of these companies you can easily buy organic links on several authority sites relevant to your industry.

Here are some major Link Advertising Brokerages:

  • Text Link Ads: Text Link Ads is probably the most popular of the link ad companies, with over 10,000 publishers in their network and a lot of promotions and advertising on SEO and publisher industry blogs and sites. Link prices are based upon the authority of each site and charged per month.
  • Text Link Brokers: Similar to Text Link Ads, Text Link Brokers is more of a discreet and boutique link buying outfit which represents some of the most authorative web sites online. They pride themselves in keeping their clients on the ‘hush-hush’ to prevent search engine penalties and devalued links.
  • LinkAdAge: A bit smaller than Text Link Ads and Text Link Brokers, LinkAdAge is more of one stop shop for buying links on web sites via auction or exchanging links. They also work with Text LinkAds for their preferred link broker.
  • Contextual Links : Launched recently by the V7N network, Contextual Links sells links which are embedded within the content and blog entries of their network of independent publishers.
  • SEO and Link Building Firms : For a more custom & possibly high dollar approach to link buying, contracting an SEO or link building firm is a low maintenance & high result solution. I recommend the following companies and individuals for such link building initiatives (in no particular order) : We Build Pages, ACSseo, Andy Hagans, and StuntDubl.

Paid Review Services

Paid reviews are a form of online marketing which has grown in popularity over the past year. There are four major networks which advertisers can use to purchase reviews on popular blogs (remember, millions of people read blogs daily) which are honest reviews written by the bloggers. In some cases, these reviews are disclosed to the readers of the blogs, and readers are asked to comment about the reviews themselves.

The end result is not only a powerful link to your site on a popular blog within or about your industry, but also a heartfelt review and intimate introduction to your product or service from established bloggers to their loyal and vocal community of blog readers. There is some argument in the search engine industry as to whether or not search engines will give value to the links which are coming from these reviews, and some bloggers use a “nofollow” tag on the links within these reviews so search engine robots will not count the links as totally organic links.

However, even though paid reviews can assure your site hundreds of backlinks in search engines beyond Google, the added benefits are also discussion about your business, heightened awareness of your services, and the potential to ‘roadblock’ search engine queries for your business name with multiple high profile blog reviews.

The paid review online marketing segment is in its infancy, and because of so and because of the fact that you’re basically paying for a public review and online focus group, the end result can lead to negative reviews of your business by some bloggers. So, since some of these services offer the ability to buy reviews on specifically targeted blogs, you will want to do your research on that blogger’s personality or tendency to rant on negative subjects.

In the same fashion as text link advertising buying techniques, consult with advertising representatives and professionals from these firms if you have any questions before purchasing a paid review. Here are some of the major paid review services on the market:

  • PayPerPost : PayPerPost is the grandpappy of paid blog reviews and is somewhat of a mass advertising system. Meaning that many blogs are going to write a little about your company, link to you, and you’re going to pay a little (usually the same price) for each post. PayPerPost will get your business on a lot of blogs, but may not be as targeted or effective as strategic link buying.
  • ReviewMe : ReviewMe is a more targeted approach to paid blogger reviews. Advertisers are given access to ReviewMe’s lists of niche publishers, and can request reviews on specific blogs (and only those blogs), instead of using the mass review approach. The end result is more thoughtful content and reviews of your products, for a higher price. Pricing is set per blog and based upon that blog’s popularity, readership and incoming links.
  • SponsoredReviews : Similar to ReviewMe, plays the role of elite matchmaker between the advertiser and blogger. With an emphasis on quality and high traffic blogs, links obtained from their service can be quite powerful.
  • Blogvertise : A newer kid on the blog block, Blogvertise seems to be more similar to the mass blog links and review approach of PayPerPost, which could mean more links from lower quality blogs, which is still more links.

Link Buying Conclusion

SEO is a dynamic industry and there is no boundaries in terms of techniques which can be used to acquire links but today my goal was to review an older yet still useful technique in directory listings, the extremely benecifial and effective text link advertising market, and the new and growing paid blog review sector.

There are many other ways to purchase links, sometimes emailing sites directly and offering payment for a link works well, sometimes offering no payment at all and just giving recognition and asking can work better. The success is in the persistance, technique and approach, but purchasing links can guarantee them. So, if you’re in charge of managing the online marketing or search marketing budget of a business, make sure to set aside a hefty amount (10% to 20%) for link building and buy those links!


Loren Baker

Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing ... [Read full bio]