This question has the potential to ruffle the feathers of SEO professionals on either side of the debate: “Are paid links a bad idea?”
‘Paid links’ are exactly what they sound like – paying someone or some company to link to your content. Like any other practice that involves the word ‘paid’, paid links can straddle the line between legitimate (for example, a paid online directory) or laughably illegitimate (think the linking equivalent of a Nigerian email scam).
So why the prickliness over this question that has been weighed in on by most online marketing and SEO professionals, including our own experts at Online Marketing Blog?
Much of this can be traced back to the words of Matt Cutts from Google:
Q: Is the practice of buying/selling paid links still a violation of Google’s terms of service?
Q: If the practice described above IS a violation of Google’s terms of service, will Google ever do anything about it?
A: Yes, we’ve been taking action on paid links and sites that violate our quality guidelines for years, and we’ll continue to do so.
Others have noted, however, that neither Google nor any other entity has the ability to identify who is purchasing links and pointing them towards any site. As such, it seems that while the official stance and preferred action of Google is one thing, what they can actually do is something else entirely. And meanwhile, those who choose to take advantage of this paradox may benefit.
So, are paid links a bad idea?
To put it in analogous terms, Google is the biggest dog in the room. By paying for links, you are waving a juicy T-Bone just outside of this big dog’s reach.
Might you get away with it? Sure, maybe.
Are there better ways of playing with a big dog, and correspondingly, better ways to get people to link to your site? Absolutely.
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