What are paid links?
Paid links (also called purchased links) are links that you pay a website to get. The payment can be money, free products or services. Examples of paid links are sponsored posts, advertorials, advert links and sponsor links. Just because you pay an SEO agency or your own staff for link building for your website does not necessarily mean that they are paid links.
Buying links is against Google guidelines for webmastersand it's a practice that Google says can have a negative impact on your visibility. However, the truth is different, partly because Google has great difficulty in distinguishing paid links from other links, and partly because purchased links often stem from entirely frivolous marketing practices that Google cannot prohibit.
For example, suppose you give a sponsorship to a charity. If the purpose is to get a link, that's a violation of Google's guidelines. If, on the other hand, the charity links to your website of its own free will, the exact same link will have arisen naturally, without any unregulated intent - but Google won't be able to tell the two links apart.
Recognising the difficulty of identifying paid links, Google introduced a new link type in 2019, sponsored linkwhich webmasters must use to mark purchased links on their website. Google has thus shifted the responsibility to the media selling links. The problem for Google is that the media will not use the link type because the links lose their value and the media risks losing a number of their advertisers.
There is also a paradox in that Google on the one hand says that buying links can have negative consequences for your visibility, and on the other hand has said that competitors cannot abuse the method to damage your visibility. This means that Google needs to know both that links have been bought and who has bought them. Obviously, this cannot be done.
How to buy links
Many Danish companies buy links to one extent or another. The reason is quite simple: buying links is an easy link building method that ensures a continuous supply of links to the company, thereby also ensuring a relatively predictable result. Other link building methods are more unpredictable and do not necessarily ensure a continuous supply of links.
Links can be bought directly by the media (newspapers, bloggers, etc.) or via an intermediary, a so-called link broker. In the former case, you need to find, establish contact and negotiate with the media you want a link from. A link broker already has the right contacts and can also advise on which links you need - in return, you have to pay them for their work.
Prices typically range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per link, depending on the quality of the link. A link from a major Danish media costs more than a link from a small blog, but the former also has a higher SEO value. Several foreign agencies based in India offer you to buy links for almost no money - these links are worthless at best.
Sponsored posts and advetorials are the most common form of purchased links. Remember that links only have value if not they are marked with sponsored or nofollow in the source code. Links should respect as far as possible the criteria for a good link that we listed earlier in the text on linkbuilding.