Even if you’ve a scant knowledge about SEO then I presume you’ll be knowing the sheer importance of ‘backlinks.’ The commonsense dedicates that websites with quality backlinks will have a good chance of ranking higher on Google’s SERP across competitive keywords. This obviously paves way for higher traffic and this in-turn leads to many positive things. From customer leads, better sales conversion to good monetization prospects so and so forth.

Google started giving weightage to backlinks as a ranking factor by turn of the new millennium, i.e. year 2000. But backlinks essentially started getting unprecedented importance ever since Google rolled out its Panda and Hummingbird updates in 2011 and 2013 respectively. These two major updates dumped out traditional SEO methods like directory listing, forum commenting and keyword stuffing for good. By dumping out these practices, a sharp focus was laid on backlinks. This, in a way, changed SEO forever.       

In the post-Panda and Hummingbird scenario, websites with good number of high-quality backlinks invariably would stand a good chance of ranking higher on SERP. As for websites with low quality links, they will continue to live an oblivious existence in the SERP world.

With backlinks receiving unprecedented importance, it steadily paved way for an industry that literally acts like a marketplace for backlinks. Expect that this is a grey market that has no legal sanctity whatsoever. This is a market where backlinks are traded like a commodity, bought & sold apparently in blatant violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines. 

However, despite Google desisting such practice and apparent risk of penalties, the SEO and online industry is still abound with the practice of ‘paid backlinks.’ Based on my personal experience, I can certainly claim without a shadow of doubt that a significant part of the SEO industry thrives on practice of paid backlinks.

The blatantness of such practice certainly begs for convincing answer and explanation. Many people will be curious to know how offenders shield themselves against Google penalties. How Google can exercise such laxity against practice that openly violates its guidelines.

Google can never be sure about paid links ‘but’

Google doesn’t track your mails and tap your phones to keep a tab on whether you’re indulging in black hat techniques or not. It, therefore, can only do a guesswork if websites are violating the guidelines irrespective of whether it employs manual or automatic process for checking penalties. For all those who are not aware, there are two types of penalties: Manual penalty and  Automatic penalty. The former implies that the penalty is checked manually by a human team.   

But at the same time it would be a mistake to underestimate Google’s so called ‘guesswork.’ Simply because today its method of tracking and nailing paid backlinks is far more refined and comparatively error free. That said, people in the SEO industry still manage to hoodwink google and do it almost habitually.

They succeed because of their flawless judgement that completely respects the thin line that divides white hat and black hat techniques. They ensure never to cross this line and thereby succeed in shielding themselves from manual or automatic penalty. By not crossing this line they don’t get in Google’s suspicious book.

I will tell you how not to cross this line. But I’d like to make amply clear that this article or this blog in no way endorses the practice of ‘paid backlinks.’ All that this article tries to explain is how to embark on the journey of paid backlinks, alas cautiously and consequently protect your blog/website from a possible penalty.

  • Use diverse anchor texts:

While doing guest posting, often many bloggers and SEO professionals tend to overuse certain anchor texts. These anchor texts are enriched with keywords with the aim of boosting website’s SERP ranking. However, overusing certain anchor texts implies that you’re crossing the fine line, something that I’ve already spoked about in the above paragraph. Besides, this practice again falls in the classic case of over-optimization.

It is worth noting that Google never likes websites or blogs that are overoptimized. Overoptimized websites are often earmarked by Google to include them in the suspicious list.

All these facts have been brought forth obviously to drive the point that practice of using diverse anchor text is advisable while guest posting. A strong keyword research will certainly help in making a long list of anchor texts and thereby helping in maintaining the element of diversity.

  • Keep a tab on typical guest posting websites

Getting all your backlinks from typical guest posting websites is tantamount to open provocation to Google. Something that certainly won’t really bode well for your website’s ranking in the long run. One of the biggest problems of guest posting website is that they have been reduced into a breeding ground for paid links. The primary moto of their existence is only to charge money for guest posting or backlinks. They give little or no importance to the quality of content that is published on their website.  

It is, therefore, critical to keep the ratio of guest posting websites in your overall backlinks either low or very negligible. Let us say that if you’re planning to add 16 backlinks or referring domains in next four months or so, make sure that only 2 or 3 links out of these 16 links hail from guest posting websites.

I’d like to end this point by saying that today Google’s algorithm is quite sophisticated to distinguish between guest posting websites and non- guest posting websites.

  • Keep the equilibrium between free and paid backlinks

Getting over-obsessed with paid backlinks and giving low priority to free links is another way of inviting trouble. In other words, it is important that your backlink profile maintains a fine equilibrium between paid links and free links. However, preferably the equilibrium should be tilted more towards free backlinks as they don’t violate Google guidelines. It doesn’t really matter whether these free links are added organically or through email outreach. 

  • Don’t write guest post only for fetching backlinks

Now this may sound irrational to quite a few people but writing guest posts only for fetching backlinks is a very bad idea. In any guest post, giving backlinks are coincidental thing while the main motto is to enhance the knowledge of your readers. In fact, all the links in your guest posts including internal links must purely meant for adding value to your content as well as readers.

Guest posts that adhere to this fundamental principle are high unlikely to earn search engine’s wrath. Most high and medium authority websites have a tough editorial guidelines for guest posting articles. That said, the inherent urge to write a high quality guest post article is still important.    

  • Be slow and study in acquiring paid backlinks:

Buying too many backlinks in a short span of time inadvertently carries the risk of earning a penalty from the search engine. It is worth noting that today all search engines keep tab on the history of your backlink profile. If they see a sudden spike in your number of backlinks or referring domain then you’re undoubtedly providing a fodder for search engines to raise a red flag. Now you might ask how many paid backlinks you should be adding in a month. Although there is no decisive answer, I’d personally recommend 4 or 5 paid backlinks from quality websites would be sufficient.

In case if you have a good budget and are in pressure to match up with your competitor’s backlink numbers then you can stretch it further. But it is advisable to curb the temptation for going overboard while pursuing paid backlinks.

  • Don’t fall in trap of ‘Fiverr Backlink services’:

Have ever been to Freelance marketplace ‘Fiverr’ and had the temptation of buying those gigs that promises to get backlinks from High DR websites. If the answer is ‘yes’ then it is recommended never to get swayed by such temptations. Habitually subscribing to Fiverr’s backlink gigs is likely to spell a doomsday for your website.

But why single out ‘Fivver’ when buying backlinks other wise is equally a controversial practice. Well, the problem with Fiverr is that it literally sells backlinks in a open marketplace, which appears quite unethical as compared to pursuing links via email outreach. Besides, the freelance marketplace has become notoriously infamous for selling low quality links that mostly hail from PNB or spammy website. 

Girish Shetti

Girish Shetti is a veteran in content marketing. His strength lies in writing high-quality SEO friendly content and  procuring backlinks that help in increasing the online visibility of the website...


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