What’s the Cost of Buying Links?
In 2020, we found out that the typical expense of investing in a link was $352.92.
How did we learn this number?
Timmy Winkle, one of our regular contributors, contacted 250 websites in 5 popular niches. He asked 2 questions:
Do you sell links?
If so, simply how much does one sell them for?
These were the results last 2016:
But, we planned to update these numbers for 2020. We found that the best place to buy backlinks cheap is at Rankers Paradise because they get results and really do work.
So, recently, I re-conducted this study with additional websites in more niches.
I also ran a second experiment where I sent 180 guest post pitches to determine the number of people asked me to pay a fee.
SIDENOTE. I didn’t make any mention of money whatsoever on this email.
In an instant, I’ll share my findings from both studies.
But first, let’s require a quick look at the link investing industry.
The Link Buying and Selling Industry: A Brief History
For as long as Google has used backlink building to rank websites, backlinks have been a commodity.
And like several commodities, you will find those looking to purchase and people aiming to sell.
But, link buying has several shapes and forms.
Some are 100% black-hat, others grey-hat, yet others white-hat.
Here’s how link buying has evolved through the years:
Early Link Buying: Authority Directories (the Mid-1990s—2000s)
Paid directory submissions were one of the earliest kinds of link buying.
These directories generally charged a “review” fee.
The now defunct Yahoo directory is among the highest profile examples.
They charged a fee of about £300 ($402) for inclusion, whilst they did reject some sites.
Make no mistake, that link had not been bought for traffic.
It was always bought for that purpose of increasing Google rankings.
The Link Buying Boom (the Mid-2000s, Onwards)
By the mid 2000s, an entirely industry had grown around selling links.
Sites for example Text Link Ads sold links over a “rental” basis.
image via Google Plus
These were generally site-wide sidebar links, you simply paid a fee every month. The cost was dependent on the site’s metrics.
And in those times, the metric that mattered was PageRank.
Pricing started at around $30/month for a link from a PR1/2 site. High PR sites commanded fees of $100+.
Remember, that’s a fee every month. So $100/month would turn out costing you $1,200 per year.
There were also some sold in-content links. You could even pick the anchor text you wished.
But, unfortunately, Google soon took action to spot and devalue these links.
Google Forces Link Sellers Underground (Late-2000s, Onwards)
Google started funnelling more resources inside their webspam team.
And they began offering penalties to those caught selling links through broker sites, or on forums.
This penalty was generally a reduction in PageRank, but in extreme cases, maybe it’s a de-indexing.
They also encouraged users to report paid links straight away to Google.
Did this stop link buying?
Nope. But it did force those selling and buying links to exercise discretion.
In turn, this got more difficult for Google to catch sites that were breaking their rules.
And to clarify, buying links to control rankings definitely breaks Google’s rules.
Buying links will be the first example they provide of your “link scheme” within their quality guidelines article:
The following are types of link schemes which could negatively impact a site’s ranking browsing results:
Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts which contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a hyperlink
So what’s the actual state of have fun with link buying?
If you obtain caught buying links to enhance rankings, Google may penalise your web site. We do not recommend buying links, but when you do, then see the risks.
Link Buying/Selling in 2018 (and Beyond)
Here are some of the ways for you to buy links for SEO purposes in 2018:
Paid Guest Posts (i.e. “Sponsored” Posts)
A quick Google search for “buy guest posts” surfaces a huge amount of sites offering to help you get links from guest posts for the fee.
buy guest posts
All of these services fall under one of three categories:
Genuine guest posting services: They conduct real outreach to real blogs and secure guest post placements in your stead.
Disguised PBNs: They sell their service as real outreach, but they actually use PBNs. You can usually tell these services one mile off, as they’re very cheap (<$100 per post). We don’t recommend with these unless you’re alert to, and accept, the potential risks related to PBNs.
Intermediary link buyers/sellers: They pay sites for inclusion on the part of their clients, markup the retail price, then pocket the real difference. Essentially, they’re middlemen (or women) in the link buying/selling process.
I’d say #3 will be the most common.
We get requests from intermediary link buyers/sellers (#3) at Ahrefs on a regular basis.
Here’s a sample:
email we got
We once even had one guy who had previously been contacting all our previous contributors in an attempt to sneakily purchase a backlink around the blog.
Here’s Tim, quite rightly, trolling that guy:
our trolling reply
I don’t think we heard back from him after that!
But finished . is…
If he’d just taken the time to write a good guest post instead, we may have likely accepted it. He would then have acquired a web link for free!
Buying Links from Bloggers
This is where I believe the bulk of link buying and selling comes about in 2018.
That’s private link purchases from bloggers.
I possess a few blogs and I get most of these requests all the time.
(I don’t sell links btw!)
But, it isn’t always a monetary exchange.
Sometimes it’s more of a bribe, in which a product is offered in exchange for the “genuine” review for the blogger’s site.
product review outreach
It goes without saying the review will contain a natural-looking in-content backlink.
This is mostly the mutual unspoken agreement between blogger and link builder.
And the thing is, for Google, these links (bought or bribed) are pretty undetectable.
How are they going to tell if one of the links from the inside a bit of editorial content may be taken care of?
The answer is, they can’t.
Flipping this round, perhaps you have sent an outreach email and received a reply this way?
I’m seeing it more and more (note: stay with me for that study on this!)
Many bloggers are well aware of the value of your backlink and so are now openly requesting payment.
Which kind of sucks.
But, that’s business I guess.
So just simply how much private link investing continues on? And what’s the average price of a link?
What Percentage Of Blogs Are Selling Links in 2018? (and How Does This Compare to 2016?)
For this study, I reached to 450 sites across 9 competitive niches (i.e. 50 sites in each).
Here will be the niches:
And here is the email I sent:
As you will see, there were no messing about. I got straight to the point.
I wished to buy a link on his or her site and I desired to know just how much it would be.
SIDENOTE. We conducted the same study in 2016, just with fewer sites in fewer niches (250 sites across 5 niches: travel, fashion, fitness, finance, weddings). I used the very same email outreach template this year even as did in 2016. I’ve included analysis of the final results from both studies below.
Here are the outcome:
Total Number of Blogs Selling Links
Firstly, let’s take a look with the overall totals:
Sell links: 54
Don’t sell links: 38
No response: 338
Here’s how these numbers rival 2016:
As you will see inside chart above, only 12.6% of the sites I reached in the market to decided to sell me one of the links, in comparison with 18.4% in 2016.
Still, it’s a serious high hit rate.
SIDENOTE. I won’t be “outing” any in the sites who were selling links. That’s not what this research involved.
But as you will see in a short time, the information is skewed somewhat by one of the niches.
Total Number of Blogs Selling Links by Niche
Now let’s break it down by niche.
Again, here’s how this even compares to 2016:
Number of Blogs selling links by niche
As you can see, travel was undoubtedly the biggest niche selling links. A whopping 44% in the 50 sites I contacted decided to sell me one of the links.
We noticed a similar trend in 2016, too.
SIDENOTE. 6 with the sites stipulated the link would be “nofollow”.
This is smart considering value of the travel industry.
It would also claim that a big a part of commercial travel sites are buying links (supply and demand).
Now let’s take a look on the actual expense of getting the links.
What could be the Cost of Buying a Link Outright in 2018?
There would have been a big variation in the cost of purchasing the links.
The cheapest quote was $50. That link was from a parenting blog which has a Domain Rating (DR) of 32.
The most costly quote was £2,500 ($3,312) annually. That came from a DR56 travel blog.
Across all 54 sites, the common cost of investing in a link was $361.44.
For those focusing, that’s a 2.4% ($8.51) increase on the typical from 2016.
SIDENOTE. That’s just about consistent with US inflation, which has averaged around 2% since publishing our original study.
@ahrefs finds the average cost of getting a backlink is $361.44 (study of 450 blogs)
Click to tweet
So, if I planned to obtain a link on every site, it would cost me a total of $19,518!
Here’s a dysfunction of the items that could get me with regards to metrics:
That’s quite a powerful collection of links immediately.
I’m guessing this could definitely move the needle.
SIDENOTE. I did not reach out to a much split of web sites by Domain Rating, so this mustn’t be taken just as one indication that sites with DR 50–59 are more inclined to sell links. I used lists of “top blogs” within the niches to decide on sites.
But, here’s another question: does the normal price of a web link increase in line with DR?
Yes, it will.
So, that’s the amount a hyperlink costs if you actually ask to acquire one.
But think about once you don’t?
How Many Bloggers Charge for Guest Posts in 2018? (And How Much Do They Charge?)
Have you ever pitched a guest post idea and received a response like this?…
guest post cost
I know I have. It happens all the time.
So, I thought it would be interesting to own another small study to find out:
How often this actually happens;
How much these paid guest posts typically cost.
Here’s what I did:
I reached over to 180 blogs across exactly the same 9 niches (i.e. 20 per niche) using this email:
guest post outreach email
As you can observe, I didn’t mention payment of any sort within the email itself.
SIDENOTE. I only pitched blogs that were openly accepting (looking for) guest posts. This means both a “write for us” page, or something similar.
Here are the outcome:
Total Number of Blogs Charging for Guest Posts
First, let’s take a look at the overall stats:
Didn’t ask for money: 22
Did request money: 24
No response: 134
Over half (52%) of responses requested money!
I don’t believe, but I found out that number to get surprisingly high.
But think about when categorised by niche?
Total Number of Blogs Charging for Guest Posts by Niche
Here are the final results:
Total quantity of Blogs charging for Guest Posts by niche
Finance blogs took the lead here, with 31% of bloggers (i.e. almost one out of 3) seeking profit exchange for the guest post.
Travel, Fashion, and Photography blogs weren’t far behind at 20% (i.e. one out of 5).
But, there is one outlier: Marketing blogs.
None of such requested any type of fee in exchange for a guest post.
I think this speaks volumes.
Marketers are likely to be ahead in the curve here.
They realize that selling guest post links is against Google’s quality guidelines, as highlighted with that now infamous post from Matt Cutts in 2014.
And they aren’t ready to risk their sites.
What Is The Cost Of Buying a Guest Post in 2018?
Again, there were a substantial variation inside fees quoted by bloggers.
The cheapest quote was $15, which has been described as an “upload fee” through the blogger.
That response came coming from a photography blog using a Domain Rating (DR) of 12.
The priciest quote was $300. That came from the DR67 wedding blog.
Across all 24 sites, the normal cost of publishing a paid guest post was $77.80.
@ahrefs finds the typical fee for any guest post is $77.80 (study of 180 blogs)
Click to tweet
So, if I desired to publish a guest post on every site, it might set me back an overall of $1,867.20!
Here’s a dysfunction of what that will get me with regards to metrics:
That’s not always a bad collection of links, especially for that cost! ($77.80 each, normally)
If we compare the tariff of buying links via guest posting to buying links using a direct ask, it’s roughly 1/5th (21.5%) from the cost.
But, remember, you will want content so that you can build links with guest posts, that can increase costs… a great deal.
The Truth About Paid Links: Why You Should Probably Spend Your Money Elsewhere
Buying links is usually an attractive proposition.
You hand over $XXX and you get everything you want—a hyperlink.
There’s you don’t need to spend hours researching prospects.
Or crafting “personalized” outreach emails.
Or managing the inevitable a feeling of rejection when most prospects never reply.
No. It’s an easy value exchange—a rarity within the murky arena of link-building.
But, unfortunately, you can find two big logic behind why buying links isn’t the best idea:
1. You Can Effectively Buy Links for Much, Much Less
$361.44 isn’t cheap.
And remember, most websites won’t rank which has a single link.
That burns through money pretty fast.
But here’s one thing: in this way, every link can be a paid link, even those made “natural” outreach.
Why? Because outreach needs time to work. And time = money.
In other words, you might send a blogger $360+ and still have carried out with it (i.e. purchasing a link outright). Or you might spending some time as well as building relationships with bloggers to try and earn a link “naturally”.
Either way, still it costs money because your time (or enough time of the person you’ve hired to construct links) isn’t free.
link builder job listing
Let’s look at the figures…
It costs $360+, an average of, to get a link outright.
That’s definitely one option.
But, let’s state that you paid someone $50/hour to construct links in your case via outreach.
If they merely built 1 link every 7 hours (an average of), it would be less expensive than buying links outright.
Even the worst link builder could surely manage this.
2. Paid Links Can Be Very Low-quality
Let’s say a blogger agrees to offer you a hyperlink.
Do you think you’re the only person?
Or does one think they’re selling links with other link-builders, too?
Most of enough time, it’s going to get the latter.
Here’s why this isn’t good:
If a site accepts links based not on merit, but cold hard cash, they’ll likely end up linking to a great deal of unrelated junk.
mobile casino games
This puts your link in a questionable “link neighbourhood”.
In layman’s terms, that is similar to hanging around with bad influences (i.e. the folks your mum said to never speak with). You’re lumped into the same questionable crowd with the power of association.
But here’s the question: can Google spot this algorithmically?
Nobody knows for certain. But since Google presenting world-champion-beating A.I technology and robots that will do backflips, I’d say it’s pretty likely.
And if they can, I’d bet money that they’re utilizing their powers to distinguish and penalise anyone buying links. Or at least devaluing them (thus driving them to worthless).
It seems that this link exchanging industry in 2018 is alive and well.
I’ll let it sit your choice to choose whether $361.44 (or $77.80…plus content) is:
a) definitely worth the money
b) really worth the risk of getting caught
If you want our advice, buying links isn’t definitely worth the money.
Why? Because it’s riskier and more expensive than building “natural” links (in most cases).
But, if you are going to cover for links, it’s like buying guest posts will likely give the best bargain.
Things To Look For In SEO and Buying Backlinks Cheap
More than 50% of traffic to Wiley Online Library comes directly from Google, Google Scholar, and other search engines. In an effort to maintain their competitive advantage, it is believed that Google makes 500-600 updates to their algorithm each year. It may take a bit of time and effort however it is well worth it. Lastly, you need to consider the competition from similar businesses and take that into the picture as well. Slow loading pages mean that you run the risk losing clients because they need to wait for the site to load. The first step for a web site owner is to identify the keywords customers may use to find the business. A very easy way of improving a website is to carefully use and repeat the keywords or title of your article in the text. Most of my articles are about the singing voice and I find it impossible not to use words like “Sing, singers, vocal, voice” throughout the article. An ineffectively composed article can be hurtful, both to you as the writer and the items you are advancing.
Either way, you can see your complete link profile here and work on weak areas to get better search result placings in the future. Unlike other tools that merely provide data about how competitive keywords are, CanIRank lets you know the probability that you’ll rank for a search term and uses AI to give you suggestions on how to better target keywords. The data from “download more sample links” or “download latest links” is very noisy; I find I need to scrub out links from the same subdomain in Excel to get any use out of it. Quality of the product: Are the features talked about, good enough to bring out an online sale. You have to go out of the way to drive traffic to your websites. This feature is so much more reliable than the approach of the spiders, because these websites are seen by actual human eyes. In a crowded marketplace, more and more agencies are competing for space and shouting about their USP’s.
You can find a number of agencies offer the great services at an attractive price. So can you imagine how this affects your company’s brand awareness? They’re after one thing and one thing only – traffic. Placing your targeted keywords in the title tag is the most important thing as search engines first give priority to title tags. If you choose keywords which no one search for, or if you choose keywords which won’t bring in targeted traffic to your site, what good will the top rankings do? You must also understand that SEO is not determined just by keywords. Utilizing SEO could have increased sales and helped your small company increase traffic. You do not want to have the same boring marketing strategies as the competition. It is referred to generally as search engine traffic, and this traffic are web surfers looking for a product or service that they require and by using search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo to find the information.
Just like cars flying down the highway, travelers on the Internet need something to catch their attention. Google is one of the most complicated search engines to stay on top of, and yet one of the most popular search engines on the internet. After getting exposed these spammy guest blog network had been penalized by the google. Then, submit at least three or four articles from other sources for every hub you submit. Without knowing this, it will be difficult to structure your content to give your website a chance to rank for valuable search queries. The audience might get seriously disappointed with a blogger’s content choices, especially if these are produced to solely please search engine crawlers. People locate and discover desired content by browsing, searching, and asking. A website is ranked higher if there are other websites that contain links to it. We pinpoint the most relevant websites in your industry or business sector from which you would gain an advantage with a backlink and secure those links. As the initial search engines were cataloging the early Internet, many business owners soon learned to appreciate the value of their Web site being listed in the search engines, as they first saw increases in visitors to their Web sites.