Link Buying Basics for Business Bloggers

August 6th, 2005

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Any search engine optimization consultant will tell you that links are the currency of the Web. They’re also the currency of the blogosphere. Without any inbound links, you’re just blogging to yourself. In Mike Grehan’s seminal piece “Filthy Linking Rich“, he explains how those rich with links just keep getting richer.

So how can new business bloggers get a jump start in the search engines? Simple: just whip out your wallet. The business of text link ad buying has matured, and it’s on the up-and-up. We’re not talking about “buying PageRank”… what we’re talking about is a totally legitimate business practice of buying text ads where you choose your hyperlinked words carefully based on keyword research and your advertisement appears on a reputable, relevant website. And of course, it links directly to your website, sans click tracking, so the ‘search engine juice’ flows unhindered. If the practice weren’t legit, would you see such well-respected link-building pundits as Eric Ward on the board of the link broker Text-Link-Ads.com?

Buying links is not quite as simple as I make it out. Yes, you can use a broker and they’ll happily take your money. Caveat emptor! In order to make an informed purchase, you’ll need to evaluate the quality of the links using a number of criteria. Here’s such a list of criteria, courtesy of the ABAKUS SEO Blog:

  1. Inbound site traffic and page traffic.
  2. Inbound dot gov and dot edu links.
  3. Click though traffic you get from the page.
  4. Site in DMOZ and Yahoo directory.
  5. Age of domain and time of domain being used (longer the better).
  6. Inbound links shown to that page on Yahoo (link:http:www.domain.ext/page/).
  7. Ranking of page for the keywords it is optimized for.
  8. Relevance of theme of site and page to your site and page.
  9. Alexa ranking (lower is better).
  10. Deep link compared to home page links.
  11. Location of link.
  12. Length of allowed description text.
  13. PR of page (still matters a bit).

Personally, I’d also add to the list:

  1. Appearance of any link advertisers on the page that would attract the attention (negatively) of the search engines (e.g.: casinos, Texas Hold’em, Viagra, pharmaceuticals, insurance, Rolex, etc.)
  2. Quality of the landing pages of the existing link advertisers (if you find any are spammy-looking, turn and run!)
  3. Placement of the link. (i.e.: being relegated to the bottom of the page as footer links is not ideal)