Paid links for search engine optimization
In the early 2000s, buying and selling paid links to increase rankings in the SERPs was a common occurrence in the world of SEO. It was an acceptable SEO link building practice until 2007, when Google declared that paid links were in violation of their Webmaster Guidelines, as they were purposefully trying to manipulate the search results. As Google stated,
...some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links that pass PageRank, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.
If there is anything that I have learned as an SEO professional, it's that when Google decides something is black hat, they mean it. Plenty of SEO firms had to revamp client strategies when the news broke in order to keep their sites on the right side of Google's line in the sand. Google did admit that not all paid links directly violate their guidelines, such as links purchased for advertising, but that they work hard to discount other unnatural links designed to cheat the system.
Debating about whether purchasing links, reviews, considerations, etc. for search engine optimization is ethical or not is something we'll leave up the individual. Search engines would prefer that all links are natural, but the fact of the matter is that a substantial number of the links on the internet have been paid for in one way or another. Be sure to check out Google's official policy on paid links.
Google began suggesting the use of nofollow also as a machine-readable disclosure for paid links, so that these links do not get credit in search engines' results. The growth of the link buying economy, where companies' entire business models are based on paid links that affect search engine rankings, caused the debate about the use of nofollow in combination with paid links to move into the center of attention of the search engines, who started to take active steps against link buyers and sellers. This triggered a very strong response from web masters.
A site's ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to it. In order to prevent paid links from influencing search results and negatively impacting users, Google urges webmasters use nofollow on such links. Search engine guidelines require machine-readable disclosure of paid links in the same way that consumers online and offline appreciate disclosure of paid relationships (for example, a full-page newspaper ad may be headed by the word "Advertisement").
Temporary Paid links
The most temporary a link can be is a paid placement on a search engine. When you sign up with Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google to pay for an advertisement spot for a given keyword, you are not buying a link; you are buying a paid listing in the search results
Where to Buy Permanent Links
There are several places to buy links. Some types of purchasable links have been around for years, and others are quite new. Expect to see this list change in the future, as it's one of the more volatile parts of SEO there is.
- Forum Signatures
- Text Link Ads
- Blog Reviews
- Directly Contacting a Webmaster