Oct 07, 2021

How to Buy Backlinks for Under $100 Each [And Why You Shouldn’t]


Nicholas Rubright

Confession time: I’ve bought links during my SEO career.

Across my historic link-buying campaigns, I spent $40,501 to acquire 551 backlinks. This puts the average cost of a paid backlink for my campaigns at just $74.

This study from Ahrefs puts the cost of a paid link at $361.44. So how much paid backlinks cost definitely vary based on a number of factors.

In this article, we’re not going to talk about how to buy backlinks on Fiverr or scale up spammy blog commenting for links.

I’m going to give you the link building strategy I used to get black hat backlinks that some digital marketing professionals still leverage today. If you’re ever buying link building services, many of them use this technique to get links that are commonly referred to as “niche edits.”

This is back when domain authority was how you measured backlink building success and you could just buy high-quality backlinks that would improve your search engine rankings.

Unfortunately, the benefits of purchasing backlinks were always short lived.

I’ll close with why you shouldn’t buy backlinks (even if they are high DA or have high organic traffic numbers or other link profile metrics) and give you a few ideas for “safer” SEO strategies that you should use instead.

FYI, this and guest posting are how many agencies do fixed-price link building because they drive extremely predictable results.

Here we go.

How to Buy Backlinks for Under $100 Each

The steps to executing a link-buying campaign with email outreach are relatively simple.

  1. Choose a keyword with a high keyword difficulty (KD) score with tons of opportunities to “steal” links. Usually, you can find these opportunities in the link profiles of high DA websites.
  2. Craft a template that’s designed to scale and get quick responses. We published another article about how to write link building emails if you need more help with this step specifically.
  3. Buy the backlinks without creating any content. Make sure it’s a do-follow link, not a nofollow link, and that the website owners follow the agreed link optimization instructions. Some sites have different prices depending on the types of backlinks they’re selling. Dofollow backlinks and nofollow backlinks may come at different prices, and different web pages might be priced differently even if they’re on the same domain.

Let’s go over the details of each of these steps.

1. Choose a high KD keyword

A deep prospect bucket is important for any link building campaign to scale, but it’s especially important if you want the campaign to scale endlessly.

You can pretty easily find deep prospect buckets in Ahrefs by looking for keywords with a high KD since this is computed by taking a weighted average of the number of referring domains to the top-ranking pages, as explained in their post on this topic.

What this means is, by default, the pages that rank for a high KD keyword will have tons of backlinks.

For example, the keyword “content marketing” has a KD 86.

Because we know this number is derived from the referring domains of ranked pages, we can safely assume that the top ranking pages have a ton of backlinks, which we can see is the case for this keyword.

These are our outreach targets.

Once we’ve chosen a keyword that’s relevant to the page we’re building links to with tons of outreach targets (i.e., the sites linking to the pages currently ranking for our keyword), then we just go through the process of finding the right contact info and we’re ready to start our outreach campaign.

2. Craft a template

If you’re running a link-buying campaign, it’s likely you already have a page you’re trying to build links to.

Additionally, it’s unlikely that sites you’re giving money to will care about what specific page or anchor they’re linking to.

So you can use a pretty basic template. Something like this will work:

Obviously you’ll need to write something that pertains to your specific outreach campaign. For example, if I was running this type of outreach campaign for our link building services page against competitors for that keyword, I might write the email like this:

Not much creativity is necessary if you’re after paid links, but if you want a chance at getting some free ones from the campaign as well, I highly recommend personalizing your email.

I like to personalize around 25-50% of any email I send since this amount of personalization does drive more replies.

3. Buy the backlinks

During your outreach, you’ll get tons of replies like this:

From here, you can just ask to buy the link on your target page.

Sometimes, you’ll get sites that offer up guest post placements for money.

In these cases, you can still go after a link on your target page rather than spending more money on content for them.

Just use a similar request to the above.

In this case, though, she rejected the placement because “someone else” paid for that.

Because of how you found these prospects, if you get these types of responses from your outreach, you can pretty safely assume that your competitor is paying for links.

Anyway, in these cases, you can still win the placement by choosing another article on their site. You can do this by looking for some high UR pages in Ahrefs.

Once we found a page on her site that was a good fit for us, we found another fitting page, and we got the placement from this prospect.

1000+ websites to buy backlinks from

If you still want to buy backlinks, we have a list of websites that have tried to sell links to our agency. Keep in mind that we do report these to Google, so if Google has reacted to our reports, either with a human or an algorithm, the links may be devalued or not worth anything.

Here’s a link to the live Google Sheet:

google sheets icon

We keep this list up-to-date, so if link-buying is your thing, you can come back here to check it regularly.

We used to exclude links from our white label link building services and white label SEO services in this list, but since we stopped buying backlinks entirely, this is no longer the case.

Why you shouldn’t buy backlinks

Because Google probably knows you are. Here’s how.

1. Outbound linking patterns

If we look at the outbound links on a site, we can sometimes identify whether or not a link was paid for.


By examining anchors to understand link intent.

If there are links in the content on a site that look like they don’t provide any true value to readers, the links are probably paid for.

This is because there’s no reason a blogger would take their time to link out to something like this unless there was some sort of monetary compensation in it for them.

For example, to me this link looks like it was paid for:

Google can look at these pages at scale and can examine outbound linking patterns across the entire domain. When doing this, if they see fishy behavior, this can raise suspicion of breaking their Webmaster Guidelines and trigger a manual review.

2. Spam report

If you think your competitors won’t submit spam reports on you, you’re wrong.

You better believe I’m submitting a spam report if I know my client’s competitors are buying links. Especially if it will help me rank my client.

On top of that, if I’m frustrated at the number of paid links coming back for an outreach campaign, I might just report all of those domains for selling links.

And Google makes this so easy to do.

So what’s likely happening if you’re buying links is that one of your competitors is following your trail of paid links, reporting them, and these links are then doing nothing for you.

Not only that, but Google is likely also blacklisting links from domains they know are selling links and not telling anyone. They even confirmed that they use these submissions to improve their paid-link detection algorithms.

So even if your competitors aren’t reporting you, if the domains you’re buying links on have been reported via some other means and Google has blacklisted them from their link-counts, you’re probably just burning money.

So while link builders are asking, “How can Google possibly know!?” you might now be asking, “How can we know which sites Google knows are selling links?

We can’t. And we don’t even know what Google’s real means of detecting paid links are.

They’ll also likely never tell us SEOs because they know bad players are going to find a way to game it.

This system isn’t perfect by any means, and you still can drive rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs) with paid links if you buy a ton of them. But the reality is, it’ll probably burn you in the long run as more domain-level paid link reports are submitted and Google improves their detection systems for these links.

3. Domain neighborhood

Google looks at links in neighborhoods, which are basically groups of sites that commonly link to each other.

For example, in the SEO and content marketing niche, sites like Moz, Backlinko, and Ahrefs all link to each other frequently, so in Google’s eyes this is a “neighborhood” of SEO sites.

Neighborhoods like this are, in part, how Google determines link quality and relevance. So if we got a link from one of those sites, Google would see us as more relevant in the SEO niche, which would drive our performance for related keywords.

Google can also use link neighborhoods to identify paid links. Especially if these are on private blog networks (PBNs).

Since PBNs are literally just a bunch of sites linking to each other, Google can probably spot them pretty easily with their massive database of links.

It’s actually relatively easy to spot a PBN on your own. With this being the case, Google engineers can probably spot them pretty easily as well and build algorithms to scale human-like detection systems.

Many of the paid link opportunities you come across are probably on a PBN. You can probably produce some short-term results with PBN links, but again, Google is likely to find and ignore them eventually.

What to do instead

If we look into Google’s guidelines about link schemes, we can get a better idea of what they’re not looking for.

Basically, Google doesn’t want anything that can be bought because they want to measure natural linking behavior online. They consider these to be spammy, low-quality links.

Luckily, you may not suffer from a Google penalty these days, but the links will likely just count as nothing and you’ll burn your budget. These backlinks will be ignored as a ranking factor when determining where your site appears in a Google search.

So how do you get high authority, “natural” links that Google’s algorithms like?

Offer websites something of value, such as high quality content.

SEO experts and website owners all agree that high quality content is part of any good SEO campaign, so if you can build something for site owners that helps them accomplish their goals, you can get a white hat link that improves your backlink profile and domain rating.

There are tons of ways to go about this, but if you’re into buying links, you’re probably working toward building backlinks to sales pages because those are the pages that people don’t naturally want to link to.

When building links to product or sales pages, I generally make use of one of three link building strategies (FYI, you can use our link building services to run any of these campaigns for you).

Guest posting

Guest posting involves pitching article ideas to websites, writing the content, and getting it published.

This is good because since you’re writing the content, you control the anchor text.

We’ve used this to get some awesome placements on SingleGrain, BPlans, and Crowdfire.

The key to success here is good content for the websites you’re pitching. Passionate bloggers aren’t going to take shit content just because it’s free. Make it good. This is the only way guest posting will land high-quality links for you.

If you want to learn more about this, check out our guest post outreach article.


This is similar to guest posting, but instead of pitching content, you build an infographic and pitch it out to your niche.

Infographic campaigns are good to operate at scale because usually you only need to write 500 words or so to accompany an infographic placement, which means the content cost per placement is less than guest posting, but you can still control your anchor text.

This campaign requires relatively significant upfront investment, though, and it is a bit more risky because you need to make sure you build something that the bloggers of this niche will really be interested in.

That said, if you want to run a campaign using infographics, check out this article we published about how infographic promotion works.

If you want to see how infographics can be fully leveraged to improve your website’s ranking, check out this case study we published about how we use an infographic, in part, to earn 85 free backlinks for our client.


Lists that feature your products are great link building opportunities because they’re the most likely of these to also send referral traffic your way.

This means that effective execution of a campaign like this can have a direct impact on sales and SEO performance.

I wasn’t able to find many helpful resources online, so to execute this one, just search “best {{product}}” and you’re likely to turn up a ton of lists.

From here, just send them an email similar to the template below:

The template is pretty simple and straight to the point, but you can work this to fit your own needs.

For list outreach, buying backlinks might make sense if the placement will send referral traffic. Google knows about this and their algorithm usually discounts these placements.

For example, if I reached out to this list and they asked me to pay $1,000 for a link, I’d probably pay for it because they get over 80k visitors per month from search, which means there’s lots of potential for referral traffic from people clicking the link.


Google doesn’t mind the specific internet practice of paying for link placements – they just don’t want you to buy links that are intended to pass PageRank.

If you are paying for the list placement, just keep this section of Google’s Paid Link Quality Guidelines in mind:

Buying in-context links in an attempt to drive referral traffic is not a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Common questions about buying backlinks

Here are some questions people often ask about the practices of buying backlinks for SEO.

1. Is buying backlinks illegal?

It can be. It depends on if the link placement has the potential to influence a buying decision. If it does, the FTC may see this as an endorsement, in which case, you’re required to disclose the relationship. This means disclosing the payment of the link placement, which would defeat the purpose of this as then Google would know, too.

For example, payment for a link to your DAW software in a list like this without disclosure would be illegal:


Currently, there are no specific laws around the practice of buying backlinks, but it’s possible that, with the advertising laws already in place, the behavior can be seen as deceptive.

Content pages are likely fine because you’re sharing information, but if you’re buying links that are pointing to sales pages, that’s where you land in muddy waters if the placement has potential to influence buying decisions.

2. Do affiliate links count as backlinks?

Technically, an affiliate link is a backlink.

However, they don’t pass any SEO value.

With some independent affiliate programs that use referral codes, it may be possible to work around this, but many affiliate programs pass users through a URL on their domain known as a Postback URL to track clicks and user data.


Google can easily see this and attribute the link to an affiliate network.

3. Does Google know if I buy a backlink on a big website like Forbes or Business Insider?

Probably. Most links that are paid for on these platforms are published via “contributor” profiles rather than from an in-house writer.

Google can see the difference and build some assumptions from there. Things like surrounding text and the actual purpose of the link would factor in for these sites.

Regardless, the higher up editors will take appropriate action if they suspect anything, so you may eventually lose the link anyway.


For big links like these, digital PR is more effective than trying to pay for them.


You can very easily pay for backlinks inexpensively without a backlink service. A freelancer and the process above will do just fine.

But paid links suck and Google knows about a lot of them, so you’re likely burning your money for most of them.

It’s better to leverage a link building campaign like guest posting that provides real value to bloggers in your niche. Doing this on your own, or hiring an agency to do it, is how you earn backlinks.

If you think I missed something or need clarification, drop a comment below. 👇


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