Link prostitution is a common tactic in the link building world. It’s the practice of buying links that have a monthly or yearly fee associated with them. And to get it out of the way, yes, this tactic works.
The prostitute is the site that is willing to do something on a subscription basis. They’ll do whatever you want as long as you have the money to pay for it. It’s extremely enticing, because if it doesn’t work out, you can pay for what you got and walk away. There is no commitment.
You can essentially tell them where and what type of link you want on their site and offer a subscription amount. They’ll be your best friend as long as you keep paying them, but once you’re done, you’ll probably never hear from them again.
Celebrity gossip bloggers are pretty notorious for this. They’re so comfortable with their habits, that even if you’re trying to get a legitimate link, they’ll ask for money.
This is the guy that runs a network of several sites. Really cheap and easy links. At first they’ll show you the best sites they have and treat you well. As your relationship continues with them, you’ll start to see a lot of spun content and duplicate themes.
These are mainly used for churn and burn sites where you’re just trying to get good rankings for a short amount of time. Once it gets caught by Google, you can toss it aside and cut your ties.
When sleaze and elegance combine. These are networks of bloggers that work with each other for a profit. If you buy a link from one of them, you’ll hear from all their friends soon.
The biggest advocates of this strategy are mommy bloggers. They’re closely connected to each other and easy to work with. If you’re looking for bulk, low to medium quality links, this is the easiest route to take.
Find one popular mommy blogger and offer them a referral fee for contacts. You’ll get a swarm of emails from all their friends the rest of the week.
The Strip Club
These guys know what they’re doing. They’ll take you for all your worth. It’s typically a guy who runs a “business”, which consists of him and maybe a couple contractors. They make legitimate networks in pricey niches and pose as their advertising manager.
The sites on the receiving end either aren’t aware or don’t care that their “manager” is reselling paid links on their sites.
These are especially prevalent in respectable niches that have a dark side. For example, there several sports blog networks that are associated in this.
Sports are obviously a legitimate niche. However, they’re also a strong target for sports betting and gambling. This makes them a great target for those niches. They’re very expensive profiles with high profit potential.
The Red Light District
A specialized business where everyone knows exactly what’s involved: it’s no secret. This is where you basically hire someone to do the link building for you. They will go get monthly or yearly subscription links on your behalf so you don’t have to do any of the dirty work.
A lot of “high-quality” link building agencies run on this model, because if you cancel your contract, they can turn it all off.
This is the model which caused the iAcquire fiasco. If you did a demo with them, it was obvious that they bought links. They were very open about it.
Now, here’s the huge misunderstanding. There are a lot of high profile businesses that know they’re getting paid links. In fact, they want them. They’ll go as far as to ask you not to represent them in your acquisitions, so that if you get caught, they’re not liable.
I’m in no way defending iAcquire’s actions, but the next time someone gets “outed”, keep in mind they may just be fulfilling their client’s wishes.
The Massage Parlor
These are legitimate businesses that somehow haven’t realized what they’re doing is wrong. They usually work with sites (not blogs) of a specific niche and manage their banner advertising. However, if you ask them about getting paid links on a subscription basis, they’re open to the idea.
Banner advertising primarily runs on a continuous payment methods, so they’re comfortable doing things on a subscription basis.
I’ve seen this in all niches. The biggest difference is that they’re usually not blogs, which is both a good and bad thing. It’s great, because their authority is typically higher. It’s bad, because they’re used to large, obvious, high budget ads.
It’s hard for them to understand that a link advertisement that will probably never be clicked, is any different than a large banner on the same page.
The Good: There’s No Commitment
Unlike a real relationship, there is no commitment when it comes to prostitution. If things go sour, you can just stop.
This also helps when you’re experimenting with a new niche or keyword group. You can poke around and see what you can and can’t influence, with limited repercussions.
Don’t misunderstand. It’s still very possible for you to get caught while experimenting.
The Bad: There’s an Upkeep
The biggest issue with this strategy is that your upkeep gets larger year over year. If you spend $10k on links one year, the next year you have to spend that same $10k just to keep the links you already have.
This means you have to pull together a larger budget to increase your back link count, making it a difficult long term strategy.
Potential Consequence: It can Ruin Your Relationship
Lastly, even if these strategies do work, it can ruin your legitimate relationships. Trust is not easy to regain. All the hard work you’ve put towards something can be shattered if you’re caught buying links. Your professional partners may not want to be associated with you.
However, if you’re not caught it can work out in your favor. It’s a big gamble.
It really boils down to how much risk you’re willing to take. Buying links still works and it’s going to be a while before it doesn’t.
Everyone keeps trying to say SEO is dead, because social is gaining strength – What’s to keep people from selling more legitimate, paid followers?