I bet that title got your attention. For serious though, I do not support paid links, so keep your shirt on, Rand. I’m simply trying to bring awareness to an issue.
What is Considered a Paid Link?
This isn’t as obvious as you’d think. Some things are blatantly paid, while others hit a bit of a grey area. Here are a few examples:
Note: Anything in the “Grey” area are topics where I’ve noticed conflicting opinions.
Paid White Hat Links
- Sponsoring an organization that offers a linking opportunity
- Paid Directories (if the listing is being manually checked for quality)
- Making a donation that provides a linking opportunity
- Giveaways and contests (as long as you ask for a link and not force it)
Paid Grey Hat Links
- Offering physical incentives for an opportunity to guest post
- Renting properly labeled ad space and placing a no-follow link within
- Offering your product to a blogger for their review with a link
- Buying a banner ad that contains a no-follow link within
Paid Black Hat Links
- This list is endless, so I did my best to create a brief summary: “Any form of paid linking where a followed link is not typically deserved.”
Paid Links Google Can’t Stop
Despite the following context, this is not a grey hat link – To create a paid link that can’t be detected by Google, you want to disguise it as a white hat. Justin Briggs wrote a great piece a while back where he stated:
“If you want to want to engage in less than pearly white link building tactics, do it behind cover of content based tactics.”
He’s absolutely right. Search for blogs within your niche and use advanced operator searches to find your keywords within that blog. Find keywords on old posts. You can then contact the blogger and pay them to change those words into a link.
Why Can’t Google Detect It?
Even though the link may seem out of place, Google wouldn’t be able to fairly judge wether this link was paid or not. You haven’t changed any content. It’s very viable that the blogger put that link up on their own free will.
How Could Google Fix This?
One sign something is odd is the cache date of the post. The most reasonable thing to do, would be for Google to devalue links on edited posts. Again though, this wouldn’t fix the issue 100% and could devalue completely legit links.
How This Can Hurt You
Bloggers are finicky creatures. Even though this tactic is invisible to Google, it’s very obvious to the blogger you’re contacting. If you rub them the wrong way, they can easily out you.
How Your Competitors Can Use This to Hurt You
This would be a horrible thing to do, but you could contact bloggers while posing as your competitor. Telling them you will pay them for a link, then piss them off. It has the potential to create a reputation nightmare if you did it with several bloggers in the same niche.
Don’t try this at home. Even though it may bypass Google, it has the potential to cause other horrible issues. The last community you want to dislike you are the bloggers in your niche.