Getting backlinks pointed at your site can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. You either go the DIY route, which can be tedious as hell, or you just pay for the links to save yourself some time.
Or, just skip links all together like some people do…if that’s your thing. I don’t tend to advise this route though as it only seems to work with massive amounts of primarily super longtail keywords.
Here’s the thing about links though – some links you get are straight up worthless and offer zero benefit, or worse, may negatively affect your site’s rankings.
So, how do you know if a site where you can get a link is a good opportunity or one that you should pass on? And how do you know if those links you just bought are hot garbage or awesome?
I’ll show you how I approach all this…and hopefully it won’t have you realizing you’ve got loads of junk links pointed at your site.
Would You Get A Link From This Site?
I see this question pop up fairly regularly in the SEO groups that I lurk in. For someone who is relatively new to link building, I feel like this is a classic case of you don’t know what you don’t know.
Or, as my dad says, ya know just enough to be dangerous.
Yesterday, I saw someone asking about a site with the following metrics:
From the screenshot, you can see that it’s got a DR of 41, which is attractive from a backlink stand point. Ahrefs traffic over 1K (and remember, true traffic is pretty much always higher than tools like this show.)
With only this information, things are looking pretty good, right?
The next thing I’d check to see if I’m still interested in getting a link from this site is the traffic data. Is the traffic rising or steady? Or has it obviously dropped from an algo update or penalty?
Damn, this shit’s on the rise! We in business now, right? Well, not so fast cause we’ve got other due diligence checks to make.
I don’t want a link from a site that is a guest post farm or that links out to traditionally spammy niches (payday loans, casino/betting, pharma). Luckily, Ahrefs makes checking this super easy.
All I gotta do is search the list of outbound link anchors for keywords in those spammy niches to see if they’re linking out to any of them.
And, just like that I have eliminated this site from my list of potential guest post opportunities. Man, this site is really just accepting all this shit.
But what if this site was clean in terms of linking to spammy niches. What if these searches came back clean and I want to know if they’re a guest post farm for other niche sites?
Well, I do the same thing, only now I’m looking up keywords that are most commonly used by affiliate sites for anchor text. Things like: reviews, best, top, and under.
Whew, that’s a lot, right? Even if this site wasn’t linking out to spammy niches, it is definitely being used as a guest post farm.
But let’s assume that when I checked it out, this site was clean and didn’t look like a guest post farm. Next I’d check out their backlinks to see how much power a link from them would give me.
Normally, what I’m looking for are high quality links and not a backlink profile full of forum links, comment links, and Blogspot links. And I recently learned from another SEO, Quinton Hamp, that people are manipulating Ahrefs DR with links like the ones in the image below – so, now I look for that, too.
Okay, but let’s assume that this site that I started with has passed all of my due diligence checks so far. Are we off to the races?
Nope, not yet. There’s one more thing that I like to check – the Wayback Machine.
I want to know if this site is basically just a PBN masquerading as a real site. Cause that’s often the case with high DR and low traffic sites.
Shitty people love to buy expired domains and then pass them off as real sites so that they can charge you for a guest post on them.
So, putting this site into the Wayback Machine shows me that it has a long history. The current logo is sorta similar to the one from 2015.
The Facebook page linked out to from the 2015 version of the site no longer exists. And, the person running the site has had a name change.
Name changes aren’t always bad, since it could be to due to marriage or the site changing hands.
- The 2015 version of the site is run by Becky Willis (suddenly the domain name makes sense!)
- The current version of the site is run by “Betty” Knight on the sidebar, and “Becky” Knight on the about page.
- The Twitter account from 2015 is still active as @beckywillis but it also says “Betty Knight” on it now
If I’d made it this far evaluating this site, seeing all this from the Wayback Machine would be enough to make me run – and fast.
Never mind the fact that the current version of the site has a PR Newswire feed in sidebar, which is classic PBN building from years back.
Curious about what site this is so you can avoid it? I’m not gonna link to it, but you can see the URL in the image below.
- Is the DR good?
- How’s the traffic?
- Check outbound link anchors for red flags
- Check backlinks for red flags
- Check wayback machine for sign of a PBN/repurposed domain
Do Guest Post Link Sellers Do This Due Diligence For You?
Okay, okay, I’m sorry, that was a bit mean, right? They’d never take advantage of you like that, would they?
Yeah, not only would they take advantage of you like that, it’s happening on the regular.
Last month, I got emails from two different people about the same guest post service giving them links on really shitty websites. And in both instances, they were paying for the managed service that’s supposed to be better and get you links on sites not available to the pleebs who are doing the a la carte guest post link buying.
(I won’t name this service though, because I expect negative repercussions if I do…but I’m sure you can do the math here…just don’t ask me to confirm or deny your guess)
How bad were the sites these people gots links on? Well, one of them noticed that 5 out of 7 of the sites linked out to casino sites.
Five out of seven.
This guy was paying a premium for better links and the service had the audacity to fulfill 71% of them on sites linking out to casino sites, and God only knows what else. I advised both of them to ask for refunds on those links.
The 71% guy was told that it was normal for guest post sites to link out to casino site.
The lies people in this industry tell continue to amaze me.
You do not have to accept links on sites with casino links. I ALWAYS ask for refunds when I have a link end up on a site like this that I’d never approach on my own.
And don’t be afraid to file a chargeback if your refund request is denied and you’re not getting what you paid for.
How To Avoid Getting Fucked Buying Links
Yeah, buying links is a real minefield. Especially if you’re trying to do it on a budget.
The truth is that best way to not get fucked with link buying is to build all the links yourself. Then, you’ll only have you to blame if things go awry.
The next best option is to use one of those legit premium services (not a cheaper service offering a premium level) that actually does the sort of due diligence that I’m talking about up above. I’ve used Reach Creator in the past with no complaints – but that was at a cost of $2,000 per month.
I’m sure there are other services with a similar or higher cost that can be trusted – but I’ve not used any others, so I have no others to recommend to you.
The third best option, at least that I’ve found, is to use a service that lets you see the full domains urls FIRST so that you can do your own due diligence. So, they find sites accepting guest posts and then you size up each option to see if it passes the test.
The NO-BS service (this affiliate link gets us both free link credit) is the only one that I’ve used – and continue to use – that operates like this. You can even flag the junk sites that they offer you, which I assume is so that they can clean their list… but I haven’t confirmed that.
And, I guess your fourth, and last, option is to just not build any links at all.
At the end of the day, the cold hard truth is this: for services that sell guest posts or any other links it’s a numbers game – the more sites they get in their inventory, then the greater their revenue potential. So doing this sort of lengthy due diligence just isn’t something that’s a good ROI for them.
Honestly, I can’t blame them cause it’s good business sense to avoid things that are low ROI. But they could stop acting like they’ve actually vetted the sites when they clearly have not done so.
And, these services count on two things –
- getting mostly noobs who don’t know any better and never check what they’re getting for the money
- for you to trust them so much that you never actually check the links that they give you to see if they’re sprinkling shit in with the good ones
So, best of luck and be careful out there!
Hey, I’m Shawna. I make a living working from my laptop in places like London, Sydney, Dubai, Rome, Oslo, Bangkok, Las Vegas, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. I share how I do some of that on this website.