This is kind of a knee jerk blog post in reaction to a conversation I have been having on Twitter with Adam (@toptableplanner) and our friends at County Marquees (@County_Marquees) regarding being outranked for paid links and how competitors are outranking sites with only paid links.
Firstly let me explain what paid links are, basically it is where you buy a link to increase your popularity with the search engines. Do not confuse this with Pay Per Click (PPC) adverts where you pay to have your advertisement at the top of the Google rankings. It has been known for companies to just go out and buy a stack of links and this would give the needed boost to get them to the dizzy heights of top of Google for their desired search term. However long term this strategy sucks for many different reasons.
Imagine you pay £100 for a link to your website for a year. That is a link back to your site for a whole year from a website with a half decent ranking. That link will be placed at the bottom of the page out of the way with around 10 other links. The fact that those 10 other links are there mean you have a watered down link straight away, this means your link is worth 1/10th of what it should have been worth. Then take into the fact that it is at the bottom of the page you are probably looking at next to no one ever seeing it. Basically when you put it all together you have paid £100 to get some love from Google that is not as solid as some make out. Oh and there is the added risk that you can get reported for doing it and have your site removed from the search index because of it. (Is it really worth it?)
Linking is important and if you know what you are doing building long term value links will rocket your website up the search rankings and more importantly keep you there. The internet changes by the second and people who keep up with what is going on can get a huge boost up the search rankings. Blogging, taking part in social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, helping out in forums and giving helpful information will help you build long term links.
There are other methods of increasing your links and spending your link buying money in a way that will gain you a better reputation. For example if you create something that costs you £200 that is two links for a year, it can be a book, software or something helpful to help others (you can even get others to do this for you) and give it away for free, you will see people linking to you, writing about you and giving you love that will bring you not only better rankings but more importantly traffic.
So those that are being outranked by the poor SEO method of buying links, be creative come up with something that will be helpful to your target audience and create it. Then make it available for free. Yes I know it can go against the grain in some industries but giving this away will get people to link back to your website. (You could even give it away in exchange for an email address which you send out a newsletter, again increasing traffic). Buying links is inside the box, think outside the box and you will win the battle for the long term race.
I hope that this has helped you in some way understand why paid links suck and that there are better ways to get yourself a solid search engine listing.