Should you sell backlinks/external links on your blog/website?
If you are a blogger or a webmaster with traffic receiving websites, you may get a lot of emails or requests for accepting guest posts, sponsored posts or backlinks.
You might wonder if you should even entertain these requests (accept backlinks) or take money from someone for posting a link on your site.
This article covers all these questions along with necessary information for you to take action (or not take any such action at all).
Note: This post is not about making/creating backlinks. It is about whether you should accept (Sell) them on your website. You can additionally use this post to audit external links on your website whether for backlink purposes or otherwise.
Here is what you will find in this short post:
Backlinks are just hyperlinks of websites present on other websites. They can be placed anywhere on the website.
For SEO purposes, backlinks usually act as a vote of confidence for your website. If a website is linking to you, they are essentially telling search engines that the linked page is valuable and useful.
There can be several purposes for getting/creating a backlink.
- Usually, for content creators, backlink serves as references or citations for their content.
- Sometimes a business gets backlinks from other relevant websites to get leads or referral traffic.
- A third-party website may have a large audience. Backlinks with relevant content can help other businesses to tap into that audience.
- A business may build backlinks to make their website more discoverable for search engines and users.
Good quality backlinks help websites, and their pages rank higher on SERPs. Mostly everyone who is a SEO, or a digital marketing agency recommends getting backlinks for increasing a website’s organic traffic.
There are many ways to get a backlink but the method to get them can be broadly categorized in three ways:
- Organic (natural)
- Manual link building
- Paid (via email outreach, link building agencies etc.)
For the purpose of this article, we are going to talk about the third method.
It may be routine practice of freelance SEOs, agencies, PR teams or in-house digital marketing teams to create or get backlinks. A part of their strategy might include paying some amount to websites for placing backlinks on existing content or new content on other websites.
In some cases, they may also request these external websites to link to them in exchange for some other value addition (Fresh content, free SEO audit, better relevancy of links then already linked on one, replacement of a broken link or removing errors etc.)
But the question is, is it good for the site that is accepting backlinks?
Should they place external links for other websites if they get such a request?
Should they sell backlinks on their site?
If you are one of those sites, after reading this article, you should be able to easily make decisions like these.
Yes and No.
Yes, because external links give credibility to your content and no because accepting irrelevant backlinks might hurt your own rankings on SERPs and hurt organic traffic – Prolly you wouldn’t want that.
It depends on quality of the external website
It depends on relevance
It depends on content that being promoted
If you have received a request for placing a link on your site, you should research and then determine if that link can hurt or be actually valuable.
A good rule of thumb is asking yourself this question:
Can that link act as a relevant citation for my content AND act as a valuable resource for my reader?
If you think it is, then you accept the backlink request.
Here is what you should ideally look for:
Your website vs External website
Consider the type of external website and your website. Are they related?
If you are a SaaS product-based website and a casino site is asking you to link back to them, should you accept?
Your product niche is unrelated to the website. Even if the content is somewhat relatable, It is not natural that a SaaS based product website will mention a casino website/promote them.
In some rare cases such as a case study showcasing a Saas product for a casino, you can.
Your Page vs the Page you are Linking to
Consider the page that you’re linking on and the page you’re linking to. If it’s new content, ask yourself. Is this what I want to show my readers? Would it be relevant for them?
Now for the page you may be linking to, is that page related to the content on your page in any way?
If it’s relatable, would you want to direct your visitors to that page in case they get curious? Would it be useful to them or add value to their goal?
If not, then you have your answer. You do not accept that kind of content/link.
Quality of the External website
Now consider the overall quality of the external website. Do they seem legit? Do they post spam content? Are they actually a genuine provider of value to their potential users?
If not then you do not accept that backlink request.
Here is a small checklist to check the quality of website in the context of taking backlinks and deciding if they are good for you:
Moving on to some SEO Stuff
Is the external website a part of PBN?
You do not want to be involved in a link building scheme such as a PBN.
In the interest of keeping this post short, I am not including how you identify a PBN here. I do have a guide which you can read on the website.
If and when you identify that the external website is part of a PBN, you politely say no.
Even though search engines have evolved, and they are quite good at identifying backlinking practices that may pass link equity unnaturally and discounting them while ranking a URL for a query, it is a good practice to manually audit every link you are placing on your website. It is not considered a good practice to artificially inflate the “editorial votes” to your page.
Traffic & Ranking Keywords of the external website
Accepting content with links from a site with traffic relevant to your niche may be a good idea. If the keywords they are ranking for, or want to rank for, for a particular page is contextually related to yours, the link might be beneficial to you as well. The link can give you a basis for your facts/theory/statements mentioned in a post. Although, you need to make sure that the external page is indeed an authoritative version of what you want to endorse.
Please note that the keywords that the external page trying to rank should ideally be not the same as what you are currently ranking for. This would mean that you are endorsing another webpage for the same thing that you have said. If you think your content and approach is different and unique for the same topic/query, you can definitely mention your competitors on the page.
- Avoid linking back to your direct competitors or pages optimized for identical keywords.
- In cases that you need to link, You can always use a rel=nofollow tag to tell search engines that you do not want any link equity passed.
You can use the following simple SOP to make decisions while selling/accepting backlinks on your website.
You should ideally expand this SOP to qualify every metric for better and efficient decision making.
The point of this whole was to make you audit every external link you may want to place on your site. Next time you get a MS excel list of domains, performance metrics and prices, think before you act. Even if you do not get a request for a link, you should ideally review all external links on your site. For this purpose, here are some best practices for qualifying links based on their purpose and intent.
Linking to a reputable source is always a good practice. Why? It is rational to assume that websites having good authority may have quality content that can give credibility to your own statements. Please note that a website having a good authority here does not mean a good DA, DR or AS. Facebook enjoys a good DA, DR and AS but the content there is not always trustworthy.
In your post, add contextually relevant and helpful external links with optimized anchor text.
Medium automatically puts up
rel=”nofollows” every link. Many companies still post on medium because even if there is no link equity passed, medium post when ranked for certain queries (most successful ones are the content displaying thought leadership), still provides a platform for companies to get found. It helps increase their visibility.
Placing good outbound links helps your rank higher according to this study.
If you are putting up a Sponsored Guest post, affiliate links, banner promotion you should always put
If your users generally put up external links on your website and they are allowed to be indexed, you should put either UGC tags or nofollow tags to qualify those links.