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Is Selling Links Still Safe? Was It Ever?

Before Google’s Penguin update savaged turn the SEO world upside down, exchanging, buying and selling links was a common SEO strategy and revenue opportunity.

While Penguin definitely put the brakes on a lot of link markets and exchanges, it didn’t kill off the practice entirely. But a lot of SEOs are still gun shy about the practice.

On a recent CAP forum thread, a poster named Herminski asked the question that’s been on the minds of plenty of affiliates lately:

Why do established online casino brands need the link juice from small affiliate sites like mine and do you feel that selling links nowadays has become too risky or not?

If you’ve been wondering about this issue recently, here are the basic points you need to consider.

The Good News About Link Selling

The good news about link selling is that when it’s done in moderation, it shouldn’t cause any problems. That doesn’t mean you should just start selling space on your sites to just anyone who comes along with a decent offer.

Google’s recent crackdowns on link exchanges wasn’t about the links themselves so much as it was about the quality of those links. As we’ve seen over the past couple of years, Google is very serious about relevant links to quality sites.

And if the quality of your websites is good enough to attract the attention of suitors, don’t let that space go for nothing. Remember that you’re one the one offering something of value in this transaction. (The offer that Herminski received was for around $30 for three months, a price CAP readers thought was too low.)

Watch the Company You Keep

As we’ve noted, Google has been cracking down on quality and linking off to questionable sites is never going to be a good idea.

Before agreeing to a link sale, be certain that you’ve thoroughly vetted out your new customer. Any connection to shady gambling sites is going to be a burden on your own rankings. Remember that you can always say, “No thank you,” to would be suitors looking to settle down on your site.

When to Say ‘When’ to Link Selling

So if four links isn’t too many paid links to have on your site, how many links constitute too many?

Like so many aspects of SEO, the answer to that is anything but clear cut. The key for affiliate partners is simply keeping up the quality and relevance.

If one of the big dogs in the industry is looking to you for a little link juice at a good price, take it as a compliment. If you’re constantly getting hit up by low quality sites, it might be time to take a look in the mirror.

Are you still selling links or has Penguin soured you to that particular practice? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.