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How high will these link purchases bring my PageRank?

 8:49 pm on Oct 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

I found a good marketplace for text links and I was about to start trading then I thought I'd post here first to benefit from all the wisdom...

Case Description:

My main keyword is: "city widgets," and my two other primary keywords are: "country widgets" and "city widget collectors"

Currently, my SERP ranking for the main keyword is ~110, which is as good as 1,000,000.

My on-page optimization is pretty well done. My domain is citywidgetstricks.com. My page title is City Widgets Tricks, and I have a bunch of original articles about city widgets on my site and main page. However, my off-page optimization is pretty poor. Therefore:

I want to buy 5 links from PR4 sites with the anchor text being my main keyword "city widgets." I want to also buy 10 other links from PR3 sites for my two other primary keywords. All these keywords are from widget related websites.

My competitors have PageRanks of 4 and 3, but their pages are not optimized for my main keyword. They are optimized for a more competitive keyword, which is "city [more trafficked synonym of widgets]).

My question now is: how high will this these links bring my PageRank and what is the likelihood of me breaking into the first page of the SERP for my main keyword with this investment?

Thanks a lot,

[edited by: tedster at 8:57 pm (utc) on Oct. 19, 2008]



 9:09 pm on Oct 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

There's a good chance you won't see your PageRank improve at all. Google is working very hard to throw out (and sometimes penalize?) the effect of paid links. They've even added some logic to the algorithm that attempts to automatically locate purchased links.

Addressing some of your ideas here, PageRank is assigned to a url, and not to a "site". How much PageRank gets transferred is affected by the PR of the url as well as how many links are on that page. More links means less PR is voted for each one.

Also, there are many ways that PR transfer can be prevented - including the rel="nofollow" attribute in the anchor tag, sending the link through a redirect script, and simply being on a page that Google feels is selling links.


 9:24 pm on Oct 19, 2008 (gmt 0)


Of course, the end goal is not the PageRank, but the high SERP rank.

My option is either to leave my site at the ~110 position or try to buy links to improve my ranking. I don't have anything that Google can take away. Furthermore, I arrived at the decision to buy links after I saw the links that my competitors have. Clearly they have bought a lot of them.

I see your point regarding the assignment of PageRanks to URLs and not sites. Here, I'm referring to the PageRank for my main URL, the domain name.

I would also like to add a few more assumptions for the sake of this conversation. Let's assume that:

* None of the links have a rel="nofollow" or redirect script or any other mechanism to protect their own PageRank
* The number of outbound links on the publisher pages doesn't exceed 20
* Google doesn't know that those links are paid

Receptional Andy

 9:37 pm on Oct 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

msafi - if you succeed in purchasing enough links that Google believes are editorial votes for your content, and which are from sources that Google trusts, then yes, your rankings will improve.

You need to evaluate yourself whether the links you're considering will be enough, pass as votes, and are from the right sources.

My option is either to leave my site at the ~110 position or try to buy links to improve my ranking

It isn't the case that these are your only two options. It's perfectly possible to obtain rankings for competitive keywords without any paid links. Indeed, even on the pure link side there are hundreds of techniques that don't involve buying links discussed in the WebmasterWorld link development forum [webmasterworld.com] alone.

I don't think there would be much disagreement that Google has taken increasing steps to counteract the effect of paid linking over recent years, which means that a site reliant on (especially low numbers of) paid links for performance is in a very high risk category.


 9:48 pm on Oct 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Here are some reasons that your apparently simple question cannot be given a simple answer.

  1. Even though the toolbar show us eleven possible values for PageRank, the "real" PR number that Google uses in their calculations is carried out to many decimal places. It's not a simple "0-to-10". That number is pretty much for public entertainment purposes, with an added side benefit of branding and the other kind of PR (public relations) for Google. In the real world, Google has admitted to changing those numbers for some automated queries, just to devalue the scraping of PR data.

  2. The PageRank scale is not linear. It has been estimated that the scale is close to a base 6 logarithm. This means that a very high PR4 url would be around 6 times as powerful as a very low PR4 url. You can see how a factor like that will mess with any attempt to make a simplified guess.

  3. The amount of PR that gets voted is a fraction of the url's total PR - so it makes a significant difference if there are 10 links on the page or 20.

  4. PageRank calculations are iterative - that is, the calculation is repeated around and around the entire link map of the web. There is a "damping factor" in the formula that ensures the values will eventually approach a limit instead of flying off to infinity.

  5. PageRank is not dependent on the query terms (keywords). How Google calculates query-dependent backlink factors is not something they have said anything mathematically precise about.

  6. All the above points are based on the originally published PageRank formula. But back in January, Google did change the forumula in some way. Google reps have publicly stated that, but they have not shared any information about HOW they changed the math.


 10:09 pm on Oct 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

First, thank you very much for this information. It's great to have access to people in the know such as yourselves.

I think I have a better picture of the situation now, but when I contemplate my possible routes, I still see link purchasing as being the quickest possible way to the first page of Google results. I have tried submitting to directories and talking with other webmasters for links, but I'm just bad at this. I don't know what to say in order to motivate a webmaster to link to me. My content isn't the problem. Several people in the industry voluntarily looked at my content and complimented it. Since I don't have much to lose in my current ranking, I don't see a high risk in trying out this strategy.

I'll go ahead and buy. I'll let you guys know what happens.

When should I expect to see the effects of these links?


 11:24 pm on Oct 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Initial effects can show up in a few days - but links also have an effect that grows over time. It can be a few months before the full power shows up.


 12:25 am on Oct 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just bought 8 links. 4 for my main key phrase and another 4 for a variation of it. The service I used is automated and the links are already live!

Links I bought:
5 x PR3
3 X PR4
1 X PR5

I'll let you know if I notice any difference in the SERPs...

kamikaze Optimizer

 8:11 am on Oct 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

You will regreat this in the long run, trust me. If there is one thing that the Stanford PhD's have figured out, it is what you are doing. Come back to this post in 30 days, 90 days, one year... You will see.


 10:16 am on Oct 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Very few organic links have good anchor text. Ergo if your site has a lot of links with good anchor text ie high value search terms that should be very easy for google to figure out.


 10:39 am on Oct 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

@Kamikaze, I'll keep you updated on the outcome.

@Jack_Hughes, they are only 8 links. And it makes sense for me to have this anchor text because it almost matches my domain name.

I'm also currently working on getting more links. One kind webmaster has agreed to put a link to me on their PR4 page.


 2:40 pm on Oct 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

So far I have stayed away from purchased links. However, my top competitor is kicking my butt and he has purchased 30 - 50 paid links on pr4 - pr5 pages. He has ruled top 10 for over a year and a half or so.

Makes you wonder. Stay totally white hat and maybe one day you might see a top 20 for a few keywords....or move back to the dark side and rule once again! Well, rule for a short time ;)



 6:12 pm on Oct 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Googles got bigger fish to fry than some guy who bought 8 links trying to rank for a city+widget term.

And I don't see why everyone says, "Oh you'll get caught". How many sites buying links have you personally seen that have been caught and in some way penalized? Sure we've all heard about some type of penalty or whatnot for selling links (if caught) but I can't really recall any reliable source talking about being penalized for buying links.

[edited by: BradleyT at 6:12 pm (utc) on Oct. 20, 2008]


 10:40 pm on Oct 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

It would be completely impossible for Google to know that your link is a paid link 100% of the time. Sometimes it is painfully obvious but usually not.

You can spend less than $1,000 and get a PR5 by buying links from certain paid directories they trust. You will also get good human traffic from the links. I consider it to be safer and more white hat than buying covert links from web sites.

kamikaze Optimizer

 2:20 am on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

but I can't really recall any reliable source talking about being penalized for buying links.

It is due to the fact that we hate to publicly admit to it.
You can decide if I am reliable or not. :)


 2:31 am on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)


What is the theme of the pages from where you have these paid links? The same as yours?


 4:46 am on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't buy links, but if I did, I wouldn't buy them all at once. Organic linkbuilding doesn't tend to generate many high-value links overnight, followed by 0 more links for the next week/month/etc.


 5:30 am on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

You should always stay white hat because a web site which will continue to grow and grow over the years is far more profitable than a flash in the pan site which they'll nuke in 3 months. Then you have to start all over again rather than having something you can build on and rely on.

Also, we webmasters tend to talk in terms of "hits" or "traffic" but the reality is that the people who come to your site are human beings who do not deserve to have their time wasted.

My most popular and profitable site is the one I never promoted. People will link to your site if it is good. More people will come and more people will link over the years. Google's trust is worth more than gold, don't blow it.

kamikaze Optimizer

 6:47 am on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

Worthy of a second read:
My most popular and profitable site is the one I never promoted. People will link to your site if it is good. More people will come and more people will link over the years. Google's trust is worth more than gold, don't blow it.

man in poland

 8:35 am on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have to second mcglynn's point. Personally, I do not buy links, but if I did, I would try to make them look as far as possible like organic links - so, not all at once and definitely not all with the exact same anchor text. I'd be asking one or two of the link sellers to link to me using just my domain name, for example (eg: 'www.example.com') I'd also make sure I had a portion of those links going to internal pages of my site, rather than all just bomb the home page.


 8:43 am on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

We buy millions of links and if a site gets caught I point them at a new domain. This guy is not going to get caught for his tiddly link buy.

[edited by: Crush at 8:43 am (utc) on Oct. 21, 2008]


 11:25 am on Oct 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just wish Google would drop the whole link ranking concept but you get the impression that the technology isn't ready to provide a suitable alternative right now. They will never 100% detect all paid links and while that remains a factor, the simple fact is that SERPS can be gamed which works against what Google (I presume) is trying to ultimately achieve.

I detest link building and everything it represents. I've not gotten round to it myself yet but the more I read threads like this the more I think I will have to. The sad facts are that it appears that you have no choice but to factor it in if you want to be up there with your competitors.

Incidentally, a thought regaarding the "short term" argument: maybe it has a place in that it at least temporarily lifts your site and more people will see it, see how good it is and over time the organic links as a result may replace the need for paid links.

Now, playing devils advocate to my own post here, there is a whole cottage industry built around links which does spread the wealth and give more people the chance to earn a crust via the web, which IMO is a good thing in these days of the alleged "single market". It's nice to think that someone in a poorer econimic area has a chance to earn a good living via a global gateway so the more the web can assist in that the better.

[edited by: Simsi at 11:32 am (utc) on Oct. 21, 2008]


 2:34 am on Oct 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

We buy millions of links and if a site gets caught I point them at a new domain. This guy is not going to get caught for his tiddly link buy.

How do you order a few million links? The mind boggles. If they bring human traffic then you won't care about Googles' algo.

He will probably not get caught but his question is about increasing his PR. If his link provider gets caught (more likely) and their PR is nulled, then it will flow through to his site.


 4:05 am on Oct 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Buying links on that scale is likely only to lead to wasted money more than anything in the case where the links are not thoroughly scrutinized. If you do find links, they should be editorial votes, from content tn ensure the highest possible chance that they will be counted.

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