On average, backlinks cost over $300 each in 2023, and I do expect this to increase due to inflation.
While there is no single price you “should pay” for a link, you should expect a medium quality link from a website of DR50-70 to cost around $300.
The reality however is much more murky. The price of links can fluctuate anywhere from $50 to $1000, with many websites costing way more.
Webmasters, agencies, and freelancers have to increase prices as their costs are growing, and SEOs are paying the price.
What Influences the Price of a Link?
Be wary of scammers and low quality websites…
In this article, I will focus on Ahrefs’ Domain Rating (DR) system, as it’s my go-to quick metric when working with link-building. However, no system is perfect. It’s a good idea to stick to one system/metric in order to evaluate different websites, whichever you choose.
Here are the factors that should influence the value of the link (not always the price):
- DR / DA
- Content Quality
- Domain / Page Quality
- Topic Relevance
- Organic Traffic
- Links to Page
- Country / Language / Market
DR / DA: Domain rating is Ahrefs’ metric for overall domain strength in backlinks, while DA is Moz’s metric for the likelihood of a domain to rank in SERPs. I do suggest to read the corresponding articles to better understand what and how each metrics is being created.
Content Quality: Well-written, well-researched content written by people with the right expertise are better. This is a qualitative metric, meaning you need to act on your best judgement on what a helpful, well-written article or website is. Avoid fully AI-written websites, bot websites, or very thin content pages.
Domain / Page Quality: Both the domain and the page should be in good standing. Take a look at the design, DR / DA, page rating, traffic, and how the website is structured, what are they selling etc. If a website seems scammy, avoid getting a link from there.
Topic Relevance: If you are building links for a mom-blog, you probably don’t want a link from a blog about insurance. Relevant links will get you more value and help your content rank. Topics also influence link prices, as some topics are more expensive than others.
Organic Traffic: Focus on the page-level traffic, pages with traffic have more authority than pages with 0 traffic. You prefer an “alive” page to host your link than a “dead” one. While it might cost you the same, as a webmaster will value a link from a website at the same value as another, some pages are actually more valuable than others.
Links to Page: Traffic is not the only consideration, if a page has a lot of links some of those links’ value will also pass to the linked page as well. A well-linked page is better than an orphan page.
Country / Language / Market: The target country, language of the website, and purchasing power of the market also influences the price of links. Building links for a US-based audience in english-speaking websites is more expensive than building for the Greek or Argentinian market. The purchasing power of a country / language can change the average price of a link.
A big shout out to SEMrush’s new Authority Score.
It’s a new, improved, and more transparent way to measure a website’s authority in the eyes of Google. Below is a screenshot from Marketing Experts Hub. As you can see I probably need to build more links. So, if you found this article useful, feel free to mention it by linking back 🙂
My page has only a handful of links, seems natural but it’s low with currently low organic traffic.
While, in comparison, here is the profile of Search Engine Journal. A well-distributed backlink profile, many domains & backlinks, and a more than healthy amount of traffic.
If you are using SEMrush, be sure to check its authority through SEMrush and check if there are any red flags.
Different niches price differently. That depends on the purchasing power of the niche and what other website owners in the industry charge..
One of the most expensive niches I know is gambling. If you ever talked with an SEO expert in Forex, iGaming, Casino, etc. you would know how expensive it is to build links in those niches. Many site owners do not offer links to these sites as they fear Google penalties.
*Read Google’s webmaster guidelines on link spam.
On the other hand, niches with lower margins for monetization sell links for less. Your niche will be a variable to consider when prospecting for links and what you will need to pay.
Type of Links
Do-follow, no-follow, sponsored, may cost differently.
There are also SEOs who believe .edu links are more valuable, and a freelancer or agency may charge more for them.
Links from traditional press may not be “bought” but you could buy it as a sponsored or advertorial or through PR activity. Those links can be quite expensive, especially from top publications.
For example, a Wikipedia link is highly valued, but an agency or freelancer will ask more than $1000 to get it for you (depends on the niche).
Directory or citation links are often-times low-cost, but you will need a lot of them and from trusted directories to rank. There are many spammy, automatically generated, and low-quality directories out there!
Where to Buy Backlinks for Your Website?
There are many ways to acquire paid links. You can reach out to webmasters or bloggers yourself or pay a contractor to build them for you.
The cheapest way is to build an internal team. The efficiencies earned by having an internal link-building team can reduce the cost of link-building to 1/3 of what it would cost you to purchase them.
So, where to buy links?
If you can afford it and know how to build links yourself, an in-house team is the best way to go. The next best way is to outsource link-building to :
- Link-Building Agencies
- Freelancers / VAs
- Reaching out to Webmasters (direct payments)
- Paid appearances:
Agencies tend to be more expensive than freelancers, but offer a more reliable service, and direct payments to webmasters are cheaper than marketplaces, but require you to do the sourcing and negotiation.
Let’s take a look at various ways to buy links and how that would affect the link building pricing.
There are many types of agencies that can help you build a good backlink profile with high-quality links. Those agencies are doing a number of activities to get links for their clients, depending on their specialisation, for example:
- Guest posting
- ABC exchanges
- Public Relations campaigns
- Link-building campaigns (e.g. outreach)
Be careful to use agencies that offer white-hat services and produce quality content if they are working with guest posting. Low quality links & black-hat services can cost you in the long run as you might get a penalty by Google.
I would not suggest using an agency who works with directories or PBNs, except if you are doing local SEO and have very trusted reviews for those agencies. Always avoid spammy, low-quality links, at any costs.
Also, be mindful that PR link-building strategies will bring a lot of no-follow links as well. Do not worry though for those, no-follow links also offer a lot of value, and I would not avoid getting them, as long as they are from good publications with relevant traffic.
Here are a few agencies I trust with link-building services and would suggest you work with:
Freelancers / VAs
Hiring a freelancer from Fiverr or other marketplaces or a VA is a cheaper way to outsource link-building. This is a good tactic for lower budgets and experienced link-builders who can do it themselves.
Reaching out to Webmasters
Site owners often list their prices or will offer a price if you reach out for a guest post. In that case, you can choose whether to pay their price, negotiate, or move on.
Buying links that way can be cheaper and help purchase a high number of links, but will require more effort and are time consuming.
Websites can ask anywhere between $50 to $500 to link back to your site, but larger publications will cost much more. While large publications don’t list this as a link-building service, it might be under a sponsored post or PR activity. Those links might be tagged as “sponsored” or “no-follow”, which many SEO experts do not really like, especially if they paid for them.
There are websites that site owners can list their website for posting. This might be for writing or publishing a guest post, or just a link insertion. We recently did a review of Whitepress, you can see how the platform looks in the screenshot below and read our complete guide:
Another marketplace I have personally tried is Motherlink but had a terrible experience and would not recommend it.
You can find a list of guest post marketplaces here.
You might not have considered this, but paying to show up on podcasts, webinars, and other online events also comes with a link back to your site. Do not exclude podcasts & vlogs from SEO, as they also do offer do-follow links that will boost your search engine rankings as well.
Talk with the host on how your appearance will be promoted on their website, podcast, or YouTube channel, and negotiate on which page to send them, as well as the anchor text!
Appearances are costly, and are based on the audience of the medium. The higher the audience, the more expensive the appearance and the link you are getting.
Citations for Local SEO
My expertise is more on international SEO, but if you are buying backlinks for Local SEO, then, you need to include citations in your strategy.
In that case, Brightlocal is a tool that can help you manage and get some local citations, give it a try!
Is Buying Links Right for You?
Backlink building is essential to increase pagerank and rank in search engines. And, even with the average cost of links increasing over the past few years, paid backlinks should be part of your SEO strategy.
Focusing on only one strategy will create an unnatural backlink profile and with algorithm changes penalise your website.
Always look for high-quality backlinks, high-quality content, and websites with a growth trajectory, even if they don’t have high authority scores.
My favourite way of building links is ABC link exchanges, and the cheapest way to do link-building is by building a team that works on guest posting, does exchanges, and occasionally pays for links.
P.S.: You can download my link-building exchange template to skyrocket your link-building efforts!
Link-building is one of the main pillars of an SEO strategy, never forget your site’s technical SEO signals, and content creation. Not one tactic can work by itself.
Good luck with your link-building efforts 🙂
How much does a backlink cost?
An average backlink costs around $300, but that depends on the type of link, niche, and the authority and traffic of the website.
Is it illegal to buy backlinks?
Yes, it is absolutely legal to buy backlinks, even though Google’s guidelines make it feel like a black-hat tactic.
Does Google allow buying backlinks?
Google considers buying backlinks as link spam. However, it’s not easy to recognize, and actually buying links is a good way to increase your website’s authority. Be sure to only buy quality links from trusted websites.
Do backlinks help SEO efforts?
Yes, backlinks are a ranking factor and can greatly boost SEO results. However, building links should be a part of a bigger content marketing strategy and the quality of links matters a lot. Only building links will not help your SEO efforts.