Why Paid Content is Better than Paid Links

Tadeusz Szewczyk
by Tadeusz Szewczyk | Last Updated Feb. 1st, 2015 1 COMMENTS


Many business people do not have the patience to optimize their sites holistically. They just want to pay and get results like in the good old days when you could trick Google easily and get loads of traffic and sales from your “organic rankings” there.

Website owners would love to buy so called “paid links” and that’s it.


  • Changing their site
  • crafting content
  • developing a strategy

would be too much. There is another almost as easy route where you can pay and forget. It’s paying for content. You just have to do it the right way. It’s better than risky paid links for sure.

Paid Links

Until 2007 so called “paid links” weren’t officially banned by Google. You could simply buy text link ads as they were referred to and improve your Google rankings while in some cases getting direct traffic too.

Text link ads competed directly with Google Adsense and were affecting Google algorithm too much so that the search giant cracked down on them. It took many years though until the practice of buying links lost its appeal due to the risks involved. Some people still pay for links.

Google penalized many link buyers and sellers in their search results whenever they got spotted.

How Much Do Paid Links Cost?


I have been helping webmasters buy links until 2007, as long as it wasn’t officially outside of the Google Webmaster Guidelines. So I still know how it worked (or didn’t) without getting busted by Google:

Paid links were rather a workaround than really search engine optimization.

You basically fooled yourself and Google into believing that your site was more popular by artificially inflating it’s link popularity. Once the artificial authority was gone the site tanked on Google significantly. Nonetheless many business owners were attracted to that easy to grasp model.

A link would be rented on a monthly basis usually but you needed to pay several months (often in advance) at least in order to make SEO sense. So you ended up paying a monthly retainer and forgetting. Services buying and selling links sprung up everywhere so that you could just select several links from a list and then just pay your monthly rates.

A common price would be $50 a month for a mediocre but not bad link.

It wouldn’t be too obvious for Google to spot and you would of course get several or even dozens of them. So let’s say you would just invest in 10 PageRank 5 links for $50 each. That would be a monthly cost of $500 and yearly cost of $6000. Depending on your business size that already a lot or it doesn’t sound like much. Now let’s consider what you could buy with that money instead and how many links you could earn from it.


Paid Content On Your Site


Does your site have a place where you can publish content actually? This might sound like silly question but believe me, most sites don’t have it. E-commerce sites just display products and some additional info on the company, shipping or contact information.

Business sites often just proclaim how great they are by using a high number of sleek sounding buzzwords.

They may add landing pages with “funnel vision” solely geared towards making someone subscribe or buy. Some sites have a content reservation, that is the blog where they cramp all content whether it matters to a blog audience or not. So there is no proper place to provide high quality paid content onsite.

When you publish content to a sales focused site it actually disappears as nobody will notice it.

When you do it right by building an audience either on social media or even better subscribers via mail you can really achieve a high impact with onsite content.

For $6000 you could let a whole team of content creators provide a:

  • white paper
  • study, and
  • infographic

for you. In case you have someone to disseminate the exceptional content piece to you might get more than the 10 paid link quickly and effortlessly.

When you split the budget 50/50 so that the content creation takes half of the effort and the other one is about content promotion you can get even better results

despite having a less sophisticated content piece. Then your content promoters would reach out to blogger already known for their interest in that topic. Influencers who mentioned your brand in the past would be contacted as well. They could spawn a network effect of many shares that ultimately lead to links on plenty websites.


Paid Content on Third Party Sites

Did you know? Guest blogging is not the only way to place your content on third party sites. Guest blogging for SEO has been flagged by Google as low quality and suspicious. It has been overused as a one time drop in and never return tactic to get as many links as possible from numerous sites.

What happens when you consider the content to be more important than just a vehicle to get a self-inserted link in it? You could become a regular columnist at an authoritative publication.

With a budget of $6000 a year you could make a writer contribute bi-weekly on your behalf to a publication for a year or maybe two publications monthly.

Of course it depends on how influential the writer is but you get the point. By writing 12 articles in a year you can expect to get at least the 10 links and more. You get direct traffic through such links in contrast to paid links nobody will see in most cases.

After all the paid links are hidden in the archives somewhere because when you buy them the content or page you add them has already been published often long ago. The editorial links you get as a regular contributor stay forever. So you only pay once for each piece of content.


Paid Content for Free


You don’t actually have to pay for paid content. In many cases, it suffices when a person gets “paid”, or compensated, to craft a paid content piece by having other people use this high quality content piece for free on their site. Yes, infographics also an example of such free paid content.

One win to win situation happens when a business pays a professional to craft high quality content and then offers it for free using a non-restrictive Creative Commons license.

This way the content not only spreads around faster, just think CC images from Flickr. I use them myself too for years and I often find images that have been used multiple times not only on blogs but also on major publications.

With Creative Commons you retain legal ownership and get credits from publishers while “making the content travel”.

Images given away using a CC license can spread forever. Of course ideally you don’t let people credit Flickr but your won site.

Imagine how many images you can buy for $6000. Now estimate how many links per image you would get. Let’s say you hire a professional photographer who makes 10 images for you for 6000$. Now assuming that the photographer creates high quality photos you can rest assured that you get at least one link per image. Most likely the photographer will link to them from a portfolio site already so you need just another nine.


*Creative Commons image by Rocky Lubbers

** Creative Commons image by Dave Heuts

*** Creative Commons image by Kristina Alexanderson

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