First SEO Link Building Rule: Never Buy Paid Links…Until Now

I have a circumstance that warrants link buying. It’s hard for even me to believe. I watched my marketing team implement a link buy campaign for a client and it’s going great.

Have I sold out?

Have I not listened to my own advice about buying links in this, or this, or even this article?

Of course not. So what’s this special exception? It’s link buying to seed a viral, social media campaign with a specific end date. In other words, this has absolutely nothing to do with search rankings.

If you need to generate buzz — links for the sake of traffic and a network of viral roots to keep an interesting promotion alive and standing tall — then go ahead. Buy some links with my blessing.

Remember when I discussed the Harvard Business Review findings about viral marketing ratios? The summary says even the most compelling campaigns burn out without seeding. One way we’re out there seeding is buying links. Not through “link-farm” SEO (define) brokers, but with blog seeding and social media advertising that uses tracking URLs.

Since we’re talking about seeds, let’s think of it in those terms. Ever break a potted plant that needs a bigger pot? There’s a network of roots tangled up and creating a strong base for the upward growth. The seeds sprout, grow down, and develop into root systems. If you want your promotion to take root and stay strong, buying links can help develop that root system.

First you need:

Soil: Collaborate with the client to develop a hot online promotion.

Pot: Create a special microsite on the main URL with a double-dotted domain to support the promotion.

Seeds: Plant them through multiple channels and efforts such as:

This link seeding takes no money, but lots of hard work. The links are going both ways in this example, but this tactic is mostly reaching out with something interesting to say and knowing some sweet social media link love will follow.

  • Blog Seeding Campaigns — Create an opportunity in places like CREAMaid or PayPerPost with tracking URLs

Ah, finally, link seeding that takes little work and lots of money. The solution every client loves.

Set the parameters, check the posts, and let her loose. With CREAMaid, a mini-community of sorts is being created with a built-in referral system that pays bloggers for both blogs and referrals and interactive widgets are embedded on blogger Web sites to help your promotion:

  • Pop out of the content.
  • Promote the built-in interaction/community.
  • Promote the Promotion itself to other bloggers and readers.

Most of the other “pay post” opportunities are a bit more straightforward. Buy the content-love and get links are surrounded by relevant and compelling message.

  • Forum Seeding Campaigns — Posted promotion details on forums (that allow such posts), CraigsList and other local classified portals

This requires some monotonous work and a small amount of cash, but it can be effective for getting out the message. And if the message is compelling, these forums will help it take root and spread.

Water: Time to moisten those seeds with some brand reinforcement:

  • Social Media Banners like Facebook Social Ads — Leading to the social media pages and the micro-site

This is all about building the link network and reinforcing the viral movement. Watering the seeded message often comes with a price tag. To save some cash, make sure these banner ads are CPC (define) and not CPM (define). Even with CPC, you get impressions.

Translation? Cheap branding. Get the impressions and links your content needs with CPC social banners so the target audience sees the message that magic number of times needed to take action.

  • Paid Search Ads — Leading to the micro-site

More viral reinforcements. This is less about brand and network and more about pulling bodies into the promotion. It’s that final morning mist that keeps the promotion fresh and green.

Now you know. You too can have a green thumb when the client needs to plant a viral promotion.

Well, I killed a metaphor today, but I hope you learned something about when it’s appropriate to buy links.

Join us for SES New York March 17-20 and for training classes March 21.

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