After the Penguin update, the SEO community talked a lot about unnatural links. Most of the times, the links that look unnatural are also purchased links.
This is true because SEOs focused so much on the anchor text of the links they could get from other websites they forgot one of the great rules of SEO: if you are making something unnatural, make it look natural.
The panic is at such levels that many SEOs started contacting the link vendors to ask them to shut down the links.
Ah, if only all those SEOs didn’t spend time forcing things that much… But ok, not everybody is meant to be a great SEO…
So, penalization after penalization, people is learning the importance of getting links with the most stupid anchor texts… Better late than never!
But is Google really penalizing every website buying links? Clearly no! First of all, it would be absolutely impossible for Google to know, for every link, which link is purchased and which link is spontaneous. They can just guess.
I work in a weird industry: gambling. Gambling is usually considered a very competitive niche. Yes, it is, but SEO in this industry is also really primitive. So, i wouldn’t say it’s that competitive! In the short term, sure it is… But basically every website is violating Google’s guidelines, so it’s reasonable to expect that one day they will be just wiped out.
If someone today wants to work purely in white hat mode, they won’t rank in short term, but they might be one of the best websites in the long term.
It’s funny, however, one aspect of the story: many of the online casinos buy unnecessary links. They just have a big budget and they buy all they can get.
SEO in the gambling is hard? Well, most of the times, a SEO in this industry just contact/is contacted, ask for a price, get quotes for every website (quote that varies depending on Pagerank! In 2012!), and choose a anchor text and a destination page to link to. Hard work!
This is the very competitive SEO in the gambling industry!
Even those companies that say “we don’t do that, come on” work this way. An example? This is just a little piece taken from a job description from one of the biggest betting companies when it was looking for a SEO Manager more than a year ago:
Would you expect to receive an offer of 10€ for a post with two backlinks from the same company? Well, what can i say… they don’t buy links. They beg for them!
But… is there any other way to acquire links, for a gambling website? I mean, apart from buying or exchanging links, what else a SEO working in this industry can do? It’s not all our fault. After all, who would naturally link a gaming website?
50% of webmasters wouldn’t do it at any cost; the other 50% would do it only for money. So, there’s no room for free links in this industry.
Unless you are creative. Unless you do something worth a link. Unless you deserve it.
But even doing so, you are still fighting against competitors that spend many thousands of dollars in links. If Google decided (and actually could) to ban all the websites buying links, today we’d likely have this SERP when searching for online casino: