Buying links to boost your SEO

Many of our clients ask us about buying links to boost their SEO. It’s a known fact that having links to your own site from other sources is a good way of building credibility in the eyes of search engines but where is the line, and what happens if you cross it?

Quite often when analysing our clients’ sites, we perform backlink analysis. This tells us who is linking to the site, where from and how often. From this analysis we can very quickly tell who’s been paying for links and how big a problem it could be causing if those links are considered toxic. See here for a good post on the subject -> How Link Detoxing Can Save Your Site’s SEO.

From a search engine’s perspective, a website with credible links is going to be more worthy than a site with none. Note the use of the word ‘credible’. If your peers, competition or other sites who’s content is relative to your business have links to your site on their own sites, this builds a picture of your authority in that space. If you’re in with the in-crowd, you’re more likely to be ranked higher for related search terms.

However, buying a ton of links from unscrupulous link building providers has the opposite effect. If you’ve paid for links to be created on third party services for the purposes of increasing the volume of links to your site, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and quite possibly retirement from search engine rankings entirely. It has been known for sites participating in this ‘black hat’ practice to be wiped off search indexes entirely.

This means you could  literally disappear from the internet.

Effects of buying backlinks for SEO

This graph shows when Google got wise to toxic backlinks linking to our client’s site. Not good and can take a while to recover.


We like Yoast, he’s the author of the very popular Yoast plugin for WordPress, which we install and configure as standard in our hosted WordPress build.

Here he gives some great advice about buying backlinks to boost your SEO…..

Editing your hosts file

A hosts file allows your computer to override the DNS records.

Sorry, what?

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a database that records information, such as the IP address, about domain names like While is the name of our website, it isn’t its address. In order for your web browser to find our website, it needs to know where to look. DNS allows your browser to check our domain name against an IP address so that it knows how to find our site.

Ok, so what?

Sometimes, you’ll want to override the global DNS records so that a particular domain returns an address different to the DNS listing. Often, we develop new websites using the same domain name as your old site, but the new site is actually located on our secure development host. In order for your browser to reach the new site, you need to tell your hosts file where to look, instead of automatically following the address from DNS.

The process is slightly different depending on whether you’re using a Mac or a PC. If you’re using something else, drop us a line and we’ll talk you through it.

Opening your hosts file on a PC

  • Click Windows key and R at the same time
  • Enter “notepad”  and right click the Notepad desktop app icon
  • Select “Run as Administrator”
  • In Notepad, open “c:windowssystem32driversetchosts”

Opening your hosts file on a Mac

  • Go to Utilities and open Terminal
  • In the terminal, type: sudo nano /etc/hosts
  • Enter your password (note that you won’t be able to see the password you’re typing so do it carefully) and press Return

Editing your hosts file

You should now have your hosts file open. Each line of the hosts file identifies an IP address followed by the domain name to associate with the address. We will have sent the details to paste into this file by email.

  • Paste or type the IP address and domain name into the bottom of your hosts file.

For example, we may have asked you to paste the following:



These entries tell your PC that when your browser requests the site, it should look for it at the IP address 123.12.456.78.

  • Next, you’ll need to save the file in order to implement the change. To do this, press Ctrl+S (if you’re using a PC) or Command+X followed by ‘y’ and Return (if you’re using a Mac).

When you need to look at your old site again or when your new site has launched, you’ll need to amend your hosts file so that the DNS sends you to the correct address.

If you want to do this temporarily, you should follow the same process above, and place a hash ‘#’ at the front of the line containing the record.

For example, the line:


will send your browser to 123.12.456.78 when you navigate, but:


does nothing. Remember to save the file to implement the change.

To remove the record permanently, follow the process above and remove the line completely before saving.

Having difficulties?

Feel free to drop us a line if you’re having trouble.