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$5 Link-building services are a tempting offer. But is it worth the risk?

Last year I was feeling frustrated with the low Google rankings of one of my ecommerce sites.

Despite my making all the right SEO moves, it was still sitting at the bottom of page 1 for my two main keywords, even though my site was much more relevant and higher quality than all the sites ranking above it.

It was about that time that I heard of Fiverr, and it seemed that I had found a Solo Web Marketer’s dream-come-true. Fiverr is a freelancing marketplace where you can buy pretty much any service for $5.

For just five bucks, you can get:

  • A website design
  • 500 Facebook likes
  • 1,000 Twitter followers
  • 5 SEO blog posts
  • 1,000+ backlinks
  • An MBA from Harvard Business School

OK… I made the last one up but with all the shenanigans going on on fiverr, it wouldn’t surprise me if Harvard’s Mumbai branch started offering that very soon!

Some of the most popular “gigs” on fiverr are link-building services, with over 15,000 offers to create all kinds of backlinks to your site. You can get link wheels, link pyramids, PR5 links, .edu links, and more. All these fiverr links for just $5.

Since incoming links play a key role in boosting search engine rankings, it’s a no wonder that people are rushing to buy too-good-to-be-true link-buildng offers, such as these ones:

fiver link building

A SEO Dream Come true? You’ve got to admit it’s tempting!

Everyone knows that “you get what you pay for.” My instincts told me that these link-building services were probably worthless.

But since I had nothing to lose except $5, it’s a worth a try, right?

Boy was I wrong!

As I and many other web marketers found out the hard way, buying links on Fiverr or through any other outsourcing platform (e.g. odesk, elance, etc.) can actually be a very cheap way to totally kill your site’s Google rankings.

Let me explain how…

How Does Google Know My Dirty Secret?

For years now, Google has been sending a clear message that it does not want us to buy links or generate spam. Despite the hard work of several teams of genii dedicated to filtering out spam sites, Google can still be surprisingly bad at figuring out which sites are utter trash. But they are certainly getting better at it.

One of the things that they have figured out is that any site that has hundreds or thousands of backlinks from irrelevant sites with exact-match keyword anchor-text is certainly buying spam links and therefore deserves to do time in the slammer (AKA page 8 of the search engine results).

Google’s latest algorithm update, Penguin, in April 2012, caused the rankings of many sites to plummet (including mine), very often due to these kinds of spammy back-links.

And these are exactly the kinds of links that they are selling you on Fiverr and other cheap link-building services.

I want to emphasize that sites that were hit in the Penguin update were not necessarily poor quality sites. Some of them were excellent sites (mine contained 39 pages of quality original content written by yours truly). However the use of spammy SEO tactics has caused Google to lump them in with other sites that are true spam.

Allow Me to Disclaim

At this point, I want to make a gigantic disclaimer that the fact that I bought links from Fiverr has nothing to do with New Edge Design LLC, who own this blog. This happened before I ever worked for the good folks at NED, who only apply industry best-practices in their SEO work on behalf of clients. In fact, we are currently working for an Ecommerce client to undo the major damage their site sustained after they hired a cheap offshore SEO company to build links for them.

It ain’t pretty.

Did Fiverr Cause Penguin?

I don’t know if we can go so far as to put all the blame for Penguin’s ravages on Fiverr and similar outsourcing sites. But I do suspect they play a role.

Web marketers have been building spam links for years and it always worked well for boosting rankings. However, it used to be time-consuming, complicated and expensive, and not therefore not universal. But along come odesk and fiverr, which make it so easy and cheap that suddenly everyone is doing it. And that’s when Google needs to seriously crack down.

That’s my theory anyway…

That said, I’m still a big Fiverr fan. You can use it to design your ebook cover, have your fortune told, and stock up on videos of Pakistani grandmothers dancing to your favorite death metal song while holding a “Happy Birthday” sign. True, the results might be awful, but you’ve got nothing to lose except $5.

But when it comes to link building, stay away from outsourcing sites.

The results are too expensive!

Not happy with your current search engine rankings? To get a free SEO audit, and find out whether and how you can achieve a higher ranking with safe white-hat techniques, click here.

Author: Tzvi Deutsch

Digital marketer for 10 years and father to a beautiful little girl, lucky husband of a spiritual butterfly, I love helping people achieve their personal and business goals through digital marketing and personal growth.