Backlinks remain one of the most important ranking factors for Google and other search engines. The more high-quality backlinks you have pointing to your site, the more authority you build, which can improve rankings, traffic, and conversions.

How much do backlinks cost?

But buying backlinks can get expensive, especially if you rely on automated services or don’t understand what drives costs. The price for a single backlink can range from a few dollars to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

What Are Backlinks and Why Do They Matter for SEO?
Before diving into costs, let’s quickly cover what backlinks are and why they’re so crucial for SEO.

What Is a Backlink?
A backlink is simply a link from one website pointing to another. For SEO, it refers specifically to external sites linking back to pages on your website.

Why Do Backlinks Matter for SEO?
Backlinks serve as votes of confidence. When another site links to yours, they’re essentially saying your content offers value worthy of a recommendation. The more sites linking to you, the more authority you gain in the eyes of Google and other search engines.
Additionally, anchor text in backlinks passes equity and signals search engines what the page they’re linking to is about.

For all these reasons, most experts consider backlinks one of the strongest off-page SEO signals. More high-quality backlinks pointing at your site with relevant anchor text can directly improve domain authority, page authority, rankings, and organic traffic.

Factors That Influence Backlink Pricing
Many elements factor into what makes an individual backlink cost more or less. By understanding these key pricing factors, you can better plan your link building budget.

Backlink Type
Not all backlinks offer the same SEO value, which directly impacts pricing. High-authority sites generally charge more than lower-quality sites. Here are some of the main backlink types with typical price ranges:
Guest posts – $20 to $250+
Niche edits – $5 to $150
Widget links – $10 to $50
Directory listings – $10 to $100+
Sponsored posts – $50 to $500+

Sponsored posts from authority sites in your industry, like Forbes and Entrepreneur, usually start around $500 and run into the thousands. But most other sites will fall within these general ranges.

Domain Authority
Domain authority (DA) measures the power and trustworthiness of a site. DA ranges from 1 to 100, with higher scores carrying more SEO value for backlinks. As a general rule of thumb:
DA 1-20 – Low quality site with little authority
DA 21-40 – Average site, likely safe for some links
DA 41-60 – Good authority site, valued backlink opportunity
DA 61-80 – High authority and trust site
DA 81-100 – Exceptional authority, elite site

The higher the DA, the more a site can charge for backlinks because they confer more SEO authority. For example, a travel blog with a DA of 25 might charge $50 for a guest post. But an industry news site with a DA of 65 could easily charge $250+ for the same.
Aim for sites with at least a DA of 30+ when buying links.

Page Authority
Page authority (PA) is like DA but measured for a specific page instead of site-wide. Linking pages should have a PA of at least 15+ to ensure the page itself has sufficient ranking power. Otherwise, the link won’t transfer much equity.
For top authority, pursue links from pages with a PA above 35. Naturally, pages with higher PA can demand more compensation in exchange for backlinks.

Search Engine Referring Domains
The number of referring domains (RDs) pointing to a page also impacts value. RDs indicate how many other sites already think that page offers worthwhile content. More referring domains suggest stronger existing signals of quality and authority.
Pages with at least 10+ quality RDs tend to produce better links. Unique domains with high DA themselves hold even more weight for assess backlink power.

Industry-relevant sites naturally offer more SEO value for niche sites. If your site covers law firm marketing, a link from an authoritative legal site transfers more topical equity than one from a general web design site.
It’s fine to pursue some tangentially related links too. Just prioritize sites closely aligned with your niche for maximum impact, and expect niche-specific publishers to charge more.

Link Location
Where sites place your backlink also affects value. Links higher up on a page near the content pass more equity. Menu and sidebar links pass far less authority in comparison.
Some sites change prices based on link location – a footer resource box link may cost $50 while a link within paragraph copy runs $100. Consider location in your evaluation of pricing and value.

Link Velocity
Link velocity refers to how quickly a site usually links out to other domains. Faster velocity indicates more willingness to link, which equates to lower standards typically. Sites that seldom link likely have higher standards for links they accept, making those backlinks more powerful.
Check a site’s link velocity using tools like Ahrefs before purchasing links. Prioritize slower-velocity sites for the best ROI.

Request Volume
Higher link buying demand tends to inflate prices over time. The more requests a site gets, the more they may charge across the board. Stay ahead of this curve by securing links from new sites before competitors target them or they appear on automated platform indexes.
Buying during seasonal slumps can mean better pricing too. Avoid end-of-quarter push periods for agencies if aiming to minimize costs.

Typical Backlink Pricing Ranges
With the pricing factors covered, what does that translate to in actual costs for various standard backlinks? Here are average ranges:
Backlink Type
Typical Price Range
Guest Posts
Roundup Inclusion
Branded Link Insertion
Directory Listing
Niche Edit Links
Widget / Tool Links
Scholarship Links
Sponsored Content

These numbers assume links from relatively authoritative sites in your industry with decent page traffic. Higher-authority placements or exclusive access within popular sites or publications will run higher still.
For top-tier, high-authority publications like Mashable, TechCrunch, Forbes, or industry trade journals, sponsored posts often start around $500 on the low end and can run $5,000 or more.
Exclusive native advertising placements often involve custom campaigns with extensive pricing. Budget at least $10,000 if aiming for native placements with premium publishers or sites boasting traffic above one million visits per month.

Tips to Reduce Backlink Costs
Here are some tips to keep your link building budget under control while still securing authoritative backlinks:

Mix Free and Paid Links
Don’t put your whole budget into paid links. Use a blended strategy across:
Authentic free guest posts
Prospecting outreach for earned links
Strategic paid links to supplement
Balancing real editorially given links with sponsored placements offers the best ROI.

Master Outreach
Get better at securing earned links through blogger outreach. Prioritize manual collaboration requests over paid posts.
With good personalization, providing value upfront, and some persistence, you can land quality links at no cost. Having a strong brand and content helps considerably here too.

Find Hidden Pricing Pages
Many sites don’t publicly list link prices but will share them privately upon request. Don’t assume that just because you can’t easily find published rates on a site means they don’t welcome paid posts in some capacity.
Identify authoritative sites accepting contributor posts and inquire about pricing to unlock potential link opportunities.

Don’t settle for the first number thrown at you. Many sites expect some negotiation and price higher or list rates as “starting at” baseline numbers.
Politely ask questions, emphasize budget constraints, highlight other value you may provide, request discounts for bundling or commitments across months, explore options for flexibility on word counts or content types – negotiators can often subtract 25%+ off initial rates.

Seek New Sites
Prioritize building relationships with promising sites just starting to gain authority in your space. Their prices remain lower but sites still establishing themselves want exposure and links too. If you get in early before awareness spreads, exclusive sponsored posts come cheaper.
Identify sites under two years old with decent early traffic and DA 20+ and make them anchor targets for your outreach efforts.

Buy During Sales
Watch for seasonal sales around major holidays, summer months, or year-end. Agencies and consultants often run sales on links, either directly or through outsourced networks, during slower business periods.
Buying then means fewer competing requests and excess inventory publishers want to offload at discounts compared to peak demand periods.

In the end, what constitutes “expensive” for backlink costs remains relative. It depends on your goals, means, and the site itself.
But armed with a better understanding of what drives pricing, typical rates across options, and ways to reduce costs – ensuring you pay fair market value becomes much simpler.
Focus on balancing strong authority sites within your topic sphere rather than chasing only the most premium placements at extreme rates. And leverage negotiated guest posts to make budgets stretch further with the help of effective personalized outreach and providing value to potential linking partners.

Key Takeaways
Backlink costs range widely from $5 to $1,000+ depending largely on authority, traffic, and link location.
Consider domain authority, page authority, search engine referring domains, link placement, general link velocity, and seasonal demand cycles when evaluating pricing.
Offering free value upfront through guest posts and community engagement remains the most affordable way to earn quality links at scale.
Mix earned, free editorial links with occasional paid placements from mid-tier sites to balance value and costs in link building campaigns.
Negotiate rates whenever possible, explore hidden pricing pages, seek rising sites early, and buy during seasonal lows to reduce expenses.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q. How much is the average backlink?
A. The average backlink costs between $50 and $150 typically. However, prices can range from just $5 for simple directory listings up to $5,000+ for single sponsored posts on premium sites like Forbes or Entrepreneur.

Q. How can I get quality backlinks for free?
A. Create excellent content and assets like tools, datasets, or images that sites may link to freely without payment. Also focus on guest posting and earned links through personalized blogger outreach, community engagement, and demonstrating expertise.

Q. What is the #1 factor affecting backlink pricing?
A. Domain authority remains the #1 factor dictating backlink costs. The higher the general authority and trust of the site, the more value placed on links and traffic they can confer to others.

Q. Is there really a difference between links from DA 50 sites vs DA 30?
A. Yes, the authority passed and resulting rankings boost tend to differ considerably between tiers of site quality and domain authority thanks to trust flow metrics calculated by Google.

Q. What types of links should I avoid buying?
A. Avoid low-quality directory or widget link packages, excessively commercial or advertorial guest posts with minimal real information, and any private blog network (PBN) links as they violate Google guidelines.

Q. Can I get in trouble for buying backlinks?
A. If executed properly following ethical guidelines, buying legitimate backlinks from real sites with original content rarely causes penalties. Avoid buying schemes that clearly aim to manipulate rankings instead of providing reader value.

Q. How many backlinks do I need to rank well?
A. While no definitive number exists, competitive keywords in moderately challenging niches often demand anywhere from 50 to 200+ referring domains to have a chance at hitting top 3. The more competitive the targets, the more quality links become necessary.

Q. How much should I pay for guest posts?
A. Guest posts typically run $80 to $250+ depending on site authority, pageviews, link location, and whether embedded links are nofollowed or dofollow. Be wary of really cheap guest post packages as quality seldom matches extremely low rates.

Q. Can I negotiate paid guest post prices?
A. Yes! Many sites expect buyers to negotiate rather than accepting initial listed rates. Highlight budget constraints, bundled offerings across months, or other value you may provide to secure discounts around 25% or more off first quoted pricing in many cases.

Q. How do I find sites accepting paid posts in my niche?
A. Use tools like Buzzstream, Pitchbox, or BuzzSumo to search for sites within your topic sphere. Check their domain authority, traffic metrics, and existing link/content profiles to gauge quality. Then visit sites directly or email contributors asking if paid posts opportunities may exist, even without published rates.

Q. How much should niche edits links cost?
A. Niche edits run $5 to $100+ depending on factors like authority, existing links, and referring domains. For good sites with decent traffic and DA 30+, expect average rates around $20 to $75 per link. Higher authority or exclusive access warrants $100+.

Q. Can I buy links on Amazon?
A. While Amazon formerly allowed some paid reviews, their terms now explicitly prohibit compensated content or product reviews. Any paid posts require full disclosure. So buyer beware before attempting to broker backlinks pointing at Amazon products or pages.

Q. Should I use an SEO agency to buy links?
A. SEO agencies can help develop an effective, safe link building strategy and leverage relationships for quality links. However, hiring just for links risks overly commercial outreach and costs 2-3x self-service rates typically.

Q. What tools can find the best sites to buy links from?
A. Tools like Ahrefs, Moz, Majestic, Buzzstream, and Pitchbox offer ways to identify authoritative sites accepting paid posts within a niche. Sort prospects by metrics like domain authority, unique visitors, and referring domains.

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July 2024


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