Link building has become harder: bland outreach tactics don’t work well anymore, creating link-worthy content has a high bar, and the game is changing towards quality instead of quantity.
One way to with that trend instead of against it is to buy sites for links. The idea of buying sites for links and redirecting them to your own is not brand new but it has gained importance over the last months and years as the trend goes toward backlink quality.
One important difference between now and a couple of years ago is that you don’t see results from just buying any site anymore. It has to be topically related, otherwise your site starts to rank for all sorts of irrelevant keywords for a short-time and then Google cuts you off.
I call this move “link M&A” because you basically buy another business and merge it with your own.
In a nutshell:
- Identify a website with a strong link profile that’s topically related to yours
- Buy it
- Redirect URLs from the acquired site to yours 1-to-1 (as much as you can)
- Watch your rankings skyrocket
The nice thing is that you often pay a lower price per link than if you had to hire someone to build it, pay an agency, or pay for the link directly.
Let me show you an example.
The keyword “cat food” is hard to rank for but very lucrative when you consider the $6 CPC and an average product price of $7-20. Ranking organically means you can saw your margins down (as so often with SEO, *le sigh*).
Chewy dominates the SERPs for “cat food”. They rank not just on #1 but also on #2!
Their cat food category page brings in 3.2M visitors and is $3.6M worth, according to Ahrefs. Again, this is a single page.
How do they do it? With link M&A!
When I checked the category page’s link profile, I found lots of redirect chains (see the filter I use in Ahrefs below) from the domain www.smallanimalchannel.com. This site has a very strong backlink profile with over 40 Wikipedia links.
I can’t tell for sure. But, to me, it looks a lot like Chewy acquired the domain to improve its link profile and it worked pretty well.
I would be surprised if we didn’t see more of this tactic in the future. Don’t buy links, buy sites.