At the last webmaster meeting, Google employee John Mueller answered the question of whether purchased links help improve rankings.
What role do links play in ranking?
The author who posed this question to Mueller stated that 80-90% of sites in his niche use link sellers.
Are backlinks an important ranking factor? At the moment, 80% to 90% of sites buy backlinks, which in my opinion is not very ethical.
Mueller confirmed that Google continues to use links, but there are other important factors affecting rankings.
Our ranking algorithms do use links. However, this is far from the only factor that allows you to achieve high positions in the search results, regardless of what promotion policy other people have chosen.
Müller went on to talk about link buying and other SEO tactics that do not affect rankings.
A lot of sites are doing things right now that won’t affect their rankings in any way. People buy tons of links that just ignored search engine. If you see people doing something weird, they don’t necessarily benefit from it.
Improving site signals
What can you do to emphasize that your site is exactly what users want? Here Muller drew the attention of the audience to the importance of non-reference factors in ranking:
We get a lot of questions about links, keyword stuffing, and hidden text. All of these aspects come up on a regular basis, but in the overwhelming majority of cases, when I organized a review of these sites with the employees of the anti-spam and search quality teams in order to find out the reason why they are ranking, it turned out that this is due to the influence completely different factors.
It’s worth noting that attitudes towards paid links in the SEO industry differ from Google’s. Some site owners see a real need to buy paid links, because, in their opinion, they bring real results – they help to rank higher.
Roger Monty of Search Engine Journal found out what his fellow editor, who has achieved great success in highly competitive niches, thinks about this, and received the following response:
We owe our success in ranking our sites to PBN links. It’s safe to say that purchased links work, but in doing so, we see Google rejecting some of them. In order for links to pass through modern search engine filters, they need to be more relevant.
This leads to the conclusion that outside the Google office, opinions about purchased links and how they measure their effectiveness can be very different.