Here's a great update to this post from 2014 showing how Matt Cutts feels about buying backlinks
I don't think there can be many business owners who have not received an email or telephone call from someone offering to do their SEO and get them onto the front page by building lots of backlinks.
Many of these individuals are operating using pre-Penguin/Panda strategies. You will be buying backlinks from a variety of directories, many of which will have names that include the terms 'SEO' or 'links' - just the sort of thing that should be waving a red flag at Google for its next algorithm update.
You will also be buying backlinks from people about whom you know very little - and about whose other clients you have no knowledge at all. If someone is building links for you and another company that has a bad record with Google for buying backlinks, you could both be tarred with the same brush.
Why Buying Backlinks is a bad idea - in the UK or anywhere else!
I saw this recently myself when I decided to investigate a telephone offer that seemed too good to be true. They were guaranteeing to get my site onto the front page of Google.
Upon interrogation, it became clear that the salesman did not really know what he was talking about and he had to keep referring to his colleague to answer my more pertinent and probing questions.
Eventually he agreed to show me a few examples of the backlinks they had built. I was shocked to see adult and casino listings mixed indiscriminately with regular business owners.
Gambling and Adult websites are well known for their reliance on paid back link building to the extent that local businesses should steer clear of association with their activities. Your business might well get onto the front page in the short term, but the long term damage could be considerable if Google imposes a penalty by association.
But more than that, the quality of the articles on the websites was rather poor. If you do get onto the front page and be seen by potential customers, do you want them to see an advert for your business that is in poorly written English which doesn't make you look very professional?
I've had experience of this as well. In most cases, the articles that are being used to build your backlinks will probably never appear on the front page of a Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) but, occasionally, they may.
The last thing you want is your business name plastered all over a piece of poor quality information that is full of typos, inaccuracies or just plain impossible to read.
It happened to me with the term Search Engine Optimization when I was just starting out. Someone told me they could get me onto the front page of Google and I paid my money. I wanted to save time.
Big mistake! A time saver it was not.
Yes, there was an article that could send people to my website on the front page. But I was so horrified by what they said and the poor quality of grammar and vocabulary with my name all over them, that I spent weeks rewriting and resubmitting my own properly prepared posts so that I could push those horrible ones off the front page.
So, if someone offers you the chance to buy backlinks - whether you or they are based in the UK or not (and remember that many foreign businesses can now call you using a geographically relocated number that looks as if they are in the UK when they could be anywhere across the globe) - you might want to examine it more closely before you accept.
Things are not always as clear cut as they seem.