I Bought Guest Post Links from The Hoth: A Detailed Review


“20 of the most important SEO blogs online”


“complete with handy guides explaining how you, too, can get in on the gold”

This is my fourteenth year as a practitioner of SEO and in that time I’ve seen a lot of tactics come and go when it comes to link building.

One thing that hasn’t waned is the demand for link building as a service, and with high demand comes a crowd of suppliers ready to build links to your site for a fee.

The Hoth are one such company.

Their name is an acronym for the phrase “Hit Em’ Over the Head” and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed by their business success.

They’ve been on the Inc 5000 – a list of America’s fastest growing private companies – for two years in a row now, reporting 2017 revenues of $10.4M.

They’ve fine tuned their sales process to become what is possibly the highest earning links provider in the entire space.

But do their links actually work? Are they risky? Are they truly ‘whitehat’ like they claim?

Or are they just a front for a market so in need of something they’ll buy anything with the best promise?

I bought some links from them to find out.

Full Upfront Disclosure

There are no affiliate links in this post so if you sign-up with The Hoth based on what I have to say here, I don’t get any credit.

I should disclose that one of the founders of The Hoth, Clayton, has ran an affiliate promotion for a product I own but that was done with my business partner and I didn’t directly benefit (it was his initiative and there were no upsells).

Still, in that sense, I have a bias to be favourable towards them.

In another other sense, I also have a competing product in Detailed Pro – I’m still convinced the best links are built through relationships – which would make me more likely to discourage using them.

I like to think these two things cancel each other out but even if you disagree, I receive no benefit if you use their services after this review.

Finally, no one at The Hoth knew I was conducting this review until just before this article went live (around six months after ordering the links).

Purchasing $849 In Links

The Hoth sell a lot of link packages which are focused on earning them repeat customers.

Those link packages have recently undergone a name change. Products like “The Hoth Mini” – which sells for $97 – is now known as HOTH Foundations Small.

They refer to these link building packages as a “natural link building strategy” but I think it’s fair to say that to anyone in the industry – and I think The Hoth would admit this themselves – this is not what a natural link sounds like:

We create mini-authority properties on powerful blogging platforms that link back to your site.

Perhaps you could state that back in 2010, but not in 2018.

They have a range of services including content writing, press release submission and even video creation, but I was solely focused on their link offerings for this review.

You can see some of the link packages that they have on offer below as part of their contextual link building services:

Pricing for each starts at $60, $200 and $250 respectively.

For my own order I decided to focus on guest posts and a tier-two “boost” package.

Here’s specifically what I purchased:

  • DA 20 Guest Post with 500 words of content ($150)
  • DA 30 Guest Post with 1,000 words of content ($225)
  • DA 40 Guest Post with 1,000 words of content ($425)
  • Tier-two links boost package ($49)

DA, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is a metric from Moz which stands for ‘Domain Authority’. The scale goes from 0-100, with the highest rated sites including the likes of Instagram, Facebook and Wikipedia.

The higher the number, the more authority a website should have, and the better a link from that site should be.

By default each guest post comes with 500 words of content written by a native English speaker, though you can bump that up (which I did for the DA 30 and 40 links).

Guest posts, when done properly, should be one of the safer types of links to purchase. Big brands have accepted guest posts from outside authors for years so although many people focus on them solely for link building, there can be a legitimacy to the tactic as well.

Keep in mind though that pretty much anything to do with acquiring links goes against Google’s guidelines so proceed with similar tactics at your own risk.

I’ll get into the links boost package I ordered a little later but my understanding is that unlike guest posts they use spun content (not human-written) on various web properties to link back to your website.

This includes a warning that it shouldn’t be used on websites you care about.

The Site I Promoted

Before I get into the links themselves, I do have to talk about the site I was promoting.

And before I get into that, I have to make an important caveat: There’s no concrete way to know if the links you purchase actually work.

You can get a good idea – you bought a link and now your site ranks higher – but with Google’s algorithm changing multiple times per day, you can’t be certain that a particular service had an affect.

For this experiment the site I used only had scraped or nofollow links pointing to it from the years it had been online. It was indexed but didn’t rank for its own name, even though it’s not a real word.

I theorised that the lack of links would give more credibility to the end result because if a site is currently picking up links from other sources – including natural ones – then it makes it harder to determine which links actually helped (if any at all).

The domain has had quite a few sites on it over the years but it wasn’t a ‘dropped’ domain in the sense that it expired and I snatched it up. Instead, I actually wanted the domain name for a project of mine and simply contacted the current owner – who had a ‘dead’ site on there – to purchase it.

It set me back a few hundred dollars but the price had nothing to do with its backlink profile. The name was sentimental to me.

Finally, when it comes to content, the site has just five articles published on it, though they are fairly in-depth and very niche-specific.

I think I’ve covered the most important points so let’s dive in to what I got for my eight and a half Benjamins (I’ve always wanted to write that).

Link #1: My Domain Authority 20+ Guest Post ($150)

Once your guest post link goes live The Hoth will send you an email that looks like this:

This first link was the cheapest and should really be the worst that I purchased.

I ordered this link on June 4th, 2018 and received confirmation the link was live on June 13th.

The site looks real and certainly doesn’t look like a PBN but the lack of an About page and anyone acting like the owner did set off an immediate red flag.

I don’t know if showing a blurry screenshot of the link is worse than no image at all but I guess you have the choice to skip past it (Edit: I decided to mix these up more so used their themes rather than actual sites to protect their owners).

I realise the irony of buying “whitehat” and “natural” links and not being able to show them but there’s a) A chance the site owners themselves don’t know what is happening on their site and b) A chance you could find other paid links that people don’t want to be found as easily.

I like that the site is still active many months later and frequently produces articles which don’t link out. In other words, posts aren’t just written there to include links from The Hoth.

It’s fair to say however that I don’t believe this link is a guest post.

There’s no obvious way to contact the owners and the site just feels like it exists for the purpose of linking to other people (even if not every article does so).

According to Ahrefs the site gets around 280 visitors per month from Google, though this was a bit higher – around 400 per month – when the link went live.

The current DA for the website is 53; much higher than what I paid for and quite a nice surprise. Though I’m not a huge fan of algorithmic ratings, Moz appear to have gotten better at this in recent months.

If you’re curious, it has an Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) of 33.

Outside Perspective: Joshua Hardwick of Ahrefs

As I am not revealing the actual links to be respectful to the site owners who may have had no involvement, I asked other SEOs to comment on what they thought of them to bring another perspective to the table.

My first impression of the site is that it looks to be either a mediocre affiliate site or a PBN. My gut instinct was the former rather than the latter.

Having dug a little deeper in Ahrefs, I can see that the site gets a couple of hundred visitors per month. That’s not terrible. However, I also see that organic traffic has dropped off quite significantly over the past 1-2 years. That’s worrying.

Metrics aside, the link itself looks reasonably legit. I don’t think it immediately screams “paid link!,” at least not to an untrained eye. I think it’s actually the destination URL that gives it away. If the link was genuinely natural, the author would almost certainly have chosen to link to a contextually-relevant post/page as opposed to the homepage.

Digging deeper, I can see that many of the other blog posts on the site link to homepages with keyword-rich anchors and some of them are ridiculously spammy. They just have to be paid links. So I think it’s pretty clear that this site was created with the primary purpose of selling links.

I don’t think this looks like a guest post. It looks like a “Send us your article. Our publishing fee is $30” type job.

Thanks Joshua!

Link #2: My Domain Authority 30+ 1,000 Word Guest Post ($225)

While this site looks great aesthetically, the author situation is a little strange.

There is a real name behind the site, which appears to be a real person, but their background is a little bit…odd.

The person who claims to be the author of this site also sells content on the same topic and talks about the SEO benefits of that content.

Whenever he references his own websites from other places online – where he has a more polished bio – he never mentions the site I picked up a link from.

To me it looks like a site that was started for legitimate purposes and then solely became about being used for selling links. I don’t think the average person could reach out to them and write for them and I presume The Hoth has a special agreement with the owner.

That said, I do believe it would easily pass a quick, manual inspection. It does look good, and anyone not clued up on SEO would be happy to receive the mention.

Moz give this one a DA of 45 which is 50% more than the 30 promised, and Ahrefs give it a DR of 35.

Ahrefs also report it gets around 835 visitors per month, which is a nice increase over the previous link and shows Google care about it somewhat, though that number is incredibly low for a site with over 400 pages of content.

My article clocked in at 1,066 words so they really try to stick to the length you order. They also linked out to a few authority websites such as the LA Times which is a pretty standard practice to make articles look more “natural” and to help hide who might have purchased a link.

I wasn’t told this was going to be the case, but I don’t mind that it happened.

Outside Perspective: Cyrus Shepard of Zyppy

As I am not revealing the actual links, I asked other SEOs to comment on what they thought of them to bring another perspective to the table.

At first glance, the design of the site looks totally legitimate. Only after you dig in a little bit do you realize it’s not a real-world business. It is strange to see a page called .gov links – that’s a small red flag. The content itself feels like original, readable English. Nothing outstanding; maybe a step below eHow quality, but passible.

Next, I quickly look at the backlinks – the site has a ton, and some of them are very good! Others look like they are from the same type of built-for-ads content network as this site. Moz gives it a slightly elevated spam score, and the spam distribution is unusual. Not a total deal breaker, but another red flag.

Overall, I’d guess this link is “possibly” safe but with potentially toxic overtones depending on the chosen anchor text. If I were a link buyer, I’d be hesitant to spend much on it. I believe the seller would be reasonable in asking for $250, but I also think there’s a good chance this link may not move your rankings at all. If I knew the site in advance, I’d likely pass.

Note: Cyrus mentioned $250 as this was what I presumed I had paid for the link at the time (I gave him a range of $250 – $300). I couldn’t see my orders because I use an ad-blocker, so only figured out the $225 price later on.

Thanks Cyrus!

Link #3: A DA 40+ 1,000 Word Guest Post ($425)

This was my most expensive link and actually went live on the ugliest website (though that’s mostly because of their WordArt-esque logo).

I think the other two are far more likely to pass a quick, manual review.

That said, the extra expense is because in theory, links from this website should pass more “weight” and put me in better stead for ranking higher.

This link had a Moz DA of 54, so above what was paid for and the highest of the three. It has an Ahrefs DR of 55 which is the first that has a higher DR than DA, and an estimated 2,700 people visit the site each month from Google.

That said, I couldn’t find an about page or a contact page on the site – even when doing a site: search in Google – so once again I don’t believe this was a genuine guest post.

Update: Writing this on December 18th, 2018, the site has so far published five articles for the month. Four of those were clearly written for links from The Hoth’s service, while one only linked out to very large brands who I would be very surprised to find purchasing links.

Search traffic has also increased in recent weeks according to Ahrefs. Going from averaging around 2,700 visitors per month to 4,100.

For as much as we can trust estimated search traffic, the site appears to have taken a pretty big hit in August of 2017 but may have just started a recovery.

Outside Perspective: Brian Dean of Backlinko

As I am not revealing the actual links, I asked other SEOs to comment on what they thought of them to bring another perspective to the table.

Overall, the site design and layout looks decent. And the post reads well. So it definitely doesn’t look like an obvious PBN site.

The only red flag for me were the links in the post. I counted 2 external links. Both of which were to commercial sites. For an article like this I’d expect at least a few links to Wikipedia or the NHTSA. That would have gone a long way in making the paid links look more natural.

Next, I poked around the site a little bit.

Again, the content was all well-written. Much better than you’d find on most PBN sites.

However, the site lacked that certain something that most real sites have like:

  • An about page
  • Author information
  • Contact information
  • Newsletter signup
  • Social media accounts

Finally, I looked at some of the data behind the site.

According to Ahrefs, the site has some baller links (including a few .edu links). And gets $1k worth of organic traffic every month, which is pretty high for a PBN site and suggests that Google views this a real website.

Overall, I’d say this link is OK. The link might help you rank because it’s from a site with a decent link profile. But it would have a hard time passing a manual review.

I had given Brian a sentence of what I initially thought of the site, but it’s nice to see we pretty much had the same thoughts.

It’s certainly not terrible, but there are some oddities.

An Important Intermission

I’ve made the same comment three times in a row now so before I get into whether the links had any affect at all, I should address whether I actually received what I ordered when it comes to guest posts.

My understanding with what a “legitimate” guest post should be is that you:

  • Find a site that accepts guest posts
  • Pitch them on an article idea they might like
  • If they do, you write up the article and they publish it

It’s pretty simple.

In fact, the Hoth do have their own graphic that represents this:

That picture was taken from my actual order receipt so there’s no confusion about what I ordered and what they believe I ordered.

Of course, in the world of selling guest posts as a service, this process does make things harder for service providers.

If they’re going to charge lower prices and be efficient, they likely don’t want to go through a back and forth every time they’re submitting an article.

With that said, I ordered “natural” guest posts and I’m pretty certain that is not what I received.

I’m not angry about this – I expected this to be the case and anyone in SEO for a while will likely expect the same – but I’m sure there are people just starting their SEO journey reading this and they should be aware of this likelihood.

I’ve purchased tens of thousands of dollars in links over the years and will likely spend many thousands more but I know exactly what I’m buying and the risks involved. If these relationships from The Hoth are not natural, that’s something to keep in mind.

I did ask:

(Note: I don’t have a Hoth account with an @Detailed.com email address. I just used that for support).

I then received this response:

It’s clear this was a pretty templated reply – I didn’t suggest PBNs were at stake or ask for an Ahrefs report – but I appreciate that it was quick.

I followed up one more time and received this:

Though I understand they don’t want to share personal communications and I’m taking up their time, I think it’s fair to assume that the proof I asked for simply doesn’t exist.

I should reiterate that I’m not surprised if that is the case. After all, I paid money for a link, so even if it was done “naturally” it’s still not really natural.

I wasn’t sure whether to mention this last point but I believe I found a strong connection between two of the sites I received links from. It certainly wasn’t an obvious footprint but still something I notified The Hoth about so they can take care of if it is the case.

I have no way of knowing for certain, so to be fair I have to give them the benefit of the doubt here.

Perhaps Most Importantly: Do The Links Work?

When I’m buying links I understand there are risks involved. There are risks involved in SEO even when you don’t buy links, but you should be cautious about the products and services you use.

What matters to me when I’m purchasing links is whether or not they get results.

Hopefully this section isn’t too anticlimatic but as I said in the introduction, it’s pretty much impossible to know for sure.

There are so many factors that go into rankings that you just can’t say for certain.

All three links were pointed to the homepage of the site and used its name as the anchor text of the link to be as safe as possible.

Within days they were picked up by Ahrefs. I think that’s both a testament to how active the Ahrefs crawler is and how ‘real’ the sites were that I purchased links from.

I have over a decade of experience and using that as my best barometer I think it’s fair to say that they helped, yes.

The site never ranked for anything in the few months it was indexed in Google – including its own name – and purchasing links from The Hoth was literally the only thing I did to the site after that.

It finally started ranking first for its own name, and also picked up a few top 100 rankings for some keywords in articles already published on the site.

Here are the stats in Ahrefs:

The extra links are basically just people scraping the sites I picked up The Hoth links from and random links that most websites tend to pick up over time.

Over the last 28 days the site picked up 57 visitors from Google from 720 impressions.

The results certainly weren’t mind-blowing but I never expected them to be. The site has very little content on it and no other links of any value besides those from The Hoth.

Also, I would expect to spend quite a bit more money – and get a lot more links – to have a real impact from any service.

It’s very hard to test link building services as there are many factors at play, so it’s easier to look into whether the links appear to be of a high quality, rather than being able to judge the exact effect of them.

I guess a more important question I have to ask is whether I would purchase them again.

For my own sites where I accept the risks that these more than likely are not guest posts, I would buy them again…with some important caveats.

For internal pages which can be harder to pick up links to I would be happy with some of their DA 20 and DA30 links if they were all of the same quality. I don’t think the price jump for the DA 40 link was worth it.

I would not buy them for client sites unless a client specifically said, “I want paid links, fast. I don’t care if they tank the site in the future. I just want something to happen.”

I don’t expect that conversation coming up anytime soon so I wouldn’t personally use them for client sites, even though having their service be whitelabelled is a big part of what they focus on.

A $49 Small Boost: Taking One for the Team

After finishing one of my orders, I saw an upsell offer that looked like this:

I was building these links purely to write this article – I can live with the site not ranking – so I decided I would give it a shot.

Note that my own boost offer was focused on high DA sites but did not include EDU / Gov links.

I refer to this as taking one for the team as when you go to place your order, they make you check a box to say that you’re not building these links for a site you care about.

Ahem.

I checked the box then ignored it – #madlads – and sent all links, with some varying anchor text, to a single internal page on the site.

Just to clarify, this was all done just a couple of weeks ago and six months after the first three links had a chance to “kick in”.

That’s why I’m able to share a new Ahrefs graph of the links pointing to the site.

Before ‘The Boost’:

After ‘The Boost’:

When The Hoth sent me my report, the 50+ links they promised included 55 links.

Every link I received was from either a .info or .us domain.

They seemed to ignore the anchor text that I asked for, though they didn’t state they would only use the anchor text I provided to them.

One of my links literally had the anchor text ‘next page’.

They were right in making you check a box that states you don’t want to point these links to your own site: You’re likely going to have to disavow them later.

They are not nice links.

They are however a good way to find other people likely using their services so you can spy on their results, hah.

I don’t think it’s fair to judge them too much on this because of the price and the admission upfront to be careful, but this was probably a complete waste of money.

This could be a total coincidence, but a fortnight after ordering these links my site no longer ranks first in Google for its own name, even though it had held the position for months.

The name of the site is not a dictionary word so it’s uncommon, but this was quite a surprise to me.

I’m now second in Google so it’s not a huge drop but I would be surprised if it’s coincidental.

My Hoth Review Summary

If you didn’t get a chance to read every word in this review, let me break down my thoughts.

The Pros

  • The links had a far higher DA than I ordered (the DA 20 article has a DA of 53)
  • The links arrived in eight days, even though I was told to expect to wait around four weeks
  • Support was incredibly fast, even if I didn’t get the response I was looking for
  • The sites publish articles that don’t always link out making them more legitimate
  • The links appeared to help

The Cons

  • The DA 40 link was not worth the price increase
  • I have a strong suspicion I did not receive guest posts (this is a pretty huge con)
  • I don’t think they’re “safe enough” for client sites
  • I think a single link would have gotten the same results

So should you use The Hoth? Will their links help rank your sites?

That really depends on your goals, the niche you’re in, and how many links you will likely need to beat the competition.

I don’t think you can show these off in a client report and say “Look what I built for you!” (and you shouldn’t), but for your own sites in difficult niches or where you need another internal link or two, they are one of the cheapest providers out there.

Keep in mind that this review was solely for their guest post links and the boost package, which for the latter I agreed would not be used on a site I care about (though it partially was).

The Hoth offer a lot of services so I imagine guest post links only make up a small percentage of their 8-figure revenue.

I can’t deny I’m curious to see how far their network and connections scale (i.e. what would the quality be like if I ordered 50 links at once) but I probably won’t be the one to find out.

If you’ve used The Hoth or plan to use them, I would love to read your thoughts…

P.S. This was one of my first blog posts in a decade where I am not sending an email about it. I have a feeling most of the people who read my content don’t care about this topic but if you would like to see me do more service reviews I would love to write them so please do let me know.

109 comments
  1. This was a fantastic review, Glen. When I was first starting, I bought Hoth links for clients and was woefully unimpressed.

    I purchased the “Mini Authority Module” on 11/3/17:

    1st Top Level Blog with 1 article
    2nd Top Level Blog with 1 article
    3rd Top Level Blog with 1 article
    7-15+ Web 2.0 Properties
    20-40+ Social Bookmarks
    100+ Profile Links

    It was fulfilled on 11/28/17:

    The “top level blogs” that I got posts from were:

    Top Level 1: http://thefashionguide264101047.wordpress.com (<– seriously?)
    Top Level 2: http://the-fashionb-bog.site123.me
    Top Level 3: http://newtopfashiontips.snack.ws

    The current (12/19/18) page says they'll create posts on wordpress, blogspot, and squidoo. The page when I purchased did not cite these so maybe that's why the posts are on other platforms. Regardless, the page appears to intentionally confuse "top level blogs" with the fact that they are subdomains and utterly useless for SEO.

    I think they're a great case study that there are a lot of people out there buying links who are completely uninformed ($10M+ worth), but beyond that there's no real value and I'd never (ever) use them on a client site.

    1. Hey Brendan,

      Great to see you over here.

      I know you speak your mind so I’m guessing you let them know you weren’t happy? How was the reaction?

      1. I mean, obviously the links didn’t do anything helpful. The fact that they sell a product that they know full well doesn’t do the things they claim it does (help grow organic search) seems predatory to me.

        I didn’t even both reaching out to them. They know what they do. Doing SEO like it’s 2006 is their whole business model.

  2. Never tried them, as their services much overpriced. Also, if we are getting paid link form them, then why not directly buy link from site owner? there are a lot of blogs who sell links. Buying directly will reduce the price significantly as you are not going to pay hoth’s so called brokering fees. Even if you think you’r busy, hire a VA.

    Talking about their quality, I remember they used to sell buzzfeed community links for 200$ , seriously??

    I don’t know who are their buyers but trust me, being in this filed for many years, i’ll not recommend them to anyone. Moreover, if anyone has spent couple of years in seo industry and still don’t able to find cheap link resources then god can help.

    1. I understand your point of view but really, the reason to buy links from anyone is a) They have connections / sites you don’t have and / or b) You save a lot of time.

      I didn’t have to find the sites. I didn’t have to write the content or come up with the idea. I didn’t have to follow-up to make sure an article went live (at least if that’s what happened). This applies to any service of course.

      Even with a VA there are costs and training and double-checking and so on.

      Mostly though, I have spent a moderate amount of money with them in the past but that was a few years ago so I wanted to try them out again.

      Appreciate the comment, Swaraj!

      1. Hi Glen.

        Great article. I loved reading it however your comment made me stop when you said a VA need to be trained and double checked.

        I couldn’t stop myself from commenting.

        Don’t you think anyone having decent knowledge of SEO and quality links would be double checking services like these too?

        As far the training is concerned, one can definitely hire someone with experience.

        1. I don’t really understand the connection to be honest, Adeel.

          It’s not just about the understanding of SEO, it’s about massively saving time.

    2. So many people here are pointing out that the hoth is not a good solution for safe and ongoing SEO. However, no one is suggesting a better option for the SEO impaired or busy business people. So, who else provides SEO services similalr to thehoth? Why are they better/safer?

      1. Everyone has their positives and negatives (and their risks). Generally, the best links are those that you build naturally through relationships or writing great content people have to talk about.

        This review certainly isn’t against The Hoth. You just need to know the risks involved and go slow if you need to buy links.

  3. Hi, Glen! Thanks for spending money and taking time to do that experiment. It was interesting to give it a read.

    In my opinion even the Pros don’t sound like Pros…

    You got higher DA than promised. You know that many of the PBN sites are built on dropped domains with high DA. I have seen some pretty DA sites on Fiverr which are garbage. Webmasters abused them linking to commercial pages in every article, and with keyword-rich anchors.

    You got the links in 8 days and you were supposed to wait 4 weeks: That’s a red flag for me. It’s clear that they didn’t do any outreach for your campaign. They ordered the articles and sent them to webmasters. If the sites were decent that’s not an issue of course 🙂 But if they use the same sites for each client over and over again, then what? The sites you got the links from will be full of paid links.

    1. Hey Georgi,

      Appreciate you making your way over from FB.

      I think it’s fair to say they are pretty full of paid links, yeah. Another reason I didn’t feel comfortable sharing them.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. Great read.

    I’ve been sent example reports of their service before by previous clients, loads of URLs with parameters on the end, lots of .wordpress.com, book marking links… I think there is a market for this kind of thing — and paid links can still work in some niches, but I agree, it should be about relationships and building a brand, not just going after links and metrics. But I guess for some SEO is still a box ticking numbers game.

    Thanks for taking time to put this article together, and for sharing. I disagree with your Twitter statement, I’d definitely have emailed it out.

      1. Hey Glen,

        I’ve just checked the email thread, and their email delivery calls it the:

        40 High Domain Authority + 20 EDU/GOV Safe SEO High DA Backlinks Package

        Definitely PBN stuff in that delivery though. Regardless, again, great post. Subscribed to the newsletter, disappointed with myself for not doing so sooner.

        D

  5. Really love this part “The links had a far higher DA than I ordered (the DA 20 article has a DA of 53)”.

    Glen thanks for sharing this great review. Can’t wait to order their guest post links.

    1. Note that I did say I’m not a huge fan of algorithmic ratings so please do your own research upfront as well.

      I like Moz but I don’t use DA for anything. It does seem to be a standard in anything to do with link buying and selling though.

      Either way, know the risks, and best of luck!

      1. Good reply here, Glen. DA is such a weird metric for SEO purposes. By itself it means absolutely nothing. I want to see a high DA (moz), high DR (ahrefs), 1k+ / mo of search traffic (ahrefs) and a TF/CF ratio of at least .8.

  6. As linkbuilding is one of my favourite parts because I enjoy finding the relationship between topics, i’ve tested out The Hoth several times.

    What I found very useful of them is the automation process. You give them a single URL and they find you useful links. I would prefer more quality in the content itself, and a higher price in order to have less links sold by domain.

    My conclussions? As it is almost automated (you have to give and URL and anchor text and they give you a link according to your chosen plan), the links are good to me BUT I asked to myself: Would I be comfortable showing this link to some of my clients? Probably not.

    Then… Would I recommend The Hoth? Yes, but only for personal use or in low priority projects.

  7. Great article. I actually use thehoth on one of my money sites and so far results have been good. I did have some issues with low quality sites(one was a forum post that I was charged 425 bucks for) but they quickly corrected it.

    Your post has encouraged me to keep a closer eye on the links that they are building but all in all I would say it’s a solid service if you need to outsource seo and get results.

  8. Hi, Glen.

    I am extremely satisfied that you’ve made the effort of reviewing Hoth. I can see why you done this examination, and I am on the side that although they are hefty profitable, their business model doesn’t seem as safe from the inside.

    Moreover, I do believe (after mentioning the lack of substance Hoth has) that this particular post would suit Gaps.com so much better. I’m confident that an innumerable SEO Agencies would love to fill the gaps a well developed SEO provider like Hoth cannot suffice.

  9. As some one who does this for a living I found this an interesting post.
    As all your content is Glen it’s excellent.
    It must be pretty obvious to anyone that if you are buying one off links (or even a small pack) it’s not really true outreach. It takes time to come up with content ideas, find sites to outreach to, pitch them and manage the writers. You need at least a 10 link order to make it worthwhile.
    From a marketing perspective though they are really good and can teach a lot of the industry a thing or two.

  10. Hi Glen.
    It’s great to read a review of this from you. I was about to make a similar test next month with THE HOTH and document it on my blog. Honestly the services they offer fall within my expectations (unfortunately).

    BTW, I might have skip a beat or two but wouldn’t this post suit better at Viperchill or you don’t write in that b log anymore?

  11. Thanks for the in depth look Glen, always appreciated. I’ll stick to producing insanely good content and then paying to have it put on authoritative sites in our client’s niche. Never has failed me, especially when done correctly.

    1. Hi Ryan,

      Just curious. In creating content for your clients, do you write the article yourself or do you outsource it? I’m just wondering how streamlined someone runs thier seo company and whether they handle this or that or outsource as much as possible.

  12. Hey Glenn,
    Been following you for a long time and I love that you tackled this. I have bought 3 different blitz packages from them over the past 3 years and have actually seen some pretty significant changes with it(brand new sites and old). While I certainly wouldn’t claim its a great idea to use for client sites, I have. When I was a little younger and a little dumber. I used “State + rentals” anchor text and its held up(and continued to grow) for three years. They had a pretty diverse backlink profile though and I think that’s the saving grace for using such spammy anchor text. If it’s a brand new site, throw a press release out and slow drip a blitz package with brand name anchor text over a month or two and I think people would be pretty happy with the results.

    For others: Overall I recommend them because they work if you know what you’re doing but as always, if you have to ask “Should I buy links?” then you probably shouldn’t until you understand it more.

    That’s just my two cents.

    Awesome post as always, my dude.

  13. Hey Glen,
    This post as a quick follow-up to your gaps seo-industry post is an awesome “one – two punch”.
    A case study of the industry and then a niche’d down study of one of the big players in this market. Great job and great timing of the blog post releases being back to back.

    The thing that is interesting is as you mentioned getting links to internal pages that you typically couldn’t get a link to from a site that didn’t look spammy or like a traditional PBN has value to it.

    Very cool article – as always 🙂

  14. Loved the case study. Not much has changed in paid links in the past 5 years or so it seems. There’s still a supply and demand problem which is why sites are used multiple multiple times for different clients.

    So even if your anchors and target pages are safe looking, there’s no guarantee the guy in the next post isn’t using payday loans anchors. Remember when people used to talk about ‘bad neighborhoods’?

  15. Great write up — I’ve used The Hoth before for their foundations and guest posts and agree with pretty much everything you’ve said — one thing I do think is pretty good is their content creation/blog post writing. They’re not going to blow you away, but you can get 1K+ words well-written blogs for ~$60 — and they’ll handle the idea creation, etc… If you’re needing some base content it’s a decent option.

    The other thing I actually like is using their foundations package to just create a couple web2.0 properties that you can control and use to add content to. I just don’t care to sign up for new accounts, etc…so I’ll let them handle that and then I can have control of those web2.0s and they are good for getting some basic citations (when working with local companies for example) or using it to post up blogs.

  16. Thanks for the review Glen, awesome content as usual.

    My experience: I have used them in the past but only once, as you and others have mentioned, their links (in my opinion) weren’t worth the cash paid. It also felt like a HIGHLY sales focused company when I spoke to them on the phone (I don’t mind highly sales focused companies) but couldn’t deliver on their over promised hype. I know link building is hard when you are outsourcing it, but the market dictates the price and there are providers out there that provide better quality links at a lower price.

  17. For me, Hoth is like used car salesman of SEO industry. Quite pricey and salesy.

    I literally have no idea of where are they getting clients from. What’s their primary revenue stream?

    Well, it’s good to see you covering service reviews. I’m definitely looking for more of them.

    One thing I would like to ask (if possible)…What was the niche of your test site? This would be helpful to understand the market.

  18. Hey Glen,

    I ran a similar test around 3 years ago and based on your experience they’ve actually improved a teensy bit! I ended up on obvious PBN sites – including one that was an old fat loss drug/pharma site.

    Just like when I tested FatJoe and wrote about my experience last year, you can get positive movement from these types of link services, but they come with a greater risk than if you paid for real outreach or if you went the DIY route. Plus, if you’re going to end up on PBNs anyways, there’s cheaper options than fake outreach.

    In my experience testing different services, if someone is looking for decent links at a similar price point to what you bought, then something like Authority Builders is the best choice – however, the ROI is much better if you go the DIY route (even if you train a VA to do it).

    Hope to see more reviews from you like this!
    Shawna

  19. Glen,

    Thanks for another great in-depth article.

    I’ve found much the same on my own, from The Hoth and many other of the well-known white label link resellers.

    In fact, when analyzing the links purchased from these vendors for the same domains, I was able to find links on the same referring domain from multiple vendors.

    Numerous times actually.  Different root URLs and niches/target keywords, but a link on the same referring domain was secured by multiple vendors for the same target domain.

    Which leads me to one of two conclusions…

    #1 – These vendors are colluding together and reselling links from a network of websites shared among them. Likely not all of the links they sell, but even a 25% overlap among them puts these links into an entirely different category *cough* PBN *cough* and risk profile compared to what they’re being marketed as.

    #2 – These vendors are using very similar methods and processes when conducting their outreach (keyword + “guest post”, keyword + “write for us”), are finding the same link opportunities, contacting the same website owners, and keeping their details on file for future use.

    While the first conclusion is quite nefarious, it’s not out of the realm of possibility, nor reality, as such deceptions, even much larger ones, have happened in the past.

    … and even if my second conclusion is accurate, you have to consider how much you’re overpaying for these guest posts considering the actual work involved to produce them.

    Step #1 – Get someone to write the content (most of the ones I reviewed weren’t very good quality so I wouldn’t expect the cost to be more than $50 at $0.05 per word to hire someone to write a 1,000 word article).  Hence, the specificity of the content length of the articles you received and the ones I’ve reviewed.

    Step #2 – Send emails to the guest post relationships you’ve already established and find one willing to post it.  Assuming the placement was found using search operators, the cost to publish the content will be $0 and even if its a paid placement of twice the cost to write it, that’s still a good margin for the link reseller without having to do the same amount of work as a 100% manual outreach process.

    DA 30 cost to link reseller = $50 + $100 = $150
    DA 30 revenue = $225
    DA 30 profit = $75 or $175 if the placement is free

    DA 40 cost to link reseller = $75 (better writer) + $150 (higher $ to blogger) = $225
    DA 40 revenue = $425
    DA 40 profit = $200 or $350 if the placement is free

    Alternatively, you can get Link Prospector from Citation Labs, hire a writer to write the content and a VA to manage the outreach, and substantially reduce your average link acquisition cost without sacrificing the quality of your links.

    Does that make sense if you’re a small business owner with a single, or small number of websites? 

    Maybe not… it depends on your ROI, but it definitely makes sense when you’re an affiliate marketer or eCommerce store owner with multiple properties or a smaller number of high value websites (high ticket items, lots of traffic potential).

    More importantly, it’s a much more safe, scalable and ROI positive option for agencies, designers, and consultants looking to resell and white label these links for their clients.

    Which is critical because these vendors are almost exclusively targeting SEO agencies, web designers, and other service providers with their marketing materials and paid ads.

    … and when you realize almost all of these vendors started out as an SEO agency themselves (one of the Hoth partners is an agency partner and a partner in another SEO company) and likely built a rolodex of link partnerships before transitioning into link reselling, or leveraged other assets (content writers) and processes to achieve the same end, one should seriously consider retaining more control over their link building actviites, especially when acting on behalf of a client hired by your agency.

    Otherwise, you’re flushing margins and ROI down the toilet and potentially your client relationships along with them.

    Jason

  20. Thanks for sharing the insights!

    I tried some of their guest blogging services too this year to try to build some links after one of my websites got maliciously attacked by some black hat spammy links.

    Now I’m also trying out their foundations link packages.

    After reading your post, it makes me wonder if the end results from their guests blogging service and foundation links packages are would have any significant difference at a per unit cost level.

    My hunch is, for a website with small backlinks, the Hoth is a great way to quickly build up some backlinks as a foundation. In the longer term, manually reaching out for guest posts may be safer approach that can withstand the test of time.

  21. Thank you for this, much appreciated!

    Since you wouldn’t use them for client sites, curious if there is a company out there you would use?

  22. Reviews on SEO services done by an SEO expert? More please! 🙂

    I’ve used The Hoth guest post too, about 2 years ago. But only availed of the DA 20 package of 5 posts.

    It did help improve rankings (I sent 3/5 of them to inner pages, 2/5 to the home page).

    But I did wonder whether they’re real outreach (most likely not), and a couple of sites looked fishy to me. They all have a blogger persona behind, with social media accounts, but the 2 looked fake / manufactured. I suspect they were real bloggers’ sites later on repurposed to be paid-for-links sites.

  23. Hey Glen,

    “if you would like to see me do more service reviews I would love to write them so please do let me know”

    – Yes, please. Your in-depth SEO articles are such a pleasure to read. Doesn’t matter if it’s about a strategy, a tool or a service. Please keep writing.

  24. As someone who offers link building services, the Hoth is incredibly expensive for the quality of links they build. I charge between $300 to $400 for my services and build links from sites that are much higher quality than the crap that they peddle.

    A basic rule of thumb to anyone looking for links. Do not trust the Moz DA blindly. Use it in combination with SEMRush organic traffic. A site with a decent DA and a good organic traffic is a good bet. As a matter of fact, you should go one step further and look at the traffic pattern to see if it’s growing (a sudden fall in the past could indicate a penalized site).

    The author could be lucky that they are seeing a growth in traffic even after building such crappy links. If your website is your bread and butter, you should know that you may not always be this lucky.

  25. Another great study. Thanks for sharing, Glen. For me, the main takeaway was “They are however a good way to find other people likely using their services so you can spy on their results”.
    This is a tactic I’ve used before with other link selling services, to uncover competitors’ strategies and reveal more competitors you weren’t even aware of, in your space.

  26. Glen, thanks for doing this and biting the bullet on the cost. I just recently ran across Hoth and was super curious about their service. I even started checking out for one of their packages and then got cold feet lol. Something just felt strange

    Well done!

  27. Firstly, very enlightening read.
    Hoth appears to work for you. But, do others find it a good investment? With that kind of pricing, I would be worried about the ROI.

    1. Totally agree with doing a test for curated links. There are some mixed opinions about them and would like to see. I personally built more than 100 of niche edit links but never saw a benefit from them. However, others claim that these are the most powerful links that one can have.

  28. Well, to be fair to The Hoth, I wouldn’t expect a company making $10m in revenue to give me personal attention with an actual outreach. The whole reason they could scale to that level is because they have a standardised process in place. So, if the links work, I really wouldn’t mind paying for them.

    On the flip side, it is pretty disappointing to see that they have not maintained the quality of their “network”. Simple things like an about us page, social media channels, newsletter subscription would definitely make it look more legitimate. The least they could do, after charging a bomb, is maintain the hygiene of their network.

    Thanks for the great review Glen.

    1. I hold the same opinion with your first paragraph, Sanjay.

      I did say this as well, “Of course, in the world of selling guest posts as a service, this process does make things harder for service providers.

      If they’re going to charge lower prices and be efficient, they likely don’t want to go through a back and forth every time they’re submitting an article.”

      Appreciate your comment!

      1. wow this has really opened my eyes, i feel like the majority of the reviews that appear in google for the hoth seem to have some sort of relationship with them which is pretty shady considering that tends to be one of the things that swings people when deciding wether or not to go with a company. I have just recently ordered their managed seo service and i’m no seo expert but from the initial results i’ve had back the websites and content for the guest posts don’t seem to be great at all, how much could these harm my site? it isn’t a blog its a retail website and is very important to me, any help would be greatly appreciated

  29. Excellent review glen, I have never used the service, however I was very close to paying for curiosity since I read previous reviews where they do not really explain any of these details, for the simple fact that they want you to click on the link with affiliation. This blog really makes a difference to others and not to mention the excellent information in Detailed Pro.

    Again, thank you very much.

  30. This is a very insightful post Glenn.

    Another thing I noticed about HOTH is that they are in some sort of partnership with cPanel. Most of the times when I install a new website, they upsell HOTH SEO services to me.

    So, I think a huge chunk of their revenue is from these upsells. And it make perfect sense from a marketing angle. They focus solely on where their preferred audience is likely to find them.

  31. Hey Glenn, just came over from Viper Chill. I’m a huge fan of your work, especially your honest and upfront style of writing.
    Anyway, thanks for writing this review.
    I know of the Hoth and considered buying from them, but now, I’m not so sure.

    Plus, I believe in making genuine connections and helping and giving to your fellow bloggers first.
    Nikola Roza

  32. I just had my own experience with Hoth though not with backlinks. I need help creating content for my niche site so I ordered a package of four 1000 word articles on subjects related to my niche. Of the four articles I ordered, three were obviously spun from my own articles (I rank high for many keywords in my niche and on a couple different high-ranking sites that I’ve guest posted on over the years).

    I will give them kudos because they refunded all my money even though I accepted one of the articles. I had proof that the articles they submitted to me were almost exact replicas of articles I had published 7 years ago, with only a few words changed.

    Thankfully, I am having better luck with Verblio. I’ve ordered a few articles with them and have been fairly satisfied with the results – the articles have been written by real people, at least. (I’m not affiliated with them at all).

    Thanks for the insight. I was wondering if maybe I should try to buy some backlinks but I think I’ll pass. Thanks!

  33. Thanks Glen as someone who wanted to start a SEO Reselling business and looking The HOTH as one of the white label providers this info was very. Also if you do some article on SEO reselling I would be forever thankful since being sneaky and undercover is your style.

  34. Thank you Glen, really great article about the Hoth and buying backlinks in particular.

    What’s the best backlinking strategy that you would recommend?

  35. This is an awesome review. I would say definitely not worth the price they are charging unless you have a ridiculously high budget. If you do your own outreach you can usually land links from real sites, not link farms or pbn style sites, with DA’s around 50 for under $50.

  36. They are Good Marketers and have a Lot of Reads on SEO, etc so think many people as myself (kind of new to the business) say hey these guys seem alright and give a lot of Free value to read etc. And pretty sure their Advertising Budget is well DA high, hence the 10 mil Gross, Don’t even think they have been around that long was at function down in Florida were I think they operate from & they were presenters and did very good networking. Think they are Better Marketers then Link Builders and or Sellers. Always enjoy your stuff Glen Have a Great New Year my Friend.

  37. I bought HOTH Press + Distribution a month and a half ago and I must say the result was pretty disappointing.

    The press release was pretty badly-written, problably not a problem considering nobody actually reads press releases but still.

    According the press release distribution report they gave me, the press release was published to 261 news sites. But Google only indexed 8 of these.

    I also noticed that many of the websites where a PR was published had different logos and names written on the page but were actually the same site which is super weird.

    All in all, I would say their PR service is pretty useless and possibly harmful.

    1. Actually I came here for see a review about the press release service. But I got much more valuable information at end! Thank you for the feedback about press release. I understand now they just use network sites looking like PR sites…same technique like in 2006. Good to know as well for PR writing quality…

  38. I heard from different sources if you bought links then google might add to spam score. Is it true? In this post you have written “there is no way to check link working” then how can I check value for my money. But you have written in details and I appreciate you for this article.
    Thanks

  39. Glen, Appreciate your review on this Article. Well, i do purchased Guest link but trust me it did not given me the exact result. It wasn’t worth actually. But anyways thanks for great content. Keep it up.

  40. Hi Glen,
    Great insights. How do you handle it if some links are spammy? Do you use Googles disavow tool at all?
    I am not sure if I should use the disavow tool because even google says that one should be careful. What is your opinion?

  41. I have been considering their offers and oh! Thanks for the meaning of the word HOTH. Never knew it means “Hit Em’ Over the Head”. I think I will have to rethink this allover 😉

  42. Thanks for the honest review. I actually find it a little surprising that they have so many 5 star reviews, but I think that most people don’t truly understand digital marketing, and even fewer understand SEO. I’ve used Hoth for their Hoth X managed campaigns for a few clients and while they definitely showed improvements (at first) in some Ahrefs reports, organic traffic never really improved for those clients. They actually totally decimated one domain’s positions … like completely. I did get a free DA 50+ post for the damage that was done, though. (insert laughing emoji here ….) I will say that they are very responsive, professional and helpful in most instances and while I don’t have faith in most of their products, I do think they’re generally nice to work with and a few of the guys that work there really care about their customers. If they ever offered truly natural guest posting services with actual outreach, I’d consider using them again.

    1. “If they ever offered truly natural guest posting services with actual outreach, I’d consider using them again.”

      Based on their support responsiveness alone, I’m definitely with you there 🙂

  43. Just read this. Thanks for the information. How do you feel about Fat Joe? And what other paid sources do you find to be good links that create traffic? Is there one company or group of sources that you would recommend for buying quality links without spending a fortune? Thanks again, John

  44. Hi all. I’m new to this but if you ‘pay’ for links, once it’s active and you see it may be harmful can’t you just disavow them before Google tanks your rankings?

  45. Excellent review glen, I have never used the service, however I was very close to paying for curiosity since I read previous reviews where they do not really explain any of these details, for the simple fact that they want you to click on the link with affiliation. This blog really makes a difference to others and not to mention the excellent information in Detailed Pro.

    Again, thank you very much.

  46. I have been shopping around for a decent link building service for my budding SEO business.

    Thank you for this exhaustive review and may give The Hoth a subscribe if indeed they can provide the results we need. Much appreciated!

  47. DA 20 Guest Post with 500 words of content ($150)
    DA 30 Guest Post with 1,000 words of content ($225)
    DA 40 Guest Post with 1,000 words of content ($425)

    For DA 20-40, charges of The Hoth are excessively and unnecessarily expensive. You can get such guest posts at $50 or so.

  48. I’m leery of buying links but the title of this article caught my attention. Completely agree that it’s basically impossible to attribute results directly to any particular link but still a great idea for a case study. It would have been great to see the actual links but the insights from very reputable SEO pros was definitely the next best thing. I don’t see enough upside to risk paying for these types of links, thanks for putting it together.

  49. Hi,

    That was a terrific, really in depth article.

    You said to let you know and I do indeed like product review posts – especially because you do such a thorough job.Once more thanks,and keep up the good work.

    acha

  50. Just paid for a $500.00 guest post on a 50 DA site with Hoth. Granted my expectations were not high, but I did expect a real blog site that would have some value. Upon looking at what they did for me, I knew immediately I just threw my money away. Every post by this blogger had a formula that had a single link that I am certain is a Hoth client. I checked my post for plagiarism and although I’ll give them a pass, there were phrases that were very close and a good college would ding them. What stood out was that Google had not indexed a single phrase of this blog article, even the title was not indexed. I scrolled down and checked every article for over a week and not one article appears to have been indexed by Google. In contrast, our in-house blogger posted an article on our website on the 6th and when I woke up at 5:00 am on the 7th we had visitors already to our site from that article from Google searches.
    The 50 DA site our Hoth investment went to was mostly Swedish, which was a disappointment to me as I was actually hoping for a site that if I did not recognize, at least I’d find out it was a good site. UGH.
    In the past the cheaper articles we’ve bought from the Hoth have been de-indexed and are flagged as toxic by SemRush. So we’ve eventually disavowed them.
    I live near The Hoth, and have visited their beautiful office with an amazing view of Tampa Bay. I attended one of the conferences and got some good information. Their people are very nice, although some were not even born when I started doing SEO in 1996. They definitely appear to be making a ton of money hand over foot. It is a disappointment my latest, and likely my final, investment in their services appears to be a waste of money. I doubt the link will even show up as a backlink due to the blog probably not even being indexed, even with a MOZ score of 50 DA. And possible I may be disavowing this link if it is flagged.
    I’m just an old man with 20+ years of part time SEO experience, being a programmer/developer mostly, but the blogger who “accepted” the article from The Hoth appears to be a Hoth writer to me and Google seems to be ignoring the blog completely.

  51. Hi Glen,

    That was so long but I read it full and it relly helped if I should sign up with them. I have a web design company in India and I was looking for a boost in my search rankings so thought of hoth. Anyways this was really helpfull.

    You are great…!

  52. Maybe I came into reading this article with a bias, but your results pretty much confirmed why I don’t build links through services like The Hoth. You have so little control over what type of sites they use to link to you. They can promise all day that the links are natural, etc, but it’s not always the case.

    While these links may “pass” now as natural and effective, I can imagine that with future algorithm updates they will become more obvious as paid links, and do damage to the properties they link to.

    Of course, people will say, “Just don’t link them to your main money site”, but then what’s the point? You’re just going to flip them to someone else who doesn’t know better?

    Super interesting read man. The amount of time that went into researching, analyzing, and writing this in an easily digestible format was worth way more than I paid for it…which was zero. Hard to believe this isn’t behind a paywall! lol

  53. I’ve always wondered about the links from The Hoth. Haven’t ordered myself, was on the fence for a little while, then decided against it.

    This helps a lot! Thank you Glen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get advanced SEO tips we don't make public

Join subscribers from companies like Amazon, IBM & Cisco.


"If you’re looking to skill up in actually getting sites to rank, Allsopp’s content is a must read." - Matthew Howells-Barby,