Why would some blogs offer you money for content while others charge for it? It boils down to a difference in perception. People that offer payment see your contribution as helpful to them. They are paying you for fresh content on their blog. In a way, you are saving them work, and the payment is an offer of gratitude, as well as a motivation to produce an article that is worth the money.
Blogs that charge you to guest post view you as nothing but a marketer. They know you want links, and they are willing to give them to you, but they want their cut. If you’re making money off of this post, why shouldn’t they?
You know better than to buy hundreds of links at a time, hoping that a few will not get caught by the spam bots. But paying for a quality link.. That can’t hurt you, can it? Sure, you’re providing them with content, but you are doing it for your own benefit. Maybe they do deserve a couple bucks.
What Google Says
Google’s webmaster guidelines are clearly stated. Paid links are fine as long as they are clearly marked as sponsored links and are designated “no-follow”. This means that no PageRank is passed through that link. The bots do not read them. If you pay for a do-follow link, that is a clear violation that will result in being penalized. This penalization means going down in the search results. If people can’t find you, what is the point of your site?
It is important to stay up to date on white-hat SEO tactics and what search engines promote and penalize. Link building is an evolving field, so staying informed on what is allowed is a great business strategy.
The Next Step
If the site abides by Google’s guidelines and is charging you for a no-follow link, you have a couple of options. You can decide that a link is a link and even if you don’t get PageRank, it helps. After all, providing users with content is what you’re supposed to be about. You still may get exposure for the article.
On the other hand, there are plenty of great sites that don’t charge for guest posts. Even better, if you don’t pay, you get the exposure as well as a do-follow link. All in all, the decision is up to you, and should be made on a case-by-case basis. Pay attention to how links in guest posts are displayed on a site. Does your target audience frequent the website you are trying to get published on? These are things that you should consider when deciding whether to pay for links. After all, you want the content you’ve worked to create to be displayed in the best place possible. Sometimes that may cost money, but sometimes it doesn't.