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This 185 message thread spans 7 pages: 185 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 > >     
A PR8 site selling pagerank?
$500 - $5,000 from a PR8

 7:39 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Looking at the FoxNews website, I noticed peculiar looking links on the front page under the "advertising links."

Many of these are direct links to business sites.

One can look at them two ways. Fox is selling Page Rank or they are, in fact, just selling small text link ads.

My gut tells me more is going on here than just selling text ads. For one thing, there's one link there that says - "Buy This Link"

The wording on that raises eyebrows.

Also notice that the second link in the left column has a PR7 thanks to Fox's PR8. However, only 14 backlinks show up for that site. There are more examples of this among those links.

According to the company that is selling these links, and it is listed among them as 2 different but similar urls, links are being sold for $500 to $5,000. However, that company has a Gray Bar on both of its sites.

Maybe Fox is not intentionally selling PageRank, but this company which is contracting the sales of these links know what they are doing when they are selling these links.



 9:28 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I clicked on one of the links from the Foxnews home page, which took me through to a stocks and shares page with PR7. A search of the backlinks shows just 6 backlinks, three from Foxnews (3xPR7), two from Dmoz/Google Directory (2xPR5)and just one other (PR4). The one on the home page isn't indexed in the backlinks yet.

Basically it looks like they've bought their PageRank for about $12,500 per month/year/minute (it's not clear from the ad rates!). To be fair, these are high traffic sites and they'd get a lot of exposure, but the fact that they're direct links looks suspect.

(GG are you reading this?)


 10:24 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think you are reading far too much into this. They are text link ads as simple as that, I would be surprised if they actually knew what pagerank was!

You can't possibly punish someone for selling advertising, whether banners or text links, apart from maybe that searchking thing where it was totally apparant that you were buying links to deliberatly manipulate the serps.


 10:41 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

They might be simple text links and they may not be. But several facts are obvious.

It says, "Buy This Link" =?

Sites buying a link have PR7 despite having very few backlinks.

If you read my post more carefully, I stated I think the company which has contracted to sell these links for Fox are the ones most guilty and they clearly know what they are doing.

Fox probably doesn't know doesnt care about the PageRank issue but this contract company does know and the whole thing is too suspicious to ignore.


 10:52 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

As poor quality as the html is on Fox sites, I'm amazed that Google has been able to even index the site.

On the other hand, there are quite a few pr8's selling links. $500 would be a steal. Most pr8's are going for $2000 to $6000 a month. PR9's unknown. I've not be able to confirm any 10's selling links yet.

Mikkel Svendsen

 10:55 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

A lot of portals will be changing adserver redirected text links to direct links. The market (people like us) asks for that and so we get it :)


 11:07 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think bateman_ap's point is that posts like this just turn into unfair witch hunts, and I have to agree. Sites that accept text advertising should not be penalized as long as there's no gross abuse of SE rules going on. After all, it's called advertising for a reason. We will never know the true intent behind some of the links placed, and it's impossible to tell for sure. Frankly it's non of our buisness either, unless, again, it's something as obviously abusive as SearchKing (?).

It's dangerous/unfair IMO to mention specific URLs when posting a "heads up", since we all know WebmasterWorld is very popular and GG visits sometimes. Most of the time the publisher isn't around to defend himself (ie: Foxnews), and judgement is passed without a full understanding of the situation nor defense from both sides.


 11:14 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I tend to agree George. It's a judgement call on a site that big.

The issue of selling pr is more important than the specifics in this case. We've not talked about selling pr for awhile now and it's grown by leaps and bounds.

There is no way that you would convince me that FoxNews would know what PR is, let alone know enough to be selling it.


 11:25 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Let's assume foxnews knows nothing of PR or what's going on here.

What's to stop another large portal or even a medium-large portal like a PR7 from creating a quick third party ad site and sell ads to their own portals? If that ad company gets penalized and their portal doesn't, who cares?


 11:28 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I didn't mean for this to turn into an unfair witch hunt and I have said all along that this contract company is the one behind it and they know what they are doing. Fox probably has no idea the significance of PageRank and would be surprised to see us discussing this issue.

I wanted to bring this issue to the forefront because as Brett said, Fox is a big site.

On the one hand, getting a PageRank 7 because of a few PR8 links one bought probably isn't fair if leads to outranking established sites in that industry which are far better and have more links.

But on the other hand, advertising is advertising and PageRank can be a bonus in the selling factor of advertising.

Now, I must be honest, if I had a PR8 and someone offered to buy text link ads for, say, $2,000 a month, I wouldn't say no.

Added: and another reason why this issue is worth talking about because as internet advertising is starting to make a comeback, advertising which factors in PageRank could turn into a trend and longterm factor which reshapes the internet advertising industry.


 11:44 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

What are the monthly rates for PR7 sites that sell text links on their home page? Does anyone know?


 11:51 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think Zapatista is on to something here. Perhaps that will be the something for the future. Online advertising just to boost Pagerank. You are paying for qualified visitors to your website only indirectly, as you will get them from the search engines as opposed the actual site you advertise on.
However will Google appreciate this? Is it wrong? Google wants to provide relevant results, if these sites are going to score top rankings for their keywords then they are still relevant sites. It is likely if a site is willing to pay for the extra pagerank then they are getting a lot of value from their visitors and their visitors a spending money on what they were looking for in the search engines, perhaps meaning that they are exactly what the searchers are seeking. So maybe this is win/win strategy.
Maybe later you will be able to auction links from Pagerank 7 and 8 sites.

Whats everyone else's views?


 12:48 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think you can auction them now. As was pointed out, the buyers are pushing the direct link. I do not see anyway that this can be construed as spam.


 12:59 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

An interesting aspect of this is that the PR of the advertiser should drop if they stop running the ad.


 1:04 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I see it like this.. if Foxnews were my site (hahah) I'd feel that I had a right to do what the heck I felt like with it, because it belongs to me.. no, wait.. Rupert Murdoch.. and it's nothing to do with Google.

On the other hand, Google owns the concept of PageRank and can put in whatever adjusters to PR it feels it fit.

And note that the company selling ad space is doing so very carefully. They're not selling PageRank, but it's clear enough to the techically savvy that PageRank is one of the attractions.

What's unusual with Foxnews is the way that this is distorting PageRank to quite a large extent with some sites, and this probably points out a flaw in Google's algo, in that it maybe shouldn't be possible to have PR7 on only 6 inbounds, and that the higher PRs should require a broader range of "votes". Of course, if ever I do get a PR8 site I will deny holding this opinion :)


 1:05 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

toddb, who said anything about spam?

Sometimes I think WebmasterWorld needs to write a 5 page definition with examples of what is and what is not spam. The connotative meaning of the word "spam" is all over the map.

Made In Sheffield

 3:27 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree with Dynamoo, if Fox news or anyone else want to sell text links for whatever they feel like it's nobody's business but their own. If it distorts PageRank that's Google's problem not theirs. They're not doing anything against the Google TOS so there's no reason for them not to be in Google.

I have a text link from a PR7 site that I didn't pay for and for the past 3 months it's sent me nearly as many hits as Google each day, or at least 75%. I think it's too easy to become Google minded, text links on high usage sites can be a great source of hits regardless of Google.

Google is not the be all and end all.



 3:42 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

If I had that type of money to spend on advertising, I would buy a link on the fox site for the traffic it would send me.

That is a heavily travelled site and would fit well with my industry.

If I got the added benefit of some passed PR that would be great. Even if they only had a PR of 5, I would still buy an add just for the traffic.

I have several links from PR7 sites that didn't cost me a penny and I do get some good leads from them.

Everything is not always about PR.


 4:02 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

If I got the added benefit of some passed PR that would be great.

If you follow the "Buy this Link" link you will see that no PR has been passed to the company actually selling the link. Is there really a Google benefit?

It's quite possible that they don't know anything about PR, and that they are simply taking advantage of a lucrative niche selling links.

[edited by: martinibuster at 4:12 pm (utc) on Mar. 24, 2003]


 4:11 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I guess its time Google hurries up with a version of this topic sensitive pagerank [webmasterworld.com]. Would that not start a beautiful confusion with SEO-pagerank-hungry-webmasters?

Meanwhile it will probably be more of a "hand tweaked topic sensitive pagerank" with some poor fellas at Google having to search the web for queries such as "selling text links" "advertising links" etc...

Maybe a limited re-run of Pagerank-gift pass-through calculation on topic relevance for those pages which are PR7 or higher would not be too high of a computational burden for Google?


 4:24 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Advertisement is advertisement, what you make out of it makes it what you concider worthwhile. If you see advertising rates for a magazine and say wow thats a steal, thats the way internet advertising is too, will it bring you more customers, more traffic. In turn it will bring you more traffic for advertising on a frontpage of a site. The world is NOT run by page rank, cept to us few SEO peepz.

A link is worth whatever its worth to the person buying it, if your buying it because it will deliver better page ranking then great, your hoping that this advertisement brings more traffic, you will get traffic from fox and you will get better traffic in the end because more sites are linking to you. Its not my fault I have a PR8 website, it could change tomorrow, google could die, the internet could get unplugged ;)


 4:28 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I dont see why statements of even POSSIBLE spam are flying around here?

For a gaming site I used to run, we had a 'sponsorship' in which we had about three ads on each page, and all of them linked directly to their webpage. This was circa 97, and it kept up until 2001.

Their intent was never PR .. and while we reached PR7 and passed some of it to them, that wasnt the point.

.... I think people are going insane about PR. Give me anchor text, title, H1, and decent text, and I will show you a page outranking higher PR sites.


 4:52 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree, subjecting sites to this kind of scrutiny is ridiculous.

I took a quick look at the source and found ~107 spiderable links. The advertisers must have their own motivations, but I don't see a paid link on the Foxnews home page driving much traffic OR pagerank.


 4:53 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree with Dynamoo, most people outwith the search industry wouldn't see ethical issues in this. People can choose whom they link to; engines can decide which links and pages to include.

> We've not talked about selling pr for awhile now and it's grown by leaps and bounds.

It certainly has! Back when the "-link:" search worked it was often easy to track back where people were getting their PR from. If you followed the highest PR inbound recursively you'd find a source that has plenty of 'organic' PageRank. In some industries, the PR suppliers to the top sites are mostly selling links. Usually, it's not hard to tell.

So, there are plenty of sites selling links that Google must surely know of. Does that mean that we should all go an join in? No. Many of those sites could be wiped out at a time of Google's choosing; up until the recent round of penalties, people were getting the impression that Google didn't care about cross-linking any more.

I've seen plenty of people who obviously continue to pay for links after the links don't count any more. The 'can have PageRank but not pass it on' penalty has often been discussed, but I'm getting the feeling now that Google are allowing some pages to pass PR selectively. I don't know if they choose on a link by link basis, or if they have a 'can have PageRank but not pass it on externally' penalty. Either way, the comments we've all read from GoogleGuy make sense, you may not be getting what you think you're paying for.


 5:45 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I guess its time Google hurries up with a version of this topic sensitive pagerank.

So a link to Widgets.com on News.com may not have value for PR but what if News.com is running stories on Widgets? And should google really say Widgets are not related to News if many people using News buy Widgets?


 5:49 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

>There is no way that you would convince me that FoxNews would know what PR is, let alone know enough to be selling it.

Brett, this is *blatant* selling of PR. Although, I tend to agree FoxNews may not know what PR is. Take a look at what is at that "BUY THIS LINK":

"We negotiated with the largest publishers on the internet to sell us "TEXT LINKS" by the hundreds so that we could resell them individually to our clients. That way the publishers get one large lump of money from us and our clients get to advertise on the most prestigious sites on the internet at a fraction of the standard price."

What I suspect happens is that this company approached FoxNews and bought so much space on their home page for x amount of dollars a month. Which they resell text links in. The problem: HOW can one know if they buyer's motivation for a link is PR or traffic? Selling space for links to websites has been going on for a long time, even before Google.


 6:52 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

IMO anybody should be able to link to anybody else for any reason with nothing to fear.

However maybe we need an ethics chart for links (clean1 -> dirty9) ...lol

1 one-way link given, nothing expected in return
2 unsolicited recip. link
3 solicited recip. link
4 link between buddies to improve PR
5 FFA link
6 link farm/exchange link
7 bought link
8 link between domains (same owner)
9 spammy hidden link between domains (same owner)

everyone can change the order to suit themselves! :)


 6:58 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

1b. One-way link given when asked for, nothing expected in return

9b. Link exchange that's not truly an exchange; one "partner" buries the other's links beneath redirect or other code that spiders can't follow.


 7:10 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

>8 link between domains (same owner)

This isn't per se dirty at all. Why wouldn't someone who owned 2 domains link between them? Just natural that someone would want to say "Please visit my other sites". The above is only bad when it is being done specificly with just search engines in mind, such as a setting up a link farm.


 7:17 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

This isn't per se dirty at all. Why wouldn't someone who owned 2 domains link between them?<<<

You're right, I was thinking more about the possible relevance of the link.

I.E.,let's say a guy that owns a shoe store in boston might not BUY a link from a site about aquariums in tokyo.
But if the same guy owns BOTH sites, who knows...you might see a link on those pages.

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