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Google Filtering Paid Links?
Is google devaluing the paid linking?

 5:58 am on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

A big shift is being seen in the G SERPs Listing nowdays. Some have seen it as a algo change, and that is ture. There is some hypothesis that G is filtering the result and it has devalued the paid link or sponsered link. To some extent I feel it is true. But I good discussion is required on Is G really filtering the results? What do you have to say?



 11:33 am on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)


As of now google it is hit hard on duplicate content and making sure not black hat tricks as it wants to deliver good results and at the same time its delaying the new sites getting indexed to make sure not satellite sites interlinking and no paid external links. thus indirectly making sure eliminating the paid links

Pradeep SV


 12:26 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi there,

Sorry if this is a silly question but how does Google know that a link has been paid for?

From a link farm I can see, but not from "normal" sites.




 1:03 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Unless Google runs a sting operation, I don't see how it could possibly know whether a link was paid for or not. I suppose it could look for pages about buying links on a site, but a true black hat site won't have that info published for all to see.

If this is in fact happening, it is also taking down a lot of good, clean sites with it. I know of several very good informational sites that can't be found on Google right now. There is nothing black hat about them, all are clean as a whistle. None of them are mine, but I've found them helpful to me in the past. I'm glad I bookmarked them because there is no way they are coming up in the Google SERPs now. And there isn't anything taking their place - just directories that mention the site.

So, quality takes the back seat once again to filtering for the bad guys. Not very relevant.


 1:13 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

There could be some truth in this theory.

Suppose Google has decided to devalue links that are in any type of standard banner-sized graphic.
I don't know what the proportion is, but I would imagine that the majority of banners are somehow paid for.


 2:03 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

By that logic, all images of a certain size would trigger a flag at google and devalue all sites holding say an image of 120X60.

That's a very wide net to apply. Think about it.


 3:16 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Unless Google runs a sting operation, I don't see how it could possibly know whether a link was paid for or not.

Word gets around, and in any case, why wouldn't Google run a "sting operation" if it felt the results would be worthwhile?

Also, some purchased links stand out like a sore thumb--and not just to a QC person who's looking for them. Let's say I've got a major PR8 weather site, and I decide to fill my left-hand navigation bar with unrelated links for Web hosting, payday loans, quack medical products, etc. It doesn't take a Google Ph.D. to be skeptical about the legitimacy of those links. If I were Google, I might not penalize links from that high-traffic/high-PR domain, but I'd certainly block any PR transfer from them.


 3:18 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yes, it's a wide net, but I don't think that would stop Google from using such a technique.

Look at whats happened in recent years: thousands of websites and millions of pages attempting to manipulate Google's link-based ranking system by buying and selling links, swapping links purely to gain positions in Google.
In fact probably every webmaster attempts in someway to manipulate Google.

In response, Google has to apply certain filters, which by their nature will also affect innocent sites - collateral damage. Google applies these filters, which are always imperfect, because generally they improve the SERPS and general user experience.

The point I am trying to make is that if Google has a new filter that they think improves the quality of results, but that same filter also has the side-effect of demoting 1000's of sites, then Google will not hesitate to introduce that filter.


 3:32 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

The sandbox is there because they are looking for paid links, if they dont find any then you will be included in the search.


 3:32 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think it is quite a bit more complicated than simply blocking PR transfer from high PR sites.

After all, they have 8 Billion sites to play with, so that is a pretty huge statistical base to run tests on. They get a few thousand known examples and chew at them and could easily come up with a list of 20 characteristics of paid links.


 3:33 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

i guess it will be from affiliate programs. Affiliate links tend to have an account or referance with the link so that it can be traced to trader doubler or clix galore or whoever else runs the scheme.


 4:21 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Doesn't Google send out Googlebots that have their User-agent listed as IE or Firefox, and from different IPs, so it can't be identified as having anything to do with Google? Seems to me this would be a very efficient way of identifying fraudulent sites. It doesn't take long to find a site that serves up different pages to Google than it does to a regular browser.

I was always under the impression Google did this. If they do, maybe they need to increase the spidering levels of the spy Googlebots.


 5:09 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

efficient way of identifying fraudulent sites

What you describe, could be used to detect (user agent based) "cloaking"; it does not detect "link selling/renting"!


 7:31 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sorry guys. Paid text links have always and will always be "allowed" by Google and all the other search engines.

Ask Yahoo. They have been selling text links in their directory for years ($295/year).

What is not allowed by Google is the selling of text links for explicit (and singular) purpose of increasing your PR or improving your serps for specific keywords (same goes for reciprocal links).

This is why the "spamming" (overuse) of text links or reciprocal links with the same exact anchor text has been devalued/filtered.

Text link advertising is alive and well and so is reciprocal linking...the key is moderation and relevancy (as with most things in life)


 9:44 am on Feb 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

If Google banned paid links then surely they would have to ban pages with Adsense or have people complain that they were operating some form of monopoly.



 10:01 am on Feb 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

In my industry, the #1 site has disappeared and he is having to pay (a lot) for Adwords. Google showed about 36,000 inbound links to his site and most of them came from 2 sites, thousands of links from a couple of large US-based sites, linked from every page. I reckon he was paying. The industry average for Google-recognised inbound links is between 50-400 so he did stand out as having rather a lot!
I can't see any other problems with his site, so I reckon it was his link programme that did it. However, the bit I don't understand, is that Google still seems to recognise his 36000 links - I thought they would have ignored them if they had penalised him for it


 10:28 am on Feb 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

...However, the bit I don't understand, is that Google still seems to recognise his 36000 links - I thought they would have ignored them if they had penalised him for it

Simply not counting those links for ranking purposes wouldn't really be considered a penalty, just a filter IMO.


 6:41 am on Mar 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

Peolpe would purchase lots of links from different pages of a single site, now google is counting them as only one vote to the linked site. I think this can affect the sites more forced by paid links. I have seen the peoples having paid links from other sites suffer most after this algo change. Do you feel the same...?


 5:36 pm on Mar 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

It's not terribly difficult for Google (or any other engine) to put a dent in the value of paid link traffic. Just look at where most paid links are displayed...below the fold, segregated from the rich content, etc.

Something like a simple block level analysis could weight links in such a way that your average paid text link, by nature of it's usual page location, becomes trivial in value.

If we need paid text links for our clients these days, we negotiate for above the fold placement and in accordance with a few other factors which aren't so easily deweighted by search engines' analyses.


 5:56 pm on Mar 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

hugo_guzman, a voice of reason and sanity in the wilderness. ;-)


 7:38 pm on Mar 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

My guess would be that it's not the "paidness" of the links that might cause certain links to be given less weight, it's what sort of structure your web presence develops and whether it shows evidence of endorsement from lots of independent sources. A site that depends heavily on paid links likely has a recognizably different footprint than a site that gains its links organically.

Example: I recently came across a site that showed several thousand backlinks in Google, and over 400,000 in Yahoo. For a moment I was impressed, but investigation showed that the site had 10,000 run-of-site links from one domain, 25,000 from another, 15,000 from somewhere else, and so on. If I factored those out, the site's remaining link popularity was comparable to other sites in the same search results.

Would search engine algos make some sort of similar adjustment before handing out brownie points for link popularity? To me it would make sense that they do ... not specifically to screen out links that were paid for but simply to give less weight to links that seem to be under common editorial control.


 8:07 pm on Mar 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

>> The sandbox is there because they are looking for paid links, if they dont find any then you will be included in the search.

Heh, yep, don't any of ya'll ever pay for links or you will be stuck in the sandbox until the paid links go away.


 10:53 am on Mar 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

My industry's leader disappeared from Serps in this update, presumably because he had 36,000 inbound links, many of which were paid for from 2 or 3 sites. I checked Google links to his site today and it has dropped to 27,000, but I don't think they've finished yet, there are still thousands of links from 1 or 2 sites showing and he's still not back in the Serps. Even so, it's a big drop in recognized links. I'm not gloating though - a while back when "links were king", I looked enviously at his inbound link count and investigated how he'd done it. Thinking that I could do this too - until I noticed that these links cost $20 per link, per month? per year? can't remember, but I ran a mile! Thank God they weren't cheaper, I might have been able to afford it and done it as well.


 4:20 pm on Mar 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

hugo_guzman, a voice of reason and sanity in the wilderness. ;-)
Hear! Hear!

I suggest it's not paid links, but run of site links (frequently paid) that are being addressed. Further, it's possible that a ROS link from a "PR9" site gives 9 "votes" while a ROS from a "PR4" provides only 4 "votes." I'm suggesting ROS links may be devalued on a scale, based on the quality of the site providing the ROS.

Disclaimer: I have no evidence, it simply seems like a reasonable thing for Google to do (to me at least!) all things considered.


 5:28 pm on Mar 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the props.

I'm just trying to throw in my two cents...

I do believe that ROS links are devalued on some sort of sliding scale.

I also believe that links are still king (that's the nature of citation ranking)

IMO the key is relevancy.

It may very well be that google has figured out a way to devalue backlinks from non-relevant sites....so that a PR 8 backlink and/or 36,000 ros backlinks are "virtually" useless if they are not coming from a site that is relevant.


 7:38 pm on Mar 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

What confuses some people IMO is that when one element gets devalued (let's say ROS links, where 25,000 ROS links from a single site now don't count for so much), it feels like a site is being punished or 'hurt' by the algo. Not so.

All G is really doing is continuing to weed out what they view as artificial rankings inflators. That's not the same as punishing sites, which is a more active phenomenon.

Still, you get people running around saying "Oh, you can't buy links anymore without risking punishment..." or that sort of comment, because they've seen their site's rankings plummet. At times the conclusions are way out of sync with what is really going on.

At any given point in time, it's important to sort out what is:
- causing problems
- working less well than it used to
- not working at all.

Three very different things.


 7:57 pm on Mar 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

one element gets devalued ... it feels like a site is being punished
Unfortunately, it seems to require considerable experience in the biz before people realize that, or begin to recognize those "three very different things."

I posted a similar observation in the Links Development Forum over two years ago.


 10:06 am on Mar 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google has indeed put a check on the unnatural paid links obtained by SEO's to manupulate SERPS. In response to my inquiry about one of my site's penalisation Google sighted
obtaining paid links from high PR pages
as one of the possible reasons for penalty. I believe this is what hit my site. However with more research i was able to find out that if your paid links are from relavent sites then your site is safe.

 3:53 pm on Mar 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I apologize in advance for my cynicism...

You are about the 1 millionth person that has posted about an alleged e-mail from google stating that they have penalized due to the purchase of a paid link.

Google does not "penalize" sites due to inbound links (including paid ones), they may devalue an inbound link, but they won't penalize because of an inbound link.

Google does not explicitly state that "paid text links" would cause a site to be penalized. It's not in their webmaster f.a.q. and it isn't in their company e-mails either.

Again...sorry for the cynicism.


 4:13 pm on Mar 4, 2005 (gmt 0)


The sandbox is there because they are looking for paid links, if they dont find any then you will be included in the search.

1. sandbox exists
2. because of paid links
3. no paid links -> thumbs up

Wow, did you share a room with some insiders - or did I miss something?

Just take care, your enemy might buy you a link or two just to throw you back into the sandbox.

Confession: Last year I bought 3 links from Yahoo. Will that put me into the sandbox ;-)


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