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Buying links - Always a bad idea?
Tonearm




msg:3428102
 5:31 pm on Aug 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've read a few times in this forum that buying links is a bad idea. Does that only apply if the links are "obviously bought" like if they are surrounded by a bunch of other external links? Will Google penalize a site if they think it may have a bought link?

 

europeforvisitors




msg:3429186
 6:26 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

So please, share with me you knowledge on why you think buying links is always a bad idea, if in fact, that is what you think. Most of us know why Matt and Google think it's a bad idea, but I am interested in why YOU think it's a bad idea.

Um....common sense and pragmatism, maybe?

If Matt Cutts and Google think buying links is a bad idea (and have actually said that it's a bad idea), why would anyone who values Google search referrals want to defy Google's Webmaster guidelines?

jd01




msg:3429190
 6:31 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

If Matt Cutts and Google think buying links is a bad idea (and have actually said that it's a bad idea), why would anyone who values Google search referrals want to defy Google's Webmaster guidelines?

They got you...
Matt and Co. would like you to think buying links is a bad idea, so you won't do it and their job is easier.

It's bad policy to let a search engine *know* you buy links.
Buying links in a way that is algorithmically detectable is probably not the best idea, but buying links in a way that does not allow a search engine to detect the links are purchased is another story.

Justin

digitalghost




msg:3429193
 6:36 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Because the algorithm says that paid links work. And not everyone is concerned with adhering to those guidelines, some people don't mind taking a calculated risk if the ROI is there, and are perfectly capable of exhibiting common sense and pragmatism (a method in philosophy where value is determined by practical results) without having their opinions fed to them by a search engine rep.

So your opinion is that paid links are bad because Google says so. Thanks for your insight.

europeforvisitors




msg:3429194
 6:37 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

They got you...

Nah, they didn't get me. I've always been an advocate of pragmatism and common sense--and of not assuming that search engineers are stupid. :-)

dmorison




msg:3429195
 6:37 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Surely, even in Google's eyes, any link from site that is closely related to yours is "just advertising" and can be of benefit to users. If I run a site selling camping stoves, it would make sense to buy a link from a site selling tents. What would not make sense, however, would be if I were to buy a link from a site selling fine art.

Isn't this really all it comes down to? It doesn't matter whether they're paid for or not, and I doubt that search engines really care that much either.

One possibility is that a search engine could compose a topic / theme pyramid within which every page is positioned, and then the value of any link from one page to another is inversely proportional to their separation within that pyramid...

jd01




msg:3429216
 6:55 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

EFV,

LMAO...

Those guys aren't anywhere near stupid, but what is stupid is thinking you can mathematically detect whether I sent a check to someone who put a link to my site in the middle of the text on their page, unless they broadcast it.

Some of us make our living writing code (you know search functions and software which automates things) and we know unless it is somehow broadcast in text somewhere there is no way to know if money changed hands for the links I picked up this year.

Without text the only way to detect a paid link is through growth patterns, so as long as the 'buying' pattern (exhibited by inbound link growth) closely relates to what could mathematically be considered natural growth there is no way a purchased link can be detected by a mathematical equation, even if the people writing the equation are really, really smart.

Justin
It's fairly narrow of you to think all of us who don't work for a major SE are dumb... I think some of us find it more fun to reverse engineer (uh, SEO) them than to have to punch a time clock for a living.

whitenight




msg:3429227
 6:58 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've always been an advocate of pragmatism and common sense

I, on the other hand, am an advocate of hard data, facts, and analysis based on that data, not on what someone says.

It ever occur to you that some people on this board are as smart or smarter than the eggheads at the Plex? <gasp>

Oh, btw, did you know that one of most accurate forecasters of weather to this day is Poor Richard's Almanac that was complied by Ben Franklin based on past weather patterns. <double gasp>

europeforvisitors




msg:3429257
 7:34 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Surely, even in Google's eyes, any link from site that is closely related to yours is "just advertising" and can be of benefit to users. If I run a site selling camping stoves, it would make sense to buy a link from a site selling tents. What would not make sense, however, would be if I were to buy a link from a site selling fine art.

OK, then why not say "I'd like to buy a JavaScript link or a 'nofollow' link," if you're not trying to buy PageRank? You get your ad, the seller gets an ad sale, and Google has nothing to complain about. Everybody's a winner.

Getting back to the question that was posed by the OP "Buying links - Always a bad idea?," one obvious answer is: "No, it isn't a bad idea if you do it in a way that meets with Google's approval." If you choose not to do it in a way that meets with Google's approval, then whether it's a bad idea probably depends on how much you have at risk, and on whether you get caught.

jd01




msg:3429262
 7:46 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

"I'd like to buy a JavaScript link or a 'nofollow' link,"

Uh, because that would be silly and defeat the purpose of buying the link in the first place, unless it is on a high traffic site, solely for the purpose of click-throughs.

OTOH What if you are trying to buy PR or 'on topic link weight'?
Kissing SE A** is not what all of us are about.

The cool thing about SEs is they can only penalize a site if they can detect what you are doing.

Can you think of some way to mathematically detect if Brett gave me a discount on my supporters subscription for the following link?

Buying Links - Always a Bad Idea? [webmasterworld.com]
The answer is NO.
(To both questions.)

Justin

[edited by: jd01 at 7:48 pm (utc) on Aug. 22, 2007]

randle




msg:3429263
 7:47 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

depends on how much you have at risk, and on whether you get caught.

Earlier you talked about being pragmatic. I have never bought or sold a link, but the pragmatic people I see these days are the ones doing the link buying. Link buying, especially now, seems to be extremely effective, and I have not seen anyone get “caught” (whatever that means) Day after day there they sit quite high in the SERP's. Very low risk, accompanied by high gains is a pragmatic approach.

europeforvisitors




msg:3429293
 8:33 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Uh, because that would be silly and defeat the purpose of buying the link in the first place, unless it is on a high traffic site, solely for the purpose of click-throughs.

I was responding to dmorison's "just advertising" scenario. Believe it or not, some businesses do buy advertising without ulterior motives. :-)

jd01




msg:3429310
 8:46 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I was responding to dmorison's "just advertising" scenario. Believe it or not, some businesses do buy advertising without ulterior motives. :-)

Sorry, I misunderstood.

<sarcasm>
Really, businesses just advertise?
Something new every day here at WebmasterWorld... I'll have to look into it. ;-)
</sarcasm>

Justin

The Contractor




msg:3429312
 8:50 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

If Matt Cutts and Google think buying links is a bad idea (and have actually said that it's a bad idea), why would anyone who values Google search referrals want to defy Google's Webmaster guidelines?

They also state to submit your site to industry related directories - not "FREE" industry related directories.

EFV there are other guidelines/common sense on backlinks you may want to look at. Think of some of the backlinks which you as a site owner can control and ask yourself why they are not in JavaScript or no follow? Do you think it is the monetary transaction that bothers Google when someone "buys" a link? Common sense should tell you it's the manipulation of their results Google does not like. They don't like people getting links from within networks or other sites they control and recently stated the same about recips? So how has Googles guidelines changed the way you have others link to you and/or the sites you control?

To get to the OP question I say no, as long as you are not blatantly trying to buy PR or someone isn't blatantly trying to sell it. I can’t get listed in the local Yellow Pages phone directory for free, why should I expect to be listed in other directories or in other mediums for free…

[edited by: The_Contractor at 8:55 pm (utc) on Aug. 22, 2007]

glengara




msg:3429325
 9:04 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

From what I've read EFV has simply suggested there's an element of risk associated with buying links, is anyone suggesting there is NO element of risk?

jakegotmail




msg:3429327
 9:13 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

[ From what I've read EFV has simply suggested there's an element of risk associated with buying links, is anyone suggesting there is NO element of risk?]

without taking risks, you won't succeed...

of course there is risk but if you do it properly you will see results.

The Contractor




msg:3429334
 9:22 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

From what I've read EFV has simply suggested there's an element of risk associated with buying links, is anyone suggesting there is NO element of risk?

Yep, sure there is a risk. There is also a risk from linking to a site from within a network or site(s) you control. There is also a risk in recips.... any link you have control over can carry a risk especially when it's a no-brainer of what someone is doing.

[edited by: The_Contractor at 9:29 pm (utc) on Aug. 22, 2007]

glengara




msg:3429337
 9:28 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Fine, so buying links works but entails a risk, I'll sign off on that...

europeforvisitors




msg:3429369
 9:53 pm on Aug 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

without taking risks, you won't succeed...

of course there is risk but if you do it properly you will see results.

You seem to be implying that buying links is the best (though presumably not the only) way to achieve results. However, they may be better and more cost-effective ways, such as having an original concept that attracts links, building content that attracts links, or using public relations to attract attention and links.

Link buying may be a reasonable strategy for some Web businesses, but other strategies may be less risky and potentially more productive, depending on what you have to offer as "link bait" and how clever you are in getting the word out. (And yes, that's true for e-commerce businesses, not just for information sites.)

Tonearm




msg:3429531
 1:35 am on Aug 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

What would you guys recommend for a retail site as far as acquiring links? This is how I see it:

1. natural links
2. purchased links
3. reciprocal links

Natural links are best, but I'm not sure how to encourage those other than building a good site.

The current state of purchased links are well gone over in this thread.

Reciprocal links are generally a waste of time these days from what I understand.

digitalghost




msg:3429536
 1:44 am on Aug 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Personally, I'd create some well-selling, click-worthy content, buy a few links to that content, drop the paid links as you acquire natural links.

It's a fact that people will click on crap they can find. But they will never click on exquisite content they can't find. If you're smart and you educate yourself about paid links, you can make them work for you at minimal risk. (I consider it no risk. (except from a cash outlay POV because target sites aren't being penalized). Real risk to me means the site being banned. So watch your ROI, and enjoy.

The first time I get proof that target sites are penalized or banned will be the day I set aside a budget to buy paid links to competitor's sites.

Tonearm




msg:3429552
 2:00 am on Aug 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well put digitalghost, and I may do just that.

glengara




msg:3429872
 10:44 am on Aug 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

"The first time I get proof that target sites are penalized or banned.."

You're unlikely to get that though, even when sites that have bought links are dropping like flies :-)

I've found that with linkage based penalties there's invariably more than one possible causation so proving the drop was solely down to one factor is "problematic".

RichTC




msg:3429975
 11:12 am on Aug 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

I must admit i think this boarders on a joke

Sites were advertising on each other long before google. If you have a website and need to promote it you want to get visitors from as many places as possible, not just search engines.

On the hand i try to see it from googles perspective that if someone say has a text link ad down the side of say a PR8 African newspaper site saying "Blue Widgets Here" and under it are ads for adult, gambling, drugs etc then google could argue that its a paid text link for PR buying.

However, first off many of these links are sold on a short period basis anyway, ie 1 week slots, monthly advertising etc so i would have thought that googles time filter would take care of most of them in any event and secondly, the webmaster could argue that if the site is a PR8 site it obviously has a lot of links pointing to it hence its a popular site anyway and one that perhaps could be advantageous to advertise on from a traffic perspective.

This all looks a bit big brother to me and i would have thought by now that the algo could factor in that sites may have a percentage of links that are from paid advertising.

Miamacs




msg:3430118
 12:54 pm on Aug 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

On the hand i try to see it from googles perspective that if someone say has a text link ad down the side of say a PR8 African newspaper site saying "Blue Widgets Here" and under it are ads for adult, gambling, drugs etc then google could argue that its a paid text link for PR buying.

...

As whitenight and digitalghost suggests, I'll comment on things I've done extensive research on.

...

Google algo can't tell bought links apart.
You can get a link for anything in return.
( link back / food / smile / pat on the head )
No one can tell these links apart. Not even humans.
There're no such category as compensated links.
Unless the links advertise themselves as being so, like Justin said.
Even in that case, only a manual check would stand a chance.
There is no automated penalty for bought links.

...

However
Google has a very aggressive relevancy check in place since january.

Irrelevant links / sources / targets ( like the quoted example ) are detected.

Yes, they are. Actually more are detected than that exist, but hey.

( Many of the sites in the -950 area suffer from such accusations. )

...

In short: Google has a devaluation script which detects out of place links. They monitor marketing sensitive phrases and words, and in cases where these show irregularities AND/OR have nothing to do with either the source, or the target, they devalue them. In effect these include most, if not all of the links bought for PR only, which are of course blatant, openly advertising their nature, anyone can spot them as most are *completely* irrelevant. Of course they also detect a lot of false positives, but nothing of serious nature. ( What... for less known niches, sometimes half of all sites were wiped out in the first try... who cares. )

When looking for links, whichever means you choose ( bought, exchanged, bartel, editorial, PR articles, authorities etc. ), make sure that the pages you get links from are trusted, share a generic theme and/or relevant to the exact topic.

'Trusted' is a parameter.

Basically buy links... I mean, buy some *attention* from pages where you would have liked to get links from anyway, but they just don't seem to... *ahem*... look your way unless you wave with banknotes in your hand.

Funny thing is that at the top of each sector, many of the most trusted informational authority sites are like that.

...

Uh, yeah. That's all.
Just wanted to make it clear, how this detection/devaluation process looks like from a few months' perspective.

DISCLAIMER: For my own projects I bartel. Surprisingly effective. Not everyone on the net is an SEO.

europeforvisitors




msg:3430152
 1:49 pm on Aug 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Sites were advertising on each other long before google.

Google isn't talking about advertising. Google is talking links bought for PR transfer. If you're interested only in advertising, why is it so important to buy a straight text link as opposed to a more traditional advertising link format or a link with a "nofollow" attribute?

This all looks a bit big brother to me and i would have thought by now that the algo could factor in that sites may have a percentage of links that are from paid advertising.

It isn't "big brother" at all. It's just Google wanting to protect its search results from manipulation. If you want to be sure of protecting your rankings in Google, you can play by its rules; if you don't care about Google referrals, then you can ignore those rules. You have the freedom to choose what, how, and whether you buy links, just as Google has the freedom to choose how it treats suspect links.

whitenight




msg:3430178
 2:29 pm on Aug 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Nice post Miamacs. Very informative.

[edited by: tedster at 7:17 pm (utc) on Aug. 23, 2007]

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