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This 187 message thread spans 7 pages: 187 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 > >     
Official: Selling Links Can Hurt Your PR or Google Rankings

 5:18 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Danny Sullivan wrote a very informative post yesterday about the selective PR rollback some sites experienced last week, and makes some astonishing claims -

So I pinged Google, and they confirmed that PageRank scores are being lowered for some sites that sell links


In addition, Google said that some sites that are selling links may indeed end up being dropped from its search engine or have penalties attached to prevent them from ranking well


Google stressed, by the way, that the current set of PageRank decreases is not assigned completely automatically; the majority of these decreases happened after a human review.

Seems like big news to me. Did I miss someone pointing this out already?

[edited by: tedster at 5:32 am (utc) on Oct. 9, 2007]
[edit reason] copied from another location [/edit]



 5:28 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

I definitely missed that one - thanks! Here's Danny's post:

Official: Selling Paid Links Can Hurt Your PageRank Or Rankings On Google [searchengineland.com]


 6:29 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

What a slippery slope for Google to climb. What doesnt make sense to me, is if you wanted to penalize a website for selling links, and if this drop from pr9 to pr7 is actually a byproduct of a human review, why wouldnt Google drop the pagerank to pr7 - or better yet - contact the newspaper and let them know.


 6:33 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

I wonder whether this affects Affiliate links, too? How would Google distinguish between plain "paid links", and product links to affiliates? In most cases, such links are a benefit to the user (and ours, too, of course), so they are probably less "disturbing" than plain, unrelated paid links.


 6:35 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

this will be interesting over the next couple of months , I suspect we could see more changes to serps from the ripple effect than just a few sites losing a pr point
or two


 6:53 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Without repeating too much of my arguments re: rel='nofollow',
I wish some people at the Plex spent more time studying history in school instead of doing advanced calculus. (or at least study some zero-sum game theory matrices)

Prohibition only works on the surface level.
Serious buyers and sellers go underground and make it that much harder for Google to spot legitimate links.

Naturally, those with a higher risk tolerance (and possibly less worthwhile "content") actually profit more and Google has to actually spend more time and resources locating and ferreting out the "evil-doers"

So instead of creating a society(algo) that minimizes link sellers, they demonize them and create a counter-culture that will thrive behind the scenes and they will never be able to spot easily, therefore worsening their own product.

Recreational "users" (the majority) end up receiving the same punishments as hardcore pushers
(the small majority who will be a step ahead of Goog anyways)

This is a losing strategy and I'm looking forward to the possible lawsuits that emerge from this.

[edited by: whitenight at 6:58 am (utc) on Oct. 9, 2007]


 6:58 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have noticed this on one site; very little backlink rot, a few fresh links, no other changes and it dropped two PR points. I've removed all external links, paid or unpaid, apart from those nested in articles which are now rel="nofollow".

Now is not the time to take chances!

Serious buyers and sellers go underground and make it that much harder for Google to spot legitimate links.

As a webmaster, that's a good thing. It means that if I choose to sell 'underground links' I will be able to get a much higher price for them; in addition my competitors won't be able to afford as many such 'underground links' to compete against me. Win for me as a link seller, win for me as a SEO and win for Google.


 7:07 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Win for me as a link seller, win for me as a SEO and win for Google

I agree, it's a win for knowledgeable webmasters or those willing to take chances.
But I don't agree with it being a win for Google..

(caveat - unless Goog only wants to put up appearances of stopping obvious link sellers so they can convince investors, main stream media, outspoken SEO pundits, etc that they have the situation under control.. which those in the know will see that they don't)

Long term, it will cause serious issues with their results. A lot, I mean alot of big players buy links and searchers are used to finding them in the results.


I've removed all external links, paid or unpaid, apart from those nested in articles which are now rel="nofollow".

This was my argument in rel=nofollow.

Now imagine 100,000 of sites with high PR, trustrank, and authority doing the same thing - "not wanting to take chances".

What "good" SEO wants to take chances?
And those are the links that Goog should be counting...

Fear and paranoia usually doesn't work on those who are "bending the rules" to begin with.

Pass the Dutchie

 7:27 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google can't be this stupid. It must all be spin and disinformation. What is the difference between a paid link and advertised link, banner etc? So is Google saying that you are not allowed to have advertising on your site unless itís Adwords? Rubbish! Google are going to make a few high profile examples, spin some disinformation, include a link in Webmaster tools 'Report a link' and no doubt webmasters will worry and pull back on the link selling. Google achieves two things, less interlinking of sites results in less spidering of the net which reduced the load on Google's servers which intern cuts costs. Second achievement lower the amount of those using paid linking to gauge the system. Great for those who pay no notice to the spin : )))

If you join a link exchange scheme you have joined a suspect neighborhood. This is different than selling links but could, sometime in the future, have the same impact Google is suggesting by buying/selling links.

Be careful of whom you exchange or buy links with but for now and IMHO for many years to come you will not be penalized for purchasing or selling advertising space! Only at the point of shear desperation would Google attempt to do soemthing like this.


 7:34 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

You could feel this one coming a mile away, I hope most of you prepared for it.

Affiliate links : nothing to worry about, the affiliate you are linking to is unlikely to be part of a bad neighborhood. What that means is by linking to them you're not two clicks from adult stuff etc. If you have affiliate links however you had better have something unique to offer the end user with those links like a review system or price comparison system. Affiliate links with no added value will hurt your site ranking (which is a good thing).

Paid links : label them as such and keep them relevant. The words "sponsors" and "advertisement" are important now. Google can axe the value from the links you label as such instead of not being sure and axing the entire page/site. If you insist on having paid links that aren't relevant "nofollow" them, you'll be fine.

Advertising your other sites or linking them together is alright as well as long as you indicate them to be sites you own. You'll form a hub and the sites are free from "bad neighborhood" effects. Google may or may not devalue the links, I suspect they will if they are sitewide, but they should leave the site unpenalized as a whole otherwise.

The rash of new text link selling services makes this a must for Google because their algo is highly link driven. I don't think you'll see similar changes in Yahoo! or MSN.

Whatever you do, don't panic and don't go overboard... unless you have been selling links to anyone who would buy or selling them on a service that is. The most important thing is to make sure its not possible to be within two clicks of a bad neighborhood in my opinion.


 7:38 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Also, I suspect we'll hear about a "big player" being temporarily slammed by Google to send the message soon, the little webmasters of the universe can't be the only ones affected. Any signs of a known large company taking a hit yet?


 7:40 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

You can read a small sampling of sites in the comments of the article.

lol but i had to quote this. I love Aaron Wall. :)

@Matt / Adam
What makes this Google lie so remarkable is that you guys knowingly strip EDITORIAL links then pay AdSense spammers to steal entire websites. And you both know it happens. And I know that you both know that.

If I went fully public with a walkthrough example of how the process works would you guys still feel comfortable spewing all this fake ethics crap you are spewing right now?


 7:46 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ok, a big player might get slammed AFTER they take care of Aaron, big cahones Aaron that is.

Whats perhaps the funiest part of this is that the pagerank number people see is completely controlable by the webmaster. Google may take a site down two notches on the PR meter only to have a savy webmaster re-align his internal links to boost it right back to what it was.

It's not hard to "nofollow" pagerank to be exactly where you want it, some sites go further and micro manage pagerank to give each page/category just enough to stay on top of the serps. Matt cutts has a cool word to describe this but I can't remember it off hand.


 8:05 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Another update - unless theres a major visible pagerank update going on two of the more visited "make money online" blogs just had their visible pageranks snipped by one each. Both have had more link schemes run on them than you can shake a stick at too.


 8:11 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

It would be nice to see the web return to where it was before. No need for search engines. Just like minded sites all linking to each other. Thats when we had the power in our hands. Now the power all belongs to the mighty one.

Thats PROGRESS though :(


 8:48 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

So the only thing that's changed since the last big discussion is that google is now taking away pr and penalizing sites in the serps for selling links.

But that's just for sites that are selling advertising without a nofollow, and for sites that sell links wholesale to anyone who will pay. Right?

We can still link out freely to any sites we like, sell as many links as we want as long as we add a nofollow, and directories can still charge a review fee for adding links. (With the directories I'm assuming they would pass a quality review by a human.)

That's all true unless I missed something...


 9:21 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Why should anyone have to put up a nofollow? Google was the one that came up with the stupid idea of ranking sites based on links. Why don't they just admit it was a bad idea and remove it from the algo.


 9:27 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

What is page ranking anyways? I have a site, which has got basically 0 PR for the last one year (has never had any PR) but is well ranked on all the search engines, and still makes the kind of amount you expect out of it?

I know what PR is, but why are people always worried about one PR going up or down? Or I am asking the wrong question.


 9:34 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> less interlinking of sites results in less spidering of the net which reduced the load on Google's servers which intern (sic) cuts costs <<

Less links does not mean less spidering. Google will still have the same number of pages on the web to spider.

There will be less computation needed to score links and PR after spidering, though.


 9:38 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Maybe it's time we all put a disallow on google. Wouldn't that be funny if they had NO listings anymore?


 10:04 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

no i would not be laughing at all!


 10:17 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Why? They link to bad neighborhoods, MFA sites and they sell links, we should disallow them. The stock would plummet, people would use another engine. It would be great fun!


 10:31 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm sorry fo rpeople that rely on buy/selling links, but I'm happy because small business like mine, with small butdgets, will definately have more chances. It is very frustrating seeing those mega.com sites ranking all over, occuping all spaces, becoming more and more powerfull and, at the end of the day, all they offers is a rather poor service/product.


 10:54 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Nofollow has zero effect on how many pages there are on the net to spider, the only effect is to help Googles link based algo. I wish they'd just admit that instead of wording it to imply WE must change.

Placing nofollow on google links wouldn't even dent Google but not using adwords would.

[edited by: JS_Harris at 10:57 am (utc) on Oct. 9, 2007]


 11:04 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm sorry for people that rely on buy/selling links, but I'm happy because small business like mine, with small butdgets, will definately have more chances.

How to do you figure? The mega sites will still come out on top. I thought it was the little guy that had to buy links to get over mega sites that have thousands of pages.

Putting a robots.txt file that disallows googlebot on all sites would empty out googles index.


 12:17 pm on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Try to buy thousands links from high page rank sites, .edu, and stuff like that. IE. in my field one BIG SITE has more than 1800 .edu's, and in total 500.000 IBl's. The site itself is nothing special. What is very special is their budget.


 12:23 pm on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

The site itself is nothing special. What is very special is their budget.

It is probably really their brand more than their budget. Folks trust the big brands and their sites.

Build a brand for yourself... and yes... THAT takes money... ;-)


 1:38 pm on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Interesting thread, all. I have a feeling this is going to backfire on Google and their $600 stock could take a beating IF webmasters stand together and do something. It really is idiotic of Google to do this as how else can the little sites afford advertising like the MEGA sites can. This could end up being a serious blunder for Google. I did see where they took out text-link-ads and left their ads in...that is asinine to put it nicely. I think it may make a whole lot of webmasters resentful of Google to the point of turning on them now...never could think of it happening, but it surely can. Look at Enron. Bigger they are, the harder they fall...they are NOT invincible for sure. So you have webmasters buying links to advertise, who cares? So now what...a bunch more crappy, flashy, jumping ads and pop ups? Now is the time for MSN or Yahoo to take the lead and they can put a hurt on Google if they play their cards right. I am sure the outrage of many webmasters will help MSN and Yahoo along in their quest now. If MSN and Yahoo lose this opportunity to play it for all it's worth, they will make a mistake. Hint, Hint. LOL.


 1:38 pm on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Need traffic to your new sites young smb company?
Go buy adwords!
Need to let the world know about your new website via purchasing a few quality directory links?
Go buy adwords!
Do you want search engine traffic mr. SMB? Please hold this may take 2 years, but in the meantime you can get instant traffic.
Go buy adwords!

As was mentioned prior in this thread, this is just going to hurt the legit webmaster. The blackhats will run circles around Google engineers just as they still do daily with webspam, adsense and adwords.

Who cant sit down right now among us and find a few thousand examples of blackhats bypassing aging, trust and all the other gibberish with slick blackhat methods all these years later?

This just hurts the legit guy, but maybe thats been the idea all along. Squeeze that middle class Google, maximize your profits, optimize streams. Such a shame to watch you go down the road I really hoped you would not follow.


 1:45 pm on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have a feeling this is going to backfire on Google and their $600 stock could take a beating IF webmasters stand together and do something.

Won't happen. Business has to go on. Orders have to keep coming in. Client sites have to keep running so they can continue to do business. There might be a handful of people willing to toss themselves onto the fire for this, but overall, how many can really afford to make this a priority? I suspect not many. Certainly I can't.

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