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Any changes from Google about selling links?

 12:20 am on Jan 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Can anyone please tell me whether there is anything new in regards to TLA, does Google still or even more consider websites selling linsk thru TLA as SPAM and punish them by lowering PR and such?

[edited by: tedster at 10:20 pm (utc) on Mar. 14, 2008]



 2:29 am on Jan 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google hasn't changed on this latel,y as far as I've heard. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see things getting more strict in the near future. They are clear about not liking sold links that pass PageRank.


 7:25 am on Jan 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Much like the end of the world doomsday crowds, it's always coming "tommorrow"

<checks watch> - Let's see, we've been having this particular convo for 5 months, no wait, over a year now.
You gonna believe Google FUD or your lying SERPs.

My advice - live for today's SERPS, and worry about tomorrow's SERPS, tomorrow. You'll be a much wealthier person that way.


 7:42 am on Jan 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Good advice. Live for today and tomorrow. I.E have 2 sites, one safe and one that is a dirty link buyer. If I listened to google's advice on link buying there would be no chance of me living at all in < the serps where I need to compete >. Everyone is at it.

[edited by: tedster at 7:51 am (utc) on Jan. 29, 2008]


 1:41 pm on Jan 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Mm... 'bought links'.

I mean not contacting people directly, but through a broker
not bartering but paying hard cash
not a one time fee but at a monthly rate
...and perhaps even stepping out of the themes.
that's about the only thing I've never tested...

Do the veterans use it for things they couldn't do link campaigns for in any *other* way, or for just about anything?

The way you talk about it makes it sound like that there's a deli-chain with delicious, huge albeit pricey tuna-mayo subs ( with the tunas on steroids ) that could fill someone for the rest of the day, and which I've never tried before *hah*

perhaps I could opt out of hunting food for myself and entrust this lengthly process to the link-feed-franchise. And see if it has any long term side-effects on nutrition levels. Or as Crush said, have an experiment running parallel... twin sites. one sister gets homemade. one gets junkfood*.

*: or deli. you dunno until after. nutrition varies

should I? ... There's one site which I can't get past the top 5 for [mycity worldsmostcompetitivekeyword], ( perhaps I could actually WORK on it but that's... uh... you know... boring ) and to be honest, I think almost anything goes in this sector - the world's largest still working link exchange dirs for example.


allright, honestly, theories aside.
We all know that there's no technical definition to bought links, as it's about the process of obtaining them. Which process, when done in-house, is safer. So.

all who still buy links from brokers [in any quantity] say aye.

those with domain names in their WW profile should not apply unless it's their competitors' *smirk*



 4:14 pm on Jan 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have been researchign the topic yesterday,spent a few hours reading ana analyzing everything and it seems that most SEO specialists think that atm 1)Google penalized websites, which are selling links,in its October PR update by reducing those websites PR by 2 and 2)Recent PR update continued the tendence and most likely G will get even more strict in near future.

However,the quest is whether any link bought/sold thru TLA,LinkWorth,tnx would be by considered by G as a bad link selling practice?
Then will or even does that mean that we should remove TLA links asap?
Personally i have a website which had PR 5 and was updated to PR3 in OCT probably because of TLA links.
Although there is strict statement that advertisers buy links on TLA exclusively for PR porpose,PR is one of factors that is listed under website profile.
Note,in my case its portal kind of website and there are almost any kind of categories available on that website.Its hard to say whether if sold links are related or unrelated with website topic,i do have categories related to sold links topics.


 4:50 pm on Jan 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm sure this will start another 10 page debate but you have several options according to YOUR goals (not mine, not Google's, not any other posters)

1. Stop selling links. Easy.

2. Stop selling links thru TLA et al.

3. Realize "Google's TBPR link sellers reduction fantasorium of '07" has not been show to have real effect on the rankings of sites, nor has any conclusive or consistent proof been given that those pages are ACTUALLY sending less PR(aka REAL ranking power). The only thing the "07 fantasorium" proved is that Google can reduce the little green pixels in the toolbar display.

4. (You'll need to reference several of my arguments from the "07 reduction and rel='nofollow' threads)
I seriously doubt anyone can show me that the PR reduction had ANYTHING to do with link-selling to begin with. PR has been reduced by 1-2 for millions of sites which various Goog Employees explained by "less PR in general being passed" around. TBPR updates are notoriously incomplete, and rolled out at seemingly random times. Many people made the ARGUMENT that it had something to do with link-selling, but I've seen no proof other than Goog's notorious misrepresentation of the TBPR meaning. aka FUD

5. As miamacs so eloquently tried to point out, just sell links thru your own devices. You don't need a broker "taking their cut" to do this and you're less likely to get a cursory "reduction-of-TBPR-that-means-nothing-except-to-uninformed-buyers"


 1:59 am on Jan 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Good point about selling the links myself,but the reason peopel use TLA is that its harder to find advertiser thru TLA than directly.
I have heard back from TLA about rel='nofollow'
Nofollow tag is not allowed so their advertisers are obviously more after PR than the real traffic.


 8:01 am on Feb 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

My advice - live for today's SERPS, and worry about tomorrow's SERPS, tomorrow. You'll be a much wealthier person that way

It depends on the value of your website. If you place no value on sustainability and brand then this could work in favor of short term gains. Works well for some, but not for others.


 8:33 am on Feb 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

If you place no value on sustainability and brand then this could work in favor of short term gains. Works well for some, but not for others.

Wanted to continue this stale debate, eh? ;-)

Ok, tell your arguments to Stanford Daily Press or the list of Google's strategic business partners that still sell links by the boatload.

Sorry, I missed the massive-fall-out, Google-banned-top-name-brand-sites-for-selling-links threads...
Have you seen them?

The proof of my argument is that we are still having THIS argument over a year and a half after I said not to believe it the first time...

I won't even rehash my legal arguments ...
(which apparently scared AL and/or Google's attys so much he stopped posting here after I presented him with their illegality) :)
As far as "branding".

Seriously, any sites that plan on "branding" would:
A: Own the all the TLD's of their sites... So that's not a valid argument

B: Should spend more time actually branding and less time sending visitors/PR to other sites for cash

C: Should have a SEO smart enough to set-up several "brands"/sites to fall back on if Google decides to place any type of penalty for absolutely no reason other than their SE is flawed.

D. I can think of many more, but "branding"/sustainability is a red herring to the argument to begin with.


 7:45 pm on Feb 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

A lot of what I see now is people buying blog posts. If you buy by the bucketload then top it off with some TLA for authority and a few sites wides on a crusty old domain it is a winner. If you are poor then the option is not for you but if you have deep pockets.....

[edited by: Crush at 7:45 pm (utc) on Feb. 10, 2008]


 12:08 am on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

I feel taht this issue will still be continued by Google.
They will either allow link sellign either will start actually banning websites which are selling links.
I mean banning from Google, not lowering their PR.


 12:28 am on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

Here's my story. Draw your own conclusions. My site was between PR4 and PR6 for the last few years. All of a sudden, a few months ago, all my pages went to PR0 overnight. This is a site that's been online for about 9 years. This is a site that was ranked #1 for its prime keyword phrase for 3 years and has been top ten for 5 years.

After much research, I've come to the conclusion that my site was penalized for selling links. I had been doing this for a few years and I don't do anything else that contravenes their guidelines, so I'm certain that this is the reason.

As of today, PR is still 0. I've filed a reconsideration request with Google and am waiting to hear back. There is no grey area in Google's guidelines about this. The following was taken directly from Google's webmaster guidelines. It leaves little room for doubt that they are serious:

"However, some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links that pass PageRank, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results."

"Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such. This can be done in several ways, such as:

* Adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to the <a> tag
* Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file"

"Google works hard to ensure that it fully discounts links intended to manipulate search engine results, such excessive link exchanges and purchased links that pass PageRank. If you see a site that is buying or selling links that pass PageRank, let us know.We’ll use your information to improve our algorithmic detection of such links."


 1:40 am on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

malooga, I have no doubt about Google's seriousness in their communications. I would be amazed if they backed off this particular campaign.

Two questions about your situation:

1. Have your actual rankings suffered, and not just your toolbar PageRank?
2. Do you see evidence that your advertisers are no longer getting benefit from links on your site?


 3:39 am on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)


As far as I can tell, it hasn't affected my rankings. I'm not sure I understand your second question. I've lost a lot of advertisers because many of them were advertising for PR. The only ones left are there for the traffic. I know a lot of people feel that they can just go on business as usual, and they might be lucky for now. But my feeling is that Google will be clamping down harder in the years to come and I want to be on their good side going forward. Just because rankings aren't affected now doesn't mean they won't be in the future.

"malooga, I have no doubt about Google's seriousness in their communications. I would be amazed if they backed off this particular campaign.

Two questions about your situation:

1. Have your actual rankings suffered, and not just your toolbar PageRank?
2. Do you see evidence that your advertisers are no longer getting benefit from links on your site?"


 3:50 am on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

As far as I can tell, it hasn't affected my rankings

::sigh:: So what exactly is the damage?

It goes without saying this illustrates my earlier points.
(see arguments #3 & #5 above)

Again, this isn't about simply repeating/echoing/copying what GOOGLE says.

It's about knowing the real facts - not fear-based, what-could-happen-if Stuey-killed-Lois-and-took-over-the-world simulations. (10 pts to anyone who gets this reference)

There are enough movies and Xbox games to stimulate the mind for that.

The sooner and more we deal in what IS, instead of what somebody-that-doesn't-run-my-business-wants-me-to-believe
so-they-can-increase-their-profits urban myths, the better ALL of us will be to make more informed fact-based decisions.

Just the facts, sir. Just the facts.


 4:56 am on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)


I can't claim to understand most of what you said, but I'll reply the best I can. You said "So what exactly is the damage?". Just because my rankings haven't changed doesn't mean they won't change sometime in the future. My best guess is that Google has fired a warning shot and are giving us time to adjust before the real penalties are assessed. Obviously, you don't believe this. Only time will tell which one of us is right. Good luck :).


 5:00 am on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hey whitenight,

pretty sure they spell it 'Stewie' on family guy and although he might kill Lois and take over the world next time I see him, everything will be back to normal in tomorrow/next week's episode.

I can't say I saw anyone lose PR in the Sept'07 update, just a few competitors fell out of SERPs backwards for particular keywords and I was willing to guess they paid for the links that made them look good enough to be there.

Ps. PM me the 10 points whitenight.


 5:19 am on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

lol yes, Rob. You're right. it's Stewie, not Stuey. 10pts in the mail. :)

You said "So what exactly is the damage?". Just because my rankings haven't changed doesn't mean they won't change sometime in the future.

You make my point. Tomorrow, you're entire site could be hit with a -950 or -30 penalty for no reason at all.

Or you get hit by a car, and care less about SEO or what Google likes or dislikes, threatens or doesn't threaten.

OR you could do TODAY what makes you money and use that money in your hand TODAY to deal with tomorrow when tomorrow comes.

I have no problems with preparing with tomorrow's "problems" but oftentimes they simply never come.

As I said above, if you are absolutely petrified about Google "one day" banning your site for ANY reason, then:

A. Don't do anything that might pi$$ off Goog.

B. Realize they could ban, penalize, or make your site not rank for any reason anyways.

C. Have a back-up plan in either case.


 8:14 am on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

I may be seeing something more aggressive: buying a competing site and and linking it to yours!

Gives new meaning to "paid links."



 8:23 am on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sure does potentialgeek!

Kudos on the frank admission whitenight, them ten points'll look good in my trophy cabinet :D On a serious note, I think whitenight has both the news and ointment on this one IMHO!

This is the way I see it:

If you've been doing any form of black-hat-SEO/SEM then you should be fearful it will unravel at an alarming pace when the loose threads are pulled and the day coming that each peice will unravel you cannot know.

If you've been trying to do SEO/SEM and you are not sure of Google-TOS or what is considered underhanded by them then you may as well live in fear until you've read enough to know better.

If you went to the trouble of finding out all that is considered blackhat by Google and you have only ever used white hat practices: Hand submitting backlinks carefully, improving mark-up strength over keywords and making sure your pig has a healthy glow as far as internal link structure and particularly that external links will also 'deliver an enjoyable experience' then you've the best chance in this game and you should mix up your version of 'a martini' and have a decent relax most evenings.

This is both a tricky business and quite a complex game at times. It's cool that lots of players rely on 'visible stuff' that when noticed will usually severely handicap them in the game. It's not thrilling that pretty much like a virtual bus backing clean over you, something 'random' can occur in this virtual environment to blot your work out of existence - both are reasons to work harder as it is a business!



 1:32 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

Ahh whitenight, I am with you all the way.

Google wanted to shake up the link buying / selling market - which they did by messing with the only currency this market has (TBPR) and spreading some fear. I have yet to see a drop in rankings because of this.

There is no better proof that Google has a very hard time teaching their algos how to detect paid links. When you think of it, how could an algo ever learn how to decide if a link is genuine or paid - unless you label your paid links "paid links" that is, or have a big TLA banner on your site.. ;)


 3:29 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

How could their algo find paid links? Doesn't really matter. If you read their TOS, they are doing it the old fashioned way. They are asking people to submit reports of violations. This implies that a human being is doing it.

I don't buy whitenight's strategy of doing whatever you want to make money until you get caught. Very shortsighted. Why not spray hidden keywords all over your page like we did in the old days? Oh yeah, we got caught.

I read a lot of webmasters wringing their hands and muttering four-letter words about Google's attempts to clean up their s.e. Personally, I applaud them. Buying links to boost your PR so you look more "popular" and get more hits is completely antithetical to what Google is trying to do. They didn't get where they are today by providing irrelevant search results.


 4:00 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)


if I remember it correctly, Google always says that they use spam reports to test and improve their algo - not to edit anything manually.

Regarding whitenigt, I certainly don't think his message is "be careless". I think what he means is "don't be bluffed - look at the facts."


 4:20 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)


I'm only responding to what is written. whitenight said:

"OR you could do TODAY what makes you money and use that money in your hand TODAY to deal with tomorrow when tomorrow comes."

That just seems very short-sighted to me. For me, tomrorrow is here. My site has no PR and I've lost a pile of ad revenue. If you think this can't happen to you, fair enough. Good luck.


 5:31 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

You've lost advertisers who believe it's Toolbar PR they should be after and not rankings*.

now *that* is short sightedness. ( not yours, theirs, don't give in to them )

*: the real, non-public PR is said to flow pretty much the same as before even on penalized sites... as soon as more studies will see daylight on how lowered PR pages selling links STILL make target URLs rank, people will give in and use... whatever measurements to foresee the worth of a link. For example the cache date of the host page. Or whether it ranks for its own keywords, and if so, where?

But if you're worried about monetizing your site in the short term, and it ranks well, aren't there a lot of other ways than selling links openly and/or through brokers?


On the issue of long-run, short run...

best approach is to have 2 versions for each campaign. yeah even for brand names you can always manage a legit 'non-doorway non-mirror' website as your backup/fallback project, and promote/use the two with different doses of adrenalin and paranoia.

one buys and sells links, etc. the other one doesn't. and then if...

Google only penalizes link selling on the surface, and only takes away the visible 'metrics' to confuse the market? Fine, you're ahead of competition for you have NOT been scared off.

Google finally giving in, and despite the possible legal issues starts to mess with the global economy [j/k?] by dropping sites that buy/sell links? Fine, you're ahead of competition for you had a PLAN B, which is left standing while the others are out.


whoa, adrenalin rush and panic attack all at once.
believe me, this combo clears your vision like nothing else.


[edited by: Miamacs at 5:34 pm (utc) on Feb. 11, 2008]


 5:50 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

I managed to get a couple of links on friday from good sites although I have now found out they sell links through TLA. My pages have dropped like a stone. I think g might start smacking the recips of links who have anythink to do with buying TLA's


 11:29 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

Me? Shortsighted?

Lol, why do people who refuse to live in fear always get called "shortsighted"?

I'm really truly not interested in what "business model" someone else thinks is good for me. Or good for you...

I was just want pure information without all the fear-based myths that propagate SEO boards.

I'm going to give you a very real live example and you can make of it what you want.

Business owner makes $5k a month selling relevant text links on a site (he does his own brokering)
Let says he believed the END OF THE WORLD CROWD when Matt Cutts first said they were cracking down on sites with paid links.

That was a year and and 4 months ago.
Let's do the math.

$5,000 x 16 months = $80,000
of lost revenue if he believed MC and was just "positive Google would start penalizing sites in the near future"

Let's say he listen to MC's last proclamation of impending DOOM and "warning shot across the bow" as many here like to phrase it which happened in September 07.

That was 7 months ago!

$5,000 x 7 months = $35,000

Let me ask you, what could you do with an extra $35,000 or $80,000?

Do you think you could use that money to build another site?
Invest it in your current site?
Pay for your kids college?
Buy some Goog stock? ;)

What i find short-sighted is a complete lack of understanding of how Google works.

I've made these arguments in prior referenced threads, so I won't go in depth.
Reasons why Goog is NOT likely to ban websites that sell links:

- First and most importantly, its a huge legal nightmare (whether they are in wrong or in the right) which is completely avoidable.

- Google has to seriously run test of how the SERPs would look if all paid links were discounted. Many, many niches would be lacking the "top name-brand trusted sites" that surfers are looking for, because 90%+ of those companies links are paid.

- As mentioned before, unless you have a big flashing sign that says "PAID LINKS HERE", explain to me with logic how Goog's bots are able to detect them?!
Here's a hint, saying Goog's $10 hour secret police check every page of every site is NOT an acceptable answer. :)

- Is Google going to seriously ban their own Strategic business partners who sell links w/o rel="nofollow"?
Think carefully before answering this one.

- Google is a business that is GROWING it's marketshare. Where's the huge complaints from surfers about how sites with paid links are corrupting the results. Wait! Not from other webmasters. The complaints from the SURFERS?! I haven't heard nor seen them.

- As Sudden said, Google got from this exactly what they wanted from it. People selling obvious paid links look like they've been penalized ... which drives away the majority of "light-weight" link buyers who depend on TBPR to gauge value.
The investors and media are convinced that Goog is no longer being "gamed" by bought links (even if they still are).
People come on boards like this and swear that Google is going to ban link-sellers TODAY which further scares away the un-informed or weak of heart from entering the link-buying / selling field.
Everyone's happy. :)

Lastly, please reread Miamacs last post.
It's called Split-testing and every business should use it.
FOR EVERYTHING...including your entire sites.
And you don't get more "long-sighted" that that!


 1:32 am on Feb 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

I still don't really get your argument, whitenight. My site has had its PR completely removed. Because of this, some of my advertisers will no longer advertise with me. In addition, a lot of sites that I have link ex's with will no longer be interested. Even if my serps never change, I've still been penalized. And what's the point of removing the nofollow tags when I can't pass PR anyway?


 1:56 am on Feb 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

This argument is not making sense because you've started off on false premises.

A. TBPR is NOT, I repeat, NOT actual ranking PR.

B. Most people only buy / sell links based on TBPR because they don't understand Google's TBPR means nothing, and is not REAL PR.

Yes, you've lost advertisers who don't understand Google's FUD-TBPR campaign.
So Google's "penalty" had done its purpose for you and your advertisers.

But it's highly important you understand the original points I and others made above.

Learn from your "mistakes"

A. Don't sell obvious text links. (hint: key term here is obvious)

B. Figure out how much money the text-links were making you.
Decide if the ROI and your risk-tolerance is worth selling links to begin with.

C. I'm assuming even if you only had one site. You can build others.
If selling links is profitable, then sell links with a better understanding of how PR work and how Google "detects" them.
If not, then don't risk it.
Monetize your site in other ways, ie.
Do want Goog wants you to do.
Slap on some "safe" adsense on your sites and make a few pennies per visitor.

lol, i can't run your sites for you.
But the assumption that you were "penalized" really isn't true.
Your rankings are fine.
Which means you're passing the same REAL PR to all other pages in your site and other's pages.
By placing rel='nofollow' on those pages, you've not given your advertisers what they paid for. So they left.

Edited to add -
Google placing your TBPR at 0 is no different that those companies who
scam newbies by "cloaking" their site's TBPR at 9 or 10.

The uninformed or naive believe the TBPR and either pay top price for PR9s that are actually PR2s or vice versa, they don't pay for a PR5-6 because they "think" its a PR0.

[edited by: whitenight at 2:10 am (utc) on Feb. 12, 2008]

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