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Does Google Punish Link Buyers? or just Link Sellers?
mikeclover




msg:4084072
 11:25 pm on Feb 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

( moved from [webmasterworld.com...] )

Google will not penalize a site for buying text links, they penalize the site selling links, which devalues any links on that site. Sites getting penalized for buying links is a myth. There is no way google can tell if your link is paid unless they check your checking account. They will filture your rankings if you do something unatural like buy 10,0000 links in one day. I would not get too caught up in the link buying myth, becasue all the top brand companies buy links. If google was running around penalizing everyone for this,then the entire web would go down, including yours. If your not buying links then you are not on the first page for hight traffic keywords. It amazez me that everyone worries about this, you however dont want links on #*$! sites, or bad neighborhoods. If your rankings dropped all the sudden, then your links got devalued or you did something really stupid, like buy 10,000 links all at once.Remember, good content, off page links, at a normal rate = good results, time and time again. I am not talking about leased links, I am talking about links that are permanent, there you have a trade secret, most dont want you to know....

[edited by: tedster at 8:55 pm (utc) on Feb 21, 2010]

 

brinked




msg:4088467
 6:13 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

ogletree,

Nobody can say for certain what can or can not get you penalized and/or filtered. You are not likely to get banned from google for being suspected of buying links, same as selling links, however you are more than likely going to get hit with some kind of "penalty" or as I like to call it "filter".

When it comes to google, you really have to keep an open mind. Its easy to read articles and books about SEO and then think you are a professional. The more you think you know, the less you actually do know.

A lot of people get caught up with the vanity of having a high PR website. Ok, you get your website to a PR6, now what? Are you now ranking for your money making terms? If not, what good did it do you?

A lot of webmasters chase links from websites that have a decent PR which is stupid. No natural back link profile will consist of 100% PR3+ links. The fact is, you need relevant, quality back links regardless of the PR. Those pr N/A and PR1-2 links do help and they are easier to get, and guess what, they look a lot more natural.

The fact is, any website is susceptible to punishment by G. It is much harder and much more unlikely that an authority, established domain will get punished, but I have seen it happen.

I have a theory that google will filter a website that it suspects is buying links, and drop them to page 5-6 or something as a test. The test will be something like "ok, we gave this site a penalty, lets see how this webmaster reacts to this penalty" if the webmaster continues to get backlinks, and not lose any backlinks for x months, it will pass the test and we will lift the penalty. If the webmaster starts losing these valuable backlinks, it probably means he paid for them and decided it was not worth it to renew them.

WebPixie




msg:4088472
 6:31 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Step back and look at the overall situation. G makes a sick amount of money from Adwords. G dominates the search market and many if not most websites succeed or fail based off of G search position. Buying links directly, site to site, bypasses Adwords, Adsense and G search.

Why wouldn't they penalize both the buyer and the seller whenever they thought they could get away with it?

In the past people swapped links on link pages to generate traffic, now that's "bad" says G. People monetized by selling links and the buyer got traffic by buying a link, now that's "bad" says G. See a pattern?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying G is the big evil force dooming the future. They are just a company doing what companies do which is trying to make the most money they can. They benefit greatly from a climate of fear when it comes to sites creating direct solutions to monetization and traffic which bypass G's products which sell the same things. Using the threat of search result penalties to force more people into using their products is a solid business model.

Reno




msg:4088486
 7:15 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

In the past people swapped links on link pages to generate traffic, now that's "bad" says G

This Google position which you describe is one of the worst things they've ever done. Link trading/swapping was a great aspect of the WWW in the early days as in was cooperative by its very nature. People worked together to help themselves and each other. That is admirable and gave the WWW a sense of empowerment for the little guy. Then Google gets to a dominant position and, purposely or not, gives the impression that trading links could theoretically work against you. Boom..... it drops off dramatically between individual websites (we all know that SEO firms contact us on a daily basis). This loss of communications between 2 small website owners to help further each other's business is a real shame, as it was a good thing, and its demise is laid squarely at Google's feet.

........................

johnnie




msg:4088491
 7:30 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

If a site is known to routinely sell off links, I'm sure any future buyers will be affected as well.

blend27




msg:4088492
 7:30 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have to agree with helpnow. Severral sites, never ever purchased links. Did some mild link exchanges 4-5 years ago and that was it. Overall top 1 or 2 for most of keywords. 98% unique scrapless content.

Robert Charlton




msg:4088515
 8:31 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

If the webmaster starts losing these valuable backlinks, it probably means he paid for them and decided it was not worth it to renew them.


I don't think that this dropping of backlinks, by itself, would be a dependable signal to Google. It might, eg, make google bowling easier, particularly if the bowler was buying the links... The bowler could drop the links as soon as he saw your rankings tank.

A lot of webmasters chase links from websites that have a decent PR which is stupid. No natural back link profile will consist of 100% PR3+ links. The fact is, you need relevant, quality back links regardless of the PR.


I agree with your comments as far as they go. Google looks at a range of quality signals. That said, while any site is susceptible to punishment by Google, particularly for obvious cheating of some kind, it is amazing what authority sites can do that other sites can't. In part this is because authority sites generally have relatively solid quality profiles.

Sites that rely too much on link buying are most susceptible to getting punished when bought links are discovered, but Google can make errors, particularly when a site is already in a borderline area.

tedster




msg:4088516
 8:36 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

What Google says as a "bad" link scheme is EXCESSIVE link exchanges, not any link exchanges at all:

Link Schemes
. . .
  • Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging ("Link to me and I'll link to you.")

    [google.com...]

  • Google may build up FUD for webmasters, but we webmasters have built up a decent pile of FUD and mythology on our own. We do it when we don't pay close attention to the details of what Google actually does say - and worse than that, when we allow some idea that an SEO shared eight years ago grow to superhuman status.

    I agree with an earlier sentiment in this thread, You don't learn SEO just by reading, you also learn it by doing. And of the two, doing is the critical piece. Reading and discussing are just helpful. It takes doing to sort out truth from FUD - anyone's FUD!

    brinked




    msg:4088551
     9:56 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Link exchanges are pretty much harmless as long as they are done in moderation. It is easy for google to spot a 2 way link exchange and at the very worst, either site gets minimal to no link juice. This is little to no threat to google.

    I recently talked with a website owner who has a long established PR6 educational site, and he doesnt know how to really monetize his site and he gets a lot of requests to buy links...he sells them links for a mere $25/month. I suggested he add the nofollow attribute to avoid risk of being penalized by google since there are over 20 external and and most are very off topic (credit score links, appliance etc). He disregarded my advice because thats the majority of his income and felt he was doing nothing wrong so google would never penalize him.

    His site is extremely useful and helps a lot of people and would be a tragidy if he were ever penalized.

    So do you guys think his site should be hit or should the sites buying from him be hit?

    ogletree




    msg:4088553
     10:02 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

    brinked: Nobody can say for certain what can or can not get you penalized

    I can say for certain what can be done. You are right I can't say what can't be done. We have thought things were impossible in the past but are now possible. I do know for a fact that Google can penalize a site from just backlinks. I have been doing SEO for over 6 years and I have never read an SEO book. I have learned from experience and talking to other SEO's at conferences and backroom IRC chats.

    [edited by: ogletree at 10:16 pm (utc) on Feb 27, 2010]

    tedster




    msg:4088554
     10:10 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

    I think neither site should be "hit" - I think Google penalties for link buying and selling are stupid. Since Google already feels they identify paid links, they should just write the algorithm to ignore them for ranking purposes. Then the link buying market would settle down to being another kind of advertising network,to sink or swim on its effectiveness at driving traffic.

    But unfortunately, Google's war on link buying and selling is a done deal, and it's something we live with. I've almost run out of anger about it - but not quite. Still, my anger doesn't do any good. The practical issue is how to live with it.

    Thinking it through a bit more -- it's clear that some link purchases do not get penalties but others do. Not sure whether Google just can't catch all those cases (seems unlikely because at least some are so obvious), or they just can't afford to hit those sites because people expect to find them in the results. At any rate, the current situation is not at all equitable.

    You buy do-follow links, you take a risk. You sell do-follow links, you take a risk. But it's only a risk, not a definite consequence. And it seems like the stronger the brand, the less risk there is. That's what we've got right now.

    Reno




    msg:4088656
     12:20 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    We do it when we don't pay close attention to the details of what Google actually does say

    Agreed, but in cyberspace just as in the real world, perception is reality. Having muddied the waters, it's up to Google to clearly and unambiguously make it crystal clear that link trading cannot hurt in any way. That is to say, it may not help with PR, but it won't hurt either.

    Like most people here, I run multiple websites. There was a time when I regularly got unsolicited requests from website owners (NOT just SEOers!) to exchange links -- now, it is just a trickle. Yes, there may be several factors for that, but overwhelmingly it is because of what Google did. If there is a wrong impression out there, then it's up to them to make things right, since they're the ones who created the confusion in the first place.

    When the king sneezes, the people catch a cold.

    .........................

    tedster




    msg:4088666
     12:36 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    overwhelmingly it is because of what Google did

    What is it that you think Google did in the area of reciprocal links? I can't find any reference where Google spokespeople or their guidelines ever said that ordinary link exchanges were taboo When it comes to proverbs, I'd go more with "You can lead a horse to water, but..."

    On the topic of paid links, as much as I do hate what they did, I also admit that they telegraphed that blow quite clearly.

    Whitey




    msg:4088680
     1:26 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Since Google already feels they identify paid links, they should just write the algorithm to ignore them for ranking purposes.


    My instinct is that Google may still rely on a lot of editorial and reporting via WMT to catch out link buyers and sellers. I also have a sense that the algorithmn may not be strong enough to totally erradicate link buying - which is clear given the amount of activity out there.

    On the flip side , my sense is that the reality for Google is that they require good content being linked to, and that they probably turn a blind eye to the rules surrounding link purchases that promote it when it's convenient for them to allow the web to function, whilst seeking to perfect their automated approaches.

    At another level, does Google really care if the same widget is being promoted on a 1000 different website's using paid links. Are they trying to squeeze out commercial dominance by any one player. It's rare for me to find websites that dominate every category of their vertical these days and i think that " punishing " needs to be considered also in Google's commercial way.

    btw - Tedster - i never witnessed any anger from you - Great to see you expressing your outer limits !

    Reno




    msg:4088688
     1:45 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    When Google says:
    Examples of link schemes can include:
    * Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging ("Link to me and I'll link to you.")

    That's as clear as mud. Trading links is by definition "Link to me and I'll link to you". So they throw the word "excessive" in as a qualifier -- can anyone point me to a page where the word "excessive" is defined? Is it excessive for a small site to have 100 link exchanges? Is it excessive for a big site to have 1000 link exchanges? What about 10,000? I have no idea what "excessive" means, and my guess is most webmaster/siteowners have no idea as well. So people err on the side of caution, so as to not incur the wrath of the Gods. And thus the practice of trading links starts to look too risky -- a practice that was around long before Google -- because no one knows for sure where the line has been drawn.

    ................................

    Whitey




    msg:4088694
     2:05 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    There's no exact measurement known to us. That's the beauty of Google FUD on everyone.

    Reno




    msg:4088698
     2:34 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    beauty of Google
    I understand your point Whitey, though "beauty" is not a word I'd use to describe an attitude that has seriously hurt a perfectly good practice, one that in part was the reason for the rise of the WWW as a commercial vehicle. Rather than "beauty", I might go with "chagrin".

    ............................

    docbird




    msg:4088704
     2:45 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Yes, deeply sad that can no longer readily swap links with website owners.
    I recently tried exchange with someone running related site; she wasn't up for it, as SEO experts had told her reciprocal links not useful for Google (no mention from her re any direct value to visitors).
    "Excessive" a silly word from Google. Providing reciprocal links are between related site, surely sky's the limit.

    As to link buying: tho can see reason for tedster's anger, I'm glad there are no guarantees this is effective.
    Otherwise, having money would be key: bye bye small sites, and new sites w little funding. A shift in this direction is underway, but would be way more extreme.

    ogletree




    msg:4088711
     2:57 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    There is nothing wrong with swapping links like that. It just becomes a problem when you automate it. People used to create directories on their website and swap links with anybody that would do it. There is a huge chasm between swapping links and putting up a directory. If you have to put up special software to swap links your in the wrong. If your goal is to try and find the exact line between the two practices your also wrong. Do what comes natural it is ok.

    CainIV




    msg:4088724
     3:41 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Still, my anger doesn't do any good. The practical issue is how to live with it.


    And that statement holds a ton of water in practical, everyday SEO terms.

    Lots going on for lots of websites, lots that I would assume would be flagged, and most that isn't.

    It isn't so much of a black and white rule.

    It's more of calculated risk, knowing when to pursue, and when to back off. Comparing websites for what they do is about as easy as comparing felons and their sentences. Pointless, and out of context.

    Some websites buy links and it works. Others do the same and it doesn't.

    Some sites excessively link and it works for them. Others do and they receive penalties.

    Due diligence is needed in today's SEO to chart both an aggressive and safer source to great traffic.

    JS_Harris




    msg:4088759
     5:24 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    When link buying became the rage several years ago, before Google really tried to crack down on them, I tested the waters by selling 10 mid-article links on a non-important blog I was writing.

    To my surprise they immediately sold out, 3 of them to one of the major SEO companies in business today, and those pages didn't last very long in the serps.

    I think links within context are the most valuable and that they must be there from the day the article is first discovered. Adding links in the middle of articles later on isn't natural and may trigger red flags too.

    In the end I removed the paid links and have not bought or sold a link since, there really is no need to if you take care of everything else imo. I sleep better at night too.

    Harry




    msg:4088779
     6:17 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Silly question. Is selling a banner ad with a link to the client bad with Google. If so, what's bad?

    Whitey




    msg:4088799
     7:47 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Does Bing's explanation throw any light on how link buying is treated at Google :



    Legit vs. illegit

    Itís clear that links to and from other trusted sites for the benefit of the customer are legitimate and good.

    Unfortunately, some sites try to game the system by playing with how their inbound links are achieved.


    [bing.com...]


    It's a good practical read

    Nuttakorn




    msg:4088863
     11:41 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Of course, Google will do the penalty to the site which intend to selling or buying the links, even their own asset that you may heard about Google Japan that related to link purchase that Google dropped their pagerank.

    Edge




    msg:4088885
     2:21 pm on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

    I've been selling directory listings (advertising) for over eight years that just happen to have direct links to my customers website.

    I haven't noticed any problems with my rankings or my customers..

    Just for the record - my listings are on subject matter and well matched to the relevant keyword/industry/subject - nothing spammy..

    Here are a few examples of organizations that sell advertsiements with direct links.

    NONE OF THESE SITES ARE MINE..

    Business dot com
    Thomasnet dot com

    Tons more...

    You folks seem to be operating on hearsay..

    MrHard




    msg:4089052
     1:21 am on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Hard to tell if you buy the link under the table directly to the owner. Most links don't work this way, rather you are directed to a page with link prices, or the links are purchased through a third party link service. Not to hard for a child to figure out.

    Those of you who says no problems. Compared to what? If everythings fine with where you are them that's certainly valid, however most of us are looking to improve rankings.

    whitenight




    msg:4089249
     2:13 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

    I swore to myself I wouldn't post with advice to these topic of threads anymore ....

    But since some truly hard-working and brilliant soul actually went back and did research on OLD posts on this topic,
    (right? can you believe it?!..rereading threads?)
    I'm going to say this one final bit on this topic.


    IF you can PROVE that Gorg has punished your site due to selling links ie. lost of traffic and/or rankings
    (not merely lowering TBPR pixels) ...
    THEN
    you should quickly go down to the local courthouse and file a lawsuit...
    and/or
    you should quickly call up the most well-known business law atty you can find and have them file the lawsuit for you.
    (and yes, you might have to RE-READ old posts to know the basic skeleton of the complaint) =P


    When I recommended this a few years, too many people were 'skeered' of Gorg to take this advice seriously.
    Perhaps with the recent slew of lawsuits thrown at Gorg,
    people might be more courageous to take action.


    BUT there's one caveat...
    you have to be able to PROVE that selling links caused your problems.

    And no matter what poster comes along after me to claim otherwise, it's a rather easy case to win or settle.

    that caveat is the kicker tho, isn't it? For both a lawsuit and the topic of this thread.... Lots of "chicken bone throwing" and FUD-mongering on this subject...as usual

    brinked




    msg:4089407
     6:42 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Whitenight,

    I have been focusing more on the link buyers rather than the link sellers.

    I have never sold links before, so I cant really offer much input as someone who has much experience with this. HOWEVER, I have seen websites that have high PR, and then suddenly their PR drops to 0 but they stillr etain their rankings...so I would believe that if you get caught for selling links, your rankings will not be effected. Your "privilege" to pass link juice to other sites will be removed. This will hurt you in the sense that nobody will want to buy links from you anymore and your earnings from selling links will vanish.

    If your site has lost rankings, it might have nothing to do with selling links. Again, I have never had a site that I sold links on and I never experienced google removing my PR but I would like others who have experienced this to share their experience.

    tedster




    msg:4089419
     7:03 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Yes - agreed. Most of what I've seen has been toolbar-only effects, especially for high visibility businesses and brands.

    But I feel for the medium PR site who is even suspected of being in the link marketing business. Nothing I've seen can be 100% proven to be cause and effect, but it sure does look like ranking troubles can come from suspected link marketing.

    brinked




    msg:4089451
     8:06 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

    What I have seen, is on a popular link selling forums, many webmasters list links for sale on their sites. The link sellers who are not very experienced, post there websites in the post. While browsing through old WTS posts, the webmasters that have posted there URL in the OP, all have PR0. Is it possible that google has this forum under watch and is removing PR from websites selling links there?

    If so...it would be so easy for a competitor to post a WTS ad and post a competitors website, therefore removing a competitors PR.

    domaingamer




    msg:4089520
     9:39 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Brinked,

    I've actually had exactly the opposite happen to me - I had about 30 websites all get a -50 penalty and retained their Page Rank when I sold links through a popular automated link broker. In fact my PR has stayed the same and even increased (a couple PR3 sites) - so now I consider those sites to be completely broken when it comes to Google organic serps (I'm still able to monetize them slightly, but not via traffic). This all happened 18 months ago and nothing much has changed since then.

    I continue to sell links on the sites and might consider experimenting w/ some redirects since I know that I won't ever rank w/ those sites again. I tried a reconsideration request a month after it happened, but the sites are too thin and affiliate oriented for Google to put them back in their good graces. And for those of you that say, well maybe the sites got the -50 penalty for being affiliate sites, you're wrong because (in this case) the other aff sites that weren't selling links were unharmed.

    tedster




    msg:4089522
     9:43 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Most of what I observed was last summer, and maybe Google has taken a different tack now. I'm sure they still hate paid links, but the approach may be different. After all, a change in this area wouldn't be the kind of thing they're going to announce on their blog or anything like that.

    This 89 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 89 ( 1 [2] 3 > >
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