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Added Nofollow to Paid Links - How Long for Google to Notice?
Samanthatouch




msg:4573672
 7:52 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Sixteen year old site that is regularly updated and popular with schools and non-profit groups. All white hat except one thing that we didn't realize mattered so much.

We use a popular link service that pays us to put text link ads on our site. We put them only in the left margin and it is clear to users that the links are not part of the content. There was no intent to deceive anyone.

Now we see that they need to have rel="nofollow" added to the tag so that they don't pass page ratings to computer algorithms that Google uses since they can't tell that they are ads.

We added rel="nofollow" and the company that pays us to put up the links say that they won't pay us unless we remove the nofollow stuff.

How long does it take for Google to notice that we added the nofollow and do we need to tell them somehow?

If it takes months to notice then that would be thousands of dollars lost for us because we are paid very well for the links.

Sam

 

netmeg




msg:4573683
 8:12 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

It could take months, and if the company says they won't pay without the nofollow stuff, fire the company. Because there's a very good chance that Google will eventually whack you both anyway. If you're an .edu or a site with very high trust and authority, it sounds like they're counting on those links to prop them up.

Unfortunately the days of the do-follow paid link are just plain over.

UNLESS you get your traffic from other sources and don't rely on Google. But then you have the problem that the other site gets penalized, and then they're probably not gonna want to pay you for those links anyway.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4573689
 8:29 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Wouldn't Google notice those new rel=nofollow attributes the next time they spider the page with the links on it? I guess there's a "downstream" delay within Google having this information passed onto the algorithm.

netmeg




msg:4573738
 9:44 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

They might notice right away, but that doesn't mean anything will noticeably change right away. Or it might. But it sounds like if she nofollows then she won't get paid, anyway.

Samanthatouch




msg:4573779
 11:39 pm on May 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thank you very much for the replies.
We are at the point where we must decide...

Delete the links and the guaranteed income.
OR
Remove the the nofollow thing and risk losing our Google traffic (about 50% of our traffic).

Our traffic started to take an unusual dip around May 1st and we traced it to less traffic from Google though our rankings haven't changed as far as we can tell. This led me to research what may be the problem and all we could find were the paid links.

The question about the timeframe is more to determine if our Google traffic will continue to decrease since we made this change or will it be noticed and stop going down. If it goes back up, great, but we understand that we may need to earn back the traffic we had rather than have it magically reinstated.

Thanks again
Sam

Samanthatouch




msg:4574157
 8:02 pm on May 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

A clever affiliate link technique (clever does not imply ethical).

It looks like we found a large part of our problem with our Google traffic so I thought I would share it here since it probably is not the paid links though we are still planning on removing them if we are not allowed to nofollow them.

Many of our top search results now have Pinterest boards listed above them now.
That seems normal since Pinterest is pretty awesome. However, this is for free things that teachers and students and retirement communities like to use.

When you click the pins on these boards you go to a page that has a pretty picture and says 'Click here for the thing you wanted' (note it does not say free in this anchor text like it did on Pinterest).
Clicking the link sends you through an affiliate link to purchase the supposedly 'free' thing LOL.

It appears to take advantage of the Google algorithm putting more weight on the title of the Pinterest page than on the actual content that it leads to.

I'm sure this will be caught soon but I was amazed at how many number 1 results on Google were Pinterest pages using this technique.

Sam

chrisv1963




msg:4574201
 10:18 pm on May 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

Many of our top search results now have Pinterest boards listed above them now.


Welcome to the club! I'm in the same situation. Pushed down by Pinterest pages and in some cases by Facebook pages.


I'm sure this will be caught soon but I was amazed at how many number 1 results on Google were Pinterest pages using this technique.


Don't count on it. Google loves Pinterest. I've seen search results were the 5 first positions were taken by Pinterest pages.

As webmasters we are supposed to create good original content. It's extremely frustrating to see how our websites are being pushed down by Pinterest pages ... with scraped content. I have nothing against people pinning stuff. The real problem is Google listing the Pinterest pages and pushing the original content down.

Samanthatouch




msg:4574210
 11:10 pm on May 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

My point isn't that ranking Pinterest pages is bad.

If that is what makes the user happy and persuades them to go to Google the next time they search for something because they had a good experience before, then that is fine. That is what a good search engine does.

My point is that Pinterest is apparently being gamed by thin affiliate sites. Making Google (and therefore the user) think they are getting to a page of free resources and then sending the user to a page that requires payment for the 'free' resource and also, in many of the cases that I found, pays for a lead.

Normally these thin sites would not rank well for a competitive keyword but using this trick they are ranking as #1 on the first page. Ostensibly as a collection of free projects on a Pinterest page but actually affiliate links to 'not free' items.

I believe that this will be fixed since it seems so prevalent that it has to be getting noticed now.

Sam

atlrus




msg:4574450
 4:52 pm on May 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

It could take months, and if the company says they won't pay without the nofollow stuff, fire the company. Because there's a very good chance that Google will eventually whack you both anyway. If you're an .edu or a site with very high trust and authority, it sounds like they're counting on those links to prop them up.

Unfortunately the days of the do-follow paid link are just plain over.

UNLESS you get your traffic from other sources and don't rely on Google. But then you have the problem that the other site gets penalized, and then they're probably not gonna want to pay you for those links anyway.


I disagree with everything you said. If the main income of the website comes from the paid links, why would they fire the company? How would they get paid? Do you even know the difference in price between a do-follow and a no-follow link? Clearly you don't, with a statement that do-follow link buying is dead. It's actually very alive and thriving. I honestly doubt they'd be able to pay even the hosting with a no-follow link. What an awful advice.

Your statement sounds a lot like paranoia: "Hey, if you are afraid of the high odds of getting in a car accident - don't leave your house". Any website could get the boot from Google at any time, this has been proven over and over again. The same way any business can go bankrupt, even one as big as GM. There is always risk.

As far as the links - if they are relevant and not a lot of them - you have nothing to worry about. I buy a lot of links myself and if it didn't work, both I and the websites where I advertise would've long disappeared.

There is nothing wrong with linking out. The entire web and Google's business is based on websites interlinking. Whether you get paid to link out or you did it for free, the final effect is the same.

My advice is to cut the middle man (link company) and work directly with the website owners. It may be a bit extra work, but you would have much better control and get a bit more money. Ask yourself, would I be comfortable linking to this website for free? If yes, then get paid for it :)

Remember that using no-follow in your links simply shows Google that you sell ads. It benefits you in no way. If the website you plan on linking to is bad enough for you to want to put a no-follow, then just simply don't link out at all. It's that simple.

Leosghost




msg:4574451
 4:54 pm on May 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

If the website you plan on linking to is bad enough for you to want to put a no-follow, then just simply don't link out at all. It's that simple.

This I agree with 100% ..and have always applied..

bsterz




msg:4574461
 5:56 pm on May 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

If the main income of the website comes from the paid links, why would they fire the company? How would they get paid?


I am a bit confused. Why would you consider adding nofollow to your links and possibly lose your source of income if you don't depend on traffic from Google for income?

netmeg




msg:4574467
 6:08 pm on May 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Suit yourselves. Might be an interesting summer.

atlrus




msg:4574609
 2:01 am on May 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Suit yourselves. Might be an interesting summer.


Every summer is an interesting one...

Samanthatouch




msg:4574628
 4:30 am on May 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well, Matt Cutts tweeted this yesterday...

"In fact, we took action on several thousand linksellers in a paid-link-that-passes-PageRank network earlier today."

So we may have dodged a bullet just in time.

Sam

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4574629
 4:50 am on May 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

It's true you run the risk of being considered 'less trustworthy' when it appears you're selling links to boost another sites rankings, but it's effective... hence the ultimatum from the link buyer (though buyers would tend to prefer a link within content rather than tacked onto the top/side/bottom of a template).

It's really up to you whether you want to continue with the arrangement or not. You yourself can judge the risk/reward of loss of $ and/or a potential loss of search engine rankings.

If the buyer considers a nofollow link worthless or worth a lot less, consider charging more if you plan on keeping the link.

atlrus




msg:4574700
 12:35 pm on May 16, 2013 (gmt 0)


So we may have dodged a bullet just in time.


It seems you have made up your mind on this matter.

However, something in your OP struck me as odd:


If it takes months to notice then that would be thousands of dollars lost for us because we are paid very well for the links.


Do you plan on removing the no-follow as soon as Google crawls your website?!? If so, you'd be right back at square one. It would make no sense at all.

Btw, google will know about your no-follow tags as soon as they crawl the page. So if you put the no-follow on your home page, i.e. that's where you sell the links - Google most likely already knows about it.

Samanthatouch




msg:4574731
 3:04 pm on May 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi atlrus
I'm not sure what you mean. Googlebots crawl every page on the site several times everyday and has for years.

Isn't that what it does for your website?

I probably should be more clear. My question is how long until any penalties are lifted. Using "How Long for Google to Notice?" was not the best choice of words. We have not been notified of any problems in WMT but our page ranks dropped years ago to 4's and 5's when it was much higher before that.

Yes, we have made up our mind. We are not posting paid links without a 'nofollow' on the rel attribute of the anchor tag. Not only does it hurt our ranking with Google but it also hurts the person who bought the link as Netmeg mentioned.

If I misunderstood what you meant by "Google crawls your website" let me know.

Sam

diberry




msg:4574738
 3:24 pm on May 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Samanthatouch, back before Google said link buying was bad, I was making good money on one site by selling links through a link broker company, which I think is what you're doing. Google announced this was bad, but I thought that was silly (people have been buying links before Google ever existed, and as long as they are useful to visitors, it makes sense to do), so I left them on. Immediately, my visible pagerank went to zero, but I couldn't see any ranking changes.

I changed the links to no-follow, switching services to a company that allows that, at a much reduced price.

Nothing changed.

It wasn't until I removed the links entirely that the domain recovered. That domain is the only one of mine that got hit by Penguin, despite having a clean backlink profile. It's had no paid links on it since 2008 or earlier, but it's possible that Google *assumed* some of my genuine editorial links were also paid because I had ever, back before they said it was bad, sold links.

I think it's possible that Google holds paid links against websites indefinitely, and when they are judging your site later, assumes the worst and punishes you accordingly.

If I'm right, which is a big if, and if things are the same now, which is another big if, you'd be better to keep your links do-follow and enjoy the money while it lasts, because there is no reprieve with Google. OTOH, I could be very, very wrong, so take this with a whole shaker of salt. ;)

atlrus




msg:4574746
 3:39 pm on May 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm sorry I just don't understand what you mean.

1. If you don't have any penalties, what do you expect Google to "notice" exactly? As I said, Google will notice your no-follow tags when the page is crawled.

2. Your page rank dropping to 4's and 5's, do you mean your toolbar page rank or ranking on Google's search results? If it's a toolbar page rank - it doesn't matter one bit. If it's a ranking issue, it could be due to many things. Don't forget that you are always in competition with some else and maybe they are doing a better job, thus pushing you down the results. Penalties are much more severe than dropping a spot or two.

Anyhow, since your website has been going strong for 16 years and it appears you may not know much about SEO, I strongly urge you to do what you have been doing and don't worry about things that don't affect you. Limited knowledge is a dangerous thing. Just think that you probably run one of the longest ranking sites among the members here :)
If you can't handle the risk, go ahead and no-follow the links. Keep in mind that no one will pay you for no-follow links, unless it's a traffic deal. You may want to look into Google's AdSense to supplement your income, too. It's a form of Google-authorized paid no-follow links, but, again, it's traffic dependent.

Good luck

Samanthatouch




msg:4579065
 3:51 pm on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well, this took a bizarre turn.

Last week we received an 'unnatural links' message in WMT tools that said...

"Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links on your site pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include selling links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes."

So, I looked through the site and found less than a dozen paid links that did not have the rel attribute set to nofollow. They were cases where older pages were uploaded during an update so I fixed them and sent my reconsideration request.

This was our first bad message with WMT and have been using it for years.

Today we received our response...

"We've reviewed your site and we believe that some or all of your pages still violate our quality guidelines."

I have no idea what Google thinks we are doing.

Since the site still does well and seems to be ranking decently on Google still. I'm not sure what to do. It definitely is ranking lower but we get a lot of our traffic from schools/institutions/organizations and other search engines.

Any suggestions as to what we should look at since all the links we are paid to have on the site are nofollowed and not (never were) in the content but in the sidebar?

Thanks
Sam

dougwilson




msg:4579226
 10:02 pm on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

"... the problem and all we could find were the paid links"

"... all the links we are paid to have on the site are nofollowed"

I'm missing something here. What links did you, are you, buying? That is, as far as I know, what is referred to as paid, or buying, links.

Ads, adsense, affiliate links etc are common practice.

I'd use something like Link Slueth and find every link on your site, then check them out. Is this a blog platform website? Check code for injected links.

Play_Bach




msg:4579234
 10:30 pm on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

@atlrus
> Remember that using no-follow in your links simply shows Google that you sell ads.

What about it being the default setting for millions of WordPress and other CMS sites? How does that square?

Another example, one of the brand websites I manage is 17 years old. It has a links page which the owner put together of sites he liked. A few years ago, he started getting an ever increasing amount of requests for link exchanges from all over the place. I told him 99% of these were BS and to ignore. I then no-followed all of his outbound links. Almost immediately the exchange requests to the links page dried up, but our position/traffic from Google remained unscathed. In our case at least, no-follow did just what I hoped it would.

diberry




msg:4579275
 1:06 am on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Any suggestions as to what we should look at since all the links we are paid to have on the site are nofollowed and not (never were) in the content but in the sidebar?


In my case, it wasn't until I removed the links entirely that my domain began to recover. This was back in 2008 or maybe even earlier, so I don't know if it's relevant anymore.

Samanthatouch




msg:4579303
 3:23 am on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

In my case, it wasn't until I removed the links entirely that my domain began to recover. This was back in 2008 or maybe even earlier, so I don't know if it's relevant anymore.


Thanks Diberry, a friend of mine used to have an SEO business (he does ecommerce consulting these days). He looked at the site and made the same suggestion. He also said not to do anything drastic until I know for sure what is causing the problem. He knew a lot of horror stories.

Sam

atlrus




msg:4579437
 1:04 pm on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)


What about it being the default setting for millions of WordPress and other CMS sites? How does that square?


There are lots of things that are default for wp :)

Think of it using simple logic - yesterday you had all those outgoing links on your website and today they are all of a sudden "no-follow". What changed? Nothing, but your own admission that those links were paid for.

If I was building an algo to catch link spam, I would certainly put a question mark over a website, once that website has admitted to selling text links. And I would be right, since the OP clearly is (still) selling text link ads.

As far as your experience with one website - I have a bunch of websites which rank just fine in Google, yet all (and I mean ALL) links to them are from paid text links. Should I assume that Google doesn't mind paid links then?

@Samanthatouch - thank you for following up on this issue. If anything, I now believe more than ever I was correct in my observations of the no-follow tag.

Play_Bach




msg:4579456
 1:28 pm on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

@atlrus
> Nothing, but your own admission that those links were paid for.

No, they weren't. Please re-read. He put those links on his links page BECAUSE HE LIKED THEM (as did millions of other people back when the web was young). Google came along years after.

But because he had an established brand with a high pagerank, eventually link exchangers found his site. Once I no followed those links, the link exchangers split. Google did not change his ranking at all.

Your premise that no follow = paid links doesn't add up, sorry.

atlrus




msg:4579474
 2:21 pm on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Play_Bach

I wasn't talking about your case, rather in general. Maybe you should re-read that in the OP's case, she was selling text ads, not linking to sites she liked. You can call it a coincidence that the OP got a notice after no-following text ads, I personally don't believe in coincidences...

As far as your own case - you threw the baby with the bath water, but that was your client's choice, I guess. All the emails I get for link exchanges go straight to the spam folder without ever seeing them :)

Anyhow, I'm not going to argue with you. If you think no-follow is the way to go, do as you please, I have no horse in that race.

jakebohall




msg:4579483
 2:41 pm on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Maybe you should consider only "partnering" with companies that are relevant, and that you can naturally work into the content of your site.. This benefits both of you better anyway, as there is less risk on your site, and more value for the partner.

Play_Bach




msg:4579515
 3:40 pm on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

The nofollow value was originally suggested to stop comment spam in blogs. Believing that comment spam affected the entire blogging community, in early 2005 Google’s Matt Cutts and Blogger’s Jason Shellen proposed the value to address the problem.[1][2]
The specification for nofollow is copyrighted 2005-2007 by the authors and subject to a royalty free patent policy, e.g. per the W3C Patent Policy 20040205,[3] and IETF RFC 3667 & RFC 3668. The authors intend to submit this specification to a standards body with a liberal copyright/licensing policy such as the GMPG, IETF, and/or W3C.[2]
[en.wikipedia.org...]

@atlrus

I'm not trying to get in a fight with you either. I am however disputing your conclusion that nofollow = paid links as unfounded. The fact is, billions of links existed long before nofollow hit the scene in 2005. To assume all links were paid is ludicrous.

atlrus




msg:4579521
 3:48 pm on May 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

You misunderstood. What I said was that I have a few websites with all links pointing to them coming from purchased text ads, yet those websites still rank fine. Am I to assume that paid links are OK by google, since I have websites ranking solely through them?

Whatever the original intent of nofollow was, fact is that google lists paid links as one of the examples in their guidelines for using it, the other being websites you don't trust.

Bottom line is that nofollow has no positive effect for the webmaster, why risk any possible negative effect, however small it may be?

This 42 message thread spans 2 pages: 42 ( [1] 2 > >
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