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Anyway, I sent Google an e-mail about one of my sites disappearing from their rankings. They sent back what is surely a standard response; one thing it said was that actions such as buying or selling links can result in penalization. (Against the rules to print their e-mail here.)
They werenít necessarily accusing me of buying links, but I wonder: how do I know that someone else didnít buy a link and have it point to my site? If Google penalizes sites for that, wouldnít it be a way for competitors to attack my site? And couldnít I buy links and have them go to competitor sites in an attempt to discredit those sites?
Or is Googleís talk about buying sites resulting in a penalization just rhetoric intended to scare people into shunning this practice?
However, I don't think that this is your problem. I don't think that any sane SE would allow non-reciprocal backlinks to affect the rankings of sites in a negative way. They could simply not count them, but that is neither here nor there.
Of course, someone here will disagree, and Google's email to you would even seem to indicate that they do count the links against you, but I just don't believe it.
There are ways to affect a third party's ranking, but in order to do it, you'd have to work so much, that you might as well just work on your own darn site.
Checking for backlinks to my site yields a lot of sites we never asked for links from: scraper sites and so forth. There are at least 40 sites that are sort of sleazy that link to us, but there's nothing I can do about that.
It would corrupt their search engine results, because spammers would begin purposely creating spammy or banned sites strictly for the purpose getting their competitors banned.
Also, I have never in my life heard of Google sending an e-mail specifically identifying selling or buying links as a cause for penalization.
I would love to see the evidence. If you don't feel comfortable posting the e-mail here, please send me a PM.
I got the same email from Google for one of my sites (I am also not buying/selling). What I have done is reciprocate links with sites sending me lots of traffic -- all high-ranking sites.
What an odd situation. I'm starting to wonder if it is now becoming dangerous to reciprocate links.
because spammers would begin purposely creating spammy or banned sites strictly for the purpose getting their competitors banned.
Spammers have been doing this for years.
It only recently became part of the Google Algo to penalize for this.
It makes no sense, but neither does most of what Google has done since November 17, 2003.
How would google's algorithm know if someone is just advertising (the site happens to have high pr or it wouldn't get traffic) or not.
Now, there are some sites that are obviously just a bunch of random links with high PR. But even this seems like a really complicated problem to solve.
I have analyzed a lot of sites that have links from all kinds of blogs, message boards etc. and the links are garbage. However they are still ranked in the top 3 on google.
The original idea, obviously, came from modeling research papers. If you write a good paper everyone in that field references it. Also, well written papers will reference other peoples papers. Now it has become an entire industry and people are making a lot of money selling links.
Google does not penalize sites for incoming links. They never have and they never will.
For about two years I have bought a couple of text ads from a local portal. The ads appear in an include that runs site-wide (20K+ pages), and generate excellent country-specific, targeted traffic directly via click-thrus.
Until about a year ago they also had the added (and not insignificant) benefit of blasting my sites with PR (the portal's home page alone has a PR of 7/8). Google loved it and I was rolling in clover. I was well aware that this couldn't last forever. That Google would detect that the links weren't organic and consider them devious.
These days those sites of mine are worthless as far as Google is concerned. Still plenty of PR but not a sign of them in G, no matter how many other organic links I get in. Rather than being ignored, the repetitive paid links seem to dilute the organic ones so that they are useless.
Seems that this is the new Google Bomb.
I still buy the links and they still send great local traffic, but may those sites R.I.P. with Google. I've long-since given them up and have other sites to tempt the G.
Added: I guess the "Google Bomb" could also have diluted/destroyed the relevancy of my sites, as the paid links would be almost entirely off-topic. Same result though.
[edited by: oodlum at 6:08 am (utc) on Aug. 30, 2004]
Sites that were pinged invariably indulged in cross/interlinking, so that the overall linkage pattern pointed to a "links scheme designed to improve ranking/PR".
On the other hand, I've recently looked at 3 "networks" that were selling RoS links, and while appearing "healthy", it was obvious their ability to pass PR/anchor text was blocked.
I have a site that is contstantly competing with competitors for a phrase. I know that at least one of them is constantly working at it, because as soon I'm #1 and stop working for it his site will be #1 after a short time.
So if I bought one high PR link for it, and it worked out, and I neglected the site, and the link suddenly was discarded, my site would fall like a stone from SERPs I guess.
The webmasters who feel penalized after buying a link could face the situation where their rankings fell because Google stopped counting the links anymore.
That's the most logical explanation. Google just simly stops the passing of PR from the site suspected of selling links.
If your only link strategy was using paid links for the majority of your IBL's and PR, then of course it would seem like a penalty. If, instead, you has a site that already had a high (natural) PR, and you added some paid links, you would probably just drop back to your "natural" rank in the serps.