Original post 8 Sep 07-Updated 12 Feb 08-see posted reply

Google hates paid links - per the Paid Link Search Engine Strategy presentation by Matt Cutts San Jose Aug 21, 2007

class=> * Buying paid links that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines Paid PageRank-Passing (PPP) links

  • Google is willing to take strong action against PPP links
  • This is an area Google is focusing on/class]

Rand Fish had a very good summary with his blog post “The Paid Links Debate Rages On”

An interesting follow-on from this presentation has been that the SEO world has been rocked by a number of [http://sphinn.com/story/4415]paid link directories) being trodden on by Google. When a website no longer ranks for its domain name, there is definitely something happening. Is this a direct followup action from Google, the “strong action” that they promised???

Remember when we saw the Found Agency cease to be found by its name on Google. See my discussion regarding the Found Agency, and one of its clients [Travel.com.au(travelcomau-bad-seo-case-study/). It is interesting to see Found Agencies new strategy. They have reverted their old Flagship domain foundagency.com.au to a blog, and started ranking for their business name on a new Flagship FoundAgency.com. Yes, it is very possible to overdo links.

Matt Cutts had the following to say about links:

  • Links that are bought for a limited time (may not provide long term value)
  • Links that are “run of site” which Google is very good at finding and eliminating
  • Links that are purchased from “sloppy sellers” who link to bad sites and bad neighborhoods
  • Links that are bought from sellers that cloak the links only to you, so Google never sees them
  • Buying links that can be found and reported by a competitor

Links are like wine, they become better with age. When you receive powerful links, you don’t see an immediate increase in rankings. However, over time, you see the rankings increase. When you “deserve” to rank higher, you are only let in the higher ranks over time. I have seen this on this SearchMasters website, and on clients websites. I have also seen it when a site is “allowed” to rank for its countries Google search (ie Google.co.nz), but not been old enough to rank well for Google.com see my article on /articles/91/different-sandbox-period-on-google-com/.

I have also long talked about how run of site links are not good. Webdevelopers and SEO’ers are rather good at getting run of site links from clients. You should have the marketing of whole of website links, but have only the index page link as a live link. Have the rest as rel=nofollow using the footer formula - “if not the index page, then use rel=nofollow”

Matt Cutts says that viral marketing is great. But what is viral marketing??? Its links from many different sites that are potentially unrelated to your own website, and your viral marketing may be something unrelated to the topic that your website is about. Yet these links are encouraged, and are said to do your rankings well!!!??? So if you were to get such random links via your own means, then this could be made to look something like “viral marketing”??? And how is Google to see that such links are not “paid links”??? All rather interesting questions.

If you are buying links, play it very close to the chest, play under the radar.

Moral of the story - you have to be so careful with getting links. Its definitely a damned if you do, damned if you don’t type of situation that Rand Fish talks about on his blog post - paid links, can you rank without them