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8 thoughts on “Paid Links, Selling Links…Not Good

  1. Matt Cutts says:

    Hi John, this is not a new change at all. For example, as early as June 2007 we did a post on our official Google webmaster blog: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2007/06/more-ways-for-you-to-give-us-input.html
    where Google explicitly said “Buying or selling links to manipulate results and deceive search engines violates our guidelines.”

    See also http://www.searchenginecollege.com/2007/11/video-official-google-paid-links.html#c6588035351752709591 where I do a more in-depth discussion to show that we’ve given this guidance for months.

  2. nmw says:

    but I guess Google ads are OK, right?

  3. Matt Cutts says:

    nmw, there’s a ton of ads that are OK, e.g. MSN or Yahoo or AdBrite or pretty much any links that don’t pass PageRank. My job is search quality, so I care about people buying/selling links that pass PageRank, because that can negatively impact search engine quality.

    Furthermore, *every* major search engine (including Yahoo, Ask, and MSN/Live) is opposed to buying/selling links that pass PageRank, so this is not a Google-only issue.

  4. JG says:

    But Matt, PageRank is only one of hundreds of factors used for determining rankings. Right? So why place all this undue attention on a practice that only affects one of these factors? You still have another few hundred factors to fall back on, to insure quality results, right?

    If not, if PageRank is such a dominant force inside of your algorithm, what does that say about the quality of, say, your desktop search, or your enterprise search, in which you only have sets of documents/pages, with no links between the pages, i.e. no PageRank can be calculated?

    Shouldn’t the focus of a search engine quality team be to react to how the web chooses to do things, rather than try to enforce a particular algorithmic outlook by introducing things like “no-follow” links? Shouldn’t the focus be on coming up with better algorithms, rather than on making people conform to the algorithms you already have? Doesn’t forcing the entire web community to behave in a certain way stifle innovation?

    I ask this question with no agenda. I am not a webmaster, vying for links. I ask this as someone who admires the “googly” spirit, even if I happen to disagree with a lot of particulars. No matter what the other search engines want, isn’t the “no-follow” approach of enforcing algorithmic constraints on web behavior…kinda “ungoogly”?

  5. JG says:

    Oops..

    sed ‘s/insure/ensure/g’ [PreviousPost]

  6. nmw says:

    “PageRank is only one of hundreds of factors”

    hmm — this got me to thinking: could it be that one of these hundreds or thousands or millions/i> (or some astronomical number) of factors is the presence of a Google ad?

    I’m not saying that this is a factor — but could it be one? Is it possible for Google to know whether a certain webpage has Google ads on it? Or are these somehow completely invisible?!?

  7. This classically illustrates just how irrational the Google search team.

    OVERALL, those sites that obtained high pageranks and kept them have done so because they are valuable sites and have been democratically voted to their positions by other sites with high trustrank and pagerank.

    If Google’s actions cause these sites to lose rankings, the public is being hurt – because in theory inferior sites may be taking their places on the SERPS.

    If these high PR sites must raise revenue to pay their hosting fees and compensate their staff in a competitive way – this means that those sites will be able to continue offering quality output (which is what made them popular in the beginning)

    Those sites buying links are doing so because they will get benefits other than the minimal traffic these links bring.
    Most site owners really would NOT want their visitors to click on an external top homepage link and leave them.

    If a site choses to sell pagerank to EXTERNAL SITES – how is that essentially any different than putting INTERNAL links on your site to pass pagerank to those inner pages.

    Also, how does one address the numerous links that high profile corporations constantly get as a result of PR releases?

    You can not ethically compel someone to use the NoFollow or and intermediate redirect page – by threatening them with penalties if they don’t comply – unless you find a way to filter out the effects of all the PR Campaigns and PR releases and viral marketing done by large organizations that constantly bring them THOUSANDS of links.

    There is just no comparison!

  8. Michael Martinez says:

    Google is requiring sites to obtain a minimum amount of PageRank in order to have their pages in the Main Web Index. Pages in the Main Web Index are given preference in Google’s search results over pages in the (now undisclosed) Supplemental Results Index, even though pages in the (UNDISCLOSED) Supplemental Results Index may be more relevant, accurate, uniquie, and/or authoritative than the pages in the Main Web Index.

    Google is attacking the paid links economy because it is struggling to make its PageRank value-based indexing work properly, a proposition that was utterly hopeless from the start.

    The undisclosed placement of sponsored links on Web sites has been going on since long before Google existed. Their highly unethical actions lately have forced legitimate sites to forego revenue out of fear of losing visibility in Google’s search results — revenue that was not based on the premise of “selling PageRank” but rather of selling visibility for other Web sites.

    Just because non-disclosure is inconvenient for Google’s incompetent algorithm does not in any way morally justify the false presentations that they have been making with respect to what is really at stake.

    In fact, if Google were to emphasize RELEVANCE over PAGERANK their search results would improve dramatically.

    In the meantime, if people want to buy Google-approved PageRank-passing links from Google-approved link sellers, they can go to Yahoo!, ThomasNet, and other directory services that do not disclose paid links.

    Today, the ONLY reason to submit a site to the Yahoo! directory is to get the PageRank such a listing will confer.

    People can maximize their PageRank link purchases by dividing their content across multiple domains (commercial content, corporate content, blog, forums, and news would make sense for many companies) and driving PageRank to the domains that need it most. I would NOT recommend tight interlinkage in such networks. Nor should the domains share content or design or navigation.