In Google’s “Quality Guidelines“, it states pretty clearly-:
“Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
Matt Cutts (hopefully, needs no introduction) said in a post last month-:
“The best links are not paid, or exchanged….the best links are earned and given by choice.”
Such was the reaction to this post, that Matt posted again later to clarify his position-:
“I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if search engines begin to take stronger action against link buying in the near future.”
Matt’s take on this is logical. Why, when Google won’t recognize its own paid ad links as “authentic votes” would it reward other sites’ paid ad links? Right now, the process still does reward, in error, those webmasters who want to gain pagerank. But the days of such PR transfers are clearly numbered.
“Long term, I’m pretty sure that supporting people who game search engines is not a good thing. The result will be that search engines are less able to reach their promise as an expression of the collective intelligence of the net.”
…in reaction to a post of outrage on Phil Ringnalda’s blog.
This harks back to the Link Condom arguments a la 2005, open warfare in some cases: Danny Sullivan says YES, Jeremy Zawodny says NO and a host of other SE gurus weighing in. All of that seems to have quietened down over the last six months, but maybe, just maybe, it’s rearing its head again before the next Google PR update.
As one of the comments said, by TallTroll, in reply to Matt’s aforementioned post-:
Matt, the professionals donâ€™t care a lot about PageRank, and you know it.
And where it gets totally absurd is when people are buying text links in order to gain pagerank, so that they can in turn sell text links off the very same site they have been buying links for. Oh dear!! If only life were so simple….
In previous years, SEO experts tried to fool Google with reciprocal link strategies, to artificially create “link popularity“. This was put to bed in Google’s “Jagger Update” in October, 2005.
Is the same scenario waiting to happen with paid text link ads. It’s not if, it’s when. Doomed. As Matt Cutts concludes-:
Many people who work on ranking at search engines think that selling links can lower the quality of links on the web. If you want to buy or sell a link purely for visitors or traffic and not for search engines, a simple method exists to do so (the nofollow attribute). Googleâ€™s stance on selling links is pretty clear and weâ€™re pretty accurate at spotting them, both algorithmically and manually. Sites that sell links can lose their trust in search engines.