Calling all Businesses, PR’s and Bloggers – Buying and Selling Links – A Help Guide

After a recent experience with reputable PR Company, it seems fitting to give you the background information to buying and selling links (link advertising).

Lets get one thing clear, it is OK to buy a link to your website, but it cannot take any Google Page Rank from the website you have bought it from, or both of you could be penalised in Google.  My deal with the PR was for a post with 3 links from the Scottish Mum Blog.  After writing it and publishing, the PR reneged, and refused to pay unless I made it a “do follow” link.

Buying back links that pass Page Rank – a “Do” Follow Link, (your website reputation) is against Google Webmaster Guidelines.

NONE of us wants to upset the mighty Google.

Search engines decide how popular you are by analysing the amount of back links that you have coming in to your website.  If they are relevant, good quality, and growing steadily, your website will enjoy an increase in good reputation by being rewarded with a slowly increasing Page Rank.

Paid Links

Buying and selling of paid links to increase your reputation IS allowed.   Buying page rank is NOT allowed.   Google does recognise that buying and selling links is all part of the daily business of online life, but it does not support buying the page rank of those links to boost  website reputation.   Where links are bought, they should be identified as advertising.

Follow Links

Each page that you create on your website has a rank of its own.  If we call that 100% of the page rank for that one page, then giving away a follow link gives part of your page rank to the site that is buying the link.  Companies and PR’s effectively buy blog links to point to their websites.  Google does not like paid for links, or advertising campaigns to go down this route.

No Follow Links

To mark your links as advertising in the way that Google expects, the rel no follow command needs to be added to your links.  There are unscrupulous webmasters, PR’s and Companies who will approach bloggers and businesses to share links, or to buy and sell links.   A no-follow link means the site advertising for the buyer will not pass reputation to the website it links to.

To make a link no-follow, Google recommends doing this.

  • Add rel=”nofollow” attribute to the <a> tag
  • Redirect the links to an intermediate page which is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file

What will happen if I sell Follow links?

Selling follow links means that you could very well be deemed to be in breach of Google Webmaster Guidelines, and may have your ranking reduced in search results.  That means you might not show up in searches, or you might be banned from the Google Index altogether.  Some webmasters, PR’s and SEO companies want to buy and sell links simply to pass Page Rank to clients.  They often don’t care about quality of links, nor that both buyer and seller could be penalised in Google.  Buying a link from a blog is a relatively low cost advertising route, and one that should be respected.  I really struggle to understand why PR and SEO employees would risk their clients websites.

Isn’t it only excessive link purchases and exchanges that are affected?

Google is not silly.   They will target:
“excessive link exchanges and purchased links that pass PageRank.”
Some PR’s are trying to convince us that it is only excessive purchased links that pass Page Rank which are affected.  Read it again.  It says excessive link exchanges AND purchased links, NOT excessive purchased links.  Is it really worth the risk of losing your reputation and being invisible in the Google search results?

 Isn’t it only sites which are unrelated that will get penalised?

Building links is not a fixed science, and there are definitely wrong ways to do it.  Yes, search engines love links that are relevant to your website, and one or two unrelated links might be ok, but being realistic, an advertiser who is paying for links will generally approach several websites or blogs at the same time with the same offer, and all linking back to the advertiser.  Google bots will tend to recognise the approach, and your precious website will come under scrutiny and possible de-prioritisation.  Who wants to risk that?  A purchased link still counts towards your link count.  It is just passing of page rank that search engines don’t like.  It’s not worth the risk.   I recommend that all purchased links be made no-follow for the protection of everyone involved.

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