Paid Links = Bad for Pagerank ? Google Clarifies

Jenna Bautista from Cebu City emailed us this question yesterday:
"Dear TechPinas, are paid links really bad for Google pagerank? I've just placed a few paid links on my site and I'm scared that my pagerank might plummet because of them. Do paid links adversely affect pagerank?"

Hi Jenna! Thanks for the inquiry!

Now, for the answer, let's hear it from Google:

Google and most other search engines use links to determine reputation. A site's ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to it. Link-based analysis is an extremely useful way of measuring a site's value, and has greatly improved the quality of web search. Both the quantity and, more importantly, the quality of links count towards this rating.

However, some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links that pass PageRank, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.

Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such. This can be done in several ways, such as:
  • Adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to the <a> tag
  • Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file
Google works hard to ensure that it fully discounts links intended to manipulate search engine results, such excessive link exchanges and purchased links that pass PageRank. If you see a site that is buying or selling links that pass PageRank, let us know. We'll use your information to improve our algorithmic detection of such links.

There you go -- pretty straight-forward.

Paid links are not bad per se. They are only bad if the advertiser or the party buying them uses the links to manipulate search engine results. So, as the publisher, make sure that you implement the correct link tags. :)

[image courtesy of Blaugh]

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