Web Design and Development
For over a year now, Google has been cracking down on websites which sell links. In most cases, these websites were penalized by losing pagerank (PR). And in other more drastic cases, some of these websites had their pages completely dropped from the Google index.
With consequences this severe, two questions come to mind. First, how does Google find websites that sell links? And second, is Google ever wrong?
Google hints at several techniques for finding paid links, two of which include: (1) information supplied by Google users and (2) a special algorithm.
Google invites all users to manually report a website that they know is selling or buying paid links. But there is one obvious flaw to this method. Companies or individuals might maliciously use this form to report their competitors. Fortunately, Google does investigate all submissions, but it is hard to imagine that data from the user community would produce many legitimate leads.
Google also mentions the use of an algorithm which helps find paid links. However, this technique is flawed because paid links are often completely indistinguishable from unpaid links. For example, suppose a tech website such as Engadget were paid to publish a post about a new product from Apple or Dell, and linked directly to the external website. How would this be different from the other articles that they already publish? In fact, unless Google can find a paper trail or other irrefutable evidence that a website is selling links, then most paid links would not be caught.
So far, there have not been any widespread reports of Google making mistakes by incorrectly penalizing websites. But given that it uses algorithms to find paid links, there is a possibility for error. So here are some tips to ensure that Google never suspects your website.
1. Add nofollow to outbound links
Whenever you link to other websites, you share pagerank (PR). In most cases, this is not a problem. But if it is a paid link, Google does not want you to pass this pagerank on because it manipulates the search results. So all you need to do is to add rel="nofollow" to all such links as shown below.
<a href="http://www.example.com" rel="nofollow">Example</a>
Additionally, if you are linking to a commercial website, it is probably a good idea to make links nofollow.
2. Use redirects
Google also suggests the use of redirects, such that all outbound links are redirected via an intermediate page which is blocked from search engines.
There is very little evidence that Google penalizes websites that buy links. After all, a company could maliciously buy links pointing to its competitor to get the site banned. So for the most part, penalties are directed at the website which sell links.
For more information on paid links, read about Paid Links in Google’s Webmasters/Site owners Help.Tags: Google, links