Recently, Google has been on a HUGE push to “level the playing field” in terms of SEO and organic search rankings. Google wants to rank each webpage/website on it’s merit exclusively. In keeping with this mission, they have penalized websites that have paid backlinks pointing to them. The thinking was (is) that they do not want “site A” to rank higher than “site B” simply because the owners of “site A” might have a ton of money to spend on high PR backlinks!
This has rocked the SEO world again! Tons of website that usually enjoy page 1 Google rankings simply because they were spending obscene amounts of money on very high PR backlinks, are now being demoted in the rankings and/or de-indexed all together! Basically, until very recently, one could “buy their way” to Google’s page 1 by paying for high PR backlinks (either individual links on high PR websites OR by paying for inclusion in high PR link networks). This tactic is no longer kosher according to Google and if they find paid links, they will demote the website that the links point to.
In an effort to prove their point and show how serious they are, Google even penalized themselves! Google recently demoted it’s own website (www.google.com/chrome) because the people on the Chrome team had paid for videos about Chrome (sponsored posts). Today, if you search for “browser” in Google, you will no longer find Google Chrome. Here is a statement from Google:
We’ve investigated and are taking manual action to demote www.google.com/chrome and lower the site’s PageRank for a period of at least 60 days. We strive to enforce Google’s webmaster guidelines consistently in order to provide better search results for users. While Google did not authorize this campaign, and we can find no remaining violations of our webmaster guidelines, we believe Google should be held to a higher standard, so we have taken stricter action than we would against a typical site.
Google uses a number of methods to detect paid links, including a bunch of very advanced algorithmic techniques. If you have ANY paid links, we are suggesting that you remove them all, going back as far as you have paid for links ASAP. If you have any questions about paid links that you may have, please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can evaluate the links for you.
Google said that if you have been paying for links for two years, go back two years and remove those paid links. If it is five years, go back five years. Google wants to see a serious attempt to remove all the paid links you acquired over the years.
This was taken directly from Google Webmaster Tools:
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 as 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.