Google made it clear over the past year or so that it’s against their guidelines to buy or sell links. They keep trying to catch sites engaging in paid links and then penalize them for doing so.
If you sell links from your site and you get caught, most likely your Page Rank will get nuked and links from your site will no longer be trusted.
For example, Google penalized SERoundtable.com for selling links. According to Barry Schwartz his penalty lasted about a year or so.
When it expired his Page Rank jumped back to 6. The interesting thing is that when the penalty expired his paid links were still dofollow. When he filed for reconsideration request Google sent him an automated message saying there is no manual action, but when he emailed Matt Cutts he received a confirmation that they were aware of the upcoming expiration of the penalty and they were about to renew it slapping his blog even harder.
Matt Cutts also stated that they were going to take action against the sites buying those links and not just SERoundtable.com.
The webspam team had noticed the upcoming expiration of the manual webspam action on seroundtable.com and had prepared another incident regarding seroundtable.com and the sites buying links from seroundtable.com. The scheduled webspam action was considerably stronger than the previous action we had applied. However, since you’ve added rel=nofollow to the paid links, it’s no longer necessary for us to check in that incident.
So basically in this case Matt says that all parties involved will get penalized. Did Google just admit that Negative SEO works?
I mean how easy it is to buy links to your competitor’s domain name and then go ahead and report them?
How would they be able to tell who actually paid for those links and why? I don’t think they can unless they actually contact the seller and ask? 🙂
It’s easy to frame someone for buying links especially if their link profile is not strong enough to handle sudden influx of incoming links. If your site is targeting extremely competitive keywords you better watch out, because those who already rank on top might not want to see you on the front page jeopardizing their dominance.
If they have enough cash to take you out by buying links to your domain name and then reporting you then you are pretty much screwed, because in Google’s eyes you are guilty until proven innocent (not the other way around)
But here is where it gets interesting.
Matt Cutts also recently uploaded another video to Youtube answering a question that specifically talks about paid links and how they treat sites that happen to be linked to from a link selling domain.
Check it out:
According to Matt if a site that sells links gets caught their trust will be reduced as well as Page Rank, but the link to your site will simply stop passing link juice.
So, I am confused here because in the message to Barry he stated they will take action on sites being linked to, but in the above video he said that the links will just lose trust and you won’t get demoted or penalized for those links.
My question to Matt would be: Which one of those 2 answers he gave is correct?
Anyway, to be honest this whole thing is getting ridiculous. Webmasters that run real useful sites just want to compete. They see spammers ranking on top with bullshit links and dominating so they try a little bit of gray hat link building themselves…I mean, what else can they do?
When they get nuked they lose a lot because they actually care for their domain names while spammers simply get 10 new ones and go to town with link blasts all over again. After a few weeks they are back on top raking in the money.
Is it just me or do you also think that the more penalties Google serves…the stricter they get the more spam we see in the serps, because people just get fed up and step into the dark side of SEO.
If you only have 1 site that you really care about then you are extremely vulnerable. All your hard work could disappear overnight because of 1 competitor who decided to frame you.
Maybe Google’s algorithm is not as smart as some of you might think. I have already noticed that in high volume verticals Google manually review sites and adjusts their rankings. They probably cannot monitor every single keyword but I bet they keep tabs on those that get extremely high search volume.
So even if you are not doing anything shady, but if one of Google’s raters classifies your site as thin affiliate site (even though it might not be true) then no matter what you do you will just not rank anywhere. Plus they won’t tell you that your site got demoted….but that’s a whole different can of worms.