Saturday, November 24, 2007

VIDEO - Official Google Paid Links Warning in Place Since July

Today I was reading Loren Baker's blog post about how just this week Google made it official on their Webmaster Help Center that buying or selling links can harm a site's ranking in search results.

Well guess what? That warning wasn't made this week. That warning has been official since July this year, LONG before the infamous PageRank slap down. View my video to see the proof.

UPDATE: After studying the before/after pages a little more closely, I've found the exact wording on the Paid Links page that has been updated by Google at some point after 9 July 2007:

Wording as archived on 9 July 2007:

"Buying links in order to improve a site's ranking is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results."

Wording as at 24 November 2007:

"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."

I've highlighted the additions in bold. Note also that the wording "in order to improve a site's ranking" has been removed in the later page version.

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At 4:18 PM , Moderator said...


I need some background info on the problem you're writing about here.

What, exactly, is the process "buying links in order to improve a site's ranking..."??? Can you give me an example of a site that is doing this?

How is this different from a webmaster adding code to pages with Google AdSense feeds?

I'm confused... help!


At 6:21 AM , Matt Cutts said...

Hi Kalena, I left a comment here:

I'll include it here:
"That support page has mentioned selling links since at least October. Typically we update our English HTML documentation first, and documentation for other languages/countries (including the UK) is updated after we get the text translated into the dozen+ languages that we translate our documentation into.

Also, note that has mentioned selling links since at least July of 2007."

At 9:55 AM , Kalena Jordan said...

@ Darren - In late October/early Nov, Google made an algorithm update that supposedly reduced the PageRank of sites that were allegedly *selling* links that pass PageRank. You can learn more about the crack down here: and you can learn more about Google's definition of buying links here:

At 10:05 AM , Kalena Jordan said...

@ Matt - So let me see if I've got this right. That support page was first uploaded in July (as shown in the archive) and the wording change I pointed out in this post occurred at least as early as October? Thanks for pointing me to the Link Schemes support page. Curiously, it's not in the archive!

At 6:55 PM , Matt Cutts said...

Hi Kalena, there are at least two pages that touch on this topic. One page at gives more details about link schemes. That page was introduced shortly after (during?) SMX Seattle in June 2007. The first version of that page that I dug up was from July 2007, and that first version mentioned both buying and selling links.

The other page is a page specifically about buying/selling links that pass PageRank. That page is at and I found a version from June 2007 that discussed selling links, e.g. "However, some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites." and "If you see a site that is buying or selling links, let us know by clicking Report spam in the index under the Tools menu in Webmaster Tools."

I think the current round of articles is about the phrase "Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines..." and I see that "selling links" has been in that sentence since at least October 2007. That page mentioned selling links in at least three other places since June, but we added another reference to selling links because we wanted to make sure that the guidelines were as clear as possible.

At 8:14 PM , Kalena Jordan said...

@ Matt - Ah ok. Thanks for clarifying.

At 10:10 PM , BK said...

I have a concern about this.

I am building a site that is in some ways like Wikipedia. I want to create a huge encyclopedic source of information.

It started off, because I needed content, with a number of "articles". As time goes forward I research whatever whim comes over me on a particular day, and I add content to my site.

Inside of this content I will link to the sites that I found informative and valuable during my research.

I do not contact the other websites. They are not paying for the link. Of course the new content will be PR0 for quite some time, the overall site is a PR3. Hardly something to "pass along" but it is real.

So my concern lies in whether I will be penalized, or the poor folks who I have decided to link to, simply because I have put a link on my site to another.

I guess I'm concerned that this will "look like" a paid link.

How does Google determine whether it's a paid link or not?



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