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Paid links: do they really affect your Google rankings?

Many websites on the Internet will link to your website if you pay them for the links. Is this a good method to increase the link popularity of your website or can you get in trouble if you use paid links?

What does Google think about paid links?

Google is very clear about paid links. They don't like them. Google even has an official form that enables webmasters to report paid links to 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."

A recent problem

A webmaster recently reported problems in Google's webmaster discussion forum:

"Today I found that my entire site has dropped out of site in search results. I have a site that received over 2,000 search visits per day and today that has stopped."

It turned out that the website has many affiliate links and other links to advertisers that looked like paid links to Google. Unfortunately, these links were not marked as paid links and Google penalized the website for having the paid links.

What does this mean for your website?

You should avoid paid links if you don't want to get in trouble with Google. If you do buy or sell links, make sure that the links contain the rel="nofollow" attribute. By using that attribute, you show that the paid link is for advertising purposes only and that you don't want to manipulate your website rankings with the link.

While Google doesn't like paid links at all, they also make clear that links are very important:

"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."

For that reason, you should try to get as many good links to your website as possible. The quality is more important than the quantity.

Links that point to your website are a very important factor that influences the position of your website in Google's search results. The links that point to your website should be from related websites and they should contain the keywords for which you want to get high rankings.

Do not manipulate the links to your website by buying links and do not join automated link systems to increase the number of links to your website. There are many ways to get good links (related websites, blogs, social bookmark sites, directories, etc.). IBP helps you to get them all.


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November 2009 search engine articles