Sunday, February 26, 2012

Google's Paid Link Policy and How It Affects SEO

The paid link debate carries on in to 2012 with no end in site. If you want to fire up the SEO community, all you have to do is bring up the subject of buying links and watch the flames ignite. But what about Google? Where does the search engine giant stand? Have they changed their position recently? Let's define that once and for all, and discuss the impact their position has on SEO.

What is a Paid Link?

It is first necessary to define a paid link. A paid link is any time someone purchases a link on another website that points back to their own site. Paid links can be purchased within a blog post or on a website's blogroll, which is typically a right or left hand navigation featuring "favorite" sites or something to that affect.

Does Google Allow Paid Links?

First, it is necessary to understand that Google's webmaster guidelines are against paid links. Really, the guidelines are against anything that is done online to manipulate their search engine ranking algorithm. Paid links falls under the definition of manipulation. So does that mean Google will strike you (and your site) down if you ever buy a link? No. And in fact, buying links has become a near requirement to rank on Page 1 in some industries due to heavy competition.

What Does Google's Stance Against Paid Links Mean for SEO?

In the end, most webmasters or online marketers don't really have to sweat it. Remember, it is an algorithm. As big as they are, Google does not have the resources to hire a team whose sole responsibility is checking the backlink profiles of every site on the web for paid links. Considering the number of websites in Google's index, and the time it would take to do that, it is downright impossible.

You will, from time to time, see Google make an example out of a larger, well known business such as JCPenney or In the end, those two sites were ratted out consistently by industry competitors that were fed up with the link building tactics being deployed by both organizations. Really, it was a prime opportunity for Google to give the perception off that they closely police the buying of links, when we know that isn't the case.

So Should I Buy Links or No?

That isn't up to me. What you need to do is be realistic. For starters, what industry are you in? Many, like the credit card debt and pharma industries, will in essence require you to buy links to achieve and maintain your Page 1 visibility within the search results. Others will not. If you have to buy links, try to do so from sites that are related to your own, just to play it safe. In the end, it isn't recommended if you don't have to do it, but if you do, the chances that you are a strong enough presence in the world for Google to notice is highly unlikely.

No comments:

Post a Comment