Recently Rand Fishkin over at SEOmoz has covered buying links through their weekly “Whiteboard Friday” video. Rand explains to us three examples in which purchasing a single link has done to their rankings. You can find all these details and the video aver at SEOmoz
Buying Links Is Risky
Google specifically states that purchasing links that do not contain the “no follow” attribute is against their guidelines. This hasn’t stopped many SEO’s and webmasters from going forward with the practice. Because of this, Google has been known to ban or penalize a website in which Google believes partakes in buying/selling links. How can you tell if you’re penalized or banned from Google? Check out the info below.
- A Google Ban – If your website is banned from the search engine completely you will not be able to find your website within their indexes. Try typing in your site name or even the URL. If you don’t show up it’s pretty likely that you have been banned from Google.
- A Google Ranking Penalty - These penalties range from a “-10” penalty up to a supposed “-950” penalty. A -10 penalty in this instance would mean that the best your page could rank would be number 11 which is the first listing on the second page of the results. These penalties were put in place so that its impossible to get significant search engine traffic. Google wants to include as many sites in their index so if you received a small penalty it just means that you annoyed them. Odds are if you fix your shady tactics they may consider removing the penalty.
- A Google PageRank Penalty – Many webmasters and SEO’s believe that links from high PageRank sites are deemed the most valuable. If a website has been caught selling links Google can place a PageRank penalty on their site. This penalty isn’t supposed to affect rankings, but remove the PageRank score. The goal would be that link buyers won’t waste their time contacting the site due to the visual representation of that site having no Google value.
Buying Links Can Be Risky For You AND Your Competition.
We discussed why it’s dangerous for you to buy links for your website and listed out some of the results that can come about it. What I want to know is what would happen if you purchased these links for your competitor? If you buy enough of these links could you get them penalized or banned from the search engines? If this would be your fate for purchasing the links then wouldn’t it be the same for them?
On With The Debate!
I want this post to generate some comments; I would really like to see everyone’s thoughts on this technique. I don’t endorse it and I think it would be a crumby tactic to execute assuming it would actually work. I will start this debate off with my two cents.
My personal opinion is that this technique could work well for low competition keywords in which low authoritative websites rank the highest in the results. These sites which are ranking well do not have a large incoming link profile and their site authority may be minimal. Purchasing links would surely take these sites down. I couldn’t say if it would take two (obviously purchased) paid links or if it would be 100 links but assuming all things equal to Google these sites would be toast.
For highly competitive keywords which have highly authoritative website ranking at the top I wouldn’t imagine an effect. These websites realistically have an extremely diverse link profile and link counts that are off the chart. I don’t think Google would penalize these types of sites based off some purchased links. If Google penalized or banned a website simply for discovering a paid link every website would be sabotaged by their competitors. I can’t tell you exactly what the limit is nor will we ever find out from Google (Which I remind you is a GOOD thing!).
There you have it, an overview of what a penalty/ban consists of and my own two cents on the subject matter. What’s your opinion on link buying and do you believe it could be manipulated in such a way to get your competitors in trouble?
This is a guest post by Nick LeRoy.