A couple of days ago I read and article in SEJ (25 Ways to Get Penalized in 2012) where the author mentions a series of techniques or practices that can get your website in trouble, in a post-penguin post-panda world.
It particularly caught my attention point #2 Paid links that pass PageRank, where the author says:
Buying links for advertising purposes is find, but be sure they’re denoted as sponsor links and use “nofollow” attributes appropriately. Purchasing links for the sole purpose of passing PageRank violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Read more at http://www.searchenginejournal.com/25-ways-to-get-penalized-in-2012/47245/
My original response was
For the last 5+ years I’ve heard paid links are bad. Buying site-wide links are black hat, Google doesn’t like them and so forth. So I have refrained myself from doing it.
The truth is in many markets, Top 1st Positions in Google are dominated by people who do just that, buying links in forums, and other sites.
The difference in number of backlinks with comparable sites is as much as 10:1…. With one site providing 20K links alone: sitewide links.
Same with some SEO companies … paid links…
So unfortunately for those of us who have followed “The Rules”, competition is just unfair, being the “good guys” sometimes doesn’t pay off…
In my opinion: Do paid links work? I say yes
Which generated some comments from fellow internet marketers, and got me thinking….
I believe it is a matter of concepts (basically Google the omnipotent’s concept of a paid link):
Do Paid Links Still Work?
What Google says about Sponsored / Advertising links: Should have NOFOLLOW attribute. I must say that it is completely legitimate for website to have sponsor / advertising links in other websites, Why not?
The issue is when these sponsor links don’t follow “Google’s rules”… and they do not have the rel=nofollow attribute…. Does that put them into “paid links” “black hat SEO” area?
Should they count towards your “positive” backlinks, should they be “neutral”, or given a “negative” connotation, should Google penalize your website because of that?
If paying $50 / month gets me 20K+ links to my website… from a related site / forum where my target market hangs-out… Who is to say that is a “Black-Hat” technique? Why should the owners of the publisher website follow “Google’s Rules”? (Ok. I guess the answer is: if Google drives more than 60% of the search traffic, and you want a piece of that cake, you better abide by their rules, correct?)
Now, things will be different if I purchase a paid link in a crappy, unrelated, garbage, regurgitated, directory or website, where it is pretty obvious to anyone, even a spider to realize the business transaction.
Isn’t Yahoo Directory, BOTW and other directories paid links?
I think the problem is when an article is published in an authority SEO site where they tag certain technique as Black Hat / White Hat / Grey Hat … whatever you want to call it, many, many people tend to think in Black and White:
Paid Links Are Bad. Do Not Purchase Links!
And so when a business venture comes along and someone offers the website owner an opportunity to reach a wider audience by sponsoring a site, they, in looking to be a “good guy” and follow “Google’s Rules”, let the opportunity pass and the offer goes to his competitor who doesn’t hesitate and just takes it, leaving the first guy to bite the dust so to speak.
And just like the paid link practice, there are many other ones that we will be discussing in the future, where we will try to help small business owners looking to get some business from the online world, make the decisions that will most benefit their business by using the information they read online but always, always using their own criteria to decide whether to pursue it or not.
And in the case of paid links: If you are analyzing a sponsor /advertising / paid link opportunity, I would say ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this website look like a legitimate business?
- Will exposing my company to its visitors increase my reach and my branding?
- Is this a place where my target market hangs out, and having my advertising here will bring in traffic and business to my website?
What do you think? Have you purchased links and seen good or bad results? What would your recommend a friend?