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aethernet

Old Link Buys Come Back To Haunt You?

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I have an established ecommerce retail site that has good content depth, traffic and repeat customers. The site is going on 6 years old and early on I bought a few quality (but obviously paid) links. When Google officially banned this in 2007 I stopped buying them immediately, but didn't cancel all of my existing placements.

 

Has anyone had any experience with this coming back to bite?

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I've rarely seen (if ever) Google actually punish link buyers. Link sellers, on the other hand, have gotten slapped around a bit.

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heh... I should send all of those people who are reaching out to buy "advertising" on my site a link to your post. But... they don't give a rat's about what happens to my site.

 

Since most of these transactions are initiated by the buyer - and the seller is often ignorant - I am surprised that the seller is the one who gets slapped.

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It is annoying that the buyer gets away with it. I assume, however, that this is Google's way of getting around the problem that competitors might buy a bunch of links pointing to your site, and then outing them to Google. If that would work to get your competition removed from the SERPs, then competitors would do it a lot, I imagine.

 

I've always believed that Google should merely ignore any links it believes are paid. And by "ignore" I mean that Google should treat them as if they didn't exist, or had nofollows on them. By ignoring them, they pass no juice, so they don't affect Google's algo. If they don't affect Google's algo, then Google should have no issue with whether or not someone has paid for them.

 

But for whatever reason, Google has chosen to take the stance of seller-slapping as a way to discourage the existence of the market. Personally, I can't see how this will ever be a good solution, but it is what it is.

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I agree with you, Donna, that this is not handled well by Google. It also puts them on the tricky moral slope of what constitutes payment. Giving expensive freebies to authoritative bloggers who then write articles with links does not produce paid links but really they are. Different rules seem to apply if you are a big paying user of Google services. It's the mom and pop businesses that get affected by this rule.

 

Of course to defend the integrity of the logic of the PageRank system they must have such a rule in place. However treating them as you suggest, Donna, i.e. ignoring them, would be a much more effective way of handling them.

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Wanna know why I think they don't take my advice and just ignore them?

 

(donna considers leaving this post with just that question and then waiting for someone to say, "yes, yes I do", but then decides that's just mean, so she answers here and now instead)

 

I think Google doesn't just ignore them because they are completely unable to determine which ones to ignore. i.e. They have no clue which are paid links and which are not. ALGORITHMICALLY, that is.

 

So instead, they rely on people narc'ing on sites that sell ads, and human "beans" manually slap a pr penalty on the seller. Why? Because it's easy to slap a seller. That's just one click on a "Slap 'Em Silly" button.

 

But to manually find all the links on all the pages of all the sites that a buyer might have purchased links on would be nigh impossible.

 

That's right folks. The bot isn't always the brightest bot-bulb in the bunch. (bad metaphor? so? you come up with a better one).

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That's just one click on a "Slap 'Em Silly" button

 

LOL! I like that Donna. Mind if I use it?

Edited by goodnewscowboy

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My words are your words. ;)

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Just read something elsewhere that Tedster said (I respect Tedster immensely), that contradicts what I said, so I think it should be noted here. (I've been known to be wrong on occasion). :)

 

From this interview: http://www.stuntdubl.com/2010/01/28/ted-ulle/

 

Tedster says,

 

Google’s war on paid links that began as far back as 2005 raised quite a ruckus. At first Google’s negative actions were taken manually and then algorithmically. Algorithmic false positives began to confuse things even more, and I wish they would have just stopped with showing false PageRank on the toolbar.

 

So, according to him, they've gone algorithmic, but I've just not seen the evidence of it. Doesn't mean I'm right, however. Tedster looks at a lot of stuff with a fine-tooth comb, so I always give what he says some credence. In other words, there's at least a definite chance of it, if he says it's so. Worth considering.

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That does raise an interesting point, Donna. What we're talking about here is the effect of paid links on the Toolbar PageRank. Of course if someone is selling the possibility of inserting paid text links on the site a lower TBPR may reduce sales. Perhaps that's why it's done.

 

Whether there is any effect on the true PageRank as taken into account in the Google search algorithms is an entirely different question. In my opinion there is no effect.

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Right, the slap is definitely to TBPR, so in effect, it's meaningless. However, in my opinion, if Google slaps you with a penalty of any sort (meaningless or not), I take that as a fair warning. And if you don't heed the warning, then google may (EMPHASIS ON MAY) turn around and slap a much worse penalty on you. So even if a seller penalty is not that big of a deal (being it's only to toolbar pr), I would recommend treating it as though it were a big deal. Just in case Google ever decides to turn those meaningless penalties into extremely meaningful ones.

 

But that still doesn't address these questions:

 

1) Are the paid links being noticed algorithmically or manually?

 

2) In either case, are buyers being affected?

 

I say manually to the first and no to the second.

 

Tedster believes it's algorithmically to the first. If so, then my argument that Google can't easily penalize buyers becomes less of a good argument (though it could still hold some water). However, they would still have the problem of not knowing if a competitor bought the links for them or not.

 

So...I think I can stand fairly firm on saying No to the second question, but the first question is iffy.

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