27 Sep 2007

Google Punished My Site For Selling Links – NOT!

The Cool Aid is running thick, and the Google FUD Campaign is doing a great job at letting SEO’s and bloggers spread the paranoia.

In a post by Graphic Designer David Airey originally titled "Google Search Ranking Penalty" (title has since been changed to "Google Search Rank Drop: Advice Needed") David shows how his site has lost rankings for his name as well as some other phrases he once ranked high on. It’s obvious that something has gone wrong…..David consulted some other SEO’s and then guesses that the reason could be that he has sold a few link ads on his site, and that Google is spanking his rankings because he sold a few ad spots.

The story get’s Sphinn’d, hits front page, and the paranoia ensues….."Oh my God, Google’s Removing rankings from sites that sell link ads that pass juice" ….. Yea, and the sky is falling. sheesh!

and I’m sure Matt sat back like a cat with cheshire grin on watching this, and then after this was old sphinn news, the real truth comes out.

Around comment number 65, Danny Rotsaert comes in with:

…Surely, the 302 redirect from davidairey.com towards davidairey.co.uk (which was probably an attempt to address geo targetting issues) is also not doing you any good, David.
Has that one always been in place ?
Avoid 302 redirect for this ! You’re .co.uk site should 301 redirect towards the .com

and David comes back with:

Thanks very much, Danny.

As you can tell, I’m not very clued in on SEO, and it was my host provider who implemented the redirect on my .co.uk address.

and then later again David says:

Thanks everyone.

I’ve corrected the 302 (temporary) redirect I had, from my .co.uk to my .com address, changing it to a 301 (permanent).

I’d no idea that was the case, so thanks for pointing it out.

….but by now, Thousands of Bloggers have drunk the Cool Aid and are spreading Google’s FUD. I don’t blame David for crying wolf here….it was a prime linkbait cry and a great way to get people to find out really what happened. But I wonder how many ran with the idea of "sell a link and get banned in google".

In my experience the only thing I’ve ever seen from google, as far as effect of selling links, is that Google may block your site from passing Pagerank. Doesn’t hurt your site one bit, you’ll rank the way you always would….Google just don’t count your link love you give to other sites. (Pagerank Block beyond your site). The ironic thing is that if you’re wanting to sells links, go ahead. The person buying them will probably never know if that links passes link juice to your site in the eyes of google, and it isn’t going to hurt you.

In the Sphinn comments of that story I was conversing with Danny Sullivan who came back also with:

…I’m within you in that I’ve yet to see anything convincing me that Google is banning sites for paid links….

If Google were wacking rankings from sites that sell links, then all the weather PR9’s, and the Traffic Counters, hundreds of major newspapers, and major tech sites and tons of other huge above the radar sites that sell text links right in such obvious places would be seeing their rankings dropping like rocks….in fact if Google took it a step further and "penalized" all the sites that currently have a Pagerank block on them, you’d see a million sites and webmasters cry out in agony accross the web. It ain’t going to happen. I think there’d be some pretty big companies going after Google if it did happen (some of these companies that sell links on thier site also can afford to bring a lawsuit againt google, and then Google would have to go into legal aspects of a free market in advertising and fair competitive practices….I get a feeling that’s not going to happen in my lifetime.

It is in Google best interest to just try to identify a paid link and to not count it (PR Block). It’s really not that hard to put in a few filters to find the networks or even advertising areas of a website, and to block PR from passing from those pages. The hard part is identifying the paid ads that fall under the radar. One ad on a few pages of your website, in the content area, all different, probably isn’t going to get picked up in the radar. Joining a network or being mapped just increase your chance of having your pagerank blocked from passing to other sites….but again, it doesn’t effect your rankings.

That’s why I’m all about getting our own links from virgin sites that aren’t selling links in above the radar places nor from networks….I’d like my chances of a link to bring traffic and juice to be high.

Tell me you’re not drinking this Cool Aid, are you?

Feel free to Sphinn this.

It’s also worth noting the buyers side: Can Google Find and Spank you Paid Links?