Google Can Detect Some Paid Links

Sep 2, 2005 • 8:31 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

There is a lot of buzz recently about buying & selling links these days. Yesterday, Matt Cutts posted a blog entry named Text links and PageRank, where he warns those who sell links for the sole purpose of manipulating the SERPs. He says, "However, link-selling sites can lose their ability to give reputation (e.g. PageRank and anchortext)."

To me that says that Google might PR0 a text link selling site, but it is still hard for them to go through a anchor text selling companies network of links and devalue them all. Matt says, "But these links make it harder for Google (and other search engines) to determine how much to trust each link." So let's get to the interesting parts.

At this point, someone usually asks me: “But can’t you just not count the bad links? On the, I see the words ‘Sponsored Resources’. Can’t search engines detect paid links?” Yes, Google has a variety of algorithmic methods of detecting such links, and they work pretty well.

This snippet from Matt's entry tells us a few things.

(1) Search engines can do an OK job determining algorithmically what links are paid and not by the surrounding text. Text like; "sponsored links", "paid links", advertisements" and so on. (2) Search engines will only get better at detecting these paid links. (3) Matt really dislikes the buying and selling of links.

The one other comment I would like to note, is that DaveN has an acceptable point. Dave says, "if link buying is so bad, ban Yahoo I dare you .. search google for autos wow yahoo is number 1.. why because they purchased text links."

Does this make you wonder as to the real reason Matt Cutts started a blog?

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09/02/2005 01:25 pm

I'm so tired of Google trying to control the internet, I'll be so happy if they go down hard some day...


09/02/2005 02:37 pm

Sponsored Listings does not always mean its bought! That's just a load of corporate bs. If a site is a resource site, and the site owner exchanges a link for software or services, how is that technically buying/selling link space? Unless Google can access the bank accounts of those people allegedly selling links, there is absolutely no 100% proof way to detect any link selling/buying activities - Google's guess is as good as anyone else's.

Brian Turner

09/02/2005 03:17 pm

I would have thought that existing methods of automated devaluation would at least minimise the impact of text links on Google.

Matt Cutts

09/02/2005 04:20 pm

Brian, you're pretty spot on. I wanted to say Google's position because it's on peoples' minds lately after Phil Ringnalda's post.


09/02/2005 04:58 pm

I dont see some rather huge companies selling anchor text links being devalued at all. One in particular has been selling anchor text links for years for around 5k a month and they are still passing just as much weight as ever. In fact, the only people I have seen hurt so far by automatic devaluation are general webmasters, not link brokers.

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