Google Webmaster Central Cleans Interface, Adds Paid Link Report & More

Jun 13, 2007 • 7:36 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

The Google Webmaster Central Blog announced that they have made a few changes to Google Webmaster Tools. The most noticeable change is the new user interface for the dashboard. It has a sleeker look and is a bit neater than the previous version.

The most significant change is the addition of the paid link report tool. This tool allows webmasters to inform Google about sites that are buying or selling links. The page reads:

We work hard to return the most relevant results for every search we conduct. To that end, we encourage site managers to make their content straightforward and easily understood by users and search engines alike. Unfortunately, not all websites have users' best interests at heart. Some site owners attempt to "buy PageRank" in the form of paid links to their sites. Buying links to improve PageRank violates our quality guidelines.

Google uses a number of methods to detect paid links, including algorithmic techniques. We also welcome information from our users. If you know of a site that buys or sells links, please tell us by filling out the fields below. We'll investigate your submissions, and we'll use your data to improve our algorithmic detection of paid links.

Google has also added a page telling you Why should I report paid links to Google? Where they explain that links are used to "determine reputation." Google then adds, "some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites." It is because of this, that Google wants you to report links that are paid. Saying, links that are not nofollowed or redirected are in "violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results."

Here is a screen capture of the form: google-report-paid-links.png

One thing I should add is that, Yahoo's directory is currently not using a nofollow attribute on their links, nor are they using a redirect that I can see. Here is the source code for the link to my corporate site from the Yahoo Directory, <a href=>RustyBrick Web Construction</a>. Plus, looking at the server headers, it does not appear to currently go through any redirect.

The final change is renaming the "reinclusion request form" to a "reconsideration" request form. Here is a screen capture of the new reconsideration form.

There is discussion on mostly the paid link report form at DigitalPoint Forums. Many forum members are not happy with the new form. But I suspect it is here to stay.

Forum discussion at DigitalPoint Forums.

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06/13/2007 01:49 pm

You do not pay to get listed in the Yahoo directory, you only pay to get your site reviewed. It's a small but important detail (and I'm sure one which will be applied to a lot of links from now on :-)). The Yahoo directory is also explicitly recommended in the Google guidelines: "Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, (...)". One major item I am unhappy with is that the rel=nofollow attribute is not visible to the normal user. The links are easily marked as being paid (or "untrusted", etc), but the average user will not know. It would be great if this was added to the next generation of browsers.

Barry Schwartz

06/13/2007 01:59 pm

And as you can see, I sell some links on the side of this site. But I reject a ton of request also, because they are off topic and not relevant to my users. So in a sense, you pay me to review your site for inclusion. The link is free, the review cost money.


06/13/2007 06:24 pm

"And as you can see, I sell some links on the side of this site." Darn black-hat-spammer! :)

Onnik Krikorian

10/31/2007 11:20 am

I got hit by the Page Rank -- from PR5 to PR4 -- and I don't sell or buy paid links. I'm looking for paid advertising, though, although nobody has taken me up on that yet. I also use Adsense, but they can hardly penalize me for that so what happened? I heard that PR might drop as well because if other sites get a lower PR who link to your site, it will affect your PR as well. Is this true? Hope so because otherwise I'm furious with Google. Moreover, if anyone can report a site for malicious reasons and Google mistakingly listens to them, what can we do to get them to correct their error? Thanks in advance.

Son Nguyen

11/11/2008 07:00 pm

Maybe the term "paid link" that Google uses is very misleading and confusing. You should choose another term that describes the problem better. Many links are paid, directly or indirectly. BusinessWeek says "Buy a link here", so it must be paid links then! Many advertising services are about paid links, including Google's AdWords. Use another term or remove this altogether! I cannot believe Google didn't think this through!

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