Matt Cutts Confirms that Paid Links Killed Your PageRank

Oct 30, 2007 • 10:24 am | comments (14) by twitter | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

Selling links? Matt Cutts has told Loren at Search Engine Journal that it was buying and selling links that ended up getting your PageRank lowered over the past few days.

The partial update to visible PageRank that went out a few days ago was primarily regarding PageRank selling and the forward links of sites. So paid links that pass PageRank would affect our opinion of a site.

Danny Sullivan adds in the comments that he already knew this was happening. On October 7, Search Engine Land came out with a post warning you that you could get your PageRank lowered for selling links. Fast forward three weeks and we're here.

The discussion moves to Sphinn where there's a lot of confusion over the fact that Google seems to have penalized sites that simply do not participate in selling links. Copyblogger is an example.

Of course, there's also the other side (in a blog post that I can't find and link to): why can't bloggers make a little money on the side? Some of them aren't as rich as the Googlers. :P

How many people do you think were really outed by SEOs?

Still, according to a more recent Search Engine Land post, Google's stance seems unclear:

Google is always working to improve the ways that we generate relevant search results and update our opinions of sites' reputations across the web.

Some of the hard-hit sites seem to be pretty relevant, if you ask me. Again, the question goes back to the many posts I've seen where bloggers ask why they should be penalized if they provide quality content -- and sell links. So what? Why slight them?

Forum discussion continues at Sphinn.

Previous story: Are You Addicted to Google AdWords?


Michael Martinez

10/30/2007 07:50 pm

This issue really doesn't matter. It's not important. It's a complete waste of your readers' time to continue reporting on non-news.

Barry Schwartz

10/30/2007 07:52 pm

We report on what is being discussed in the forums. It is a very hot topic at Sphinn now. We cover hot topics. You may not find it worth your time, I also may not feel it is worth my time, but nevertheless, it is a hot topic and we cover it. Sorry Michael.

Search* Engines Web

10/31/2007 05:31 am

<b></b> All anyone had to do was pay attention to their referrers. Every site penalized was visited by someone from the URLs mentioned in the above link. The purpose was very obvious by the URL of the site they were visiting from. Apparently, the spam team used a variety of methods to gather a list of suspected sites and blogs. But there are many innocent sites under scrutiny. It is sad that there can be so much power in the hands of a few people. It is unlikely that any of the Webmasters were warned personally in their Webmaster consoles - they would have been better able to fight back. This really is sad because when one thinks of the press coverage that large sites get - and the constant Press Releases that are consumed by the media -often with links to their sites - as well as secretly negotiating additional product or service reviews in exchange for their top ad dollars, it really does leave a very imbalanced playing field. Many bloggers may not be able to afford the high cost of maintaining their popular blogs, without ad dollars - while many advertisers will only chose a blog because of the high pagerank - not anticipating alot of prospects or clicks from their ads. One has to wonder if Google is doing this to force advertisers to use Adwords or Adsense???????

Matt Cutts

10/31/2007 07:12 am

S.E.W., the referrers you list in are fake. Someone is teasing you by surfing to your site with fake referrers, but they are not from Google.


10/31/2007 08:05 pm

Paid links from anywhere corrupt Google's algo and destroy the basic business model of providing genuine quality-driven organic links surrounded by sponsored ads. I mean, what's so hard to understand in all this? If bloggers want to make bucks on the side they can use Adwords. This is Google's bus and you're on it or you're off it. BB


10/31/2007 08:07 pm

Um, I should have said quality-driven search results there, sorry. BB


11/05/2007 03:10 pm

I Think: When Google kill pagerank and use SOCIAL VOTING instead, then its no suprise Adwords is gaining. Loosers wil bee link farms and paid links. Winners will turn to use blogs, social media, hosting center IP agreements and hidden agreements on highvote/highr pr for linking.

Chad Cook

11/05/2007 09:50 pm

But really how can Google determine what are paid links and what links are not? If I have a site or page with say 5 or 6 out bound can Google till if someone is paying me these links or if it's just my choice as a webmaster to have these links on my site. Chad


11/06/2007 01:34 am

I agree with chad and have heard detialed discussion over that one fact - how can Google tell what is a link that honors a site from one that is selling a link????? I can see a page looks suspiciouse if it has fifteen outbound links that lead to something that does not relate to yours.

tony james

11/06/2007 10:49 am

It is absolutely no surprise that google has decided to try and control the paid link penomenon. Google has created a metric to determine the value of a site, and only by applying this metric has the site attained a measurable value regardless of the relevance of content. Therefore in Googles eyes, they should be able to profit from the sale of advertising on the linked out pages. It hurts, but I guess the only way to avoid this would be to have a worldwide boycott of displayed PR... don't build it into next gen browsers... It is amazing that google has managed to monetarise the internet to such an extent that people go to bed and wake up thinking about this little green bar... truly a new spin on internet evilution.... Now where's my cheque?


11/07/2007 09:29 am

I get so tired of comments about how meaningless pr is. Of course it is meaningful! It is the only public indication of how Google rates your website. Many people (myself included) judge the value and trustworthiness of a site, rightly or wrongly, on pr. People only say it is unimportant because it is cool to be cynical and improving pr takes a lot of hard, unglamorous work.

Anup Batra

11/09/2007 01:53 pm

The reason why links are counted as a vote is that it is meant to be a fair measure of the popularity of the website. If people try to manipulate this system, they should be penalised to discourage monetasing the search experience.

Rick Vidallon

11/15/2007 01:23 pm

Google Giveth, Google Taketh Away Those of you who are webmasters already know how this happens. Some eager beaver group of Google engineers laid waste to thousands of mom and pop businesses by tweaking Google’s indexing algorithm. These businesses depended on their Google listings for their income and livelihoods. Google giveth and Google taketh away. Knowing that the Google paradigm will always change puts you ahead of the pack; not putting all your marketing eggs in one basket will keep you there. Your unpaid or "organic" rankings in search engines are free. But how many times have you heard the axiom "there's no such thing as a free lunch." Starting to get the picture now?

David Castle

11/16/2007 12:42 pm

JayG - I assume you are relating to Internal pagerank as opposed to toolbar? Because if not - sorry but that is not connected - period

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