Buying Links Can Get Your Site Penalized

Feb 25, 2010 • 7:28 am | comments (9) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

A WebmasterWorld thread discusses the topic of link buying versus link selling. One person made a bold claim that link buying will not hurt you, but link selling can hurt you. I don't think anyone would argue that Google proactively goes after link sellers. But do they proactively go after link buyers?

From what I see in the various forums, including the Google Webmaster Forums, Google does actively penalize sites for buying links. Time after time, I see a webmaster complain that his site does not rank well and a Googler coming in linking to the page about link schemes and/or paid links. On the paid links page, Google does not hide the fact that:

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.

In fact, in 2007, Google added a report paid links form to encourage competitors to report paid links to them.

But what about competitors hurting your rankings? Google has a page about that as well. In the old days, Google said competitors can never really hurt your rankings, but now they said, "almost" never.

There's almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you're concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don't control the content of these pages.

In any event, there are many SEOs that successfully purchase links to gain rankings. They do it differently then normal link buying. So if you are going to purchase links, be smart about it and be creative. Otherwise, just write content that attracts normal links - it might just be safer and in the long run, easier.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Mike G.

02/25/2010 03:17 pm

What about other link building schemes? I am currently engaged in an seo battle with a group of cosmetic surgeons (about 5), each owning about 5 of their own sub-sites, and all designed by one company with hundreds of sites, some financial, some marketing, and some actually relevant to the doctor's syndication (the majority are not). With their main sites, sub sites, and designer's client sites, they have created a large, incestuous network of links to propel themselves into a dominant position. I have reported the details of this network to Google, with no response or results. It appears to me that Google does not view multiple interlinked web sites, easily traceable to a source, as something worthy of investigating or penalizing. Is this the new grey hat?

Brad Dudley

02/25/2010 03:55 pm

What about paid advertising? Essentially if you are advertising on another site that is paid linking, isn't it?

No Name

02/25/2010 04:46 pm

If you are a big brand you don't have to worry about being penalized for buying links. Look at the big online casinos, they all buy tons of links but Google has to keep them ranking in the index because otherwise the search results would not be relevant. Big brands can get away with almost anything.

Michael Martinez

02/25/2010 09:11 pm

What, exactly, is "normal link buying"?


02/26/2010 08:23 am

This whole paid link/unpaid link is confusing. Buying links on link sites is pretty worthless but what about normal advertising? I'm focused in organic links and building my own network of sites to generate traffic. It seems to be working well.


02/26/2010 10:18 am

Mike, there's nothing wrong with owning your own network mate!

Josefina Agüello

08/27/2010 03:16 pm

Even though the service provider will give full details of link building, you will be not having time to analyze all links they build ed. If they have done any spamming, Google will definitely punish your site. Better to build your own links, it may take some time but definitely your site will get good rank after some time. Josefina Argüello - <a href="">motores de búsqueda</a>


09/28/2010 01:59 pm

Ranking is not the only rerason people buy links. An awful lot buy them for the traffic. Just suppose I had a site selling holidays, for £1000 I could get some great links bringing in 10 times that in new custom. Ranking wouldn't matter as the links are bringing in a ton of business. Paid links are a necessitiy for many, that's why adwords is so popular.


11/02/2010 03:36 am

The sooner Google devalues links the sooner all this madness will stop. Because I see no end to this madness and it just gets worse as time goes on.

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