Is Selling Links?

Apr 14, 2010 • 8:19 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

Yesterday we ran a poll on how risky is link buying. Well, the last thing you want is me writing about your site when it sells links. :) Unfortunately, I found an interesting *public* thread at Google Webmaster Help about a big time web site, allegedly selling links.

The person who started the thread clearly wanted Google to take notice and he leaded to an example of a page with "sponsored listings" that are links without a nofollow. Take a look for yourself.

If you view the source code, you clearly see that understands how the nofollow attribute works. They have it on their printer friendly links and links where they do not want to pass or dilute their PageRank (which we know doesn't work too well anyway). The links doesn't go through any redirect, as far as I can see. So it does seem to be passing PageRank.

But is this a paid link?

It seems like even the free listings are passing PageRank. It also seems like a web directory like approach that can be equated to the Yahoo Directory or Open Directory Project. Kevin in the forums said he doesn't think this is a true paid link, he explained:

When you upgrade a free standard listing by buying a paid listing in Yell you are not buying a link. Having a link to your website on your paid advert is an optional extra - it is not what you are paying for. What you are paying for is extra pominence in Yells directory. You do not pay any extra if you have a link to your site. therefore you are not buying links when you buy a listing in Yell. If you buy a heavyweight listing at Yell and do not have a web site you don't get a discount on the fee because you don't have a link. Therefore you are not buying pagerank or paying to influence your SERP, you are doing nothing except to boost your Yell listing within Yell itself.

Is this a paid link? See, it is not that clear. How risky are paid links? :) Oh and did I just help out a web site? Nah, it is a public thread and does go within our code of ethics.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Previous story: Google Bangladesh Snubs Their Bengali New Year


Luke Jones

04/14/2010 12:36 pm

This is a really difficult area to be honest. It's the same situation that arises with design galleries too. For example, you have to pay for the privilege of having a website on Design Shack. Would you call that paying for a link? The reasoning behind this is that you're literally displaying a website and that's it. No other information.

Mukul Verma

04/14/2010 01:06 pm

Small difference the buyers in the bigger picture.


04/14/2010 01:40 pm

This all hinges on the sales script of Yell salespeople. If a follow link is sold as a feature of the product then they are selling a paid link. It would be very easy to find out from any recent ex employees if links were offered as part of the paid product. ;)

No Name

04/14/2010 03:02 pm

it will be impossible for anybody to understand if bought link was bought for purpose of pagerank or for the traffic. after all google is ok if you are buying link for the generation of the traffic. lets be honest, how many websmasters know or will admit knowing about pagerank, follow and no follow. unless they are into SEO they wont know or care about it.


04/14/2010 03:36 pm

In some cases - it is a little murky. In others - not even a Mr.Magoo would have problems spotting the blatant breach of guidelines. Sign up/Submit for a free listing. No link provided. Cough up some cash, get a link with your listing, and there's no sight of Nofollow or passing through a blocked page etc. That is selling links that pass PR, and is technically against the Guidelines. No two ways about it. And they aren't the only company. There are a few notable Advertising companies that provide ad-feeds with normal links that pass PR. So ... where does that leave us? Well, * We could have faith that G is handling it internally/behind the curtain (which would be more than a little sucky - as they Punish others!) * We could believe that they have been punished - but they are that popular/relevant/strong that it's offset and not noticable. (That would stil lbe sucky to my mind - as it means only the lesser/weak need fear breaching the guidelines.) * We could believe that G has done absolutely nothing about it for whatever reasons. (Yup - you guessed it - still sucky.) * We could accept that we simply don't know - and that G are not likely to step up and tell us. (And yet another "sucky" option) Infact - off the top of my head ... ... I'm not seeing an option that isn't more than a little sucky all round. . Suggestion - why don't people post about what they see out there like this? Not the sites that you pay for a "review" and they may include your submital (way to much grey there) ... but the blatant sites like Yell that sell links clearly/openly. Go on - go create a topic in Chit Chat at the Google Webmaster Help forum. All post the sites you know that basically break G's rules. Maybe ... just maybe ... someone at G will step up and talk?


04/14/2010 06:42 pm

"It seems like even the free listings are passing PageRank." The free listings cannot have a website listed, so there is no way that a free listing is passed page rank. You can see for yourself that listing your website is a pay only option on: I actually created a listing to test this. The listings you see flagged as "Sponsored Listings" are sponsored listings amongst other paid listings (i.e. they paid even more). Every business on this page has paid Yell:


04/19/2010 09:33 pm

Network Cleaning Services Ltd is not a paid link Dan, but you can still link through to their website.

blog comments powered by Disqus