I Yield To Google: My Paid Links Are NoFollow

Apr 12, 2013 • 9:09 am | comments (55) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Blog Administration

Google Chess BoardAs many of you know, I was one of the last major search "blogs" to hold out on Google's guidelines when it comes to paid links. I sold links without the nofollow for years, heck, even before there was a nofollow attribute.

I've been hated and loved for it over the years but I didn't do it for the hate or love, I did it out of being stubborn. I didn't want to change because Google told me to.

Well that changed a week ago. I decided to nofollow the remainder of the paid links on have on the sidebar under where it says "Sponsored Links."

Why now?

The main reason was all but one advertiser wanted them nofollowed. Yes, they all wanted to support the site without getting any link benefit. These sponsors actually didn't want anything else in return except to see this site continue on and be able to financially be able to write content here. So they fork over hundreds of dollars each month as a thank you. And I deeply appreciate it - I do.

The other reasons include:

(1) Over time, new SEOs in the business simply don't get it. They think I am Google, since I write about Google, and thus, since I sell links and don't nofollow them, then it is safe. It is not safe. It can hurt your rankings, PageRank and ability to truly monetize the web site. Truth is, the site suffered in Google and thus with traffic because I sold links. It was fine with me, but to see so many new SEOs being confused by it and then suffering themselves - it wasn't fair.

(2) I am tired of explaining why I didn't nofollow the links. Yes, I made a quick link to my post at seroundtable.com/links so I can respond faster to those questions. Again, see #1, they didn't get it.

(3) As you grow older, you learn to be less stubborn. More wise? Not sure about that. But less stubborn.

So now what?

I did submit a reconsideration request and received a response. The response is very interesting and I plan on sharing that with you next week. You can actually learn a lot from it.

But for now, I wanted to inform you all, this site no longer sells links that pass PageRank. The sponsors here are truly doing it because they like the content. Go figure. :)

For some historical perspective, read why I originally did not nofollow the links over here and feel free to come back here and trash or support me for nofollowing them now.

Forum discussion at Google+.

My Site's Penalty: Three/Four Part Series Post:

Previous story: Configure The Death Of Your Google Account Before You Die


Praveen Sharma

04/12/2013 01:17 pm

Finally... Barry came down.


04/12/2013 01:22 pm

Smells like bull shit....


04/12/2013 01:23 pm

Cool. I thought you did it for the money and not for being stubborn? Money is fine. Why do you have to submit a recon request when your site is fine with lots of traffic?


04/12/2013 01:29 pm

You gotta lead by example! However, I'm sure there are people out there who appreciated your stubbornness when it came to this situation. I know I did.


04/12/2013 01:31 pm

Sorry, cant see how you could confuse the new SEOs as this is some pretty basic stuff :). But then again, its good to read your sponsors support you with this.

Fede Einhorn

04/12/2013 01:32 pm

Yeah, why the reconsideration request? Almost every search i do about updates and google news returns seroundtable. It's always my first source of g news, heck I wonder why cutts never mentions you on his videos but always sel!?!?

Himanshu Saxena

04/12/2013 01:35 pm

"How Dare You Tell Me To NoFollow My Sponsored Links" this post has been my favorite for so long. Yes i checked it a few days ago that all your sponsored links are nofollowed and i think this is really a wise decision and barry you are really getting older:)


04/12/2013 02:16 pm

Well, well ) First Squidoo, now this, so called, nonprofit blog. Hopefully this is just a start and Google finally will take serious actions against links builders. re " they all wanted to support the site without getting any link benefit. " Oh, that's why the anchor text on all but one link is so ... predictable ))


04/12/2013 02:18 pm

One of the most popular link networks also add the option to build nofollow links (http://seofen.com/sape-ru-new-feature-allows-to-build-nofollow-links/), which is quite useful as Google needs to see such links in websites' link profiles as this looks natural. So, now it the time to start diversifying link portfolio with nofollow backlinks.


04/12/2013 02:21 pm

lol its not like you yield to google, its more like you bend over with your rear end facing the 6-letter company. hahaha you knew that it would be coming ;)

Marie Haynes

04/12/2013 02:27 pm

I see that your PageRank is now back up to 6 from 3. Looks like your reconsideration request was accepted.

Barry Schwartz

04/12/2013 02:29 pm

That happened a month ago.


04/12/2013 02:29 pm

lol, if these sponsors are all fine with nofollow links and are just in it for the clicks, then they should fire their marketing guys for coming up with these ad texts lol

Marie Haynes

04/12/2013 02:30 pm

Oh weird. I thought your lowered Pagerank was because of the paid links.

Barry Schwartz

04/12/2013 02:34 pm

I'll explain more next week. It gets interesting.


04/12/2013 02:53 pm

Exactly )


04/12/2013 03:02 pm

I guess it was either that or get beaten up by Google Engineers - They use slide rules! I can see the confusion your site may cause, to newbies. I guess the remaining "NO-NOFOLLOWERS" (Double Negative?) better bunk out in Montana, with tinfoil hats, for the coming of the Anti-Google - who's name must never be mentioned. :-)


04/12/2013 03:48 pm

The most interesting takeaway for me: People want to do business with sites they like. Barry purposely torpedoed his precious Google rankings, but we kept reading and sponsors kept buying ad space. In fact, Barry built such a great site that people attributed authority to him far above and beyond his actual authority. All of this happened while he torpedoed his rankings. It happened because people like and appreciate his site.

Barry Schwartz

04/12/2013 03:51 pm

Do you like me?

Geoff Kenyon

04/12/2013 05:43 pm

Thanks for sharing. Really interested to hear what Google said in the reconsideration request. How long had you been thinking about changing. Were you surprised by your advertisers' responses?


04/12/2013 06:35 pm

I've been reading this blog for as long as I can remember. I used to follow you on Plurk when that was new, to give a general timeframe. I haven't always agreed with your blog. That happens. But I think you did something admirable: Beyond all the minutiae of SEO, you did showed by example how to brave Google's wrath and still keep a well-trafficked website.

Brian McDowell

04/12/2013 07:04 pm

Mad respect for all of the above. I actually liked the fact that your marketing efforts were in line with the way traditional marketing has executed for decades. The fact that Google now controles this form of contextual advertisement is a bit alarming but none the less has been adopted as standard in todays online ecosystem. Keep doing what your doing and regardless of how your are perceived in Googles eyes, I will continue to view you as a source of wisdom or as Matt Cutts himself said at SMX Advanced 2012 "the Google canary".

Mike Kalil

04/12/2013 07:17 pm

PageRank already jumped to 6. That was quick.

Barry Schwartz

04/12/2013 07:18 pm

That was before I removed the links. More on that next week.

Jarrod Wright

04/12/2013 08:14 pm

Barry! This was my favorite thing about you!!!! For me, as a smaller SEO, I've learned to be dubious of the "thought leader" types. I gravitate to the signs that any of you bigwigs are still instilled with the anti-authoritarian sensibilities that undoubtedly fueled your initial foray into this racket.. I viewed your little sidebar links as your homage to your roots. It was the black panther symbol at the Olympics for me. Something expressing your solidarity with your SEO brethren. Something showing that you have not forgotten where you came from. So now what? Are you only going to write articles infused with meaningless platitudes about the importance of quality content? Just kidding. Kinda.

Barry Schwartz

04/12/2013 08:17 pm

"Are you only going to write articles infused with meaningless platitudes about the importance of quality content?" Probably. :-(

Barry Schwartz

04/12/2013 08:58 pm

That was humbling.

Barry Schwartz

04/12/2013 08:59 pm

Not sure if I was surprised, I am dumb to it.

Barry Schwartz

04/12/2013 09:00 pm

You should sponsor the site, you spend enough time here. ;-P

Barry Schwartz

04/12/2013 09:01 pm

Dare I ask what specifically?

Joe Hall

04/12/2013 09:40 pm

Barry, I am curious, did Google ever penalize the site?

Pawel Reszka

04/12/2013 09:49 pm

Yes they did. PR dropped and now it's back up.

Barry Schwartz

04/12/2013 09:52 pm



04/12/2013 10:21 pm

Hi Barry, I have the same question, why did you submit a reconsideration request? Did Google send you a notice letting you know that your site had been penalized? or just because you saw that your traffic dropped drastically?

Matt Dolge

04/12/2013 10:34 pm

Good post. I have always believed if paid advertisements (PPC) on the search engine results page do not pass page rank then paid ads outside of the SERP shouldn't be able to pass page rank.


04/12/2013 10:55 pm

Now you just have to fix rustybrick.com :)

Barry Schwartz

04/12/2013 10:57 pm

That doesn't sell links.


04/13/2013 12:55 am

My time here is my sponsorship. Enjoy ... and take your time to think how will you sponsor me. Seems like I help you a lot to keep the right audience )


04/13/2013 01:08 am

Why sad ? SEO is for kids. Welcome to the big world. It's much more complicated, but much more interesting. You should have something like bar mitzvah ... IT bar mitzvah )


04/13/2013 02:37 am

I know but it still needs fixing

Mike Bayes

04/13/2013 02:48 am

You fought a good and valiant battle. Well done...

Chris Faron

04/13/2013 06:06 pm

I agree it was about time, especially for new people learning about SEO

Doc Sheldon

04/13/2013 09:42 pm

It almost saddens me to see you knuckle under, Barry, though I understand your reason. Like the others, I can't wait to see the response. If you think it's interesting, it must be. Thanks for fighting the good fight, anyway. FWIW, I think it was worthwhile (easy for ME to say, huh?) ;)

Dave Fowler

04/14/2013 12:14 am

Barry, regarding your point that retaining followed sponsored links could be resulting in many new SEOs being confused by it and then suffering themselves, it might also be worth advising your sponsors to adopt branded links instead of the exact match anchor text currently in use. Post-Penguin, it's not a good idea.

Roie S

04/14/2013 06:18 am

Wow, Google won the fierce battle against Barry Schwartz! the internet is safe again!!!


04/14/2013 06:47 am

but why, if paid links were still on the site?

Soni Sharma

04/15/2013 04:29 am

Paid links industry soon going to be shut down.. If paid links will not be going to benefit advertisers. why they would do it. In place of buying links advertisers will prefer to buy banners.

Genda Dunmatta

04/15/2013 12:07 pm

You are so very, very wrong, on so many important points. In particular... People don't become less stubborn as they age.

Genda Dunmatta

04/15/2013 12:09 pm

He just sniffed his finger.

Khalid Irfan

04/15/2013 12:24 pm

I dont think your "sponsored links" will renew once they get expired on nofollow tags so very soon this place will be with no links :P

Barry Schwartz

04/15/2013 12:30 pm

Read the story. I said 90% asked for them to be nofollowed.


04/15/2013 07:03 pm

That made me smile.


04/15/2013 09:13 pm

Does it really matter? I feel like the only SEO ever who still thinks that a QUALITY NOfollow link is still a great thing to have. It's good for diversity, and I can bet a "dollar to a donut" there is a benefit. You did what you had to do, and I bet you a sponsored link from that sidebar still pulls some weight.


04/16/2013 02:20 pm

I get it

Faust Principe

04/21/2013 06:29 pm

good for you it works, but mine it failed.

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