Cutts & Mueller On PageRank Penalties & Selling Links

Aug 28, 2012 • 8:57 am | comments (40) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google BLOOPYesterday, both Matt Cutts and John Mueller of Google answered the same question on PageRank penalties for selling links without knowing the other answered them. It has been a while since a Googler talked about selling links and the penalty associated with it, so to have two Googlers address it the same day is a special day.

Matt Cutts posted about it on his personal blog, titled why did my pagrank go down. In short, the site was selling links that passed PageRank and thus Google downgraded the PageRank of the site and trusts the links less on the site. This is nothing new, covered it several times.

John Mueller answered it also on a Google Hangout, about 40 minutes 32 seconds in on this video. I'll embed it below and you can see he calls me out a bit.

Before anyone starts yelling their heads off at me, do so on this post and not here.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld & Google+.

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08/28/2012 01:17 pm

Barry beware of this situation next can be seoroundtable, it also pass PR through sponsored links

Barry Schwartz

08/28/2012 01:18 pm

Read this post and click on the appropriate links.


08/28/2012 01:23 pm

What does mean " passed the PageRank"?


08/28/2012 02:33 pm

=pass link juice = gain advantage in search


08/28/2012 02:40 pm

For good or for bad- Google is a dictatorship. They're telling everyone how to run their own websites.

Webstats Art

08/28/2012 03:02 pm

Barry ought to think Google are hypocrites because I just took a snapshot of the google adwords appearing on this page and they are ads that promote the sales of links. Take a look for yourself


08/28/2012 04:23 pm

Barry, how much for a sponsored do-follow page rank passing link on your sidebar? (I'm in the market)

Barry Schwartz

08/28/2012 04:27 pm


Winson Yeung

08/28/2012 04:38 pm

I doubt that new site can get back their PR7 in the future as well. Sad case

Webstats Art

08/28/2012 04:44 pm

ok I just discovered Barry is censoring posts here. I guess we cannot share anything that google does not want on his site.

Barry Schwartz

08/28/2012 04:46 pm

I did not censor any posts. What are you talking about?

Webstats Art

08/28/2012 05:03 pm

Maybe it is a problem with Disqus. I will give you the benefit of the doubt. I know for sure that searchengineland censors posts and that is why I don't go there anymore. Well, I go there to read your articles sometimes.

Barry Schwartz

08/28/2012 05:04 pm

FYI, Disqus put one of your posts into moderation, just approved it manually.

Barry Schwartz

08/28/2012 05:05 pm

That is not a Google ad, it is a direct ad sold through my ad provider. I use DoubleClick for publishers to serve ads.


08/28/2012 08:03 pm

How do you get on another G+ Hangout with those guys? I have a question that's driving me crazy

Barry Schwartz

08/28/2012 08:07 pm

Follow them on Google+


08/28/2012 09:00 pm

so looks like google must stop selling links. it not matter - follow or nofollow, link selling is bad. so google adwords must be closed completely!


08/29/2012 01:32 am

Wow Searchengineland removed my comment about this bit of news, that is pretty awesome. So here it is again. It is basically a question Barry. The question is about paid links. We all know you don't have any problem with paid links! on in the article about this same issue, you posted to an article on . I am assuming that searchengineland either pays you or you are doing a guest post. If they pay you isn't linking to your own site a conflict of interest? If you are just doing a "free" guest post (is there really such a thing?) Then Google really need to take a good look at guest posting. They have attacked all other forms of link building "guest posts" should be the next type of LBS in the firing line. There is a really easy way to fix the guest post problem! Google just needs to let everyone know if you are guest posting make the links "nofollow". I have to say I am pretty amazed at searchengineland. There are now only 2 places on the web I have ever been censored. Webmaster World and Search Engine Land.


08/29/2012 01:35 am

Wow censored here also.. Hmm someone must have flagged me as a spammer in disqus!

Barry Schwartz

08/29/2012 01:39 am

Please be nice. Disqus flagged your comment as spam. I don't know why. I manually approved it and added you to the whitelist. I assume too many other blogs mark comments from you as spam and Disqus has you on a blacklist?


08/29/2012 01:44 am

The only places I comment are here and searchengineland and marketingland so those are the people who are flagging me as a spammer :) I doubt it's you though. My guess is it either Danny or more likely Matt McGee he seems to be Danny's enforcer.

Barry Schwartz

08/29/2012 01:45 am

I don't know. Feel free to comment anyway you want here. As long as you use your name and you are not link dropping and not being incredibly nasty about people, I won't delete it.


08/29/2012 01:47 am

I try to not be nasty.. Kind of hard though. you know how it is.

Barry Schwartz

08/29/2012 01:49 am

No - not really hard.


08/29/2012 02:03 am

As an aside I have asked Matt for some clarification, using your article on searchengineland as an example. It will be interesting to see if he answers.

Barry Schwartz

08/29/2012 02:04 am

If I thought it was a paid link, I wouldn't have done it. But I am not Matt. I've never accepted payment for links within articles, as far as I can remember.


08/29/2012 02:13 am

Like I said I know you don't fear the paid link and I am not saying you are receiving any money for any link placement on any of your articles. You are one of the reporters I respect in this industry. This is more of an exercise in pointing out how stupid and random all this is. They attack a paper for paid link placement, because someone showed Matt an email, what if it was a competitor? It is not hard to fake an email! Anyway they seem to think they have a handle on paid link placement (but they don't) . They think they can work out if you have comment blasted your own site or if a competitor has done it (they can't). Yet something that is so easy to track as guest posts they do nothing about! Google once again being random but saying they have got it right!

Codex Meridian

08/29/2012 02:50 am

A bit contradicting statements here: 1.) If you put nofollow to external links , your site can suffer from over optimization penalty. I do believe a presence of nofollow in your source code can be used by Google to flagged that you are an "SEO" site that they hate so much these days. OK let's remove the evil nofollow. 2.) Now...If you don't put nofollow links to external links, your site can be flagged as passing page rank and Google trust would go down. Even if you are not involved in link selling, as algorithmic detection can have flaws like their Penguin..Then what will happen next is that your rankings and traffic would dropped.. See the logic above? It seems they would like SEO and webmasters to run in circles without clear direction.. One webmaster video from MC (I can't remember the URL) says Google knows big affiliate networks like Amazon so they kind of ignore the value of those links in the site. And they don't penalize them (really? Can we really trust the word of this guy these days?) Still doubtful here, what do you think guys? Should we nofollow affiliate links to amazon or not? Assuming you have a great site with amazing content.

John McCheap

08/29/2012 03:05 am

good question, I'd love to know what the guru's say about this.... everything you do with your site these days can hurt it, everything you do is penalized by Google, there are too many misunderstandings...


08/29/2012 05:16 am

I kind of want to know what happens when most people move all their links to no follow. Lets assume that all webmasters listen to google and just no follow everything. What links will google then use as a ranking signal? My guess is that those no follow links will then start to be counted. Having said that I have seen sites that seem to rank with only no follow links. Even though "john" says that is impossible in the video above!

Sunayna Gupta

08/29/2012 05:55 am

Thanks a lot Cutt and Mueller for this ultimate video. Any information from their side is welcomed as it is most authentic and trustworthy.


08/29/2012 12:54 pm

Too be clear if we use nofollow and/or 301 redirects we should be fine right

Gregory Smith

08/29/2012 08:56 pm

Barry , this should be a great learning experience for you. It seems to me that you are still enjoying your "Sidebar Spam"...

Gregory Smith

08/29/2012 08:58 pm

My site uses the majority of nofollow tags on 98% of all links and we have good rankings.

08/29/2012 10:17 pm

Don't understand some pages on our site have no content at all (they are basically coming soon page) but still Google gave them PR1.


08/30/2012 03:20 pm

Nice, well done. Take one of the few link building techniques Google hasn't gone after and suggest it become useless. Bravo. Barry should have censored you here too for posting such a dumb suggestion.


08/30/2012 09:48 pm

LOL you think Google hasn't thought about it? and you really think it would be my suggestion on this blog that would tip them over the edge? I am pointing out that Google and Matt are random in their attack on linkbuilding. So drew it is kind of DUMB to think that another highly abused linkbuilding technique won't get the chop in the future.

Webstats Art

08/31/2012 02:44 am

You are such a nice guy Barry. I prefer you to Matt Cutts

Webstats Art

09/08/2012 07:16 pm

you are so nice


09/25/2012 03:43 pm

Except, it doesn't? There is only one single nofollow tag (in an iframe) on your homepage out of 100+ links...

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