Google: Go As Far Back As Possible To Remove Paid Links

Apr 4, 2012 • 9:11 am | comments (11) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Paid LinksGoogle's John Mueller responded in a Google Webmaster Help thread to a webmaster who received one of those unnatural links warnings.

He made a few points that I wanted to highlight for SEOs:

Do Not Wait Out Penalties

Google said not to wait out penalties because they can take a long time to be reversed. Instead, submit a reconsideration request to help expedite it. John said, "- If you're serious about your site's standing in our search results, then I'd strongly advise not to try to wait the penalty out. These are generally not issues that expire after a few days, they can affect your site's standing for quite some time."

Remove All Paid Links Going Back As Far As You Paid Links

Google said that if you have been paying for links for two years, go back two years and remove those paid links. If it is five year, go back five years. Google wants to see a serious attempt to remove all the paid links you acquired over the years.

John said, "Regarding the age of the unnatural links, I'd work to have them all removed, regardless of the age. For instance, in the general case where a site has been buying links for 2 years, it would be a good idea to go back that far."

Getting A Notification Now Doesn't Mean It Is A New Penalty

Google stepped up their notifications, so if you get a notification today, it doesn't mean it is a new penalty. Google is sending notifications out for old penalties. John explained, "while we have just recently started sending out these messages, they may apply to issues that were already known (and affecting your site's standing in our search results) for a while."

John added a few more points we covered here a few times but feel free to check out the Google Webmaster Help thread.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Image credit to ShutterStock for paid links.

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Sir Chunk

04/04/2012 01:32 pm

Seriously, how do you remove links that you have no control over that are either paid by you or by someone else? Apart from massacring the site and deleting pages, I can't see another solution. Welcome to the world of numb nut SEO's trying to penalise competitors.


04/04/2012 03:14 pm

You can try doing that and they still say you have to do more. We did exactly that and sent an enormous spreadsheet showing what we had done, who we contacted, how we got their contact details (site or whois). Their reply was simply that they wanted more done. We had gone over every single site that could potentially be viewed as a paid link (even though we have never bought links). So if an article site looked dodgy we classed that as looking like a paid link. Still they wanted more, even though we couldn't give any more. If John Mueller is being upfront and honest then it would appear to me he needs to tell other members of his staff the same thing as they are doing the opposite. Or is it simply another case of a big organisation where the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

Sir Chunk

04/04/2012 03:23 pm

@028c29552d566c5882c7d7aa50d71e10:disqus  I think it more they need to be seen doing something, and scaremongering is one of them, even if it means blindly targeting innocent site owners with their mass messaging campaign. Times are getting tough for Google, they are getting pressure from all sides including the governments. Interesting times ahead I can feel it in me bones.


04/05/2012 11:19 am

 We are a PR5 with loads of relevant useful content. About three weeks after getting the message to our Webmaster tools, most of our KW tanked. Like it is to you, it is for me. I'm not sure I'd be able to go back and clean the entire back link history.  It also looks like the massages we get from Google are automated, they know where the problem is, they just don't want to tell you.


04/05/2012 01:26 pm

Google is so disperate abut this. A lot of sites are still ranking well with a lot of paid links behind, and they can't do nothing about it.


04/05/2012 02:01 pm

Yeah Google is going after paid links because its a threat to their business model...but the truth is there is nothing they can do about it because then everyone will be subject to penalties including Google. Links are part of the world wide web and its not easy to penalize a site for that.


04/05/2012 08:06 pm

I work at an agency but I struggle to know if a site has paid for a link in the past? How do you identify paid link sources? Are there any tools that could help me?


04/06/2012 02:57 am

I am attempting to clean-up the Internet profile for two family members, one being a sibling who is currently involved in an active professional employment search in health-care. Question: What is the best method or approach to achieve removal from the Internet of a negative or undesirable news item or Internet posting ?  My current strategy has been limited to directly contacting the website via the editor or in-house web professional to request removal. Is there a procedure whereby I could directly contact the search engines such as Lycos, Bing, Google, or Yahoo to achieve my objective ?

Frank Scharnell

04/12/2012 07:30 pm

Great Post, very clear on the fact that paid links aren't to be used. I'm not worried about the paid link error for the sites I built but this would be very costly to inherit from other webmasters and other owners mistakes. Thanks for the Post!


04/14/2012 08:54 pm

I found this page stating that "paid link penalty" was lifted last month. Now it talks about "chrome", but I really don't know what the difference is.

Webstats Art

08/04/2012 09:43 am

What a time waster for the business community! By the way, I linked to here for free!

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