Google now wants to crack down on sites that are selling links to improve search engine ranking. In a recent blog post, Matt Cutts outlines the steps that users can take to report incidents of websites selling links. If you read the comments on the page, Matt Cutts states "we’re looking to collect data for a new approach or two that we’re exploring" They will use user submitted information to improve the algorithms they have that can detect paid links.
- Sign in to Google’s webmaster console and use the authenticated spam report form, then include the word “paidlink” (all one word) in the text area of the spam report. If you use the authenticated form, you’ll need to sign in with a Google Account, but your report will carry more weight.
- Use the unauthenticated spam report form and make sure to include the word “paidlink” (all one word) in the text area of the spam report.
In this blog post, he mentions some ways you can sell text links that Google approves of.
If you want to sell a link, you should at least provide machine-readable disclosure for paid links by making your link in a way that doesn’t affect search engines.
There’s a ton of ways to do that. For example, you could make a paid link go through a redirect where the redirect url is robot’ed out using robots.txt. You could also use the rel=nofollow attribute. I’ve said as much many times before, but I wanted to give a heads-up because Google is going to be looking at paid links more closely in the future.
I think this will benefit the smaller websites that find it difficult to compete with larger, commercial sites with huge marketing budgets that can afford to purchase high quality links. This will somewhat put everyone on the same playing field.
I smell problems for sites that purchase links from Text Link Ads, Text Link Brokers and like companies. Its going to be very easy for Google detect links from them.