Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on December 1st, 2007

It's (finally) Official: Buying Links will Negatively Impact Your Search Ranking

I've said it for months: Buying links is a bad idea! Matt Cutts and many other industry experts have explained that link buying is not a good way to SEO your website. WE LISTENED and have never purchased links for any clients. I did a couple of years before I started SpryDev but that was before I knew any better.

Finally, Google has come out with a crystal clear statement about buying links. Last week they updated their Webmaster Guidelines on this topic. Here is their text in full (Emphasis mine.):

Google and most other search engines use links to determine reputation. A site's ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to it. Link-based analysis is an extremely useful way of measuring a site's value, and has greatly improved the quality of web search. Both the quantity and, more importantly, the quality of links count towards this rating.

However, some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links that pass PageRank, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.

Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such. This can be done in several ways, such as:

* Adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to the a tag
* Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file

Google works hard to ensure that it fully discounts links intended to manipulate search engine results, such excessive link exchanges and purchased links that pass PageRank. If you see a site that is buying or selling links that pass PageRank, let us know. We’ll use your information to improve our algorithmic detection of such links.

This is great news for SpryDev customers as we have never bought or sold links for our clients. This stance from Google really levels the playing field for those of us who strive to build our search results with integrity.

Also, I can finally say: "SEE, I TOLD YOU SO!!!" to all those other SEO companies whose primary strategy is to buy links. :-)

Here's another article from Google Webmaster Blog on the same topic that came out today.