The issue of Paid Links and PageRank has been doing the rounds across forums and blogs for quite some time now. Google has been coming up with updates on the issue.
We've also discussed how selling Paid Links can affect you, amongst other facets of the issue.
Matt Cutts emphasizes how inappropriate, it can be if your search for something really important to you yields pages that are 'paid for links' rather than the 'real' or 'unpaid' search results.
Google's Webmaster Central Blog gives information about, what all the buyers or sellers need to do to adhere to Google's Webmaster Policies. Violation of Webmaster policies can affect the pages in the following ways
- Inaccuracies: False popularity and links that are not fundamentally based on merit, relevance, or authority
- Inequities: Unfair advantage in our organic search results to websites with the biggest pocketbooks
Although, Google had been vary about the issue as early as 2003, "February 2003: Google's official quality guidelines have advised "Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank" for several years."
But there's been more action in the past three years, in 2005 Matt Cutts said "December 2005: Another post on my blog discussed this issue, and said Many people who work on ranking at search engines think that selling links can lower the quality of links on the web. If you want to buy or sell a link purely for visitors or traffic and not for search engines, a simple method exists to do so (the nofollow attribute). GoogleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stance on selling links is pretty clear and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re pretty accurate at spotting them, both algorithmically and manually. Sites that sell links can lose their trust in search engines."
In October 2007 alone, commentary came from Google indifferent ways, "Google provided comments for a Forbes article titled "Google Purges the Payola".
"Google officially confirmed to Search Engine Land that we were taking stronger action on this issue, including decreasing the toolbar PageRank of sites selling links that pass PageRank."
Matt Cutts, "An email that I sent to Search Engine Journal also made it clear that Google was taking stronger action on buying/selling links that pass PageRank."
In addition to many informative links on Webmaster Central Blog they have posted a number of Q&As, the Qs which have been put up are "Q: Is buying or selling links that pass PageRank a violation of Google's guidelines? Why?, Q: Is this a Google-only issue? Q: Is that why we've seen some sites that sell links receive lower PageRank in the Google toolbar?, Q: What recourse does a site owner have if their site was selling links that pass PageRank, and the site's PageRank in the Google toolbar was lowered?, Q: Is Google trying to tell webmasters how to run their own site?, Q: Is Google trying to crack down on other forms of advertisements used to drive traffic?, Q: I'm aware of a site that appears to be buying/selling links. How can I get that information to Google?, Q: Can I get more information?."