To Buy Or Not To Buy, That Is The Question

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In the world of SEO, the name of the game is links. A pretty hot topic at SMX Advanced and pretty much any congregation of SEO experts is buying links. Now, Matt Cutts and the folks at Google claim they are really coming down not just on those that buy links, but on those that sell them as well, as this is blatantly attempting to manipulate PageRank and rankings artificially. Oh, the irony. Check out this screen shot:

Google advocates buying links

Oops! For a search engine to forcefully tell all SEO experts that buying links is unacceptable and then to turn around and allow link brokers to advertise is pretty hypocritical. And it’s not like they can’t stop them, all ads are manually reviewed. They full well know they are allowing these folks to advertise their link buying service; the same service they are so desperately trying to eradicate. And this is not isolated- the entire right sidebar is full of ads to buy text links as well.

But it doesn’t stop there. Look at the organic results:

Google advocates buying links

The top 6 is all that fit in my screen shot, but you get the point. The top results are all link brokers advertising their service, again, the same service Google claims will bring a penalty on your website. So why are these websites not penalized? They clearly explain their link schemes. Don’t believe me? Look at this image, straight from the number one results,

Link scheme

Does it get any more obvious? I mean, they are unabashedly explaining a non-approved Google practice all over their website…and Google ranks them #1? Wouldn’t it follow that a website which makes a living off selling links is likely to have a large portion of its backlinks be of the purchased variety? No penalty?

How about the ESPN example- this is a website that ranks well for any sports phrase. Yet at the bottom of each story are sponsored links with a “buy a link here” button. These links do not have a nofollow tag in them. So why is the buying and selling of links a penalty for some but not others? Why is Google allowing these ads and promoting something they themselves view as spam?

I’m not sure what the rationale is behind this or why it is going on, but it seems awfully hypocritical to me. How does it look to you?

Jamie Bates
Online Marketing Director