Google now officially penalizes sites for selling paid links

October 9th, 2007
The game has been going on for a while and Google officially confirmed that they will penalize sites that sell paid links. This information came through a post from Danny Sullivan yesterday, many webmasters have wondered for a week or so on popular forums and blogs why their pagerank was lowerer overnight.
Back a few months ago Google asked internet professionals to report websites sell paid link ads through their webmaster central console.  The Montain View’s company had stated in the past that they were effectively removing the ability to pass along their page rank value but now is the first time when a visible penalty can be viewed from the user end.
According to the search engine, the penalty is a decreased pagerank value, generally performed after a human review.  Provided that the number of sites involved may/should be impressive, marketers and bad SEO’s may not yet see who/where they may be hit - they may have to wait a few months to see more clearly what Google has cooked for them. In some cases, websites could eventually be dropped from the Google index. This is the search engine entering a new era where they will actively penalize paid links. Google has always been on the soft side at many levels until now, placing filters at most if anything.
The official release of this information is good news for many SEO’s.  For a very long time I have been complaining about Google not acting on their words, witnessing some websites totally hijacking their placement simply buying textlinks.
In my opinion buying paid links has never been a solid strategy. There is no reason to consider it as another form of advertising.
Web advertising is based on many principles including visibility/awareness and the amount of traffic and conversions from which one can calculate his ROI. Textlinks are all but efficient, mostly hidden on the corner of a page and are even less effective than banners in terms of click through rate.
Most buyers should consider comparing with their pay per click opportunities in the first place.
I understand that link brokers have a totally different standpoint:  increase organic rankings eventually. That’s what Google is hunting for and I am 100% for it.
From the 3 website I know have been hit, I have seen neither a ban nor even a drop in rankings. Hopefully Google will also pass along a penalty to buyers; it should make the search engine result pages a little bit cleaner.
Oh yeah, Google.com needs a clean up right now. For those who have not noticed, Googlers are playing with their algorithm quite a bit for a few weeks and it doesn’t look so good on many keywords. One of many changes I’ve noticed is the inconsistency when returning results based on your geographical location. Many websites previously penalized, including for buying paid links made a wonderful come back – the extreme easiness with which rankings can be attained from a very low grade type of popularity is also unlikely to bring more quality overall.

In any cases, kudos to Google for Finally acting on paid links. We were waiting for this for a very, very long time since we are one of the very few companies who never ever used paid links.