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The initial intent of Larry Page and Sergey Brin was – Links are confidence votes for web pages and they should pass freely.

Link traders and internet-spammers played spoilsports and tried everything possible to manipulate the honest link theory, or you can say a great vision by these 2 legends when they were in Stanford University as undergraduate students in 1996.

In recent years, Google has been investing heavily ($$$) to detect and penalize link traders – both buyers as well as sellers of links.

Google has been spending huge bucks to develop and incorporate signals to its search engine ranking algorithms to discount as well as detect spammy links for punishment.

Recent Incidents

You must have awareness of the recent news of “Google penalizing a popular UK flower website for running advertorials with links which were passing the link-juice.” And, reduced the Page Rank of many UK newspapers because they were involved in selling links.

Interestingly, InterFlora was offering attractive gifts to bloggers for publishing advertorials on their blogs. Of course with a do-follow link to their website.

Google’s View of Link Selling

Google thinks – Links should act as an editorial vote and pass freely.

Real life example: Suppose your close friend who runs a blog of a different niche, offered you a beer party in the nearby restaurant and lastly requests you to put a link on your blog.

Is this constitutes selling of links?

Yes, it’s link selling. And Google is well equipped to detect your spammy act to promote your friend’s blog, which he doesn’t deserve.

The search giant’s view is “Links should not be given in-exchange of money, commodities or any type of incentives.” It should be casted freely.

How Spammy Links (traded) Look Like

  • Links from your site to an unrelated blog, passing link-juice.
  • Multiple links to a blog of the same niche with commercial anchor text stuffing. With condition – the latter blog is not so authoritative or famous in the eyes of search engines.
  • Links on your footer to another blog (site-wide). With conditions – there is evidence of multiple websites and blogs pointing links on their footers to the recipient blog.
  • Affiliate links passing link-juice. Here, the link is usually given with few lines of editorials.
  • Advertising links passing link juice, or without a rel=”nofollow” tag within <a>.

The examples are never-ending…

The bottom line is Google always looks for the intention of the link-giver. And don’t think accidental or unknowingly giving a link to another site which passes link-juice is not punishable. Google does punish this type of innocent link seller also.

Google’s Penalty For Link Selling

For any activity of link buying and selling, you will get a spammy love letter in your Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).

The usual penalties are –

  • The search engine ranking demotion of keywords for which you were ranking highly.
  • Reduction of Trust Rank for the website in its (Google) database.
  • Or, complete de-indexation of the domain and associated URLs.

Share your views and experience of link exchange, or request, or offering money for links in the comments below.


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Anant Vijay Soni

A passionate blogger and serial youtuber, timely efforts, and dedication are the key protocols that keep me succeeding. I love to share information about WordPress, SEO, Social Media Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Make Money Online, Email Marketing and much more.


  • Naina Singh says:

    Hi Anant,

    Great Post and nice to go through your author bio. Its great that you do so many things. Coming to the blog on link selling part. You mentioned many techniques how google can find out faulty link sellings and penalize them like the concept of reciprocal links and footer links. My question is what if the lkinks are given to a blog of related niche or rather get a backlink from a related niche through paid guest blogging or seo?

    Please advice!!

    Thanks in Advance.

    • Hi Naina,

      Great thanks. If you are posting on the same niche. that will be. OK, But always use “canonical tag” to show the official copy of your blog. the backlink is not a bad deal, but if you get a backlink from any penalized sites this will be harmful to your site.

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