It should come as no surprise that Google will often also penalize the sites buying the links. In fact, It was reported of the hundreds of thousands of notifications Google sends to webmasters each month 3% are link related, 2% for buying links and 1% for selling links.
This morning, SEO reported that Interflora was penalized in Google, possibly for buying links. Google did not comment, but Anthony Shapley dug into the situation and posted what he thinks really happened.
Google Penalized Dozens Of UK News Sites
Google has lowered the PageRank score of dozens of news sites and blogs in the UK for selling links. Anthony found that Interflora had recent links on 150+ regional news sites all over the UK, all in the form of advertisements within articles. In addition, he said through back channels he was able to confirm that some of these sites did indeed get a notification via Google Webmaster Tools for selling links.
Finally, Anthony plotted the PageRank scores from before and after today, showing all of these sites had their PageRank scores lowered to zero.
Honestly, typically PageRank scores do not drop to zero for linking selling. They normally drop 3 or 4 digits but not to zero. So this move to drop the PageRank score to zero is somewhat a new action by Google.
The biggest indicator (other than matching lots of links in common with newly penalised sites) is the huge PageRank drop that occured late last week across virtually all Regional and some National Newspaper websites, see the table below for some examples:
Google Subtly Confirms The Penalty
Google’s Matt Cutts, head of search spam, posted a reminder on the Google Webmaster Central blog at 3pm EDT that selling links that pass PageRank can lead to a penalty. Clearly this is Google talking about the case with Interflora because Matt Cutts specifically talks about “advertorial” pages. Here is what Matt wrote:
Please be wary if someone approaches you and wants to pay you for links or “advertorial” pages on your site that pass PageRank. Selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations. The consequences for a link selling site start with losing trust in Google’s search results, as well as reduction of the site’s visible PageRank in the Google Toolbar. The consequences can also include lower rankings for that site in Google’s search results.
we love to hear your comments on this.