SEO: Google Means Business About Penalizing for Paid Do-Follow LinksPosted: January 6, 2012
We indicated in our last article about exact match domains increasing in SEO power over the past year. A different SEO method may get a stronger negative focus thanks to a mistake by a firm that marketed Google Chrome.
SearchEngineLand and several other blogs reported that a marketing campaign for Google Chrome featured sponsored posts that contained do-follow links to the Google Chrome homepage. Apparently a third-party marketing firm, Unruly Media, was responsible for the campaign.
Even after the links were then cleaned up, Google abided by their search policy and manually reduced the Google Page Rank of their Google Chrome homepage. The linked article shows what a Google slap can do, indicating the page now no longer ranks for the term “Browser” (while it is ironically quickly becoming the most used internet browser).
What does this mean to you as a developer trying to get rankings?
Google’s policy is that all sponsored links are to be no-followed to prevent link juice from passing, eliminating the SEO benefit. Google has been getting increasingly better at sniffing out these links and handing out penalties when they’re discovered. That said, you may still be able to get away with paid links as long as they’re not on obvious link farms.
However, after this latest embarrassing incident, Google will likely place an increased focus on fighting paid links. Otherwise, they may soon be flooded with complaints from companies indicating their competitors are outranking them due to paid links. If they’ve penalized themselves after all, they should penalize everyone else who does it.
So keep this in mind if links will be a huge part of your SEO strategy. It may be best to stick strictly with unpaid and natural link building instead of using paid links. Certainly sponsored posts and the like can still be great for traffic and awareness, but it won’t be long before Google is able to sniff out just about all of them and promptly penalize anyone using them.