Selling Paid Links Can Sink Your Business

Here’s a quick cautionary tale on why selling paid links from your main site can sink your online search engine rankings faster than the titanic.

RMS Titanic (Credits)

I noticed that one of the sites had gone from the very top of the results to page 1 – 2 and sometimes page 3 for one of the markets that I keep a close eye on. The site seems to fluctuate if not on a search by search basis then a day by day basis. The positions are fairly stable for other sites as it’s not a fast moving and nothing exciting really happens.

My first thought was that something had been changed on the site, possibly a tweak to the page title, and that the site would bounce back right up to the top, so I thought nothing of it.

A couple of weeks later and the site was still bouncing about from spots 11 to 30 so I decided to keep a closer eye on it.

I hadn’t visited the site, just looked at it in the SERPS. Next I thought that maybe a few of the site’s links had been dropped, but when I did visit the site, the reason the site had dropped in Google stuck out like a sore thumb.

In it’s own block totally separated from content was a text ad. With keyword rich anchor text and totally unrelated to the site there’s no doubt that Google would view this as a paid link. Not even a no-follow. What’s worse, there were more than 1 text links.

I decided to look for a footprint, and searched Google for text to see if this had been a large volume campaign by the buyer. Yes the text of the ad was appearing on other sites, and other unrelated sites. I just quickly worked my way through these and it was noticeable that some of these had taken a hit and dropped down the search engine ranking positions not for their brand but for the keywords they targetted.

One other of the sites in question that I looked at in a bit more detail had bombed into no mans land for it’s own unique page title. The site had decent authority but didn’t rank anywhere near where you’d expect it to.

Moral of the Story

Moral of the story, don’t sell links on your main business site. Know the risks involved and what it might mean for your business. For 20 – 30 quid a month, if you offer a service and rely on the business generated from your website’s rank then you are running a risk that doesn’t way up. If you are going to tempt fate then at the very least make sure it’s related.

Interesting the company in the competitive market that was obviously purchasing links ranks in the top 3 in for the term that they were targetting. The big company that possibly made approaches to these website owners have broken Google’s guidelines, and yet the small business owner, the guys that rely heavily on the business that Google Search offers have been deemed to be the offenders and hit the hardest.

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Michael Wall

Michael Wall is an experienced SEO based in Belfast N.Ireland currently running his own SEO Agency.

Michael Wall is available for Internet Marketing, Google Adwords PPC and SEO work. Please call Belfast 02890 923383 or use the contact form.

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