Paid Links to Controversy
Enter a word or phrase in Google Search, and result page comes up with thousands of sites in a reply. Among these sites, a site’s ranking is based on analysis of the links to the site. Link based analysis is an extremely useful tool for measuring a site’s value and has improved the quality of search on the web. Quantity and quality of links determine the rating of a site.
What are paid links?
On a web page, link that links your click to buying or selling a product or service is a paid link. These links take you to altogether different site or page. So the paid links are like advertisements that we often come across in a publication. It is up to you to follow or ignore them.
Then, what’s the problem?
Paid links on web pages has always been the bone of contention between website owners and search engine optimizers. More links to your page or site was looked upon as a mark of reputation and believability.
However, recently, paid links pertaining to buying and selling are making their entry through some search engine operators. It is believed that search engines are unable to differentiate between general links and paid links; thereby raising serious questions about link based ranking of sites. Surprisingly, these links are passing PageRank by Google. They confirm that all paid links do not violate guidelines set by webmaster. These links generally do not have malicious intentions and help only to spread the business.
What’s the solution?
Solution is still nowhere in sight. Search engines fail to differentiate between general and paid links. Google, the best of them is studying the link architecture and trying to device software that automatically detects paid links. Presently, Google is actively asking its users to report paid links.
Reporting paid links on Google
Google has guidelines for reporting Paid Links. It says:
- Sign in to Goggle’s webmaster console and use the authenticated spam report form
- Then include the word “paid link” (all one word) in the text area of the spam report.
- If you use the authenticated form, you’ll need to sign in with a Google Account, but your report will carry more weight.
- Use the unauthenticated spam report form and make sure to include the word “paid link” (all one word) in the text area of the spam report.
Are paid links worth? Thousands of dollars are being pumped in to put one paid link at the site or page where it matters. It is expected to generate enormous traffic for the destination site. All it comes down to is link’s conversion rate that could give return on investment. Search engine optimizers are looking for methods to track pages and build links from the websites or pages that don’t cost you heavens.
Users must understand that buying/selling links is a high risk activity. There are ways to reduce it but the risk cannot vanish altogether. Most of the standard and reputed websites no longer display paid links to their clients. Other than ethical or moral grounds, the risk involved discourages them to do so. The reputation of the site is at stake in doing so and it will rank lower in search result pages.