After Google Warning, Forbes Comes Oh So Close To Cleaning Up Its Paid Links


What do you do if Google warns you about a violation of its paid links policy and you can’t find any such links on your web site? If you’re a small webmaster you might go to Google’s Webmaster Help forums and ask for help. But if you’re part of the website team at a major international publication, you might keep things in-house and deal with the problem quietly.

Unless you’re part of the website team, that is.

As Barry Schwartz first posted on Search Engine Roundtable,’s Denis Pinsky went to Google’s Webmaster Help forum to share the letter that Google sent after finding paid links on the magazine’s website. Pinsky asked readers,

Can someone help figure out what Links are in violation?

Well, yes, as it turns out, someone can. TechCrunch showed Pinsky that the “Resources” section of a page about E-business had several links that appear to be the subject of Google’s letter. Those links are followed and appear to be paid ads. TechCrunch also points out that it noticed Forbes removing these kinds of links across earlier this week … but apparently missing this page, if not others.

Silly Forbes.

But what about Google? Is this the first time Google ever bothered to send Forbes such a warning? If so, what took so long? was one of the sites that lost toolbar PageRank in 2007 due to selling links, something that was still ongoing when Danny Sullivan wrote about it again in 2009. Maybe the better question is, What took Forbes so long to try removing all those links? And how soon will that list of … cough … “Resources” be removed from the E-business page?

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Google: Webmaster Central | Link Building: Paid Links | SEO: Spamming


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • coryhowell

    So is this how it’s going to be for the next few weeks? Every paid link publisher is going to start cancelling their ads?

    Is this the wrong reaction – to remove their links pre-emptive to a Google penalty?

    Do you really think Google didn’t know about those Forbes links already? And if they did not, how stupid is that? (everyone else knew)

    I bet there are a lot of nervous link brokers on-call this week, what with sites like cancelling their entire inventory in a single week… It will be interesting to see if other publishers follow suit.

    All the Fortune 500 companies out there buying links… are you cancelling too?

    Oh, what a conundrum we are in. Gotta love the gamesmanship that goes on in these critical hours. Ha!

  • Chad A. Wilgus

    Why were they even givin a warning? I lost my account without even knowing why to this day, the ads and links were pointed to my own sites promoting articles I wrote myself, not PLR not spun. Google needs knocked down in its marketing sales offices.

  • RichardRazo

    Why couldn’t Forbes just use no-follow attributes in the ad links-would Google frown on Forbes then?

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