Google Zaps Another Link Network, ‘Several Thousand’ Link Sellers Hit

Google logoWhat a week it’s been where Google and SEO are concerned. The company, via Matt Cutts, has issued several warnings about things to come — and, late Tuesday night, also revealed that it’s just acted against another link network.

In a pair of tweets, Cutts — the head of Google’s webspam team — said that Google has taken action against “several thousand” link sellers that were part of a link network that bought and sold links that pass PageRank.



I can’t speak (or guess) to what network was hit, but these sites can’t claim they weren’t aware of what might happen. On Monday, Cutts published a video that included a warning about Google’s plans to go “upstream” in its fight against spammy links. He also offered a specific warning against link networks at our SMX West conference in March.

That warning at SMX West came just days after Google hit another link network (believed to be SAPE Links). In March 2012, we also wrote about Google’s takedown of the link network.

Postscript by Barry Schwartz: Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, revealed which link selling network was hit. We wrote about it in our story named Google’s Latest Link Seller Hit Targeted Text Link Ads.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: Analysis | Google | Google: Penalties | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search | Link Building: Paid Links | Top News


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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  • Matt Janaway

    It’s amazing that – for some reason – I have been getting LOADS of LinkedIn messages lately offering paid links. More than I can ever remember actually. Considering Google’s obvious attack on paid links which has been going on a couple of years now, I find it surprising that it seems to be making a comeback among so called SEO’s. This industry never fails to amuse me :)

    When will these people learn?

  • Adam Thompson

    I, too, have noticed a resurgence in paid links. It’s strange.

  • Matt Janaway

    I just don’t understand it. I have to keep telling myself that these people are new to the industry and are mis-informed… I’m not sure exactly how accurate this assumption is but it eases my mind somewhat.

  • Vlad Levachyov

    I have been inundated with paid link proposals also. Isn’t it most likely due to the fact that everyone is dropping link sellers like hot bricks and they are desperately trying to flog their paid links – and resorting to linked in to do so?

  • Matt Janaway

    That’s a very good point actually. That may well be the case. Let’s hope 2.0 destroys sites prone to webspam WITHOUT damaging reputable websites.

  • Vlad Levachyov

    Well, a man can dream, right? But then again, this is Google we’re talking about…

  • Steven Macdonald

    Same here Matt. It’s very strange.

  • Ritesh Gujrati

    I think Google is doing great by blocking sites offering Paid spammy links…….

  • Vincenzo Desroches

    I got about a handful of them – I can tell ya’ about – it just blows my mind the companies and individuals still operating in black hat – don’t get it.
    your pal,

  • Nick Stamoulis

    That’s a great point Vlad. The link sellers are scrambling to get what they can while the can before the update hits and they are trying to take unsuspecting site owners down with them.

  • Atishay jain

    I am not sure If it will impact anything to those who are selling the links. This debate happened may times before but nothing worked out. Paid links will move on and will rule SEO as it has been.

  • Johan Martin

    Paid links is buying a position in Google, at least the way it still is. People with big cash can rule the top ranking for the largest part not based on their content alone, but based on the amount of cash they want to spend to buy links and i am glad this unfair competition is going to end soon.

  • Amanda Leite

    Why Google does not penalize CodeLabs Sponsored Links?
    It is a network of links that operates in Brazil.

    Look at the footer of the websites:

    The CodeLabs is who is doing this type of link. In the footer of their sites are the same links.

    This is shameful and has hindered the work of serious professionals of SEO in Brazil.

  • Adam Boulton

    They’re fighting an uphill battle. Link networks will always be one step ahead of Google. When they zap one – a dozen more pop up that are even harder to detect. Until they build a better algorithm that doesn’t rely on LINKS to rank websites, this is going to be a continual cycle.

  • Adam Boulton

    Oh they are ‘learning’ , just not in the way you think they are. Every time something goes bust – they learn new ways to stay under the radar. They don’t care if their sites get busted, when they have a half dozen more up and coming. It’s just a numbers game, and as long as they can stay profitable, they’ll continue to churn and burn, and stay one step ahead of Google.

    It’s funny that people go cheerleading when Google publicly announces these things, but you guys don’t realize that Google is not winning this game. The score isn’t even close. And Google won’t be able to catch up until they do something drastic to change their algorithm that doesn’t rely on easy-to-manipulate signals (links). Penguin 2.0 won’t be any different. Good sites will get hit along with the bad sites, but the owners of the bad sites have a dozen more to throw up and win in the end – while the owners of the good sites will be left wondering what to do next.

    It’s been the same cycle for almost a decade, and it’s Google who’s not learning.

  • Gael Breton

    I doubt the future is that bright but I do expect improvements. To be honest, I can’t wait for it.

  • CandleForex

    Let me guess…most came from India?

  • Florian

    Yep, but while it is a signal that can be manipulated, are there any real alternatives? Are other signals more reliable? The way the internet is built, links are recommendations and the only way to measure authority, trust or popularity. Even “social signals” are more or less links. Onpage? Manipulation is even easier. Bad content maybe easy to detect, but how to judge if it’s good, great or simply awesome without other strong signals. Also depends on personal taste. Visitor behaviour? Harder to track and judge, depending on too many factors, e.g. a high bounce rate can simply mean people quickly found exactly the piece of information they were searching for.

  • Durant Imboden

    One way to combat iffy links would simply be to block PR transfer for links to commercial sites. Does anyone link to sites like bobs-bargain– for editorial or “citation” reasons?

  • Adam Boulton

    Oh I totally agree with you on that one. I don’t claim to have the answers at all. But I’m not a multi-billion dollar company with brilliant minds at my disposal either. These updates are just another step in an unending cycle. Google is so obsessed with ending blackhat spammers (which will never happen), that they are losing perspective and aren’t learning valuable lessons. By consistently coming out with these pointless updates, they are truly showing their ignorance to how much further along black-hatters are. They aren’t going to win this way.

    What is that saying about the definition of insanity again? =)

  • Arif Santoso (Driessen)

    It’s very strange.

  • Chrystal Bougon

    There are just no short cuts. Just do the work and stop trying to hire people to let you cut in line. I am glad Google is taking action finally.

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