Link Seller Linking To You? Google Says You Won’t Benefit From It.

Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, posted a 90-second video on what happens if a site that is selling links also links to your site.

In short, Matt Cutts explains that when sites that sell links (with Google knowing about it) link to you, Google won’t pass value from that link seller website. So, if a site that sells links is linking to you, it most likely won’t hurt you. Matt said that the link will not benefit you and most likely will not hurt you.

Matt explained:

(1) Websites that sell links will see their toolbar PageRank downgraded by 30, 40 or 50%.

(2) The site will no longer continue to be able to pass PageRank.

(3) Sites they link to will no longer benefit from those links.

Does that mean buying links from link sellers won’t result in a penalty? Not necessarily.

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Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Link Building: Paid Links | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Nandita B

    Both the buyers and sellers of links have a common ill-intention of manipulating search engine ranks. So why punishment for sellers only (always), why not buyers?

  • Durant Imboden

    Partly to prevent “negative SEO,” I’d imagine. (Which isn’t to say that manual penalties against buyers won’t occur in extreme or obvious cases.)

    The other thing to remember is that, if prospective link buyers think their money will go to waste, they’ll think twice about buying links. And if SEOs and their clients stop buying links, there won’t be any need for Google to penalize sellers OR buyers.

  • Nandita B

    Ya, it may be a part of preventing -Ve SEO practices.

  • Guest

    So how does Google figure out that a website has been sold?

  • Nandita B

    That’s the secret Google never divulge to prevent search engine manipulation.

  • Lilacor

    My personal experience on the topic (which I have given here: shows that the deterioration of SERP results is ONLY due to the fact that some of the links’ authority has been removed by Google due to a manual penalty.

    I haven’t seen any other negative effect from being linked from penalized websites (with PR reduced to 0) besides the fact that they don’t pass any juice to me. And by not passing the juice they used to pass I lost some positions in SERP. That’s all! I experienced no other negatives besides this, so I think this time Matt was honest (as never).

    I advice everyone to double check their backlinks and remove those which index pages have lost their PR.

  • Lilacor

    Probably because not all of the OBLs are sold? What if some seller just linked you naturally? Then why should you be punished too?

  • Miklin SEO

    Great article, Barry!

  • Yeye Yates

    Great article. Am quite new in the industry and informative posts like this truly helps. If I understand correctly, though my site wont be hurt (penalized) – it also does not benefit from such links. Last time I checked with ColibriTool (backlinks and SERP) everything seems to be normal. Will have to do this routinely to remove backlinks that are somewhat useless.

  • Mukesh Kumar

    So most of the directories is going to be of no use.. Most of them practices in selling links either by “Featured Section” or “Expedite review”.. The time will tell how Google is going to deal with these kind of websites.

  • DavidCrowell

    I run a Link Directory and see nothing but growth with google. I keep up with it. there is no link abuse and the “featured links” are free

  • Christopher Noble

    They do it manually by contacting the sites direct and monitoring “how” those sites “advertise” their links.

  • Christopher Noble

    Because whether people are aware of it or not, “negative” SEO occurs, and if Google punishes websites for “paid” link inclusions, then people could easily buy many paid links to their competitors sites which would then (if Google actually does penalize those sites) will result in a loss of that sites rankings, allowing the other sites to rank higher.

  • Boni satani

    thats awesome :P

  • Boni satani

    oh! that’s a damn lengthy process!

  • Boni satani

    Also may be to kill the source! If there are no such link selling websites, there wont be any buyers!

  • Neil

    Surprisingly straightforward answer from Matt Cutts.

  • Puneet Sharma

    Ya!! you says absolutely right..If Google do this then all users redirect to other search engines in future….

  • Adam Boulton

    Well golly gee, this totally clears it up.

    1) What if a site that sells links is linking to you? It won’t help you. But it might hurt you.

    2) What if a site that sells links is linking to you? It might hurt you , but it won’t help you.

    I feel so enlightened.

  • Nathaniel Bailey

    rofl, are you really that silly to think that the average googler is going to switch to a different search engine just because google is changing what links it finds relevant for rankings?!

    As for your question and list above, drop it and learn what links are relevant to your site, those are the one’s which google will leave be if they look natural.

    Note the natural bit because google wants sites to rank which are naturally shared and liked by people, not sites which are spamming links all over the web to try and get a bigger link profile to try and fool google.

    Maybe you would do well to brush up on the signals which google considers to be natural such as social signals, naturally gained links, real reviews and so on! Do that and your above list could grow quite a bit ;)

  • Nathaniel Bailey

    Free featured links? That’s just crazy! I take it everyone applies for a featured link lol

  • Nathaniel Bailey

    Just don’t advertise your selling links, watch who you sell links to, don’t sell links to non relevant sites and don’t over sell links! That way google ‘might’ not find out about it ;)

  • Jawad Latif

    Very confusing scenario for me. How come Google know that I purchased a link or other website linked to me free of cost at their own. How will they differentiate before taking any action.

  • DavidCrowell

    Yes, nothing to retire on but it does make money.

  • DavidCrowell

    I think most people are in robot mode and don’t even notice free featured. I get about 100 regular submissions a day and 4 free featured.

  • Web Hosting Reviews

    Google is banking on the fact that they are number 1 S.E however nothing goes up and stay that way, however they have to do all these to keep web masters on their toes at all times, that get people to buy more adds and they end up making more $$$$

  • Durant Imboden

    Real links, maybe? Links used as citations or as pointers to additional resources? (You might be surprised by how many people still use links for their intended purpose.)

  • Yeye Yates

    If I understand correctly, though my site wont be hurt (penalized) – it also does not benefit from such links. Will routinely check with ColibriTool ( to remove backlinks that are somewhat useless.

  • mobilemates

    But gg punishment for spam links pass values in growing, already very resolute, this pour don’t want to comfort you

  • mobilemates

    Garbage will become increasingly difficult to survive

  • mobilemates

    Google has been done

  • mobilemates

    It will not easy to judge, will show some clues

  • mobilemates

    Such a worry is unnecessary, now too much spam sites

  • mobilemates

    I hope so

  • mobilemates

    Hey, link building has been more and more difficult

  • mobilemates

    Negative SEO will not survive

  • NED

    i am a long term subscriber to ppc adwords 6 yrs spending 200k while building my website with help of a highly respected SEO company. following all the rules set down by google. i balance my business with both PPC and organic traffic. the latest penguin update did not penalise me, but it promoted a large amount of paid advertisement directories such as yellow pages and also a number of forum website blogs which are way out of date. my organic traffic has dropped by 50% with many of my 340 on pages dropping from 1-3 position to ave 7-10.

    i cant understand how subscriber paid advertisment websites can rank organically, in google, although i imagine that they will be looking to increase their advertising costs as they spruik about there new found position in search results.

    i am an aussie, and ever all i want is a fare go.


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