February 22nd, 2013 § 1 Comment
Following the recent speculation about the causes of Interflora’s fall from grace, Matt Cutts has spoken out about the dangers of buying advertorial links to pass PageRank. Although he carefully avoids mentioning any names, it seems fairly likely this is a direct response to Interflora’s situation, and an implicit confirmation that their advertorial links contributed to their downfall.
From Matt’s post:
Please be wary if someone approaches you and wants to pay you for links or “advertorial” pages on your site that pass PageRank. Selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations. The consequences for a linkselling site start with losing trust in Google’s search results, as well as reduction of the site’s visible PageRank in the Google Toolbar. The consequences can also include lower rankings for that site in Google’s search results.
This certainly explains what’s happened to the PageRank on whole load of UK newspaper sites:
If you receive a warning for selling links that pass PageRank in Google’s Webmaster Tools, you’ll see a notification message to look for “possibly artificial or unnatural links on your site pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank.”
I wonder how many of these newspaper sites received link warnings? Earlier today I posted about Google rolling out another round of unnatural link warnings to sites undertaking linkbuilding, so it seems as though (in a repeat of April 2012), these warnings are being sent out to link sellers as well.
Matt goes on to suggest that sites remove their paid advertorials or add the rel=”nofollow” attribute to the links they contain. Then;
…you can submit a reconsideration request and if you had a manual webspam action on your site, someone at Google will review the request.
It seems likely that each of these newspaper sites will need to clean up and submit a reconsideration request. That’s quite a big job for somebody.
Finally, Matt says:
We do take this issue very seriously, so we recommend you avoid selling (and buying) links that pass PageRank in order to prevent loss of trust, lower PageRank in the Google Toolbar, lower rankings, or in an extreme case, removal from Google’s search results.
It looks like Interflora’s “extreme case” is a warning to us all.