The Dangers of Buying Links Through a Service – SEO Tip Week 47

Written on November 28, 2007 – 4:01 pm | by Shell Harris |

SEO TipsShould you buy links through a link service? Ever since Google slapped (it no longer appears in the first 30 results for its own name), that is a question webmasters have had to wrangle with more than ever. Generally, Google regards buying links as a form of spam and as threat to their business model.

Google hasn’t been shy about punishing sites who engage in this behavior lately either. Many who bought and sold links with Text-Link-Ads have reported a significant drop in their PageRank since the last Google update. This is partly because escaping the eyes of Google is difficult. Doing a search for function tla_ads will uncover all the sites selling links using Text-Links-Ads who have not yet upgraded to the latest TLA plug-in, which hides this information. If Google can see who is selling links, they can logically conclude who is buying them as well.’s recent Google slap represents one of the more drastic punishments doled out to a webmaster. Chow had ranked number 1 in Google for the keyword “make money online” for over a year, but he also aggressively pushed link selling services. Now, he doesn’t even appear in the top 30 results for the keyword “John Chow.” (He clocks in at #57 from the datacenter I’m hitting). 

Analyzing Google’s behavior becomes confusing when one considers that Chow’s site still has a toolbar PR of 4. Likewise, Text-Link-Ads still boasts a PR of 7.

If one wants to remain in the good graces of Google, avoiding the use of link brokers such as TLA or would probably be judicious. But reading Google’s mind is not an easy task, as evidenced by the erratic nature of their penalties.

Shell Harris co-founded Big Oak on January 1, 2004. In a previous career he was a print & web designer and often developed the sites he designed before focusing on his current passion for search engine optimization and Internet marketing. He is an avid researcher, SEO specialist, company mouthpiece and is always looking for the next big thing in Internet Marketing.

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  1. 8 Responses to “The Dangers of Buying Links Through a Service – SEO Tip Week 47”

  2. By Patrick Altoft on Dec 3, 2007 | Reply

    I try to avoid buying links altogether nowadays.

  3. By Webmaster Marty on Dec 4, 2007 | Reply

    Same as Patrick above, i try to avoid buying also. It’s not worth it, being penalized would be too much for me to handle lol. Good post.


  4. By Terry Reeves - Mr Unkie to you on Dec 4, 2007 | Reply

    Personally, I have never really understood link buying. I know some webmasters feel this is the only way to gain PageRank quickly. However, the site with the greatest PR is not always the site on page one.

    Buying links for the traffic does not seem to be the best way to spend money either as text link traffic can be very thin. This whole text link slap does not bother me at all. Google has been warning of this for years.

  5. By Shell Harris on Dec 11, 2007 | Reply

    I think that buying text links is always going to be a part of the SEO landscape. I believe the world Google paints with only the best site’s getting real links is a false reality. If that were the case many times only the sites with brand recognition or the most marketing dollars will actually get real links. Small businesses won’t be able to compete.

  6. By DNL on Jan 16, 2008 | Reply

    of course their money us good because they can advertise their services through Adwords…isn’t that cute G?
    we take our cut and you can sell and buy links safe..

  7. By Itsme on Oct 2, 2008 | Reply

    I’m not an SEO expert, so the following may or may not be true.

    I was under the impression that google would never punish you for something that a competitor could do TO you.

    Since someone else could purchase links and point them to you, it seems that google would not punish that. Of course if they devalue the site that you buy the links from then that will take away the PR that you might have earned from those links, but I don’t really see that as a punishment per se.

    It has been made very clear that Google does punish sites that sell links.

  8. By Shell Harris on Oct 5, 2008 | Reply

    Google will and has penalized sites for buying links. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. When you buy links you are gambling and it can cost you.

  9. By Will on Nov 7, 2008 | Reply

    “I was under the impression that google would never punish you for something that a competitor could do TO you.”

    Google says this, but they are painting a false reality. If you put in the TOS of your website that no one is allowed to point links at your website but you, then you can actually sue someone who sabotages your site.

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