The Dangers of Buying Links Through a Service – SEO Tip Week 47
Should you buy links through a link service? Ever since Google slapped Text-Link-Ads.com (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.
JohnChow.com’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 TNX.net would probably be judicious. But reading Google’s mind is not an easy task, as evidenced by the erratic nature of their penalties.