Google Wants You To Report Paid Links

    June 14, 2007

Google is offering users a way to report paid links in an effort to provide searchers with better results, a move that has generated plenty of discussion.

Vanessa Fox writes on the Google Webmaster Central Blog about reporting paid links. "Links are an important signal in our PageRank calculations, as they tend to indicate when someone has found a page useful."

"Links that are purchased are great for advertising and traffic purposes, but aren’t useful for PageRank calculations. Buying or selling links to manipulate results and deceive search engines violates our guidelines."

She goes on to explain that Google will review each report that they receive and use the feedback to improve their algorithm and search results. She also leaves the door open to taking possible action against individual sites.

If you are selling links for advertising purposes she suggests ways to designate this," Adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to the href tag Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file."

Over at Search Engine Guide Jennifer Laycock thinks Google is entering into territory that could hurt their search results. "When a search engine starts penalizing sites that are trying to sell (or buy) ad space instead of sites that are actively seeking to game the system, there’s a good chance that their search results will suffer."

"I think it’s a bad idea, but I understand Google’s reasons. It will certainly be interesting to see how this all plays out in the next several months."