Matt Cutts Answers A Good Question About Paid Link Penalties

By: Chris Crum - April 2, 2013

The latest Webmaster Help video is once again about the topic of paid links, but this time it’s about the effects of a paid link penalty on an innocent site that happened to be linked to by a site that was caught selling links.

Matt Cutts responds to the following submitted question:

If some site that is linking to my site gets penalized for purchasing links, will my site get affected by that penalty?

“Normally what happens is when we find a site that’s selling links, we say, ‘Okay, this is a link seller,'” says Cutts. “It’s PageRank goes down by thirty percent, forty percent, fifty percent as a visible indicator that we’ve lost trust in that domain, and it typically loses its ability to send PageRank going forward.”

“So for example, suppose we have a selling site that is selling links to a buying site, and the selling site also happens to link to you,” he continues. “The sort of situation that might happen is we find out that that’s a link seller, and as a result, we just don’t trust the outgoing links from that site. So the most likely scenario is if there is a link-selling site, and they get caught for selling links, and they just happen to be linking to you, the value of that link that the site was providing, it just goes away. So it’s the sort of thing where maybe you were benefiting – getting a little bit of PageRank from that site. Now, since we don’t trust that site, you wouldn’t be getting that benefit.”

“So typically, it’s not the sort of thing where you get affected by that penalty in the sense that you get demoted or anything harsh like that,” says Cutts. “It’s just you no longer get the benefit of the link from that site because we don’t trust it anymore.”

Here’s another recent video in which Cutts talks about paid links.

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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  • Jerrick

    That really great news because we can’t stop and check every sites which connect to us to use paid links or not .
    Atleast it seem to be fair that the penalised only to those who using paid links and offers paid links and not giving any bad influece to your site.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Your site might not get actively penalized but if enough of your link profile is devauled don’t be surprised if your SEO takes a hit. That’s why it’s so important to actively build links from quality sources. You can’t control who links to you but you can control where you try to get links from.

  • Rank Watch

    Google is certainly keeping it fair with their paid links penalties. Though the site might have earned a natural link from a site which was penalized for selling paid links to others, that link loses page rank value it passed on to the site. Its absolutely must to earn links from quality sources via outreach and quality content. One must stop buying links or else have their ads posted on the site which just gets quality traffic with a no follow banner ad or text link.

  • Danny

    Chris, I asked a similar question in one of the posts on my site a while back….

    Mainly regarding if a site that you link to goes from good to bad in the eyes of Google, and if the site get’s axed, whether our sites will be punished for having linked to that(no longer in Google’s good books, site)…..

    What I am alluding to is that, any links pointing to any site we are linked to could be deemed bad, and therefore we may get hit for having indirectly linked to those bad links…

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