Search Engine Roundtable has an interesting post today regarding whether it’s still ok to buy links or not. Barry cites a comment that senior Google engineer, Matt Cutts made as part of an ongoing debate over the text links being sold on several O’Reilly sites, xml.com, perl.com, etc.
Google’s position is basically that if you sell text links on your site, to add a nofollow attribute to it. Then you won’t be “selling pagerank” which Google is firmly against.
Comments from Matt Cutts:
“As others have noted, if you’re going to sell text links that pass reputation/PageRank, the way to do it is to add rel=nofollow to those links.”
“Remember that just because a site shows up for a “link:” command on Google does not mean that it passes PageRank, reputation, or anchortext.”
“Selling links muddies the quality of the web and makes it harder for many search engines (not just Google) to return relevant results. The rel=nofollow attribute is the correct answer: any site can sell links, but a search engine will be able to tell that the source site is not vouching for the destination page.”
It may be, as Barry points out, that search engines start to use tactics like block level analysis to identify areas within a web page where the “good” content and links are so that lower or no value is given to the areas commonly used for advertising links.
This affects web site owner’s as they engage in a link building strategy. Should you buy sitewide links on another site just because it has high PageRank?
For some companies that may be an acceptable risk. There are lots of other ways to get links though and I can say in my SEO practice, we rarely, if ever buy sitewide links for our clients.
If you haven’t visited Matt Cutts’ blog already, I highly recommend taking a look. There’s no better information on Google than straight from the source.