Do you know whether your website is within the Google Guidelines ? When was the last time you checked your outgoing and incoming links? Do you know exactly what your SEO company is doing?

This might seem like scaremongering but with Google's market share now standing at 90% in the UK, business owners cannot afford to ignore what these strict guidelines say.

As a consultant, I see websites every month that flout the guidelines. Some of them rank very well and some of them have been banned. The people who rank well are usually quite happy with the fact they are breaking the rules, but would they be so happy if they woke up one day to find their site on page 10?

During 2006, BMW and Ricoh were famously banned from the listings until they cleaned up their act, but in 2007 Google adopted a much harsher strategy.

They gave penalties to sites without telling them why. Suddenly websites stopped ranking for their own names and traffic dried up totally.

Imagine you had a top ranking website and employed staff based on the revenue Google sent. What would you do if you lost that revenue one day?

One of the main reasons sites are getting these penalties is Google's stance on paid links.

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's Webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.

Most competitive industries are full of sites that buy links but what would happen if Google suddenly took mass action against those sites?

Last year, the US real estate industry was shaken up massively when Google decided that it didn't want sites ranking highly just because they had hundreds of reciprocal links.

This might seem obvious but reciprocal links had served the industry well for years and suddenly most of the top sites were dropped right down the rankings.

Sites most at risk of a penalty:

  • Link sellers
  • Link buyers
  • Large scale reciprocal linkers

Most of the other tactics such as doorway pages have been largely stamped out and very few legitimate businesses still use these practices.

Competitive search engine optimisation isn't about buying your way to the top or using algorithmic holes to get short term rankings.

The key is to develop long term strategies for sustainable rankings that will help sites ride through the inevitable Google ranking alterations without major trouble.

Related research: SEO Best Practice Guide 2007

Related posts: Google points to VW over cloaking


Published 25 January, 2008 by Patrick Altoft

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Comments (5)



So where do paid for PR sites and news wires stand on this issue?

"Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's Webmaster guidelines ..."

Will there business model that charges for submitting company news have to be changed? Or will Google somehow 'tag' these sites as being allowed to bypass this rule?

If they do allow the links on these sites, then all that will happen is that we all start building a paid links section that is renamed as "News and press release distribution services" :-)

over 10 years ago


Patrick Altoft, Director of Search at Branded3

Vincent, Google has said in the past that links in press releases are devalued by their algorithms. PRWeb was a great way to get some easy links a few years ago but not so much anymore.

Of course a press release can still be a great way to get links but only if it gets picked up by some real journalists.

over 10 years ago


SEO professional

It would be stupid to play with Google and try not to comply with the rules! If you cross the line with them, they could just kill most of your business!

over 10 years ago

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein, Founder, Econsultancy & President, Centaur Marketing at EconsultancyStaff

On the (paid) press release question - I don't think this is a very powerful technique any more for getting good rankings but it is still a very valid and poweful technique to help get your site (re)spidered.

This is particularly valuabe when your site is new. Without wanting to promote our own press release distribution service we certainly know that it has helped new sites 'get on the map' much quicker than they might otherwise have done. Google spiders their site, via us, much quicker than otherwise might have happened.

On rankings - it can still help indirectly. Again, in our experience, press releases that come onto our site, and then go to Google News too, get direct traffic through people clicking on them. If those people then mention, or link to, that site, then this does indeed have a beneficial impact on their rankings - as it rightly should have. That is the point about PR - to have some incluence on the influencers.

Ashley Friedlein

over 10 years ago


Low Cost SEO

Just how far is this going to go though? Are companies that use social bookmark sites, free directories and self generated blogs going to start getting banned?

I mean it's all promotional spam really rather than worthwhile content.


over 8 years ago

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