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Most of the discussions about paid links focus on the issue from a webmaster or SEO’s point of view.
In this post I want to have a think about the issue from Google's point of view.
The reason Google doesn’t like paid links is obvious and understandable from its point of view.
Google quite simply doesn’t want websites to be able to buy their way to the top of the search engine rankings.
It isn’t a question about relevance because nobody buys their way to the top of the search results for a phrase that isn’t related to their site.
Once Google has made a stand and said that it doesn't like paid links, the next issue is to take action against the people who are buying and selling those links.
In the past year we have seen Google handing out penalties to link brokers, link buyers and link sellers but so far we haven’t seen Google exhibiting an even hand against any of these groups.
Why have some sites been given minus 50 penalties while others are left alone?
The main issue Google has here is that the abuse is so widespread that it is totally powerless to fix it.
Imagine if Google was to hand out penalties to all the link buyers in the UK finance industry – the result would be the top 20 sites for each niche all being removed from the index.
This mass removal of sites would mean that searchers wouldn’t be able to find the sites they see on TV every day and the high street banks they walk past on the way to work.
In short, it wouldn’t make the search results more relevant - it would just make them different.
Google has to give out the message that buying and selling links is a bad thing -but in reality it is powerless to give penalties to people who are rumoured to sell links and the major finance houses who think that SEO involves buying as many links as possible.
From our point of view, we don’t often buy links for clients for the simple reason that it’s not cost effective in the long term.
Link buyers face a continual battle to find new links that haven’t been devalued and take the risk that the links they buy today won’t work tomorrow.
We know that every single natural link is going to work today, tomorrow and next year.
Why pay £1000 for a permanent link when Google can devalue it at the drop of a hat?