Posted October 8, 2007 1:57 pm by with 30 comments

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Maybe now with the new evidence of Google punishing link sellers we can get a large scale movement towards content blended paid links; something that has been an uphill battle so far. Here’s a list of basic rules to live by when selling links.

Do not talk about selling links.

I have come across a large number of websites that openly advertise you can buy a link on their site. This is a big no-no. If you have an advertising page on your site, do not list anything about plain text paid links even if it is an option.

You DO NOT talk about selling links.

This rule is doubly important for off site advertising venues. Make your URL private within link networks. Most text link ad networks either by default, or as an option, allow you to hide your URL until after a link is purchased. Take advantage of this and if your network doesn’t have this option then you might consider switching.

Do not mark links as paid, sponsored, affiliate, or similar

Many link sellers openly advertise the fact their paid links are sponsored in one way or another. You might as well go outside to find the switch for Google to beat you with. Never, under any circumstances admit a naked text link is sponsored. That goes for link anywhere on your site, be it the sidebar, or in the middle of your content. Also don’t think because you used an image to disclose the links as sponsored you are safe. Humans are reviewing these sites, and they can read text on images just fine.

Never place paid links on your homepage.

Home page links are one big red flag in most cases. It is rare to have the available content on a homepage to place links anywhere other than the sidebar or footer of a site design. Refer to the next rule. Instead, sell links on your internal pages.

Never place paid links in the footer or sidebars of your website.

With few exceptions, placing paid links in the sidebar, header, or footer of your site design is going to get you noticed by the wrong people. Find a way to place the links within the actual content of your pages. If you don’t have any content with the exact anchor text the buyer is looking for, see if it’s possible to slip into an already existing page. If not, see next rule.

Create content related to each link

If you do not have any content directly related to what the link buyer’s site, create it. You should not be willing to accept advertising dollars from a site that isn’t up to your quality standards so that means you should be willing to discuss the exact topic of the advertiser in the form of content on your site.

Be willing to turn down inappropriate buyers.

If you are selling links on your website you are probably in this game to make a buck just like me. Unfortunately there will be times when you have to turn some down. If a potential advertiser is completely unrelated to your site or is of poor quality, you are better off rejecting the offer. Better to live another day to sell another link than risk your site to the wrath of the Cutts!

Rule of thumb

If the link appears any different than one you would normally give when discussing a random third party site, it can be flagged as paid and you can suffer. It’s not hard to sell links that are impossible to detect, you just have to stop being lazy.

Some website owners will have an ethical problem with selling links and not disclosing they are paid. To them I say then you should not be selling plain text links at all.

  • Luke Sample

    Wow…somebody who gets it!

    I am completely blown away to see someone who actually understands the current situation with text links and how the system works.

    You could not have said this better, “If the link appears any different than one you would normally give when discussing a random third party site, it can be flagged as paid and you can suffer”

    People seem to think that it is not possible to detect unnatural links, or as we call them useless links for SEO. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We even have a tool that does this.

    The content creation…dead on man. I have never seen someone else actually get that point. If you were here beside me, you would definitely get a gold star. Maybe two.

    These points are exactly why we decided to combat the current text link marketplace sites and create one that is secure and works.

    Thank you for coming out with the truth! Many people need to hear it, and it is hard to convince some of these guys that just want to be lazy.

    You are the man!

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  • Owen Cutajar

    Excellent post mate. It’s funny how many people try to sell links without knowing what they’re doing.

  • Halfdeck

    Luke, good job spamming every text link related article on Sphinn with the same lame comment.

  • Scott

    Great list, thanks. This topic keeps getting bigger and bigger but I guess that is because it is more relevant now than it ever has been in the past.

    It would be nice for the larger players in the whole link ad conundrum to actually come out with a stance instead of keeping everyone in the dark. I don’t mean Google, I don’t expect them to, but I have talked to a few that are either ignoring the issue or pretending like it doesn’t exist.

    Thanks again for the post.

  • Michael Phipps

    I’ve been thinking about the difference between Google selling links, and everyone else selling links.

    It sounds like “do as google says, not as google does”, but it isn’t.

    The links that Google sell have absolutely no benefit from a pagerank point of view. If you sold links that had no pagerank benefit (ie – delivered in a way that google doesn’t spider) I imagine Google wouldn’t have a problem. Of course no one would buy those links because there would be no ‘seo’ benefit.

  • Jeremy Luebke


    I don’t even bother debating about about Good vs Evil with Google and paid links. I just want to change how people buy / sell them to be undetectable for my clients.

  • Mike

    Hmm…. this is news to me!

    Now I am concerned. Can you please checkout the “Related Sites” section that I have in the footer of our SocialRank powered sites such as

    Are you saying they could get us into trouble? These links are not sold and not being offered for sale but your post got me worried that any link list might be deemed suspicious now.

    What’s your advice?

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  • ScottUA

    Good information! But I think I would just stay away from selling links on my site. Google (and other SE’s) are getting really good at detecting sales links. It seems better off to stay away from offering sales links.

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  • Brian Chappell

    There is nothing wrong with selling links. It can be a great way to make extra income.

    @ Scott – Google is the only SE to say that they potentially could have a problem.

    As long as you use comman sense, follow what Jeremy said you don’t have much to worry about. It really isn’t THAT hard to hide sold links.

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  • Perde

    Lately I’ve noticed webmasters are quite more careful about selling links. Apparently, one of the favorite methods is listing an offer on some forum, but not including URL which is PMed when asked.
    I wonder if it’s Google Paid-Link Report tool that caused this. And if the tool actually works.

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  • ScottUA

    @ Brian-

    Yeah, I guess you’re right. But it seems like the rules change every day. And if you’re not aware of any “new rules” then could be penalized without even knowing that you’re doing something wrong.

  • Prash

    Will bartering work? :)

  • Bushido

    Let me see if I understood what you meant:
    Don’t talk about it, don’t put paid links on your homepage, sidebar, header or footer.

    It’s obvious one won’t get penalized for having payed links if one doesn’t have payed links on their site! :S

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  • Israel

    this is some solid advice. thanks.

  • Googlelady

    Great list here, but still dont try to game Google. If you are not selling links to “game” Google why worried, there are many advertisers out there that wants to buy advertising to get traffic and get known.

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  • Sanved_Tapkeer

    Some very interesting tips here ! loved it and will surely follow the same

  • Hik-Online

    Good site