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In the previous video, we discussed the issue of buying links, about how the search engines don't like it, about how they sometimes punish it and how at the same time they reward it. But what is a purchase link? After all, there are lots of services out there that will help you get links and some of what those services do is actually legitimate. If you pay somebody to help you create links, are you buying links? The classic example is Yahoo! Directory which charges $299 a year for a listing. Google doesn't penalize Yahoo! Why not? Well, Google's position is that Yahoo! and some other directories, Best of the Web for instance, provide value-ad editorial services.
They don't just take anyone who pays, they review the site and reject many, and that's this human review process is much more than simply selling a link, and in fact, provide some value to the search engines by pointing out decent human reviewed sites. Shabby directories that accept anyone who pays that provide whatever anchor text you want and so on, are more likely to be considered selling paid links. How about the advertorials, often known as feature releases or mats that I talked about in an earlier video? Aren't these paid links? Well, in a sense they are.
I think the advertorial companies would argue that they are more than that though, that they are links inside genuine content. On the other hand I suspect the advertorial market is simply too far under the radar for the search engines to have noticed. If they have or eventually do though, it wouldn't be hard for them to stop rewarding such links. All they need to do is to sign up to get the editorial content then block it wherever it's found. So how can the search engines figure out if links have been paid for? Often they can't of course, and those from the buyer's perspective are the very best types of paid links, but sometimes they can.
Look at this example provided by Google of a page that contains the links. First, notice that this is really badly written. In fact it's probably spun, an article created by a piece of software. Next, notice that the links don't fit the text, "enable it to pay day loan you stay healthy," for instance. It's not so hard for the search engines to figure this out. Here's another example. Newspaper websites used to frequently sell links. Well, the recent actions by Google have probably stopped much of this business.
This is a link block on a newspaper site, and yes, these are all follow links. It's getting hard to find these links now, as most of newspapers have been frightened off selling links. This blog post from Google's Matt Cutts gives a clue as to why. Here's another way they can find purchased links, direct research. After all if you can find link purchase opportunities and I'll show you how in the next video, then so can they. In fact, the search engines do go looking for link networks.
They figure out identifying features in the core sites involved in the network and then they knock them out of the game. The risk to you if you're a purchaser is that you maybe paying for links that have no value. Though in some cases, the networks simply go out of business and you stop getting charged. Still, the search engines are merely scratching the surface. How do they stop you, for instance, emailing a blogger and asking if they will add you to the blogroll, their list of favorite links for 25 bucks a month. It's almost impossible to police this kind of thing.
What they can do though is hit the most obvious problems and over time they'll get better and better at doing that. Still as a wise man once said, make something fool proof and they will just build a better fool. Buying links is not going to go away. It's just going to get more sophisticated. So what's the answer to the question posed by the title of this video? Should you buy links? Well, I'm not going to provide an answer. I want you to understand the lay of the land and understand that there may be dangers, but it's up to you to decide how to build your linking strategy.
There is however one important consideration. Be warned that many link building companies you may run into are little more than a scam. I often get new clients who ask me what a linking company did for them only to discover that the company did little or nothing of value.
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