Selling Text Links

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Thanks to the emergence of link popularity as a cornerstone of search engine algorithms a whole industry of the buying and selling of text links has developed. This has bearings on both website revenue and search engine optimization as Dan Thies recently discussed.

Its actually a pretty controversial issue, on one hand text link advertising has existed longer than Google, but obviously Google (and link popularity algorithms in general) have made it much more prevalent. The search engines of course don’t like people trying to manipulate their algorithm, but what about if the text link is simply bought for the traffic it provides? It seems that whether or not buying or selling text links is “black hat” or not depends on the motivation of the buyer, but the opinion that really matters is the search engine representative reviewing your site trying to decide to penalize you or not.

Yes, people have been penalized and banned for selling text links, this is especially true of people who publicize the fact that they are selling text links. The most publicized such case to date was Google’s banning of Search King. Google won that lawsuit but they seem to have changed their tune anyways. Now they do not need to ban or penalize a site that sells text links, they can simply make sure that the site no longer passes PageRank through it’s links. This of course has the side effect of blocking PR from being passed through all your non-sold links as well, and so is obviously not a good thing to have happen to you.

So now you have text link brokering services that allow you to advertise that your site is available for text links without you actually naming your site. So, other than natural human intuition, the search engine police have no way of knowing if certain links on your site were bought or not. All in all it makes it safer to engage in this practice.

Now I’ve bought text links, I find them a very cost effective way to promote a website, especially a new one. I’ve never sold one though. I’m pretty picky about who I link to, I refuse to do most link exchanges, and in fact you will not find a “links” page on a single website I run. Any exchanges I agree to must be with related sites, and the links must be useful to my visitors, usually put in a “related links” or equivalent section at the end of an article. Suffice it to say that considering the potential search engine ramifications and my natural selectiveness in regards to links it took a lot for me to even considering selling text links, but I thought I’d test the waters and find out.

I contacted TextLinkBrokers.com, as they seemed to be the largest and or most popular site. There is also Linkadage.com, and dozens of others, most of which are small with less than a couple dozen listings.

I told the folks at TextLinkBrokers that I was looking to sell a site wide link on every page of a 30,000+ page site. I told them that the homepage was a PR of 7, that some subpages were a PR of 7, that hundreds of subpages were a PR of 6, and that thousands of subpages were a PR of 5. I know for a fact that such a link can move a brand new page all the way up to a PR of 7 in a single Google update, I know this because I’ve done it with my own sites. I also wished to sell just a single link, I was not going to crowd my site with dozens of links, so the advertiser would have pretty good exclusivity.

They offered me $80 a month, needless to say I passed. A generic Amazon.com affiliate link would earn more per month than that. If that is truly the going rate for being able to go from a PR of 0 to a PR of 7 then I really cannot recommend selling text links as a good source of income for your website.

If you know your visitors well and you know what keywords they are interested in then you could try a program like RevenuePilot or SearchFeed instead. These programs allow you to serve PPC search results, but what’s great about them is that you’re allowed to pre-populate the search field, or in fact link directly to a result set using a text link. I’ve found no better way to monetize a simple text link, or even just a single word within a paragraph, than this. I don’t have exact figures, but based on my considerable experience I estimate that putting a link such as I just described would earn me around $30 a day with SearchFeed (whom I use on the site elsewhere). That’s 10x more per month than TextLinkBrokers was offering, and I think I’m being conservative. Plus, this way, I wouldn’t have to worry about Google hitting me with a ban hammer.

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  • Sam Mason

    Thanks to the emergency of link popularity as a cornerstone of search engine algorithms a whole industry of the buying and selling of text links has developed

    /emergency/emergence/

  • http://www.lowter.com charmedlover

    We sell text links on my website, although they’re very low priced and help mainly to pay for hosting cost. I’ve tried all sorts of programs for advertising, and most aren’t effective. I usually make more through direct ad buying.

  • mhdoc

    You might want to check out the link sales section at digitalpoint. People there are paying for PR3 and up links on really garbage sites. With the size and quality of your site I suspect your opportunity cost of not selling these ads is well over $5,000.00 per month, not $80.00 :)

  • Sam Mason

    What about AdBrite? They seem pretty popular.

  • Anonymously

    Chris, I REALLY like your blog – but was wondering, since you only post so often…

    Do you (or anyone else) have links to other “Do It Yourself” blogs/sites on pulling earnings out of web-based content? Yes, I know there are a great number of them, but it never hurts to ask and yes, I have been to your site:
    http://www.websitepublisher.net/

    Do you (or anyone else) have samples/links of REAL earnings/”numbers” of other publishers – for example the recent sell of Weblogs Inc.?

    Most importantly – what would be a realistic earnings goal for the first year for someone starting with no web content owned, but a strong sense of the web?

    THANK YOU & Best of Luck!

  • http://www.seoresearchlabs.com DanThies

    Google’s point isn’t that you shouldn’t sell ads (links)… just that if you want the rest of your links to mean something in their search results, you should use “rel=nofollow” on the ads.

    Personally, I suspect that Google has actually filtered out the links from a very small number of websites, but I also know that lots of smart people who can write code are working on doing a better job.

  • http://www.developedsitesales.com Cutter

    Hey Anonymous, there are really only two others that I know of: MarketingSherpa’s Contentbiz.com, and my blog, WebPublishingBlog.com (shameless plug.) There are other websites, but they take a broader look at things like Sitepoint does.

    Earnings — there are a few case studies of AskTheBuilder.com. I can’t pull up exact earnings URLs, but the guy is pulling in several hundred thousand a year on Adsense. Do a search on Google for “AskTheBuilder.com case study” and you should be able to find it.

    Realistic earnings — its all about your subject and what you can invest. Do it all yourself, you should be able to make $1,000 a month in your first year. Invest thousands in content for a good niche and work full time, possibly a couple thousand a month within your first year.

  • JarrodHunt

    Hi Chris,

    This is Jarrod Hunt, I’m the CEO of textlinkbrokers.com. Thank you for your interest in using our service, I’m sorry we couldnt meet your revenue requirements.

    I would like to take a moment to discuss a few things that we use to determine the value of a link ad.

    PR of page
    Number of outbound links on the page
    location of the link ad
    Amount of traffic
    Is the site an authority or Hub for a particular industry

    If you were plannning on only selling one site-wide link on your site, then that link would be more valuable. As it stands most link sellers like selling anywhere between 15 and 20 per page. After about 5 outbound site-wide link ads the ability for a site to pass pagerank is severly dampened. Once there is 10-15, the links are even less valuable.

    It sounds as though you believe that one site-wide link from your site would guarantee the advertiser a PR7. If you were only going to sell 1 link (and there were no other outbound links on your site), there is a good chance that you would be correct. If however you plan on selling even 2 site-wide links, there is almost no chance that you will make both of those sites PR7’s. After about 5 outbounds on a site, advertisers would be lucky to even get a PR6 from having a site-wide link on your site. At about 10 – 15 links, they are looking at a high PR5.

    There is something else that is important to know about site-wides. They are not as effective as they were 1-2 years ago. Google is not going to count thousands of inbound links coming from one site anymore, they filtered that possibility out a long time ago.

    Here are some other things that we take into consideration:

    If your site recieves a large amount of traffic and the link is being placed in a prominent position, then the link(s) are worth more.

    If your site is an authority in a specific industry, and you are selling links to only relevant sites in your industry, then your links are worth more.

    If your site has the power to increase the advertisers rankings then it is more valuable.. Pagerank is no longer an easy “tell-all” indicator of value. Even though your site may be a PR7 and it has the “potential” ability to make the link advertisers a PR5-PR6, if the link advertisers do not see any increases in their rankings then the PR is irrelevant. With the way Google is doing things these days, it is very possible to have high pagerank without having high rankings.

  • Anonymously

    @ Cutter – THANKS! ;)

    Is this the case study you were talking about:

    “Tim Carter of Askthebuilder.com actually made the move from a
    subscription site to an ad-supported business. Although he made over
    $9,000 in the first nine months as a subscription site, he ended up
    with a deficit of $8,800. “Then, I started the AdSense program with
    Google. Suffice it to say I can average $1.35 per page per day and
    I’ve got something like 1,400 pages,” he said.” — SOURCE: 2005 ContentBiz Summit Wrap-Up

    Carter take is that you focus on revenue per page per day and build your site around what AdSense “wants”…

    Seth Godin did a write up saying that Askthebuilder.com should move to a mix of subscription and ad-based revenue. He also list some of the tactics Askthebuilder.com used to optimize AdSense revenue stream, here’s the link:
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/09/andrew_on_free.html

    Anyone have links or comments on mixing subscription and ad-based revenue on one-site?

    THANKS & TAKE CARE!

  • http://www.websitepublisher.net aspen

    If you were plannning on only selling one site-wide link on your site, then that link would be more valuable. As it stands most link sellers like selling anywhere between 15 and 20 per page. After about 5 outbound site-wide link ads the ability for a site to pass pagerank is severly dampened. Once there is 10-15, the links are even less valuable.

    Actually, I think I’m quite aware of what my links can do. I was not offering a single link, I was offering a site wide link. This site wide link has and does currently bring sites from 0 to 7. My privacy policy on this site has a PR of 7, and its only linked to from other pages on the site, the same pages that would have linked to an advertiser had I been offered anything close to a realistic sum.

    The site makes around $15,000 a month already, and provides thousands of clicks through small text links every day. The $80 was a little insulting.

  • JarrodHunt

    I apologize if my comments, or our offer to you, was insulting. That was not the intent. My comments were intended to be educational to those who may not understand how we value links.

    Our quote to you was based on the belief that you, like 99.9% of link sellers, want to sell 20 links. In that case, our offer was worth $1600 per month not $80. I apologize if my inventory manager did not clearly understand that you wanted to only sell 1 sitewide link. I will speak with him later today to find out where the breakdown in communication was.

    As a single (sitewide) link it would clearly be worth much more then $80, especially if in addition to the increased link popularity you are offering a placement that would be highly visible and generate a lot of clickthroughs. Our core business is selling links for SEO purposes, but we deal with plenty of ad buyers who would be interested in a relevant, high traffic, link on a site with only 1 outbound.

    As always, we allow our advertisers to place whatever value they want on their links. If after doing your math you feel that the link is worth $1000, $2000, $10,000 per month, we would be more then happy to include it in our marketplace, to see if advertisers would bite.

  • Anonymously

    By the way, from a CASHFLOW point of view one difference between subscription and ad-based revenue is:

    AD — AdSense is NET-30 at 100 dollars breakpoint for the Publisher.
    SUB — Subscription is NET-30 or more for the Subscriber.

    (This means at minimum there is a 30 day gap between the AD & SUB and more likely 60 days plus…)

    If you were able to get 18% ROI with cash on hand this would be a big differnce long-term…

  • Anonymously

    @ Chris

    “Howdy, my name is Chris Beasley. If you’re a member of SitePoint’s Forums you know me as aspen, the team leader of the Manage Your Site section.”

    FYI it is not clear to someone just coming to this page that the author is “aspen” I know that you use this in the forum – and likely will use it for the blog – but it would be clearer if your username was the author’s name (e.g. your name – Chris Beasley…)

    Again, love your blog and thanks for sharing!

  • JarrodHunt

    One more quick comment.

    If you plan on placing the link in an area of your site that gets little clickthroughs, I would expect a site-wide link on a PR7 with no other outbounds, to fetch anywhere between $500 and $1000.

    At the risk of sounding confrontational I would also like to explain to novice link buyers, that outbound links are not treated the same as internal links by Google. Even though a sitewide link from a PR7 site, to an internal page, might give that page a PR7, there is no guarantee that the same site-wide link will make an external site a PR7. Actually, in most cases I would give it about 50-50 chance, or less. A couple years ago it was much more likely, but these days Google has a nasty habit of treating site-wide “outbound links” in a very inconsistent manner.

    I’m not saying that this is the case with your site Chris. You may have already had a site-wide link pointing to an outbound site and seen that it indeed gave that site a PR7, but even so, there is no guaranteeing that it will do the same thing for the next site you link too.

  • http://www.websitepublisher.net aspen

    I’m not saying that this is the case with your site Chris. You may have already had a site-wide link pointing to an outbound site and seen that it indeed gave that site a PR7.

    I have, and I’ve also never seen any evidence of what you claim. Internal and external links being treated different.

    For one, what is an external link? A link to another domain? Some sites have more than one domain, and some domains have more than one site.

    Google assigns PR to pages, not sites, in that aspect all links are external.

    Now sure, ranking wise there are all sorts of filters in place to detect abnormal linking patterns and much more than the pure PR of the link matters. An internal page may get more or less benefit, ranking wise, than an external page from the same link. However, for pure PR, it isn’t going to matter.

    Quite frankly, if you think about it, it’d be impossible to treat same-site links differently without breaking the PR algorithm. You’re dealing with a very strict mathematical equation and if you break the balance instead of approaching 1 with each iteration as it does currently you could end up approaching infinity instead, which would not be a good thing.

    Plus, its quite easy to measure this, just make two new identical pages, one on a new site, one on an existing site, provide the same number of incoming links from the same places. You’ll find that they end up with the same PR. One thing that can affect the PageRank of a page (specifically a home page of a site) is the site’s internal linking structure. You may have previously observed similar links providing varying benefits to different pages. This wouldn’t have been caused by the links being treated differently by Google, but by the pages handling the PR they are receiving differently. For instance if A is the page being linked to then A can link to B, and if B links back to A (and no where else) then A will have almost doubled it’s PageRank. Without the dampening factor it would have doubled it exactly. If B linked to just a single other site then A would end up with 25% less PR. Variables like these are why its important that you make sure pages are truly identical when doing tests.

    A good article for understanding all the math behind PR can be found here.

    So to recap, buying text links does not guarantee you rankings, but the PageRank (a mere component of ranking algorithms) received from those links can be reliably predicted and measured.

  • Anonymously

    For one, what is an external link? A link to another domain? Some sites have more than one domain, and some domains have more than one site.

    Nice point…

  • JarrodHunt

    Now sure, ranking wise there are all sorts of filters in place to detect abnormal linking patterns and much more than the pure PR of the link matters

    Thanks for the comments Chris, I always appreciate a good debate!

    There are filters that are outside the “pure pagerank” algorithm that are used to determine how links to external sites are handled.

    One of those filters is the external pagerank block. I built a site about 2 years ago called blockedpr.com. It was a list of all the sites that Google had manually blocked from passing PR. There were a lot of them. Thats just one example of a reason why an external site would not receive PR the same way an internal site would.

    Since those times Google has added many other filters/penalties/algorithms that effect how links effect external sites. One of the those filters is the duplicate content/link filter. The duplicate content filter, which is mainly used to describe “duplicate pages”, has also started being applied to duplicate anchor text, duplicate surrounding text/descriptions, etc.. There isnt one expert SEO company I work with that doesnt strategically rotate their link text and descriptions. Matt Cutts was even recently cited as saying that Google is looking for duplicate link descriptions as a way to curb link building programs.

    A site-wide link from your site is going to generate an enormous amount of duplicate links, of which Google will decide which of those links it is going to count and which it is going to discard as duplicate.

    I have dealt with thousands of sites selling links for the past 3 years. This is the only thing I have done, which means I have spent 3 years of my life analyzing how Google treats external links to websites. Your site may have a proven record which is nice, my point is that it is still unpredictable. Which is why if one of my customers asked me to guarantee a certain pagerank level through a link buy, I would never do it, unless of course a I built in a very large insurance premium. There is absolutly no 100% accurate way to predict how Google is going to react to certain sites linking to others. It is not as simple as “pure pagerank”. “Pure Pagerank” has not existed for a long time now.

    Jarrod Hunt

  • JarrodHunt

    BTW Chris,

    If you were to Guarantee that the sitewide link package that you sold to a link buyer would give them a PR7, there are plenty of people who would pay a premium price for that. Most of them of course are crappy directory sites or pharmacy/gambling, but there are a few legitimate link buyers out there, that I know of, that would pay a premium for a guaranteed pagerank. Actually I have 3 of them in my head right now.

    The only thing left to do is for you to determine what it is you think it is worth and to make the offer.

  • Anonymously

    One of those filters is the external pagerank block. I built a site about 2 years ago called blockedpr.com. It was a list of all the sites that Google had manually blocked from passing PR. There were a lot of them. Thats just one example of a reason why an external site would not receive PR the same way an internal site would.

    blockedpr.com is no longer… why even bring it up?

    We all know that google blocks sites PR sometimes for whatever the reason. Do you have a site who is PR is currently blocked external, but not internal? If not, Google blocking PR is a null point – because no one would buy a link for PR from some who had no PR external or internal…

    Matt Cutts was even recently cited as saying that Google is looking for duplicate link descriptions as a way to curb link building programs.

    Have a link to this?

    Thanks Jarrod & Chris – this is a big help!

  • JarrodHunt

    Actually anonymously, if I had to put a percentage on the number of SEO’s out there that dont believe pagerank blocks exist, I would put it at about 50/50. Of course any expert SEO that has ever bought links for long period of time can tell you stories of sites not passing pagerank. They have all bought links on dead sites at one time or another, mainly because there are still brokers/auctions out there that still sell links on blocked sites. Sites they know dont work anymore. This is the reason I built blockedpr.com in the first place.

    Blockedpr was taken down because there were too many sites threatening to sue because they were on the list. They were making too much money from unknowing buyers. There are more blocked sites then ever now. I know of at least a few hundred sites that dont pass PR to outbound sites but pass it to internal pages.

    Andy Hagans over at Linkbuildingblog.com, made a post a little while back talking about duplicate link descriptions.

    http://www.linkbuildingblog.com/2005/10/vary_your_links.html.

    BTW, linkbuildingblog is owned by Patrick Gavin who is my closest competitor. Hows that for freedom of information :)

  • http://www.websitepublisher.net aspen

    Manual filters are a whole other issue. Obviously if Google chooses to manually filter something then thats not part of their algorithm, thats just something they do.

    I’m sure you also run into quite a few sites that do not pass PR, being that your business is selling text links, and that sites that find themselves in this position got there by selling text links, it’s hardly suprising. When you work on a farm you’ll see a lot of animals.

    Just because so many of the sites you work with have been banned or penalized in this way does not mean that Google is now treating external and internal links differently, or any number of other hairbrained theories that seem to float around on a monthly basis.

    What Matt Cutts says also does not apply to this issue. Google looking at link anchor text anomalies as a way of curbing spam is not the same thing as Google drastically changing the fundamental algorithm that got them started in the first place.

    Plus, identical anchor text is a natural phenomenon. For one the far majority of a site’s incoming links will use the site’s name as the anchor text, so they’ll all be the same. Furthermore any link part of a menu by the nature of a menu will use identical anchor text every where that menu is displayed. Google has many smart employees, and they know things like this, so they wouldn’t release some filter willy-nilly that automatically discounts links that use the same anchor text. Especially I would think a links from a single site, as such a link is highly likely to be menu based. More likely they would be looking at identical links from multiple sites to expose such automated link building tools as Digital Point’s Coop Ad Network.

    If you’ve only been doing this for 3 years I’ve got you beat on experience by quite a bit. I’ve been manipulating PageRank for a long time, I probably did more to publicize the practice of obfusicating links for PageRank conservation than any single other person. I’ve brought multiple sites from 0 to 7 with a single update, I’ve made pages PR7s with only a single link. Manipulating PageRank within sites and between partner sites is something I’ve done for a very long time, to good success. So, you’re really not going to stump me on the topic.

    Now, it seems to me that you’ve been trying to make excuses for your company by attacking my knowledge on the subject and my claims of what could be accomplished with my links. That’s not really an avenue that you’ll have much success pursuing, both because of my indepth understanding of PageRank, and because everything I’ve claimed, I’ve done personally multiple times.

    I’ve no doubt you run into sites on a daily basis that do not pass PR, but don’t invent algorithm changes based on nothing more than passive observation of what is most likely a manual penalty.

  • JarrodHunt

    Aspen/Chris,

    It sounds like you have your mind made up then.

    For all the rest of you, If you dont believe that Google discounts links based on algorithmic calculations they do on link text and surrounding text of those links by comparing them to all of the other links coming into your site, as well as throwing in some time based calculations etc.., I suggest you do some more research on the subject. Google is not in the business of doing things manually, they only do manual penalties when they absolutly have too. Over the past few years Google has had no choice but to create automated programs to combat pagerank/link/anchor text manipulation.

    I am not saying that site-wide links cant and/or dont work. My point is that you cannot be 100% sure that they will work based on past assumptions. I am not just a link seller but a major link buyer (why do you think I started this business) and I can tell you that there is no such thing as “pure pagerank” anymore. There are programs upon programs that are built onto/over the original pagerank algorithm that did not exist when pagerank was first created.

    Has it been so long now that we have all forgotten what we learned from the “florida update”?

  • JarrodHunt

    whoops, looks like I forgot to mention:

    Google does treat external links differently then internal links. The original pagerank algorithm didnt, but a lot has changed since the good ol days. Pagerank is only a very small part of the equation anymore. A good majority of the major advances Google has made in he past few years have been add-on algorithms designed to evaluate linking practices. Almost all of which are based on evaluating incoming links from external site.

  • Anonymously

    @ Jarrod

    Actually anonymously, if I had to put a percentage on the number of SEO’s out there that dont believe pagerank blocks exist, I would put it at about 50/50.

    Interesting, considering that the very heart of PageRank is PR-0 or PR-10; PR-0 being a block…

    I know of at least a few hundred sites that dont pass PR to outbound sites but pass it to internal pages.

    So, do you or do you not have ONE example of a site whois PR is not the same external as it is internal (e.g. a site ).

    Over the past few years Google has had no choice but to create automated programs to combat pagerank/link/anchor text manipulation.

    I agree – although what that is unknown to me, but I don’t guess at what it means. The proof is in the pudding… or so they say.

    BTW, linkbuildingblog is owned by Patrick Gavin who is my closest competitor. Hows that for freedom of information ;)

    Thanks! ;)

  • http://www.websitepublisher.net aspen

    Google does treat external links differently then internal links. The original pagerank algorithm didnt, but a lot has changed since the good ol days. Pagerank is only a very small part of the equation anymore. A good majority of the major advances Google has made in he past few years have been add-on algorithms designed to evaluate linking practices. Almost all of which are based on evaluating incoming links from external site.

    One of my pet peeves is people who invent Google algorithm changes without any empirical evidence to back themselves up.

    In anycase, I don’t think anyone here has said that as years have passed that Google hasn’t devalued the importance of PR. Your preaching to the choir there.

    What you’re wrong about is your various claims about new algorithms and what not that not only fly in the face of previous knowledge, but also existing current behavior. The thing about theories is that to be right they have to work for everyone, but to be wrong you just need a single example.

    Or maybe its just that you’re confusing “PageRank” with “page rank.” I doubt it, but its quite common. I said I could make any page a PR of 7, and I can. I don’t mean that the page is going to rank well by any means, only that the little green bar in the toolbar is going to be at 7. The actual ranking is going to depend on hundreds of factors.

    Google certainly has some filters and or algorithmic components that devalue links under certain circumstances. However, that doesn’t lower the site’s PR. I could make a page a PR of 7 and even if the some or all the links end up devalued the page will still be a PR of 7, it will still be able to pass that 7 along to it’s subpages and whatnot. The ranking might not improve much, but I never said it would.

    Now of course had you simply said that its hard to price link packages because its difficult to predict ahead of time what kind of ranking bonus the link will provide. Well, that might be true. Instead you thought to question my claim that I could indeed provide enough PageRank to take a site from 0 to 7, and you regurgitated and old and tired theory about Google applying different PageRank calculations for internal and external links.

    I don’t much get caught up with search engine optimization fads. I have a few strict guidelines about those things. Something either needs to be explicitly stated by Google (or Yahoo, or MSN), or proved empircally, for me to buy it. I’ve found this attitude works well, as invariably the theory dujour that people rave about is usually proved incorrect in the long run.

  • JarrodHunt

    Anonymously,

    When I talk about “blocked pagerank” I am talking about sites that have pagerank themselves but have been blocked from passing that pagerank on to other sites. Sites that have been stripped of their pagerank is what I would normally refer to as “banned”, those are obviously easy to spot. Spotting blocked sites is much harder. It’s usually done by looking for sites that have not improved their pagerank even after being linked from a higher PR site for a very long time. The other way is to just test the effects a site has on the rankings of a site that has no other links being built to it other then the links from the high pagerank site.

    I normally stay away from naming sites, for obvious reasons, but a few that are very commonly known to be blocked from passing pagerank to external sites are http://www.wunderground.com http://www.phpfreaks.com and http://www.phpbb.com. Those are some of the oldest pagerank blocks that we know about.

    You also make a good point about not knowing what Google is doing or not. The truth is none of us know exactly what Google is doing; what combinations of filters there are etc. but we do know that certain filters/penalties exist based on long term testing.

    Two of those filters are the “too much of the same anchor text” and “too many links at once” filters. The term everyone is coining is “Googlebowling”. Killing your competitors rankings by sending a ton of links to their site, in a short time period, all with the link text of the competitors main keyword. If done correctly, you can easily get rid kill a competitors rankings for a particular keyword.

    I would never partake in trying to hurt a competitor, but I can tell you that there have been many many times where I have over done things on my own sites and lost rankings, only to reverse what I did and show right back up again.

  • JarrodHunt

    Chris,

    Its hard to pass pagerank to a site if Google decides to ignore the link that is doing the “passing of the pagerank”. I understand that you are talking about Pagerank and not a page’s rankings.

    I think the main thing that we are not agreeing on is that Google does have filters in place to “automatically” stop a link from passing pagerank. I believe that there automated filters where if a certain number of things are triggered Google will automatically discount or discard links from passing pagerank. One example being site-wide links. While site-wides do work when they are done right, I do believe that there are certain scenarios and automated penalties where if Googles automated programs see too many links coming from the same site they will decide to count only so many of those links, thus limiting the number of links that will be passing pagerank to a particular site.

    If I am correct you do not believe there is any scenario, besides a manual block, where a sitewide link will not pass the full amount of pagerank that is calculated in the pagerank algorithm, to the linked-to site.

  • http://www.websitepublisher.net aspen

    I think perhaps it is a matter of semantics.

    There is no automatic filter in place to stop pages from passing PageRank, however there are certainly filters that prevent links from being counted for the page’s rank. The page still gets the PR (as per the toolbar), the page still passes that PR through it’s links, its just that it doesn’t seem to help with it’s rankings.

    PageRank as a whole is rather meaningless for rankings. Its always been my view that PageRank is multiplied by a contextual qualifier to get the real link popularity modifier.

    I look at it like this: Google tallies up the total weight of your incoming links, this is your PageRank, this is what you see in the toolbar, this is what is used when deciding how much weight your links carry. For your actual rankings Google takes this value, a purely quantitative measurement, and uses some quality based modifiers on it, it looks at things such as anchor text, link context, etc etc, and here is also where you’d find the spam filters. So its not that the PR itself is devalued, its that your benefit from it is lessened.

    Why do I think Google works likes this? Well, experience. I’ve sent PR to pages and have had them rank really well, I’ve sent PR to pages and have had it have very little to no effect on rankings. However invariably the actual PageRank of the site has always been as I predicted.

  • JarrodHunt

    I think its all a matter of our individual experience. I do not doubt that you are telling the truth and that you have a great deal of experience with accuratly predicting what pagerank you can pass another website, but dont make the mistake of thinking I am some random guy pulling random filters out my arse. You have the home turf advantage here, but where I come from, people who have known me for years, believe that when I make an assumption, it is based on real experience, not experience learned from reading forums. A quick visit to my testimonials page will show just a couple of what some of those people have said.

    Perhaps it is just a matter of the types of sites that we work with. The customers and inventory partners I work with are very dynamic, and there are many factors that I have no control over, which may be why I see very dynamic results in the way the pagerank reacts. All it takes is a client to make one wrong move and the entire system becomes unpredictable.

    I too have built a ton of sites, that I have full control over, and where I have done site-wide links from and to. In that situation I find that I can always predict what the outcome will be, as long as I follow the rules I have learned over the past 10 years I have done web development, 6 years I have done SEO, and the 3 years I have devoted to large scale link building for thousands of clients :)

    I think the two situations are completly different. Perhaps I am wrong and you too are dealing with websites where you dont have full control and you are still able to accuratly predict the amount of “toolbar pagerank” that will be passed to a site.

    Chris I respect your position, and I think you have made a great case for what you believe. However, I feel as though I am in a defensive position here and my true message is only getting drowned out by “who has more experience” rants.

  • Anonymously

    @ aspen (Chris Beasley)

    I think perhaps it is a matter of semantics.

    I agree. This was why I was asking for…

    I normally stay away from naming sites, for obvious reasons, but a few that are very commonly known to be blocked from passing pagerank to external sites are http://www.wunderground.com http://www.phpfreaks.com and http://www.phpbb.com. Those are some of the oldest pagerank blocks that we know about.

    Thank you, I understand why you had not listed any sites, but agree that these sites have been listed a number of times elsewhere. What I don’t agree with is that I cannot find anywhere that Google has said this is the case. Nor have I found any proof that this is the case anywhere…

    —– NOTE: In searching for info on PR-BLOCKING someone pointed out that Google’s move away from PR could be do to Standford owning the patent for PR… Does anyone know the value of the PR patent and if the valuation has change in recent years?

    Chris I respect your position, and I think you have made a great case for what you believe. However, I feel as though I am in a defensive position here and my true message is only getting drowned out by “who has more experience” rants.

    This is not about experience, this is about PROOF, which as I think we would all agree is missing and likely not to be found…

  • JarrodHunt

    Chris,

    Just wanted to let you know, a couple of my sales guys were reading this post and came to me and said that they have a few clients that they are sure would pay $2000 – $5000 for a site-wide link that “guarantees” a PR7. I’m sure if we let some people bid on it, we could sell it for even more. If there are traffic considerations and branding possibilities and/or if your site has a ton of natural backlinks with great SEO ranking potential it is worth even more. I havent seen your site so I really couldnt give you an accurate prediction of the value of those factors.

  • http://www.designity.nl peach

    Jarrod, the discussion here is certainly not aimed to denigrate your experience, integrity or knowledge, I think we are just trying to draw a clear line between PageRank and link value, and to establish to wich extent both can be manipulated.

    I think the conflict here, between Jarrod and Aspen is that Aspen believes that sitewide links are not at all processed differrently by the PageRank algorythm then any other links (internal or external). Jarrod states that there is in fact a deviation from the PageRank calculation that is described in the original PR paper in the form of a filter that devalues the sum of PageRank that is given by each individual link that is part of a sitewide link.

    I have to say that I doubt that Google implemented a devaluation of sitewide links right into the PageRank algoryhtm because it would deviate from the goal that PageRank is meant to achieve: count all the links on the internet and determine each page’s link popularity. Therefore it would be, as Aspen puts it, semantically incorrect to let any type of link filtering interfere with the determination of PageRank. The value of a link is determined by many things aside from the link being side-wide, and thus it should be lined up next to these other factors in an equation that outputs a change in the page’s ranking rather than it’s PageRank

  • Anonymously

    @ aspen (Chris Beasley)

    This is not about experience, this is about PROOF, which as I think we would all agree is missing and likely not to be found…

    In case was not clear and to be fair in my request for PROOF to Jarrod – I don’t believe that anyone could “Guarantee” a PR7+ from a PR7, nor was this ever the case for Google.

    If experience tells you that Chris, than my guess is that the networks you were working with were scale-free and that this is not comparible to the current discussion of it being universally applicable.

    To under take locking down a PROOF and the value of the intellectual property tied to it would require a meaningful investment of resources – and as such, a disclosure in public is high-unlikely and likely to complex to understand without a solid background in search engine algorithms and patterns of conflict within both internally and externally them…

    This said, if you have a PROOF I would love to validate it Chris… ;)

    @ Jarrod

    Just wanted to let you know, a couple of my sales guys were reading this post and came to me and said that they have a few clients that they are sure would pay $2000—$5000 for a site-wide link that “guarantees” a PR7.

    Given that it would be site wide (e.g. generate clicks) and “Guarantee” to pass a PR7 – I would think that it would be more than 5k since the site already pulls it 15k…

    @ aspen (Chris Beasley)

    By the way, Chris which of your sites is the one you are referring too?

  • http://www.websitepublisher.net aspen

    I’m sorry Anonymous, I don’t follow entirely what you’re saying.. ESL?

    In anycase, unless you believe that Google has different algorithms for intra-site links, a privacy policy or other such page is a good indicator of what a site wide link can bring, this indicator has never failed me. So my proof in that regard is the privacy policy on that site. I’ve also placed links on that site to get other sites of mine a PR of 7.

    If you don’t think thats possible (again, I’m not sure what exactly you were saying), then you’d be incorrect. I’ve gotten pages up to a 7 before with a single link (from another 7, with no other links on the page), so getting a 7 from 30,000 links isn’t that difficult.

  • JarrodHunt

    Hi Peach,

    I do not believe that Google has done anything with the original pagerank algorithm. What I believe is that there is a stand alone link filter that looks at all of the inbound links to a particular site. One of its functions is to detect abnormal linking patterns. Site-wides, Too many links with the same anchor text (that isnt the sites name), links that have the exactly same surrounding text, too many similar links in a short amount of time etc. etc..

    Once it has evaluated these links it then goes through and filters out some, most, or all of the links that appear to be artificial. It will then exclude those links from counting as backlinks, whether it be for pagerank calculations or for ranking purposes. In the case of a site-wide package Google may only decide to count a few links.

    I am willing to concede that when it comes to the pagerank calculations Google may count all links and there is just some other phenomenon that is causing the reduction in toolbar pagerank that I have often seen, or the calculation is just so complex, due to the complex nature of the type of link building we do, that I have not factored in everything when calculating what the PR should be. Those sorts of calculations are easy to do when you are dealing with only 1 outbound but as soon as you are dealing with complex link building campaigns it gets very tough to calculate.

    I do not spend very much time these days considering how much pagerank is being passed through to a site. I am only concerned with rankings. And for rankings I could care less if my site is a PR6 or a 10, as long as I am ranking for the terms that I am after. Of course there are other reasons why high pagerank is good, reputation, bragging rights etc.. Pagerank is an indicator I use to give a rough estimate of link popularity, but then the real work begins. How many unique backlinks does it have, how old is the site, How relevant is the site, etc. etc. etc.

    This last paragraph was not meant to preach to the choir, I’m sure most people reading this have a pretty realistic expectation of pageranks value in ranking, but there are still a ton of newbie’s out there that believe Pagerank is the only thing that matters. We talk with those people everday, hopefully some of them will read this and reconsider their views.

  • JarrodHunt

    Given that it would be site wide (e.g. generate clicks) and “Guarantee” to pass a PR7—I would think that it would be more than 5k since the site already pulls it 15k…

    Anonymously. Chris has not revealed to us what the location of the links would be. If it is in the footer, then clickthroughs are not going to be a consideration.

    His site may make 15k per month but that doesnt mean that one text link advertisement is worth that. I’m sure he is not planning on replacing his other revenue sources with this single site-wide link, or maybe I’m wrong. Thats one of the great things about text link advertising, they dont take up much real estate.

    I’m working with very little information here so its hard to make quote.

  • Anonymous

    @ Aspen

    I’m sorry Anonymous, I don’t follow entirely what you’re saying… ESL?

    Alot of people wonder the same thing, hince why I stay semi-anonymous… ;)

    In anycase, unless you believe that Google has different algorithms for intra-site links, a privacy policy or other such page is a good indicator of what a site wide link can bring, this indicator has never failed me. So my proof in that regard is the privacy policy on that site. I’ve also placed links on that site to get other sites of mine a PR of 7.

    In re-reading the blog, I see that you are talking only about one NEW page verse linking to any web site/page – so I agree, if that is your point. I misunderstood, and thought that you were linking to ANYPAGE… ;)

    @ Jarrod

    This last paragraph was not meant to preach to the choir, I’m sure most people reading this have a pretty realistic expectation of pageranks value in ranking, but there are still a ton of newbie’s out there that believe Pagerank is the only thing that matters. We talk with those people everday, hopefully some of them will read this and reconsider their views.

    I agree… to me the context was more of how do you see what Google sees using a basic concept like PageRank.

    I’m working with very little information here so its hard to make quote.

    I agree, that is why I ask Chris which site he was referring too.

  • nitroy2k

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  • None

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