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David Airey noticed a dramatic drop in his Google rankings. As far as I could tell the only naughty thing he was doing was selling four links on his site with dofollow. It is not definitive that the paid links were the culprit, but if anyone has a better theory I would love to hear. Does anyone here manage to sell paid links on their site without a penalty? But for how long?
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from TimDineen 2584 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Funny that there are no comments here despite the "hot" status and the number of sphinns. Are people are getting fearful of speaking up on the topic of paid links or on buying links? With the penalties against directories and a few specific bloggers is G exacting some handjobs?!?! As someone who is pure white :) I don’t fear - I don’t mind being the first commenter here. I suspect a new post on Sphinn is forthcoming: "Top 10 sites that have been busted by Google" which will include comments re: Tim Nash, David Airey, DMOZ, all link directories, John Chow, BMW, etc...

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from AndyBeard 2584 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I have commented on the thread on the site because David has subscribe to comments, so I won’t miss a reply

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from planetc1 2584 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I don’t have any experience to offer an opinion, but after reading the comments, I’m impressed with the level of support and input he has received from the community.

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from MiriamEllis 2584 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Gosh, what a harsh way for this poor fellow to learn about nofollow. And, he’s even a web services provider. What will people do who don’t have anyone to come along and explain why they suddenly no longer rank for their own name, the title tags, etc? Obviously, Google has made an attempt to educated ’the public’ about their policy on this, but if a fellow who does web design hasn’t heard of it, clearly Google’s reach, even to webmasters, is not what it needs to be.  Probably a necessary lesson for the fellow to learn...otherwise he’d be advising his clients to put followed ads on their sites, resulting in similar punitive action without the website designer knowing why. But I can’t help remark on the fact that this web designer - the very type of person Google thinks they are speaking to - doesn’t know this exists.   David Airey-  I wish you well in getting your site back into Google’s good graces.Miriam 

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from g1smd 2584 Days ago #
Votes: 0

*** "Top 10 sites that have been busted by Google" which will include comments re: Tim Nash, David Airey, DMOZ, all link directories, John Chow, BMW, etc... *** To be clear, the current ODP indexing issue is a simply canonical URL problem that will be worked out. One subdomain does not issue a redirect and Google is indexing that one in preference to the main one.

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from Winooski 2584 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Lyndon:<br>"Does anyone here manage to sell paid links on their site without a penalty?"<br><br>A <a href="http://www.davidairey.com/google-search-ranking-penalty-david-airey/#comment-30541">commenter to the post</a> named Jerri notices that venerable forum <a href="http://www.seroundtable.com/">Search Engine Roundtable</a> has beau coups paid links, but nary a link condom. <br><br>I don’t know whether Search Engine Roundtable currently has any Google rankings penalties, but the paid links don’t seem to be hurting its presence in Google’s index (see <a href="http://www.google.com/search?as_q=Search+Engine+Roundtable">these results</a> and <a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Aseroundtable.com ">these</a>).<br><br>"...But for how long?"<br><br>Search Engine Roundtable appears to have maintained this paid link configuration for at least three years; see http://web.archive.org/web/20040926000159/http://www.seroundtable.com/ .<br><br>But maybe that’s an answer right there? It may have been "grandfathered" in.

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from Lyndon 2584 Days ago #
Votes: 3

I just looked at the links at Search Engine Roundtable, the link to Text Link ads is no followed but the rest of the links which are clearly listed as sponsored are not. Good for SERT for getting away with it, but I can’t help feeling sorry for lessor known blogs like David Airey’s. I presume if SERT gets hit it could remove the links and bounce back quickly due to its authority.All I can say about this is what others have said and that this whole paid link penalty thing is a load of hairy bollocks.  

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from davidairey 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It’s been a learning experience, that’s for sure. Fingers crossed that my rankings return, and I appreciate everyone taking the time to comment on the subject. It’s interesting to read your thoughts.Thanks also for the well-wishes. 

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from Harith 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 1

davidairey You wrote: "Without any warning, Google have imposed a penalty on my website, and I no longer rank highly in search resutls for design-related topics."Assuming that your site suffers of a "Paid-Links-Penalty". To be fair, Matt Cutts has worned publishers not to sell links without the famus rel=nofollow since 2005. Here is what Matt wrote at that time:"A natural question is: what is Google’s current approach to link buying? Of course our link-weighting algorithms are the first line of defense, but it’s difficult to catch every problem case in adversarial information retrieval, so we also look for problems and leaks in different semi-automatic ways. Reputable sites that sell links won’t have their search engine rankings or PageRank penalized–a search for [daily cal] would still return dailycal.org. However, link-selling sites can lose their ability to give reputation (e.g. PageRank and anchortext). What if a site wants to buy links purely for visitor click traffic, to build buzz, or to support another site? In that situation, I would use the rel=”nofollow” attribute. The nofollow tag allows a site to add a link that abstains from being an editorial vote. Using nofollow is a safe way to buy links, because it’s a machine-readable way to specify that a link doesn’t have to be counted as a vote by a search engine." http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/text-links-and-pagerank/   And Matt contiued "issueing wrnings" since. Here what he wrote in a 2007:"It should be clear from Google’s stance on paid text links, but if you are blogging and being paid by services like Pay Per Post, ReviewMe, or SponsoredReviews, links in those paid-for posts should be made in a way that doesn’t affect search engines. The rel=”nofollow” attribute is one way, but there are numerous other ways to do paid links that won’t affect search engines, e.g. doing an internal redirect through a url that is forbidden from crawling by robots.txt.” http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/undetectable-spam/#comment-94688   Moreover Google has also clearified on its Webmaster Guidelines its position about paid links.  

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from JohnWeb 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 0

To be totally fair to the blog involved, last time I checked Matt’s got 25,000 subscribed readers, and many more than that who navigate there through bookmarks or search.  There is a slight chance that not every blogger and webmaster who is indexed in Google has read every word on his blog, I’d imagine a few slip by without getting the latest information.That being said, it is required reading. 

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from graywolf 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I’d also add even if the site in question wasn’t "busted" for selling paid links it’s in Google’s best interest not to come forward and say that.By building a culture based fear they can move their agenda forward

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from Harith 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 0

graywolf  Google have done remarkable efforts to communicate its guidelines to publishers communities through Google Webmaster Central and Googlers as Matt Cutts, Adam Lasnik, Brian White and Vanessa Fox (before she left Google).    IMO, publishers and web developers relationship to search engines in general and Google in particular should be based on mutual respect of each other business.  As such publishers are free to do what they wont on their sites to benefit and protect their business. At the same manner, Google has the right to do its best to benefit and protect its business too.  As such I wouldn’t call that “building a culture based fear” ;-)  

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from dannysullivan 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 5

With respect to David, when he says "I guess my naivety has cost me, as I honestly wasn’t aware that I was breaking Google’s terms of service" and then explains he didn’t know selling links was bad, it just doesn’t ring as believable.I’ll totally champion the cause that a small mom-and-pop or naive person might not realize all that Google says to do to stay out of trouble. But David...Clearly monitors his rankings, a sign of sophisticationHas written his own article on getting search rankingsClearly has read content in places like SEOmoz, SEObook, Digital Point and elsewhereClearly knows about nofollow since he’s written on it here and referenced other places that discuss it in that article, with some of them mentioning the paid links issueClearly understands PageRank values How do you do all this and not know that Google doesn’t want you sell links?As Lyndon and David himself say, it’s still not clear that Google hurt his rankings for selling paid links. Clearly something happened to him; he assumes it was paid links, and there’s more and more evidence that Google is starting to go beyond the historical paid links punishment of not allowing you to pass PageRank love to actually downgrading your site. But it’s still not conclusive here, from what I see.

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from mattstoddart 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 0

David, I love your site and I’m sorry to hear about the rankings, bro. Coming from someone who knows this game very well, I would have to seriously doubt that selling 4 links is the reason for your slip.

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from davidairey 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Danny,That’s up to you whether you think I’m telling the truth or not. It’s just that I see many, many popular blogs using TLA and selling advertising, and they seem to have ’followed’ links, yet no word of any penalty.I thought that by publishing my blog post I’d bring the subject a little more attention. Granted, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the reach that Matt Cutts has, but if I wasn’t reading his blog, I imagine some of my readers weren’t either.Matt S.,Glad you find something of interest on my blog, and thanks for reading buddy. 

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from Halfdeck 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I seriously doubt paid link is the problem. I would look into the redirects JLH mentioned. Keep in mind, Matt recently said the ODP’s home page going missing was due to a bad redirect set up that trapped Googlebot in a loop.Don’t link to /index.php if you can void it. Instead, link only to /. If you want to redirect http://davidairey.com/whats-on-your-to-do-list/ I would issue a 404/410 instead of redirecting it to the home page, at least for now.Make sure you link consistently. On the same page, you link to both non-www and www versions. For example, a nav link to your home page is non-www, while the logo links to the www version.

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from graywolf 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 3

@haraithif Google was really interested in building a partnership with web publishers they wouldn’t eliminate revenue streams for publishers while making it more attractive for those displaced avertisers to now use and pay Google to advertise. That’s text book definition of a conflict of intrest.

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from Winooski 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Hey gang, what’s the consensus whether a substantial Google penalty to davidairey.com would show up as a <a href="http://searchengineland.com/070718-160000.php">message in its Google Webmaster Central account</a>?<br><br>I haven’t ever seen such a message (touch wood!), but my understanding is that Google’s following through with that tool. Anybody?

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from robwatts 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 1

The message from Google is clear; do it our way or die in our serps.You’d like to think that they had a better way of filtering the power of text links but...evidently not.It’s a shame really because it’s sure creating a lot of negative karma. David is a nice chap who shares his knowledge freely and might have overstepped the mark by pointing to some on topic resources...but really, is that such a terrible sin? Who died I wonder. As  for his promo piece.. jesus, whatever is wrong with creating a little buzz and energy around a topic? So what if he asked people to link back to him in a certain way! Christ, his worst ’crime’ is that he followed the examples and tactics of many another marketer and maybe got a little too vocal perhaps, is that so worthy of the kiss of death? And besides, is the algo really so fragile that it can’t detect a little burst of targetted keyword activity and if needs must, negate the power of those new acquisitions. Jees, if anything shouldn’t a search engineer be gleeful about such things and use them as lessons for greater fine tuning and improvement.Where is the value ( FUD aside) in stressing people out to the nines and making their lives miserable. someone tell me please, what isn’t evil about that? If a guy in the street makes an error and bumps into me and shows me a bit of aggression, at best I laugh and move on, at worst I kick his arse a little, but I never kill him, that just isn’t nice or necessary. Google is a great tool, but for me at times it seems like its locked in some kind of trench warfare-seek-and-destroy-mindset that to watch, is not particularly pleasant.   Good luck David, assuming it is a hand job, I hope it works out.  

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from webuildpages 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 0

To quote Danny "there’s more and more evidence that Google is starting to go beyond the historical paid links punishment of not allowing you to pass PageRank love to actually downgrading your site"First I’ve heard of that....in fact, I don’t believe it today.All huge sites that I’ve seen selling links for years...and have had PR blocked from passing for years, all still rank killer....I’ve yet to see or hear of a site that’s been punished for selling ads....only PR Blocking filters imposed.

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from prowebpromo 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 0

David - not sure what tanked your traffic, but I’m pretty confident that it wasn’t paid ads. Take a look at Google Adsense success stories: https://www.google.com/adsense/static/en_US/Success.html . You will see Ask the builder: https://www.google.com/adsense/static/en_US/AsktheBuilder.html who is far from bashful when it comes to selling ads: http://www.askthebuilder.com/AdvertisingRatesandPrograms.shtml. Those paid links may not have passed any PR juice, but there is no evidence that any site’s rankings have suffered for selling advertising - paid links or otherwise.

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from robwatts 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@ prowebpromo - Forgive me if I sound a little pedantical, but a link that goes through an internal  302 redirect isn’t necessarily the same as a vanilla html dofollow, so I wouldn’t draw any firm conclusions from that.

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from w3atb 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Paid links that are a natural extension of the website that is collecting the revenue are 100 percent safe.  Google’s entire business is built on *paid* links that match the problem/search term. For this reason I do not suffer, nor do any of my sponsors. The fine print on my sales page clearly states that I do insert the "nofollow" tag.  My links to other websites are there soley to help consumers find the solutions to their problems, not help the paying website to boost their SEO popularity. 

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from prowebpromo 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@robwatts - You’re right about the 302 Rob, but I guess the point that I was trying to make was that there is a way to advertise and still get the endorsement of the big G. David made reference to the fact that he removed his ad page & would no longer advertise on his blog. What I  failed to clearly communicate in my last post was that I didn’t think there was a need to go to this extreme.

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from Halfdeck 2583 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"if Google was really interested in building a partnership with web publishers they wouldn’t eliminate revenue streams for publishers while making it more attractive for those displaced avertisers to now use and pay Google to advertise. That’s text book definition of a conflict of intrest."Graywolf’s right. It’s in Google’s interest to push commercial websites into the PPC space and off the organic SERPs whenever possible, so that people looking for information will look in the organic results while people looking to buy will look for results in the PPC space. This way you increase the incentive for people to click on AdWord ads and improve conversion ratios for advertisers by filtering out people that aren’t looking to whip out their wallets.The problem is that there are only 10 productive slots for AdWords on any SERP - so that many website owners are squeezed out of the SERPs all together - paid and organic.This isn’t good or evil - its just business. But it does make things more difficult for some mom and pop webmasters who can’t afford to pay for either link building or PPC.

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from dannysullivan 2582 Days ago #
Votes: 2

@webuildpages, Jim -- I’m within you in that I’ve yet to see anything convincing me that Google is banning sites for paid links. Perhaps I should have said:"There are more and more people assuming that Google is starting to go beyond the historical paid links punishment of not allowing you to pass PageRank love to actually downgrading their sites."With David, as folks are saying, it’s hard to know if that’s the reason he had an issue. I guess John Chow’s the best example of a site people feel Google dinged for selling links. Certainly plenty of large respectable sites have not been hurt -- but Google can’t hurt them without hurting its relevancy.One thing now is that a paid link "ban" seems to be replacing the "sandbox" excuse of the past which itself replaced the "google dance syndrome" issue. People who weren’t ranking would blame the sandbox even when it wasn’t a sandbox issue, simple because that was the disease of choice. Now, more and more seem to feel any ranking drop might be a paid link matter, when it might not be.

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from TimDineen 2581 Days ago #
Votes: 0

See this here: http://sphinn.com/story/7419and this: http://www.jimboykin.com/google-banned-site/  

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