What has been a rumor for some months seems to have become reality in the last weeks. Google is starting to punish websites that are selling links by reducing the Pagerank of those sites. Danny Sullivan noticed a huge Pagerank drop from 9 to 7 on the Stanford Daily website which happened to sell links since 2005.
After reading about other incidents he asked Google directly and got the confirmation that this was indeed a drop because of the link selling. While a Pagerank drop might be troublesome for some webmasters who make a good chunk of their monthly earnings from selling text links it might even lead to an exclusion of the website from the Google Search Engine.
This would be catastrophic for many webmasters who decided to live from the revenue that their websites generate. Another Pagerank drop that came to my mind instantly was the drop of JohnChow.com from Pagerank 6 to 5. John is very open minded about his earnings posting a monthly income report on his website.
He made more than $2000 from selling text links in September. If this drop was a penalty for the link selling is not know as of yet but it could be very likely the reason.
Apparently websites hit by a Pagerank decrease may request a review. How and where is not yet know but it could become available as an option in Google's Webmaster Central.
Google stressed, by the way, that the current set of Pagerank decreases is not assigned completely automatically; the majority of these decreases happened after a human review. That should help prevent false matches from happening so easily.
A way to report sites that sell links was introduced earlier on as well and it could become common to report the competition if they are indeed selling links.
Will you keep on selling links on your website even with the chance that your site will be penalized by Google?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.