The Japanese Google Webmaster Blog has recently announced that they have penalized a Link Network undertaking in the practice of buying and selling links. At present, it is not clear which Link Network was hit, but we suspect that a relatively large number of webmasters are affected, particularly in Japan.
In a warning against using substandard SEO Services, Google made reference to a previous post it made last year stating that they may take more severe actions against people that repeatedly seek to engage in actions that violate the Webmaster Guidelines. We suspect, therefore, that quite a few Manual penalties have been issued.
The original post was in Japanese, but you can see a very rough translation via Google translate below of the relevant part:
In some follow-up advice, Google provides a clear message to check what your Subcontractors, or SEO company or Ad Agency is doing as ultimately it is your responsibility. Also, there is a warning to check the technical aspects of any advertising that purchased, to ensure that the rel=nofollow tag is added to any such links. We are not sure of the extent that such advertising is being abused, but as you will see from the Google translation below, it was important enough to mention:
What is a Link Scheme?
A link scheme or link network involve the creation of links for the purpose of manipulating PageRank or ranking in the search results. Some examples of link schemes include:
- Buying or selling links (including exchanging links for Goods and Services) that pass PageRank.
- Reciprocal link arrangements or Partner pages used for cross-linking.
- Large-scale Guest posting, particular with keyword rich anchor texts.
- Automated Link Building.
Google gives more advice on Link Schemes here.
Google has a long practice of announcing that they have penalized Link Networks, whether in their Webmaster Blogs or via an announcement via Social media. We suspect, though, that there are many small link networks which are hit that don’t get such limelight and that the reports primarily relate to large Networks where a significant number of websites are affected.