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40. How To Detect Paid Links?

Buying links is against the webmaster guidelines set-up by major search engines. But how do you find out if a link is paid for? Continue below to find out how link selling sites can be detected.

Potential link seller

Above: Who is the link seller?

Google invites webmasters to report bought links in order to manually take action against those who violate the rules and continue to buy and sell links. But how can you see if a link is bought or not? And why care about this at all?

Why concern if a link is bought?

  • Paid links is one of the strongest factors to manipulate google’s algorithm. It’s natural that Google needs to detect and fight against it, so that their index is of good quality.
  • Your website can be punished for buying links or in the worst case, totally banned from Google’s index.
  • Some web masters report websites they believe sell links.

Is the link paid for?

To detect if a link is bought or not is not always so easy.

Is she paying for links

But here is 8 factors to look out for when trying to determine if links are bought:

  • Totally unrelated links: Watch out for outbound links going far beyond the reach of the website. Common examples where bought links is worth a lot include, but is not limited to, casino, poker and mortgages.
  • Links from ad sections: Can you spot the words Ads, Sponsored or Sponsored Links just around where the links are found?
  • Strange link placements: Paid links are often placed in the footer or other locations which is hard to find.
  • Low click rate: If the link is placed in a location on the website where basically few or nobody clicks – it’s a higher risk that it might be bought.
  • Bad neighborhood links: Do a majority of the other outbound links on the website point to low quality sites from a wide range of topics? The links might as well be paid for.
  • Always the same anchor text? If you find that a very high percentage of inbound links all have the same anchor text and destination URL, it’s often a clue that the backlinks might be sold rather than earned or deserved.
  • Links from less credible domain suffix? If you only have inbound links from .biz and .info domains, there are bigger possibilities they might be bought or of low quality.
  • Multiple outgoing links to the same site: If the content is rather poor while you have 3 or more outgoing links to the same site, search engines might believe it’s a form of unnatural manipulation. This behavior are typical among sites selling links.

If three or more of the above factors suggest the link is paid for, it might be just that. But remember, it’s never completely safe to assume a link is bought just because three or more factors match.

How to report paid links?

Google suggests you use their spam report feature in webmaster tools.
Tick ‘paid links’ and provide additional details if you suspect a link is paid for.