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A popular Web site selling links (in ads) can possibly devalue its optimization with regard to search engine rankings. Google applies no-follow-logic to sites selling (unrelated) ads, that means links from those sites do not pass PageRank, reputation, and topic relevancy via anchor text.

At O'Reilly Radar Google engineer Matt Cutts confirms that paid links (in unrelated advertisements) reduce the trust rating Google assigns to a site's linkage, what results in powerless links.

Links from an untrusted site do not pass PageRank, reputation and theme/topic relevancy via anchor text. That goes not only for external links, most probably internal links are devalued too. This effect is hard to discover, because one must validate the PageRank of all involved pages and their ranking on particular search terms as well, to locate the dead ends.

Matt Cutts states: "Google's view on this is ...selling links muddies the quality of the web and makes it harder for many search engines (not just Google) to return relevant results. The rel=nofollow attribute is the correct answer: any site can sell links, but a search engine will be able to tell that the source site is not vouching for the destination page."

So what should a site owner do, if a paid ad leads to a great resource, which is related to the site's overall theme? Labeling this link with rel=nofollow is no option. Unfortunately, Matt Cutts doesn't explain this special case in his post, but I think he would agree. It looks like Google must get alerted in any way to reduce a site's linking trust status. So if all unrelated ads are dead ends, it should be safe to vouch for the related ads.

My personal statement is a plain "Don't sell links for passing PageRankô. Never. Period.", but the intention of ad space purchases isn't always that clear. If an ad isn't related to my content, I used to put client sided promotional links on my sites, because search engine spiders didn't follow them for a long time. Well, it's not that easy any more. I guess I've to switch to 'rel=nofollow', although I dislike it pretty much, because it's not precise and does not carry a message. Remember, 'rel=nofollow' was introduced to fight comment spam on blogs and guestbooks.

Friday, August 26, 2005

About Directory Structures and File Names in URLsNext Page

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Author: Sebastian
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