In this new video from Google’s Matt Cutts he answers a very interesting question regarding buying and selling links, which is a very important question, especially after almost month ago (08/03/2013) Google sent multiple warnings of unnatural links in Webmaster Tools and there was even a speculation that the Russian link exchange network Sape.ru has been penalized by the most popular search engine.
This information was never confirmed and I wrote an article devoted to this topic. At the moment, a month later, I still don’t have any SEO projects that have lost their rankings or that have been penalized, although I also got such a message.
So, Sape is still working just great! No worries here.
So, let’s discuss the yesterday’s Matt Cutts video in YouTube. The question was: “If a site linking to mine gets caught selling links, what happens to my site?” In short, Matt answered that the sites that got stigmatized as “link sellers” usually lose from 30-50% (or maybe even more!) to its PageRank. This way Google shows the penalized site that it uses forbidden techniques and the search engine decreases its PageRank toolbar. As a result, the value of links that come from penalized websites “just goes away”, says Matt.
So, to summarize, any possible benefits that your website might have received by the penalized site will disappear, as Google won’t trust the punished site anymore. Good news is that the outbound links that come from such sites won’t harm the sites they link to. They won’t get demoted, but they simply won’t get the benefits they used to get before the Google penalty took place.
I think that it’s a good idea to check the PageRank of the home pages of all the sites that you have bought links as this will be an indicator of a possible penalty. I have spent a fair amount of time doing this and it turned out there were a number of Sape sites that have probably got penalized after 08/03/2013 as they have mysteriously lost the PR of their index pages. So I just removed my links from there.