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Can Google Tell If I Buy Backlinks?

Updated on November 5, 2010

Buying Backlinks - How Google Can Tell

Google has said officially that buying backlinks is forbidden and will result in a Google penalty, or in some cases, in a Google ban from search results.

The reason for this hard line position by Google is that the search engine's ranking algorithm depends very heavily on the number of backlinks and the quality of those links. If the incoming links to a webpage were bought, rather than deserved, then the integrity of Google's searches would be in jeopardy. For this reason, Google does its best to find links that are paid for so that they can be discounted, eliminated, and if necessary, banned from search ranking criteria.

How can Google tell if you bought backlinks to your site?

The tricky part about selling links is finding someone to buy them. Likewise, the tricky part about buying links is finding someone who has backlinks to sell. Many buyers and sellers of backlinks turn to webmaster forums to trade links for cash or other compensation.

However, this is precisely how Google can find out about links that were bought or sold and hammer the responsible parties. In fact, thanks to Google's cache, the search engine giant can find out about link buying schemes long after they happen if they notice something strange in a high-ranking website's links.

Additionally, Google's algorithm can spot link buying and link selling as well. Unusual linking patterns, especially those that occur rapidly and in large quantities, can be detected by watching how a website's incoming links evolve. A website that goes from almost no links to thousands of links over a short period of time from a collection of the same or similar domains, websites, or forums, can be flagged as suspicious.

When artificial link patterns are detected, Google can investigate and penalize both the buyer and seller of backlinks. In some cases, websites are banned from appearing in search results altogether.

Buy Backlinks With No Penalty

Can Google Really Detect Buying Links?

Perhaps the reason Google makes such a clear, definitive, statement about the prohibition on buying links is because the company can't actually detect links bought by website owners in an effective manner.

Consider, for example, a website owner who is contacted by someone in a non-public manner like email or private message. During an exchange, one person offers to buy a backlink in the sidebar or blogroll, or perhaps one on the site's highest ranked page. Money changes hands and the website owner adds the link in a non-suspicious manner. Certainly, updating a blogroll is no grounds for suspicion. Even a clearly unrelated link on a high-ranked webpage is unlikely to provide enough alarm to ever be investigated unless someone reports it.

Thus, a backlink gets bought with no Google penalty and the Google search rankings are distorted.

How many times a day do you think something like that happens?


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    • rotl profile image

      rotl 7 years ago from Florida

      Buying links is cheating the system so I really hope Google catches those people and bans them.

    • andromida profile image

      syras mamun 7 years ago

      I think most of the rapid link building patterns detectable by Google algorithm, but they still can not catch sites building backlinks with natural looking graph like in a zigzag pattern.You pointed out a very good question that Google is not that effecting in figuring out who is buying links and who is not.thank you.

    • WebMag profile image

      WebMag 7 years ago

      People buy links all the time and Google still cannot do nothing about it, They do punish some sites when they are sure owner has been buying links, but that only a small percentage of those who are involved in link buying.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Isn;t that a bit a cat and mouse game which is silly. Gogle should do a away with it.