Google Reminds Publishers Not to Accept Bribes for Links by @MattGSouthern

12-08 02:37

In response to a controversial article published by The Outline, Google has reminded publications to refrain from accepting bribes for links.

The article in question claims that major publications on the web, including New York Times, CNN, and TechCrunch, have accepted payments from companies in exchange for positive coverage.

Several writers, who remain anonymous, admitted to The Outline that they accept money for links. Some have done so for years, and people within the industry are well aware this is going on.

Bribing journalists for links is becoming so common that it’s now the new norm, which makes it challenging for publications to weed out such links despite their best efforts.

The Outline does not go into much detail about the motivation behind buying links for prices that can soar above $1000 a piece.

Obviously, these unethical “journalists” are motivated by easy money, but The Outline doesn’t mention why links are being bought in the first place.

Companies are not buying links just to be featured in a one-off article. As SEOs, we know that being linked to from a high authority domain has the potential to influence search rankings.

Google’s Danny Sullivan has since chimed in, reminding everyone that attempting to manipulate search rankings with paid links is against the search giant’s guidelines.

If you're a publisher, this pitch from the @Outline article highlights the key warning sign of a potentially dangerous contribution. All it wants is a link in exchange for cash. Basically, a paid link. That Google has rules about this, if you want to rank well with us….

— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) December 5, 2017

In short, don’t buy or sell links. If we spot this activity, we may take action in search results against both the buyer and the seller — that means you, the publisher that ran this stuff — unless you follow specific things as outlines in this help page:

— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) December 5, 2017

Fast Company’s executive editor took notice of Sullivan’s tweets, and is now actively looking for assistance with identifying any pay-for-play links.

FYI: Pay-for-play is a violation of Fast Company's editorial policy and standards. If we found anyone – staff or contributor – engaging in this practice, they would be terminated and the article taken down. If you know of this happening on our site please send me a link.

— Noah Robischon (@noahr) December 5, 2017

Ideally, this is what what Google wants to see from publishers. Sullivan states that publications should be fine as long as an honest effort is made to thwart paid links.

I should add it's not uncommon these types of pitches will claim to have relationships and placed links with sites that they don't have. Ultimately, if publications are keeping their eyes out & trying to do the right thing, they should be OK.

— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) December 6, 2017

A couple of writers who contribute to sites mentioned in The Outline’s article responded saying they regularly receive emails from people looking to pay for links.

I’ve been getting inundated with emails from people wanting me to update posts from ~2013 with new links to their sites.

— ✨Yael Grauer✨ (@yaelwrites) December 6, 2017

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