If you’ve had a blog for awhile, you may be getting inquiries from potential advertisers and others about paid links. It’s one benefit of building a blog for the long term – others will pay you for advertising links.
As you can imagine, this can become quite lucrative over time.
In many respects though, Google frowns upon this practice and penalizes sites it sees as unnaturally manipulating search results. What they do (as well as Bing) is use link-based analysis to determine the quality of a site and its relevance to the keyword in question. Google believes buying and selling links circumvents this process and makes results less relevant and helpful to its searchers.
However, if you read Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, you will find that not all paid links violate their rules. In fact, if links are bought/sold for advertising purposes and not to pass on PageRank and manipulate search results, then it’s totally okay.
If you’re getting inquiries about advertising links, there are 8 ways you can safely sell links on your site without being penalized Google.
1. Add a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the link
Adding this code into the link adds the link to your site but prevents your site from passing any “link juice” to the other site – basically it ensures the other site only receives traffic from the link and not a PageRank boost. This suggestion comes directly from Google so you can be 100% sure that it’s okay.
2. Only link to intermediate pages that include a robots.txt file
Robots.txt blocks search engine spiders from crawling a page. Most websites want their pages to be crawled. Therefore, you can redirect links to an intermediate page that includes this characteristic. Using an intermediate page strips the link of any PageRank benefits and ensures the link is for traffic only…this is another one of Google’s recommendations.
3. Avoid “link farm” schemes
Link farms are websites whose only purpose is to pass PageRank and link to other sites. While you probably would not use one, you need to be careful that your site doesn’t appear as one. Understandably, Google does not like link farm sites at all. In order to avoid looking like you’re a link farm site, embed links within relevant content and avoid having them all in one place.
4. Negotiate link sales for the long term
Consistent rotation of links is another red flag for the search engines as they make your site look like a link farm. Therefore, to fly under the radar, you should select paid links carefully and keep them consistent for as long as possible.
5. Don’t advertise that you’re selling links
This is advice that usually isn’t heeded online. If you advertise you’re selling links, you will get a lot of requests from spammers and banned sites. While the money may be tempting, be patient and wait for quality advertisers to come to you. This will give you better link partners and reduce your frustration.
6. Use HTML links only
7. Only link to relevant sites with quality content
Relevancy between links and keywords is the first thing search engines look for. Therefore, you should be sure that links you’re using point to quality content. Doing so helps search engines achieve their #1 goal, which is delivering the most relevant content to their users. In turn, they’ll reward you for it.
8. Be selective on who you partner with for links
Carefully evaluate sites before linking to them and ask yourself if you want your visitors going there. Do a site:yoursite.com search in Google on the company and see if they’ve had any penalties in the past that may hurt you if you partner with them.
One good rule of thumb when dealing with paid links – only deal with sites you would link to without payment. Doing so ensures you only sell links that are of use to your visitors. Selling links shouldn’t be your main source of income but they can provide a nice bonus.
Remember, Google frowns on selling links for PageRank and other purposes. However, you can do it safely by following the 8 steps mentioned above.