Google posted an item entitled building link-based popularity, which I found rather interesting for a few reasons. Here’s a key snippet:
“We’ve always taken a clear stance with respect to manipulating the PageRank algorithm in our Quality Guidelines. Despite these policies, the strategy of participating in link schemes might have previously paid off. But more recently, Google has tremendously refined its link-weighting algorithms. We have more people working on Google’s link-weighting for quality control and to correct issues we find. So nowadays, undermining the PageRank algorithm is likely to result in the loss of the ability of link-selling sites to pass on reputation via links to other sites.”
What I believe they’re saying is that websites buying the links will not be gaining PageRank or anchor text benefit, but more importantly people selling links may have their site’s trust devalued. I don’t know of any examples yet, but all of those high PR sites (like newspapers) that are currently selling text links should certainly take note.
Matt Cutts already warned us back in September 2005 with his post Text links and PageRank. One of the key parts to that post is:
“Reputable sites that sell links won’t have their search engine rankings or PageRank penalized–a search for [daily cal] would still return dailycal.org. However, link-selling sites can lose their ability to give reputation (e.g. PageRank and anchortext).”
So to all of you out there blatantly selling text links, the time’s up! Use a link condom or find another revenue stream!