The Daily Express newspaper has been reportedly selling sponsored links or links that appear to Google’s web crawler to be from independent editorial but are actually paid for by advertisers.
What does this mean, and are there consequences?
Yes, there are consequences and Google describe the consequences. It states that some SEOs and webmasters participate in the practice of buying and selling PageRank-passing links, with little concern for the quality of the links, the sources, or the long-term influence on their sites. Purchasing or selling PageRank-passing links is against Google’s webmaster standards and can have a detrimental influence on a site’s search ranking.
The Daily Express was found to have been penalized by Google, according to a report. When looking at the page rank of the Daily Express main page, it is clear that it is lower than expected.
While it’s difficult to estimate what the page rank should be, Alexa lists the Express website among the top 15,000 websites worldwide and in the top 1000 in the United Kingdom, with over 4,000 incoming links.
Whether you like or dislike the Daily Express is a different thing. However, what Google does to the site that sells paid links and the process of how this is done remains of concern. Google accounts for a large amount of web traffic, and worse search rankings have a direct impact on traffic and, as a result, business. Even though the concept of how Google decides search ranks is publicly known, the exact method is a commercial secret. If mistakes are made, there isn’t much you can do except complain to Google and hope that someone notices.
Selling paid links is not unlawful, and the article noted in the Express is identified as “Sponsored.” While it is correct that Google does not consider these links to be real recommendations, it remains uncertain that there should be any further penalties for using them. It gives Google much too much power to make and break other businesses.
Of course, we have no way of knowing if the low position is due to the paid links or not; we can only speculate. We also don’t know how closely the stated page rank reflects how Google chooses the order of search results. Despite the fact that Alexa’s results are based on a tiny sample, there is no solid indication of decreased traffic.