I’m going to say this one more time (that’s a lie, considering how stupid people have been at this, I’m probably gonna repeat it over and over again): when you sell links, nofollow them. If you don’t, you run the risk of being banned. If you knowingly run that risk, don’t be stupid and don’t get yourself caught. How you get caught? Well… Allow me to elaborate a bit:
My buddy Dave (who’s colleague posted a very nice review of my WordPress SEO Plugin yesterday btw) tweeted today about 9rules, a once well respected blog network I’ve tried to get into 2 times:
http://9rules.com/ wtf are you doing …
— Dave Naylor (@DaveNaylor) December 17, 2010
I didn’t know what he was on about but then Wiep, one of Holland’s best link builders, chimed in:
@DaveNaylor Being remarkably stupid…
— Wiep (@wiep) December 17, 2010
Ok, as you might guess, I was now overly curious as to what was going on. Wiep was kind enough to point it out to me in chat before I had to start search myself. It appears 9rules is openly selling links. It was doing so using a plugin that I’ve seen more blogs use to sell advertising, called OIO Publisher. The point? The links 9rules sells are not nofollowed.
Now, here’s the part where it got really interesting. You see that link where they’re selling links? It’s an interface of the OIO Publisher plugin. That’s what we tend to call a footprint. Let’s take some parts of the URL and use them in a nice Google query:
I ran the query and… Ouch… That’s a lot of results. Some of them turned out to be sites that were also selling text link ads, but they were nofollowed. Which led me to think it’s an option in the plugin. So I asked for a copy of the plugin on Twitter, went through the source and indeed: it is an option. Not just for links, but for the banner ads as well.
Here’s where it got really bad too: it has an option to charge a premium to remove the nofollow. Now if you’ve ever tried to tell Google that you didn’t know what you were doing while selling links, checking that box is the best way to make them never ever believe that. And it creates an even nicer footprint:
inurl:/oiopub-direct/purchase.php inurl:link "use nofollow"
All these sites charge you a premium to remove the nofollow tag from your link and deserve to be banned instantly for selling links knowingly.
So, to repeat it: don’t sell links without nofollow. If you do, don’t be stupid enough to get caught. The example above is a feast for Google. They’ll find plenty of link buyers & sellers while researching this footprint.