Is it ok with Google if you sell paid links on your blog? Yes
As long as we’re talking about links, this seems like a pretty good opportunity to talk about a simple litmus test for paid links and how to tell if a paid link violates search engines’ quality guidelines. If you want to sell a link, you should at least provide machine-readable disclosure for paid links by making your link in a way that doesn’t affect search engines. There’s a ton of ways to do that. For example, you could make a paid link go through a redirect where the redirect url is robot’ed out using robots.txt. You could also use the rel=nofollow attribute. I’ve said as much many times before, but I wanted to give a heads-up because Google is going to be looking at paid links more closely in the future.
The other best practice I’d advise is to provide human readable disclosure that a link/review/article is paid. You could put a badge on your site to disclose that some links, posts, or reviews are paid, but including the disclosure on a per-post level would better. Even something as simple as “This is a paid review” fulfills the human-readable aspect of disclosing a paid article.
To make sure that you’re in good shape, go with both human-readable disclosure and machine-readable disclosure, using any of the methods I mentioned above.
Google isn’t saying you can’t sell advertising on your site.
Google isn’t saying you will be banned for paid reviews or paid text links.
What you will be given grief over: Subversive paid links.
Matt gives a few different examples on how to mark your paid links:
Ash, there’s absolutely no problem with selling links for traffic (as opposed to PageRank). At http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/hidden-links/ I mention a couple ways to sell links that Google would have no problem with.
So selling paid links on your blog is totally cool, ok? Keep on keeping on. Just make sure to fix the link up like Matt suggests and you’re fine.
Where Things Get Tricky
It’s hard to say at this point who is going to be penalized for the unmarked paid links. Will it be the advertisers that buy links or will it be the websites that display unmarked paid links? Personally, I think it’s going to be bloggers and webmasters who display unmarked paid links that will be hit by Google.
Will those sites be removed or banned from the Google index? I doubt it. What I think will happen though is that your site will be dead and worthless for passing any link juice to outbound links. So if your site makes its money on selling links, there won’t be any market for you once Google flips the switch off for your site.
If that doesn’t bother you, go ahead and do what you like. However, you need to realize that dead juice sites won’t have the same market value as the rest of the Google law abiding net. This will be a problem if you build up a site to flip, there’s potentially less resale value to it.
Moral of the Story
It’s up to you to protect your investment. Your website, your domain, is like a piece of real estate on the web. You either invest in it to build up value over time, or you ride it for everything it’s worth while you can, then dump it.
There will be plenty of ad brokers and review sites that will have plenty of link buyers to send your way. They won’t be penalized, they have nothing to lose. YOUR site will be marked, not theirs. Be aware.
– Yes you can sell paid links
– If you don’t mask them or mark them, be prepared to lose
If You Don’t Like It
Too bad. Google’s the boss now. Quit feeding the beast (adsense/adwords). If you’ve followed SuperAff for any length of time at all–you know I’m not a Google fan…saving my breath now, back to work I go…