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Is it OK to sell links as long as we use the nofollow attribute?

Is it OK to sell links as long as we use the nofollow attribute? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

Matt Cutts: Lost faith in Australia wants to ask, “Is it OK to sell links as long as we use the nofollow attribute?” The answer is yes. The fact is what Google cares about is whether a link that you sell flows PageRank. And if it doesn’t flow PageRank, if it doesn’t affect search engines, it’s none of our business at that point. Now, if you are in Europe, you might have some various laws that apply to you. If you’re in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission wants you to disclose those links if you have some sort of material connection to an endorser. So, you might want to think about having human readable disclosure as well, like “This is a paid link,” or “This is a sold link,” or something like that. But Google’s policy is within search rankings, if you’re selling links, it’s your obligation to make sure that that link doesn’t affect search engines. You’re the owner of your webmaster. You can do whatever you want–you’re the owner of your website as the webmaster. You can do whatever you want on your website, but Google, in turn, is free to respond and rank sites according to how we judge the merit of those sites or the links coming into or out of that site. So, if you’re selling links that pass PageRank, that violates our guidelines and we can take action on that. The best way to make sure that you’re safe is to make sure that any links that you sell don’t affect search engines; nofollow is a great way to do that. By the way, that sort of answers a related question. Some people say, “Well, Google sells links. Why is it ok for Google to sell links and not us?” And the answer is Google’s links don’t affect search engines. We go through a lot of work like blocking out the redirector using robots.txt to make sure that no AdWords link on Google will affect search engine result pages. In fact, all major search engines take that step to make sure that any advertisements that they sell won’t flow PageRank, won’t affect search engine rankings. So, that’s the basic difference. If a search engine link, if a link that a search engine sees doesn’t flow PageRank and doesn’t affect search engines, we have no problem with it whatsoever. You might still want to think about making it clear to your website, visitors that are human, though, just so that they don’t feel deceived or manipulated in any way.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: