How to Rent a Half Million Links & Stay Below Google's Radar

Google tries to scare you away from renting links, but their paid link detection algorithms are at best laughable. Which is why Matt Cutts puts so much effort into trying to scare you about bought links. has repetitive and near machine generated sounding content, like

Loan calculators are made of different calculation types. In fact, for calculating the same type of loans, a large number of different calculator programs exist that will help you think about your loan and analyze your loans from different angles.

and that QUALITY content ranks in Google for thousands of search phrases. It looks like someone rented hundreds of thousands of links, with sitewide links on _______ and many other high authority sites.

I thought about making this post, but then decided it is bad karma to out the site I menioned, so I edited out the identifying details. You understand the lack of validity of Google's paid links scaremongering techniques by reading Jim Boykin's great post about quality sites never getting penalized for selling links and by looking at some of the places sketchy links are popping up.

If Google is deceptive, misleading, and self serving with the data they share (which they are) why should we expect anything different with their general advice for webmasters?

Published: September 27, 2007 by Aaron Wall in google


SEO Junkie
September 29, 2007 - 5:17pm

IMV, Google have hard time detecting paid links. Maybe, they will do so in the future. But, at the moment, they seem to fail. Other reason is that most of what they treat as authority sites are those that do sell links. Some do use hidden links. I have seen *MANY* .edu and .gov sites where there are so many irrelevant hidden links in their footers and still decent Pagerank. So, I think, instead of going for link brokers, Google should do things they aren't doing to make their search better and making it quite clear they are no longer following their "DO NO EVIL" philosophy. If they dont, then finally, people will believe everything many highbrows are already saying about them such as google watch site.

September 30, 2007 - 11:56am

I think their goal is to scare paid links into the sketchy parts of the web, but at this point it is a battle they have clearly lost.

September 29, 2007 - 7:03pm

Hey, you didn't actually tell us HOW to rent 500,000 links and get away with it. I want my money back.... oh wait..

September 30, 2007 - 11:53am

Hehehe. My point was that there is no way Google has missed this algorithmically and manually. They are actively choosing to do nothing about it. Which shows the hollowness of all the scaremongering.

September 29, 2007 - 11:14pm

Aaron - some ESL writers content sounds like it is machine generated. :-)

September 30, 2007 - 11:52am

Hi Hamlet
In my opinion, in this case I think I was reading ETL or EFL. :)

September 30, 2007 - 12:52pm

Hi Aaron,

He, he, he. Another possibility is that they used a translation tool and stoled the content from a foreign language website. ;-)

September 30, 2007 - 12:45pm

I had dinner with my Aunt last night who happens to be a tenured professor at a major New York University, and I told her about how SEO works and how many .edu domains have incredibly high link value and how much money she could make on the side of her teaching job selling links. So she is going to look into getting a personal page/blog on her University domain :)

September 30, 2007 - 1:31pm selling is spreading like a weed. Google is up over 177 billion on the back of link selling. They had to know that eventually that business model would spread. :)

September 30, 2007 - 8:00pm

I noticed a blog copying your blog posts. Search for the quote you hade in your blogpostning:

Noticed the following blog at the first position with a copy of your post:

October 1, 2007 - 6:05am

Duplicate content filters are another thing Google could easily fix.

Google knows my site has thousands of subscribers
And that the site stealing my stuff has none. That alone should be enough to easily create a functional duplicate content filter. Why? Because you don't get and keep thousands of readers by directly stealing and republishing content.

October 2, 2007 - 2:45am

Good idea Aaron, but then scrapers/spammers would be incentivized to artifically pump up their subscriber #s. Kinda like the link-economy they've created.

October 2, 2007 - 5:39am

Spam sites might be incentivized to artificially pump up their subscription numbers, but it is beyond the capabilities of most automated spam sites.

Google has multiple ways to look at feed stats, to filter out fake garbage, including

  • Google Reader
  • iGoogle
  • Feedburner
  • cross referencing all 3 data points against usage patterns of real channels and trusted Google accounts
October 7, 2007 - 2:29am

I've got a feeling that Google's Paid Link Dector is amazing. I think they are just being cautious how they implement it.

Detecting 90% of the paid links out there is incredibly easy if you take a look at the logic behind it. Most of us are so conditioned to do things X way that we don't recognize just how obvious most paid links are.

I think Google could cancel out the worth of 90% of the links overnight. Of course, it would take a little while for most sites to notice. I'm of the opinion that most paid links are worth very, very little now and will be worth zero within the next year or two.

When I wrote the Paid Link Checker at Text Link Center, I decided that I would take the approach of illustrating all useless links to SEO and let the users decide if they were paid or not. There is no doubt about it that we have no problem detecting any of the standard links from Text Link Ads.


October 7, 2007 - 6:42am

Hi Brandon
But there are some paid links they do not want to devalue. There are only certain types of paid links they would even want to detect and devalue. They want some large advertisers to rank well as a side effect of their ad budgets.

And I don't think they are that hot at it based on some rankings I see for sites that are propped up by almost nothing but paid links.

Luke Sample
October 9, 2007 - 3:50am

I would have to disagree that they want some large advertisers to rank well as a side effect.

They aren't concerned about ad budgets in the organic results because they are getting the money from the PPC side of things. In fact, wouldn't you rather knock the big boys out of the organic results so that they will pay to snag the top PPC spots?

Google is turning up the heat on the devalue knob constantly. They are hot at it, it's just that almost everybody is buying links. Everyone purchasing easily detectable links will begin to feel the heat until they have to do something about it.

I give it 1-2 years max at the current rate before things are turned upside down. Why wouldn't google do it? They obviously have the resources..and these links are easily discounted by the current detection algorithm.

October 9, 2007 - 1:08pm

Hi Luke
I have to disagree. If you have ever had any of your sites hand edited by a Google engineer and see how they don't edit large corporations doing far worse than you did that shows their goals for how they want the serps to look and who they want to rank.

I also think that having a thin wall between ads and editorial also allows the value of organic placements to subsidize paid search ad budgets a bit. If I were running a search engine for optimal profit that wouldn't be beyond the realm of "things that increase shareholder value".

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