It is fairly typical understanding these days that buying text links is against Google's Webmaster Guidelines, and can get your web site penalized in the organic search results. Google says specifically that "Buying or selling hyperlinks that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results." We have seen that even a large well-known website's search engine rankings can plummet when their paid link strategy is exposed.
There are several reasons why you would want to get rid of paid links for your website:
- The Cost of Paid Links. It's, over the long run, cheaper to get rid of the paid links than to have to pay for links every month. Links are usually paid for on a monthly basis.
- Search Engine Ranking Problems. Your web site has been penalized in the search engines because of paid links. You were enjoying great search engine rankings for the major keywords that you're wanting to rank for--and now your website's rankings have dried up. You're losing out on a lot of visitors and sales.
- The Fear of Getting Banned or Penalized. I have not seen a lot of websites lately that have been fully banned from the search engine results because of paid links. However, I have talked to a lot of web site owners who have been severely penalized because of paid links. It ruins their online business. So, if you are paying for text hyperlinks to your website, there is a real potential for getting penalized. Your website may not recover that quickly from it. Now is the time to start getting rid of the paid links for your site.
How do you remove paid links without hurting your search engine rankings?
The strategy for getting rid of the paid links will depend on your current situation. If your website has been penalized for paid links, then you need 1 particular strategy for recovery. If you've not been penalized yet for paid links, but are fearful that you could be penalized, then I recommend a different strategy for dealing with the paid links.
The process for removing the paid links for your website if your site isn't penalized yet is pretty much the same as if your website has been penalized. However, the key right here is to make sure that you do not eliminate all from the paid links all at once--which could have a big impact on your search engine rankings. So, what you'll want to do is get a good handle on all of the links for your website: and then start removing and replacing them slowly, over time. Replace the paid links with links that are equal in topic, PageRank (or MozRank or ACRank), anchor text, and age.
Having a few paid links for your web site is not going to be a problem, most of the time. As long as your entire link profile (all from the links pointing to your website) are not made up of one type of link, you're not going to see search engine ranking problems. But, to be on the safe side, I don't recommend paid links--especially whenever you can use other methods of obtaining hyperlinks for your web site.