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Link Development and Google’s Link Selling Penalty


I have been doing alot of thinking about linking strategies lately, considering the Google PR bomb a month ago.

I am trying to figure out a few things. First, what is it that triggers the pagerank penalty for selling links? And second, what is a safe method of link building from here forward.

I have been looking at a number of sites trying to develop a theory regarding linking. Google has said Dont Sell Links. The first problem with this is that I have seen a number of sites that dont sell links penalized. A good example of this is vBulletin does not sell links, period. Neither does However, both took a PR hit. has been a PR 7 for as long as I can remember and now is a PR 6, and has been a PR 6 and was reduced to a PR 5.

However, also was a PR 7, and managed to keep it’s pagerank level.


It’s a mystery to me. does have a scrolling bar on the left where they feature forums owned by it’s customers. You cannot buy your way into this list, they have to select you. They generally list you if they consider you to be a good customer with a solid and popular forum. But they also keep this list short. (I have 2 of my forums listed in that list, and They title this list "Featured Forums". has a similar sidebar list where only a handful of forums are listed ( is also listed from there) – This list is simply of other related sites of interest, which they label "Links of Interest". ONLY links to a few other official vBulletin sites. No other external links at all.

There is one other factor to consider. The PR of incoming links. When Google implemented this penalty many sites took a pagerank loss. Some more then others. But regardless, their PR strength was reduced and the sites they link to naturally took reductions in PR strength.

Now, lets turn to This site was a PR 9 before the penalty. They sold a handful of links on their homepage. They reduced to a PR 6 when the penalty was implemented. They placed nofollow tags on their outgoing  links and almost immediately received a PR 10.

SO, this is a real puzzle. I am having a hard time figuring out this one. What concerns me most isnt the ability to sell links. It’s the ability to effectively obtain links to my sites.

More to come…   Please leave comments about your thoughts and theories.


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