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Do Inbound Links from Link Sellers Spell T-r-o-u-b-l-e?

Links are a critical component of any SEO effort but every since Penguin 1.0 dropped last year, they’ve been a hit-or-miss proposition at best.

Penguin not only smacked down hard on some very common linking practices, it also left SEOs with a lot of unanswered questions about best practice linking.

In particular, web publishers have wondered if inbound links from penalized link sellers would drag down the sites in their link network. Matt Cutts addressed this issue in a recent video and the news is good for sites with lots of inbound links from link sellers.

(And though he doesn’t mention it directly, he sort of puts to rest a lot of questions about negative SEO, too.)

According to Cutts, sites that aren’t involved in buying or selling links, won’t be directly penalized for their connection with penalized sites. The only real impact is that any bumps in page ranking they’d earned from those inbound links would be lost. A site with hundreds, or even thousands of links from sellers would take a big hit, but most sites should be all right.

Of course link sellers and buyers are high on Google’s hit list and those folks will definitely feel a big old Penguin punch. Cutts says the penalties for this kind of (now-black hat) activity can range anywhere from a 30%-50% drop in page rankings.

Best Practice Linking

With last week’s Penguin 2.0 release, now is a good time to re-visit some white hat link building practices that meet Google’s exacting standards.

  • Hang out with the good kids – Avoid linking to low quality sites if you can help it. Google is looking at the quality of your links more than the quality. (Your mother will tell you the same thing, so you know it’s true.)
  • Sell in moderation – Link selling isn’t all bad, but you’ve got to take it easy. Cutts won’t tell you exactly how many paid links its takes to tank your site, but it’s definitely more than four.

Linking is a tricky business these days, but it’s good to know that inbound links from penalized site won’t be dragging you down.

Have you had experience with inbound links from penalized link sellers? Share your experiences in the comments section below.