In recent weeks we’ve received a number of emails from SEO companies asking if they could add a link, almost a Google Adsense style, to specific and targeted pages in exchange for payment. Fraser popped up a Twitter message on the subject of paid for links yesterday and it reminded me to blog about one of our most recent enquiries.

A request came in from an SEO company asking if they could “sponsor” a domain that we own. This was a bit of a surprise as it’s one of those sites that needs a bit of TLC (the polite way of saying it’s not very good).

Now I’m far too nice (yeah it’s true) and said that sponsoring the site, as I assumed sponsoring would involve banners etc, isn’t really in anyone’s best interests (they get nothing and we look bad for taking money for nothing).

The reply was along the lines of they weren’t bothered by the fact the site had no traffic as “if not one user is gained from this link it shall not change the contract, so please do not worry about site traffic”. All they wanted was “a contextual text link reading for ‘keyword’ to be held within the first line of text”.

Now I much prefer creating my own content and adding my own links, affiliate related or not, but when someone offers you a few pounds for an easy job is taking the money a good idea? Should we be tempted? Are we missing out? And if we take the money what would be the impact on our domains?

Well according to Google: “some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links that pass PageRank, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.”

It goes on to say that links purchased for advertising should be designated as such could/should include the “rel=nofollow” tag. There’s a load more to digest on paid for links at Google Webmaster Central.

I’d be very surprised if one someone asking for a paid for link was going to be happy about having “rel=nofollow” in their links as surely that negates the reason for buying the link in the first place – especially if they’re not bothered about the volume of clicks they get as in the case above!

My philosophy when it comes to things like this… if in doubt, don’t do it! A few pounds for copying and pasting a line or two of text to a site sounds like easy money, but in the long term it could prove to be a very costly decision.