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Categories: Bad reviews, How to, Internet, Newspapers. Tags: , , , ,

Is Trinity Mirror selling followed links on its ic network?

July 2, 2009 12 Comments

There's nothing illegal about being paid to add a link to your website - or paying someone to do this. However, Google doesn't like the practice - doing so can "can negatively impact [the selling] site's ranking in search results".

Alongside my other posts on newspapers' paid links, let's look at the ic network, one of Trinity Mirror's local news brands ...

At the very bottom of icCheshire pages in a set of links to other Trinity Mirror sites is one with the link text 'Remortgage'. This links to http://www.godirect.co.uk/remortgages.php. I can't find a connection between Go Direct and Trinity Mirror - they look like separate companies.

icCheshire home page - is one of these a paid link?

icCheshire home page - is one of these a paid link?

At the bottom of the icLiverpool page is the same box, but this one has a link with the keywords 'Life insurance' that links to http://www.godirect.co.uk/life-insurance.php.

icLiverpool - is the first link a paid one?

icLiverpool - is the first link a paid one?

Of course, people are free to ignore Google's guidelines. However, they shouldn't complain if their ranking in search engine results drop ...

To avoid this fate, Google recommends using the nofollow tag, which Trinity Mirror isn't doing for these links.

It definitely doesn't recommend stuffing a keyword-rich link to a 3rd-party site in among links to other sites you own ... Or am I being overly suspiscious?

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12 Comments »

  • Good spot. Is this a reciprocal arrangement do you think or is money changing hands? And how is this different from paid for advertising, where a tag heavy link would redirect anyway?

    • If it was paid advertising, they would add the nofollow tag to show that it was advertising, then Google would ignore it.

      I have no idea why they are doing it - you would typically pay for this, but then you wouldn't do in a way that was so bleedin' obvious, so who knows ...

  • Robin Brown says:

    The same Trinity Mirror that employs pop-unders across its sites? Wouldn't bet against it.

  • blas says:

    I don't see nofollow here http://www.uxbooth.com/ (right sidebar full of links - paid I guess)
    What does it mean?
    Is it against Google's guidelines?

    • They only load with javascript on so I imagine they're relying on that not to breach the google guidelines. Although google can run JS now, so ...

      • blas says:

        Nope, they load images and stats with JS.
        Anchors are just included in html like every link.

        Lets say i'm writing an article and I put a lot of links to couple of web sites.
        Some of those links I put because some asked me for...and paid also.
        Whats wrong with that?
        Nothing wrong in my opinion.

        The problem is similar to what you described on nofollow/nolinkig post.
        The question was "why they nofollow" and "why they do not link". Maybe they are scared of google ;)

  • Not Delia says:

    Like it or not, Google most definitely does punish you for selling links, or what they perceive as selling on PR. I have a site (not my Not Delia one) which was using TLA (Text Link Ads)to sell links. This was a site I bought from someone else - very happy with it and I didn't do much to it, hence the TLA.

    When Google noticed the TLA, the site nosedived from PR4 to PR zero. I removed the TLA and informed Google I'd done it. The site is slowly climbing back up. Yeah, PR isn't really worth bothering about - that's a whole debate in itself - but if you rely on Google for your daily bread then, like it or not, you have to play by their rules and do everything you can to please them.

    I know Google has its faults but it keeps me fed and watered. I won't be arguing with them any time soon.

  • james says:

    First of all, well spotted, but I say - so what!

    Here is my caveat: This is no personal attack on you and is just an observation of the general mentality of every SEO conscious person I know.

    You have provided a link to the mirror website as a source for your blog. You are creating content which directly relates to the mirror article. Despite how much the article which the mirror have published is benefiting you (by being able to write this blog), you have nofollowed the link to the mirror site. This means that you have explicitly told google and other search engines to disregard this link.

    If everybody "no follows" as you yourself have done in this situation, then how is anybody supposed to get a single proper link without paying for it?

    By proper, I mean:
    1. Genuine (A link where a link is deserved)
    2. Free
    3. High Quality
    4. Proper anchor text
    5. nofollow ommited.

    A proper link as described above would never match all 5 cases unless it was provided by somebody involved in SEO.

    Surely google's guidelines / or SEOs interpretation of these guidelines are absolutely ridiculous!

    The BBC have been scrutinised for not linking out and I think that Trinity Mirror have taken a major step forward by starting to link out properly to external sites in it's articles.

    Finally, it is a fact that google rank sites more highly if they are listed on yahoo's business directory. Google know that Yahoo are selling paid for links but nobody seems to batter an eyelid.

  • james says:

    So the moral of the story is...

    If it bothers you enough to write an article about it,

    Take the lead and stop nofollowing your external links and maybe sites won't have to start buying links to artificially grow their business.

  • James - thanks for the comments. The links on this page are followed - did you mean that the ones on my daily mirror / moneyextra story were nofollowed?

    Anyway, nearly all links that I add to this site are followed. The only ones I nofollow are when I'm linking to a page that I think Google might not like - which is why I nofollowed all the links to the mirror on that other page.

    The only other nofollow links on the posts in this blog are to wikipedia - and there's also a post somewhere, I can't remember which, where they are all nofollowed as I couldn't work out which one was the dodgy one that stopped the page ranking (after I nofollowed 20+ external links, it suddenly started ranking again)

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