Will Google discount Blogroll links

June 26, 2008 // seo

Google have been clear and expressed their feelings about paid links. We all know we shouldn’t do it, it’s against the webmaster guidelines, you can get penalties and even removals from the index.

I will put my hand up and say I have dabbled in buying links, if you’re talking to an SEO who says they’ve never done it then they may be fibbing (or they have only been doing SEO for a short period of time).

We all know the following:

• Buying links for PR is not allowed
• Selling links to pass PR is not allowed
• Buying links to manipulate the SERPS is not allowed
• Excessive link exchanges are not allowed

There is of course the snitch form report a paid link form by which members of the law abiding public can notify Google if they detect any paid links on a web page. Google can then take their appropriate levels of action towards the websites in question.

Besides from the awesome report a baddie form Google uses variables in their algorithm to detect paid links automatically. Webmasters often leave a trail when adding paid links, be it through code comments, stupid ad placements, link relevancy, backlink increases and trends over time – heck there’s probably a hundred more factors.

Now, to get to my point, in 2005 there were a recorded 60 million blogs worldwide so you can imagine the 2008 figure could be close to 100 million. My preferred method of blogging is WordPress; it’s simple, easy to setup and pretty damn search engine friendly. So say 40% (my personal estimate) of all blogs worldwide are run using WordPress, that’s 40 million blogs all with the option to use their “blogroll”.

For you that don’t know what a blogroll is, it is a widget that can be used on blog themes that displays links that you can add through the CMS. Although you can get plugins that change the link relationship to NoFollow, it’s not a popular choice. To be honest why should you change the relationship? If you like websites and think they add value to your website, bloody link to them.

I can’t help but think that there must be hundreds of millions of links all originating from blogrolls alone, a good percentage of these will be paid links, purely because it’s easy to setup and harder for Google to recognise the link, i.e. it won’t have the same characteristics as say a footer link. Unless you are building too many links, using the same kinds of anchor texts, how will Google know your links in the blogroll are genuine or paid? (site relevance must also be a factor).

How Google will react to the continued war on paid links?

My guess is they will discount all blogroll links entirely, either by looking at the website code or making a deal with the blogging software companies and making the default setup NoFollow. I know it sounds rash and perhaps this is the ramblings of a tired man coming to the end of a long hard week? Who knows…

Matt Ridout

About the author

My name is Matt Ridout, I've been working in digital marketing for 9 years; worked for agencies and currently Head of SEO at fashion startup called Farfetch. Try to test my own theories.


  1. Hi Matt,

    Yep I think you’re right, this has been on the cards for some time. I had a great chat with Bill Slawski at last years PubCon and that clarified the subject for me. Blogroll and footer blocks have little value for the search engines but often contain paid links. It would make sense for them to discount them. I would suggest reading Bill’s post here for more info:


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