Back in 2007, Google begun cracking down on website(s) involved in paid linking (selling and bying of sitelinks) and advertisement links to influence PageRank. "Google had said that selling links that pass PageRank violates its search engine quality guidelines."
In a new blog entry, Google's Matt Cutts, reminds webmaster to be wary if someone approaches you and wants to pay you for links or "advertorial" pages on your site that pass PageRank.
"Selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations. The consequences for a linkselling site start with losing trust in Google's search results, as well as reduction of the site's visible PageRank in the Google Toolbar. The consequences can also include lower rankings for that site in Google's search results," Cutts wrote.
Adding, he said those involved in selling links that pass PageRank will receive a notification in Webmaster Tools, indicating that your site has lost trust in Google's index. The message reads "possibly artificial or unnatural links on your site pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank."
To address the issue, Cutts advises to make sure that "any paid links on your site don't pass PageRank." Adding, he said, webmaster can "remove any paid links or advertorial pages," or "make sure that any paid hyperlinks have the rel="nofollow" attribute," so, it doesn't pass the link juice.
Once there is no paid links passing PageRank, webmaster can submit a reconsideration request. Incase, if the site had a manual webspam action, a Google team member will review the request and notifies back about whether the reconsideration request was granted or not.
Update 04/03: In a new video posted on YouTube today, Cutts answering the question "If a site linking to mine gets caught selling links, what happens to my site," stated that the "link will not benefit you and most likely will not hurt you."
Explaining further he said:
- "Web sites that sell links will see their toolbar PageRank downgraded by 30, 40 or 50%
- Site will no longer continue to be able to pass PageRank
- Sites they link to will no longer benefit from those links."