As Google continues its propaganda to discourage the buying and selling of text links for SEO purposes, many sites will lose their ability to pass PageRank and Anchor Text. Many sellers will still want to sell such links, and link buyers will need to find ways to determine if the links pass link juice or not.
The first obvious step would be to do a back link check on your site to see if the new links you purchased are showing up in the results. Unfortunately, Google’s link command is extremely limited and is not very useful for link analysis or link research. A better alternative is to use Yahoo Site Explorer’s link command. Of course, the fact that Yahoo counts some links doesn’t necessarily mean that Google does too.
Enter Google’s Webmaster Central, which can provide a comprehensive list of your incoming links. The list really is fresh and very accurate. The only problem is that it includes links with ‘no-follow,’ and if Google is including those it is safe to assume it includes all links whether they pass PageRank and Anchor Text or not. Clearly, this is not very useful for our purposes.
A simple test
Let me offer a simple technique you can use to determine if a particular site’s paid links are helping. When you buy the text link, choose a long tail keyword for the anchor text instead of a head one, and make sure the page you are linking to does not have the keyword in the body copy. Why? You can simply do a Google search for the anchor text you just bought and see if your site is coming up high in the rankings. Long tail keywords are very easy to rank and you can test if the link is helping or not in a matter of days. If you never get the page to rank for the term or slight variations of it, the page is not passing juice. If it ranks high, you can request a text change and use more competitive keywords.
Traffic comes first
Although Google and other search engines currently do not care much about where the link is placed, when purchasing a link it is wise to consider the traffic benefits above all. While Google might value your link about ‘green high-heel shoes’ at the bottom of a real estate site, ultimately users will only click on what interests them and what is in their line of sight. Choose your links wisely based on context. Even if Google doesn’t count them, you still get qualified traffic. If Google does, well, that’s even better.