Word on the street is that Google has reduced the PR of several popular sites due to them selling links for the purpose of passing page rank. Courtney Tuttle mentions this in this article, Google Dropping Toolbar PageRank Manually For Selling Links, and this SearchEngineLand article, Official: Selling Paid Links Can Hurt Your PageRank Or Rankings On Google, talks about it as well. As they mention, this punishment kind of makes sense because it doesn’t seem to affect search ranking but only the ability to pass “PR Juice” to other sites. However, there is also the threat hanging out there that more drastic penalties will be handed out to lesser sites that engage in PR passing link sales.
While there is a danger here for anyone who sells advertising space without the Google “rel=’nofollow’” tag there is a danger to Google as well. A decade or so ago Microsoft ran into trouble when they flexed monopoly muscle. The same happened to IBM and AT&T 3 decades ago. Not to mention Standard Oil that started the whole thing a little over a century ago. Since Google has 40% of the online advertising market in addition to controlling search results they may be setting themselves up for a fall if they push too hard. Time will tell but many a big company has went down the same road they seem to be embarking upon.
My own strategy remains about the same as it’s always been, produce good content and let the chips fall where they may. I’ve never been that worried about links, either giving or receiving them. I’m really more concerned with earning advertising revenue. While this site is really too new to sell links on, I do put nofollows on advertising links just to be on the safe side. On older sites with higher traffic I do offer ad space but I also have the stated policy of nofollowing ad links.
That’s what I think about this situation. Please feel free to add your reaction.