Google’s Matt Cutts: how we detect paid links

In a new video on YouTube, Google’s Matt Cutts explains some of the criteria that is used to decide whether a link is paid or not.

There’s more than meets the eye

Of course, backlinks that are explicitly sold for money are the most obvious paid links. Although this is the most common type of paid link, there are some more paid links types. Google uses the following questions to find paid links:

  • What is the value of the gift, product, or service?
  • How close is the gift, product, or service to actual money?
  • Is it an outright gift or a loan?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the intent of the gift to get links?
  • Would the gift be a surprise to third party?

In the comments section of the video, Matt Cutts says that Google can detect 99% of paid links:

“Bear in mind that well over 99% of the time, paid links that pass PageRank are abundantly clear-because actual money is changing hands-plus we reserve the right to adapt our criteria when we see new types of spam or abuse.”

How to remove harmful backlinks

Paid links can harm the rankings of your website. If you want to detect all links that have a negative influence on the Google rankings of your site, use the link disinfection tool in SEOprofiler:

Test the link disinfection tool

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Tom Cassy

Tom Cassy is the CEO of SEOprofiler. He blogs about search engine optimization and website marketing topics at “”.

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