Google’s John Mueller said on Saturday that if you buy a link to your site, “it should be with a rel=nofollow or rel=sponsored attribute” so that the link passes no SEO signals, such as PageRank.
Mueller was responding to the Twitter user “fahar ps,” who wanted to know how Google sees a link bought “from a website that has great traffic, great DA, and all other metrics?”
The implication of the question is clear; “fahar” is asking whether Google will count the link for PageRank purposes.
Mueller responded with advice in line with the Webmaster Guidelines, namely that you should ensure bought link does not pass any SEO signals by using the rel=nofollow or rel=sponsored link attributes.
Despite not passing PageRank, Mueller suggested that these links “can still be good for your site because it brings good visitors, who might convert on your site, or who might recommend it later.”
You can view the full conversation below:
In general, if you're buying a link, it should be with rel=nofollow or rel=sponsored, and that generally wouldn't pass any SEO signals. However, it can still be good for your site because it brings good visitors, who might convert on your site, or who might recommend it later.— Hey John, Your profile caught my eye. Ouch. (@JohnMu) November 2, 2019
Webmaster Quality Guidelines - Link Schemes
Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines provide information about the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior.
One section of these guidelines is dedicated to link schemes. Any links you acquire with the intent of manipulating search rankings or PageRank are part of a link scheme.
One relevant example of a link scheme covers the purchasing of links:
“Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.”
Preventing PageRank from passing
In September this year, Google introduced the rel=sponsored attribute, which can be used to identify links on your site that are created as part of advertisements, sponsorships or other compensation agreements.
When introducing the new rel=sponsored attribute, Danny Sullivan and Gary Illyes said that “If you want to avoid a possible link scheme action, use rel= “sponsored” or rel= “nofollow” to flag these links.”
They continued, “We prefer the use of “sponsored,” but either is fine and will be treated the same, for this purpose.”