Newsday Penalized For Selling Links

The popular Long Island New York newspaper Newsday was penalized by Google for selling text links that pass pagerank.

Here is a screenshot of the crazy amount of nofollow tags used by


There are nearly 100 no followed links, but it’s quite curious to see which links are still passing PR. Semi related links to small local destination sites are still getting a link boost from this PageRank 8 site including a wedding, travel, health and shopping site.

Links that are directly related to this large print publication including the LA Times, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel and other huge newspapers are nofollowed.

The archive shows a section labeled ‘ Featured Links’ which carry sites such as :

  • Mesothelioma Lawyer Lung Cancer
  • Personal Injury Law Firm
  • Buy Mets Tickets
  • Buy Yankees Tickets
  • Wicked Tickets
  • Hamptons Travel

So can boost its fledgling sites while trying to negate the association of major newspapers, and the Hamptons Travel site is still linking with full credit. Hey newsday, i’ll sell you one of my content sites so your PR8 site can link to it and we can dominate the SERP’s.

Google has always been inconsistent in dealing with link sellers. There seems to be no complete method to find out which sites will receive a penalty for selling links that pass page rank. Google has not algorithmically solved the problem of link brokering and must rely on a semi accurate computer model with heavy human intervention.

Loren, WPN, Barry posted about this interesting case.


The SEO Manager, who was hired after the link selling program was implemented, posted a request in Google Groups and apparently got the problem resolved within 1 week. instantly jumped from a toolbar PR 5 to 8.

Google Engineer Reid

Thanks for your post. I’m glad you’re posting here in the Webmaster
Help Group, because the discussions here help educate webmasters
around the globe. I just checked over and compared it to
the most recent version of that was indexed by

Scrolling near the bottom of what your site used to look like, I see
the following “Featured Links”:
Mesothelioma Lawyer Lung Cancer Personal Injury Law Firm
Buy Mets Tickets Buy Yankees Tickets Wicked Tickets
Hamptons Travel

Please remember that participating in link schemes intended to
manipulate search engine rankings, including buying or selling links
that pass PageRank, is a violation of our Webmaster Guidelines, and
may impact your site’s standing in Google:

If you believe your site was at one point in violation of the
Webmaster Guidelines, and you have since made changes to your site so
that it fits within the guidelines, you can request reconsideration of
your site by following the steps here:


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17 Responses

  1. That is the type of info that are supposed to be shared across the net, too bad the newspaper got penalized.

  2. Getting more backlinks is very important for Search Engine Optimization. While you can always buy backlinks from other webmasters, the easiest way to get backlinks is to comment on other blogs with your url. However finding blogs in your niche and then commenting is a tedious job and takes a lot of time.

  3. It is very nice to see second generation bloggers making an effort to make the web more useful with higher quality links and better content. Hopefully the days of mega sites selling links is over.

  4. The newspaper media for the Cell phone market is growing exponentially with every single new day. Most of us pick up announcements of new events through our phones, and search rankings for news sites will cease to matter.

  5. I really liked your blog quite informative and interesting facts and figures you have, we tried to sell links in the past and were successful.

  6. I love when someone blogs as if they know what the hell is going on, without doing any research.

    “This is nothing personal Brent…”

    What’s nothing personal? That you’re erroneously slandering a Chicago Tribune property by calling them a link seller without even checking to see if your careless assumptions are factual?

    Well, they’re not factual, so if I were you, I’d issue an apology to your community of readers for publishing bullshit and I’d retract the erroneous elements in this post.

  7. But they did penalize Newsday and it took us ‘a big guy’ months to convince them to remove it. I started working on it in February when I got to Tribune.

    Newsday nor Tribune received any penalty warning either and we did all the steps we were suppose to do.

    It’s not about the big guy versus the little guy. It’s about a slowed process of forgiveness and lack of communication from Google to the ‘offending sites’. This needs to be vastly improved. What good is a penalty warning if Google doesn’t use it?

    Brent D. Payne
    SEO Manager

  8. Hi Brent – this is nothing personal. My problem is with Google and their inconsistent method of dealing with penalties that never favors the little guy like Donna’s example.

    Feel free to post screenshots, I’m happy to upddate this post.

  9. You may want to update your screenshot. I added another dozen nofollows. I left the other links open due to either inability for me to edit the code on the fly or because we own the sites and I see nothing wrong with linking to a site we own.

    I will talk with the design team tomorrow though about why we even have the site index box at the bottom of the page. I nofollowed them a while ago because I thought I should and didn’t have the time and resources to discuss actual removal of the box with the design team.

    However, NONE of these are sold links. We own them or a portion of them and we editorial choose to link to them.

    Brent D. Payne
    SEO Manager

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