The Stanford Daily Selling Links thread at our Search Engine Watch Forums (and see also this from Feb) looks at the ironic situation of the student newspaper at Stanford University -- the birthplace of Google, Yahoo and owner of the PageRank patent -- selling off-topic links to advertisers who almost certainly are trying to get better rankings on search engines.
For Search Engine Watch members, the extended version of this post goes into more depth of how why these links have raised eyebrows, given that some would view them as hurting search relevancy. It also looks at why university newspapers have become a popular source for those wanting to buy links to influence search engines, including a short tour of how papers beyond Stanford are selling.
The extended post also covers how link selling has become commonplace and why publishers wary of a public relations problem might wish to sell only redirected or nofollow links.
The story concludes with comments from the Stanford Daily itself. The paper said it unaware that there might be any search spam issues involved with selling links and emailed:
Distorting search results is not and has never been our intention. Our intention has been to make up needed income from classified, subscription and display ad sales lost to the internet through a new, legitimate method of advertising.
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