Paid Links on the BBC?

Whilst carrying out competitor backlink analysis for a client I noticed a number of high value links pointing from the BBC website, after further investigation it appears that the BBC/someone at the BBC is may be selling links in the footer of this page: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tv_and_radio/default.stm.

Note: Please see responses below from Lewis Wiltshire (Editor of the BBC Sport website). Specifically “None of the links to external websites from the BBC’s UK-facing website are sold.”

The BBC “select links that are editorially relevant to the content they are linking from and are suitable for the likely audience” (BBC, Source). Although these links are relevant to some of the themes on the page, they are extremely questionable for the following reasons:

  • They only link to football fixture websites, the page contains information on many other sports.
  • The quality of the target websites is poor and are littered with adverts.
  • The second link “watch sport online” is broken.
  • The links are within other links to the BBC website – it is not clear these are external websites.

Not only is this practice frowned upon by Google, it is against the BBC’s own policy.

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results (Google, Source)

We do not link to external sites in return for cash, services or any other consideration in kind. (BBC, Source)