Google Wants Reports of Paid Links ... What a Joke

95 comments

Matt Cutts, spinning as he may, recently posted hate about paid links (while using the word deceptive and kindly grouping paid links with hidden links), hate about sponsored themes, and requested feedback on paid links.

First he starts with a warning:

As long as we’re talking about links, this seems like a pretty good opportunity to talk about a simple litmus test for paid links and how to tell if a paid link violates search engines’ quality guidelines. If you want to sell a link, you should at least provide machine-readable disclosure for paid links by making your link in a way that doesn’t affect search engines. ... I wanted to give a heads-up because Google is going to be looking at paid links more closely in the future.

Then he asks for help:

As far as the details, it can be pretty short. Something like “Example.com is selling links; here’s a page on example.com that demonstrates that” or “www.shadyseo.com is buying links. You can see the paid links on example.com/path/page.html” is all you need to mention. That will be enough for Google to start testing out some new techniques we’ve got — thanks!

I can't believe it is anything more than a plublicity stunt and mind control exercise.

Google sells AdWords ads for companies selling text links. If they don't like the practice why not start the cleanup at Google.com?

Google is still indexing those lolita preteen results, ranks all these .edu ringtone pages, and lets not forget that Google continues to deliver AdSense ads on sites they banned for being spam. If Google doesn't CLEARLY mark their own paid links, encourages publishers to blend them into content, and doesn't police their own network, why do they think they have the right to police other sites?

update here

Comments

Gotta agree with you, Aaron.

Gotta agree with you, Aaron. Basically, Matt is asking us to do their job for them.

Why should we mark paid links for them?

Brownie points

?

More FUD

Who runs the largest link selling network? 'nuff said.

Some people at SES London

Some people at SES London wanted a way to give Google feedback on paid links, and this is a method that lets them do that. Our stance on paid links hasn't changed; this is an easier way that people can send info about paid links to Google.

CRAP

All this is Matt is an easier way for someone's competitor to feed you guys false information so that you take action against a site that may be doing nothing wrong at all.

Informers are nothing but scum but you want to use them?

Says a lot for Google.

Not true

Matt I think you are a little off track here.

What type of feedback? Are you talking about the GoogleFanatics going out on vigilante patrol through the web?

Quote:
Nick Fox spoke at the arbitrage session, and part of the feedback that he got was to do more quality score updates, because many people in the audience wanted to reduce the effects of search arbitrage. That was one of the takeaways that Nick got, at least.

I was sitting right next to him and there were not people in the audience asking for more quality score updates... they want a clear definition of the elements of QS - landing page QS, ad QS, keyword QS and how they are determined....

Also an update on how Google is going to help stop the average advertiser paying for the work of the arbitragers... there is a serious backlash against this right now

Google "Do No Evil" is mentioned with a smirk these days. The average advertiser trying to do the right thing is more impacted by recent changes then the arbitragers. We are starting to get tired of the rally cry of "Let's stamp out search arbitrage" - persoanlly I think it cost me less then all the inactive terms and increases in minimum bids.

Google is fast and widely losing the benefit of the "blindness of new love" and its romancers are starting to see their love as the "materialistic maniacal dominatrix" she really is!!!

Some People at SES NY

A lot more people at SES NY wanted Google to give PAYING ADVERTISERS the ability to opt out of domain based search pages, can GOOGLE'S CUSTOMERS expect the same kind of expedited service? How about giving paid advertisers the ability to opt out of crappy sites like MYSpace without having to give up ASK or AOL. I think there are more people who want more control instead of another "quality" score update.

Just read what Matt Said

I think the post was more about hidden links and breifly mentioned paid links.

Quote: If you want to sell a

Quote:
If you want to sell a link, you should at least provide machine-readable disclosure for paid links by making your link in a way that doesn’t affect search engines.

How many engines do you represent Matt? There might might be an engine or two that actually value paid links for what they are and don't depend on webrats to deliver a good result set to the user.

In order to help Matt, I

In order to help Matt, I just reported everyone above me in the SERPs. I'm a giver. It's what I do.

Spam The Form

Feedback eh. I say bury them in it. Report paid and unpaid links alike. Assloads of them. Hell, pay people to report unpaid links.

>>If you want to sell a link, you should at least provide machine-readable disclosure for paid links by making your link in a way that doesn’t affect search engines

That's the most self-serving piece of FUD I've read in a long while.

I'm sure you'll get lots of reports Matt. Everyone will be sure to report their competition.

Don't mess with the bridge troll

Just pay your tolls and shut up.

LIst of Donors

Let's look at charities who also link to their list of donors, is that a paid link? The area gets pretty murky pretty quickly doesn't it.

Hello? Googles Algo is dependent on paid links!

There are a few real world niches where people actually hand out keyword relevant anchor text on a regular basis, but the reality is that those niches are few and far between.

Googles algorithm is based on the assumption that all niches behave like that - and eventually most have, at least as soon as SEOs started paying attention to them. Certainly a lot more people started buying and selling links when the adsense revenue stream started being meaningful. They pay more attention to relevant themes and surrounding text now, but it's not like they still aren't largely dependent on anchor text.

If google started penalizing paid links, the playing field would certainly even out for the little guy. Of course, they probably should start to weed out all of those links in the google directory that were sold.

What percentage of Ring Tone, Brittany Spears, Paris Hilton, and Hotel links are unpaid links? There are plenty of arenas where you can't even crack the top 100 without buying links.

Although I imagine he's more interested in getting rid of some of the paid links where quality control is not a concern.

"How many engines do you

"How many engines do you represent Matt?" hardball, the only other search rep that I know of that has discussed paid links is Tim Converse. He said that he wished people wouldn't do it, and "search engines are justified in taking whatever action is necessary at ranking time to preserve relevance."

graywolf, you said "I think there are more people who want more control instead of another "quality" score update."

I'm happy to pass on that request, graywolf. Nick Fox spoke at the arbitrage session, and part of the feedback that he got was to do more quality score updates, because many people in the audience wanted to reduce the effects of search arbitrage. That was one of the takeaways that Nick got, at least.

That's funny

>do more quality score updates, because many people in the audience wanted to reduce the effects of search arbitrage

Well I'm bidding on three times more words than I was last year, so not sure that worked the way you wanted.

I can tell you the keyword that i was "quality scored" out of is my own name. It costs me over $1 a click for my own name which I am absolutely relevant for, it also costs less than quarter for your name. Not sure you want to defend the position that your algo is good when I'm more relevant for you than I am for me

Quote: "How many engines do

Quote:
"How many engines do you represent Matt?" hardball, the only other search rep that I know of that has discussed paid links is Tim Converse. He said that he wished people wouldn't do it, and "search engines are justified in taking whatever action is necessary at ranking time to preserve relevance."

Thanks for clearing that up, when you use encompassing terminology like "search engines" you make it sound like you are on the rules commitee of some planetary SE policing committee.

You really should say GOOGLE doesn't like paid links. Don't make the other guys look bad.

Seems like a lot of Michael

Seems like a lot of Michael Gray's out there:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Gray_%28disambiguation%29

Maybe that has something to do with it? I'm happy to pass on the "more control over destinations" feedback though. I think the unlimited site exclusion for AdSense is a good thing:
http://searchengineland.com/070123-091029.php
but in general I'm a fan of giving folks more granular ability to target ads.

hardball, I didn't mean to

hardball, I didn't mean to come across that way; sorry for that.

Hyprocrisy in action

If other sites sell sponsored links, aka ADVERTISING, you might get booted out of Google for competing with AdWords.

At least that's MY interpretation of this latest attack in the Google war against webmasters.

Exactly My Point

>Seems like a lot of Michael Gray's out there

That's my point there are lots of Michael Gray's who outside of the search microcosm are "more important" than me, but does that make me so "irrelevant" or so "poor quality" that I have to pay $1 a click, especially when I'm only seeing one other bidder? Seems kind of silly to price me out of a "non market" and make me collateral damage for search arbitrage.

You guys (google) have no

You guys (google) have no respect for content creators. If a site has legit visitors, its because someone put some hard work into it, threatening exclusion because the creator wants to make a few bucks is pretty petty.

Excluding a site because someone sells Ads is clearly a business call, not a quality issue, users get the short stick (the google version of the web). Google is wee bit too paranoid about protecting revenue and sooner or later those kinds of calls are gonna bite back.

Maybe every site selling ads should block googlebot for a few weeks, my guess is you'd be sending out re-inclusion requests.

Why paid links?

IMHO, there are far more dangerous elements to the current search environment than paid links; paid links are just an economic interest being voted on...if the goal is relevancy, at least recognize that a company buying a link for "purple widgets" is probably trying to sell "purple widgets." I'm upset that Google takes this stance, especially considering what the adsense cpa beta links are looking like -- with G's share of the search market, that smacks of monopolistic intimidation, and I really don't like to use that term lightly. Matt, you're a smart guy; I hope you and the team have considered the possible reprecussions of riding that line.

How could Google really improve the user experience?
302 and meta refresh issues are back; that'd be a good thing to take care of once and for all. XSS...figure out how to handle that pain in the rear, along with all the other parasitic hosting variants, and you'll find that paid links probably aren't affecting the user's experience nearly as much as they are a potential threat to the adsense 5 year plan.

Has " Paid Link" Been defined

abc company Just sent me a wicked free t shirt.

Aaron wall sent me a free copy of his Seo Book

Thanks to copyblogger for helping me with my titles he realy is a great copywriter

Thanks donald for the great business tips

The examples above could be seen as paid links. paid in kind which should in theory be treated the same.

Quote: Some people at SES

Quote:
Some people at SES London wanted a way to give Google feedback on paid links, and this is a method that lets them do that. Our stance on paid links hasn't changed; this is an easier way that people can send info about paid links to Google.

And how exactly are you going to determine legitimate feedback from that of competitors? Heck, I may as well send an e-mail in on every nice link my competitor has as well as the sites they link out to. Yahoo! might as well setup a system to flood the boxes with bogus reports just to mess up the algorithm. The opportunity for abuse is high.

The other question is what is the punishment going to be. Most major newspapers are selling links right now, yet I see them ranking highly and maintaining their presence in Google News. Are you going to start banning sites that sell text links? Typically they are the stronger and more popular sites on the web. Are you going to start punishing sites who buy text links? If so, I'll buy my competitors an early Christmas gift of all the paid links they can handle.

But lets face it, this is most likely a bunch of BS. You guys don't even take Adsense complaints seriously anymore and let just about anyone with a site the ability to put up Adsense in any manner they seem fit.

If its relevant

and in context, then how is it hurting anything Matt?

Can't punish newspapers

If Google were to punish newspapers, they could immediately fire off some legal documents claiming that it was an attack on them in order to push news.google.com. Google grew to the point where it now has competitors coming at it from all angles, so when it acts brazenly, it only increases the probability of getting burned by one of them. And really, it only takes one or two to get the FTC looking hard at something (no matter how little the FTC understands technology and markets sometimes).

I really hope i'm wrong on all of this, but it is not looking good.

What happens if everyone stops linking?

There are a few real world niches where people actually hand out keyword relevant anchor text on a regular basis,

Adsense changed the web, how many non monetized sites are out there now? A hobby site is still a hobby site but it's a hobby site that might lead to giving up the 9-5. Visitors and clicks = money, what's the insentive of giving anyone a regular link now especially with the fear it may be interpreted (whether it is or not) as a paid link that could get punished.

How will votes for other sites be couted then?

Just read what Matt Said I

Just read what Matt Said
I think the post was more about hidden links and breifly mentioned paid links.

I did. And Matt was deceptively grouping the two together as though they were the same. Read a book on the concept of framing to see how bogus Matt's post was.

Tim Converse. He said that he wished people wouldn't do it, and "search engines are justified in taking whatever action is necessary at ranking time to preserve relevance."

But Tim Converse also said that certain types of link buys were well within reason, and Yahoo! would count them:

Tim answered first and said that Yahoo! wouldn't try to pick one post out of twenty or fifty on every blog that might be running advertorials or paid reviews just to stop link value from that particular post. If the engine looked at the site and saw that in general, the outgoing links were of high quality, there would be no discount of link value for paid blog material.

If the goal is...

providing the best results for the end user...

...and paid links on a site that lead to good relevant content...ok, get ready, here's the question -- should that be looked at in the same way that a paid link to a mere lead capture page that has no 'content' value?

I guess what I'm getting at is that imho, all paid links should not be viewed in the same way. If one leads to great content then YIPPEE, if it leads to a landing page YAWN.

Is this considered anywhere in the equation?

If X + Y = Yawn (teh sux0rs rank)
If X + Y = Yippee (All your good ranks are belong to us)

Where X = website and Y = paid link

Maybe slap some web 2-0ish thing near links so that people can rank the links on a page. Create a groovy plugin for IE & Firefox (linkrank.google.com) and call it a new gadget for labs. :)

Ok it's late and I must quit rambling.

Why is paid vs free an

Why is paid vs free an issue?

Aren't links supposed to be about relevancy and the user experience?

Lets make this nice and simple

GOOG, the public traded search engine company that is responsible to its shareholders, run lots of web sites.

On those sites they can do or say pretty much whatever they want. It's THEIR sites after all and as long as they aren't breeching any laws then that's fine.

At the same time, I, you and everyone else can do pretty much whatever you want on your websites. If you agree with Matt's POV then cool, if you don't agree then that's cool too. Your web site is your website and do on it what you wish. At the same time Google can do whatever they want on theirs!

so matt wants a list..

Why ,,,

I paided Dmoz editors, Diggers, Myspace users, News sites, weather sites and engadget... they all going to get banned.. I bet not ! is the site i paid to be list going to get banned .. I Hope so ;)

DaveN

Jason, old chap, that

Jason, old chap, that argument doesn't scale, otherwise their wouldn't be a need to protect the small guy against monopolies and cartels.

Also, I think the way that Matt presents this information is, as Aaron suggests, FUD of the most devious kind.

This is typical of the trend they started way back when WMW gave them a soapbox to stand on.

I remember a similar attempt to warn off cloakers a few years ago - I deliberately cloaked a throw away site and spam reported it myself. I posted that I had done this in WMW and that I would report back if/when it got banned.

Its still indexed now, years later.

Even if we accept thats its their bat and ball and they can take it away when they want, surely we have a perfect right to point out when Google are being manipulative and deceptive.

We are also at liberty to discuss legal and legitimate methods to disrupt their attempts to damage our revenue streams by encouraging third parties to 'rat us out'.

Quote from the Google code of conduct:

Quote:
don't be evil. We compete, but we don't cheat.

... maybe you could add 'we are not deceptive, and we don't try to mislead people', just to clarify things for those of us that are concerned that your interpretation of 'evil' and 'cheat' might be a tad flexible.

Mr 4eyes, I concur 100%. Let

Mr 4eyes,

I concur 100%. Let me re emphasise my post above. Hopefully it reads better now :)

Google reminds me a lot of

Google reminds me a lot of Russian law at the moment. They are bringing in so many rules and regulations that eventually you just get overloaded. Sometimes it's better just to have a few clear guidelines that the majority adhere to, rather than push everyone so much they start ignoring you.

Greywolf has pointed out several times, that Google said our priority should be for the user and their experience. We're now getting to the point where Google dictates how we code our sites and handle our advertising.

Not cool Google. I'm glad I still do most of my work in a country where you only hold a 17% marketshare.

Regarding your country...

"I'm glad I still do most of my work in a country where you only hold a 17% marketshare."

Please report your country name to us so that we can "better serve" you. We are sorry for neglecting your country in any way and we want to make it up to you.

While you're at it, if any other country has been paid to link to your country, we'd like to know about that too.

Cheers!

-Goog

Not exactly hard to find

Half the text link brokers out there leave a footprint, maybe the new breed of Google Engineer has spent too much time on the beer-bong and not enough learning pattern matching at University ;)

If this is about grassing people up who ask another webmaster for a link in return for a financial contribution, that is absurd. Everyone is willing to offer a link on their site if the price is right - including Google, W3C, ICANN etc.

Fighting Spam is one thing - but this is something else

My problem with this isn't the spam fighting issue... I am all for getting Viagra spam links out of the serps..

My problem with this is that in essence we mark all our advertising dollars in a 'computer readable format' for google to see... So now what we were just asked to do is to tell Google exactly where we spend our marketing budget... and why did we spend it there rather than adwords?

I know there is a method to this madness... so Google has a better understanding of where companies allocate their marketing budget... and hence to better target their Adwords stuff... in the process discounting the links for the keywords companies want to rank for organically.

The more I keep reading this the more I think what we have here is Matt doing his job honestly to clean up the serps... and then someone else in the company to leverage this for adwords stuff...

Please report your country

Please report your country name to us so that we can "better serve" you. We are sorry for neglecting your country in any way and we want to make it up to you.

Heh @jdh358

I agree with you Founder. I can see this as an honest attempt by Matt to clean up the serps. However coming down on paid links in this way seems to lack an understanding for the channel as a whole. It will certainly help spread the FUD.

I know some sites are buying their way to the top by purely targeting link juice - any link juice. However some of us are careful to find complementary link partners, where the context and theme are taken into consideration.

This doesn't harm the user experience and if anything helps Google increase relevancy by connecting these themed areas together and identifying authority players.

No conspiracy, but...

I think the conspiracy theories about Matt and Google wanting to know all paid links because they see them as competitors are simply unfounded. I'm quite sure that Matt is personally only interested in being able to label paid links and non-paid links in order to be able to score them correctly with their PageRank algo.

That said, it's not our job. It's their job to figure out what are good links that they want to pass PR with and what are not. Surely a bunch of smart PhDs like they have at Google can do this?

Trying to scare the average webmaster into thinking they HAVE to tell Google about any paid links or they run the risk of all their links being penalized is just wrong in so many ways.

Surely a bunch of smart PhDs

Surely a bunch of smart PhDs like they have at Google can do this?

hmm makes you think ..... but if that's so then why would they need the help of the minions !!

Matts Vendetta?

Matt C, your post was a bit cryptic, maybe you should clarify what you are implying or trying to combat. I would think a common scenario is that someone has a decent link from a site, but down the road the site owner starts offering paid linkage, are you lumping those sites into your vendetta as well?

Do you want to see to it that the receiving sites automatically get a smite from Google because they are guilty by association? Witch hunts went out a long time ago Matt

..

I do have to say that after reading Matt's post about this on his blog several times, that I do agree with Aaron, Matt's post appears to be very manipulative.

Matt I take it that, “Looking for linking patterns that suggest money is being exchanged for links”... was/is a dark and dismal failure? I just gotta say it...
DUH FUCKING DUH!!!
Oh ya, (Man I love this part)
I told you so...

lots0, I knew I'd have some

lots0, I knew I'd have some free time this weekend, and work has been busy, so I wanted to blog when I had the spare time.

StuartL, the spam report form is something Google has used for 5+ years to collect feedback and assess what to work on next. We've used various keywords over the years to let people talk about specific issues. I think it's good that we've used that mechanism to help people provide feedback and talk about issues.

Jill, it's true that I care about clean search results. We do have some new thoughts on how to handle paid links, so asking for outside feedback is part of testing out those ideas.

{OFF TOPIC}

{OFF TOPIC}

Wow I went to add a post to apologize to Matt about the pushing down the post comments I made.

I edited out the incorrect comment from the original post. It was pointed out to me that Matt often posts in "clusters".

After I went to add the new post it did not appear and the old post switched places and became the new post. Too weird...

Then the new post did not

Then the new post did not appear and the old post switched places and became the new post. Too weird...

I had something similar yesterday. My post was second place, followed by someone elses reply. I edited it and it jumped down to third place, moving the other up. Very odd.

We do have some new thoughts on how to handle paid links, so asking for outside feedback is part of testing out those ideas.

To be fair to you Matt, you haven't actually said what actions would be taken yet, so we're probably jumping on you a little prematurely. Paid links are such a diverse area it seems wrong to deal with it with one blanket filter though.

This dog wont hunt Matt....

I think the post was more about hidden links and briefly mentioned paid links.

I think it was the opposite. Started off with hidden links and led into the very touchy subject of paid links being reported.

As DigitalGhost and others suggested this will be a just large number of reports from websites tattle telling on each other truthfully and falsely. How will Google sift through the junk reports? All in all I agree with IncrediBill, hypocrisy in action: I call sell links my way, but you cant.

Finally Brian Turner said it best..."why is it about paying or not". It should only be about relevancy, but to be honest if I want to create a website about Boats and offer ADVERTISING to Car websites I will do it. Why should Google stop me?

You have giving us a area to report SPAM in your index yet it seems all of the reports I have done myself and heard of from others, seem to be totally ignored. Why would this be different?

Trying to scare the average webmaster into thinking they HAVE to tell Google about any paid links or they run the risk of all their links being penalized is just wrong in so many ways.

Well said Jill.

Matt asking for link feedback is a little different than asking for people to report who is offering paid links and who is not. I appreciate your trying to make you algo better, but asking people to do it for you is not a solution. I mean all of us here can post dozens of websites that rank on backlinks credit alone, regardless of content. Is that truly a good search algo?

http://blog.outer-court.com/a

http://blog.outer-court.com/archive/2007-04-15-n50.html

Please, Yahoo, MSN, Ask and Technorati: give me a spam report form where I can paste the keyword “adsense”. And make sure you post something on your respective company blogs, or unofficial employee blogs, that communicates to people, implicitly or explicitly, that using AdSense might get your search rankings in trouble.

Squawk Squawk Squawk

Why are you all squawking so much.
Google has always asked for spam reports and as far as I know has always considered paid links to be spam.
So whats new?

Nick Wilsdon/lots0, my best

Nick Wilsdon/lots0, my best guess is that might have something to do with pre-moderating comments.

Quote: So whats new? Did

Quote:
So whats new?

Did you not fully read the thread?

Whats new is that Google are trying to imply that they are raising the profile significantly and spreading a load more FUD to do so.

Quote:
I wanted to give a heads-up because Google is going to be looking at paid links more closely in the future.
Quote:
That will be enough for Google to start testing out some new techniques we’ve got — thanks!

Looks more like the cabbage that is squawking.

4Eyes is psychic....

4Eyes, thats very smart, answering the question before it was asked.

My point is that, as its been against the rules for a long time, why is everyone now complaining that the long arm of the law is after them? Didnt they know that G might come in through the saloon doors with both barrels blazing, at any moment?
I did and it put me right off buying big bucks links which I've been offered lots of times. Scaredy cat?...Maybe.

cabbage

I don't think it is whether you should be worried about past links buys or sells and the possible SEO benefits. It is about the ability for me as a website owner to monetize my website. Don't I have the right to do this? And if I do have the right Google needs to know about it? Surely not.

Extinction Event

Matt posted:

I’m most interested in the “I’ll pay you $X for a link that affects search engines” reports for now, whether that happens via a direct link or paid posts/articles.

So paid articles, aka reviews, aka ReviewMe.com, now appear to be officially on the endangered species list and anyone currently listed on their website should brace for impact.

You know what they say about assuming...

I blogged about it this morning due to a section of my own blog people assume are paid links (that I probably could get reported for during the equivalent of a Google witch hunt). I think the dangerous thing about this is that Google would totally be guessing - making assumptions - about whether or not a link is paid. Good paid links are undetectable to the algorithmic and the human eye. Bottom line is that unless you're my accountant, you have no earthly idea about whether or not I was paid to link to anyone I link to.

I don't have real strong

I don't have real strong feelings one way or another about paid links for link pop.

But it is my opinion that paid links only really harm search engines, whereas Adsense has badly damaged the entire Web.

Am I missing something?

"Who's guilty? Hands up!"

When has that ever worked in real life?

Quote: Google has always

Quote:
Google has always asked for spam reports and as far as I know has always considered paid links to be spam.

Huh? How can paid links be spam? I don't think even Matt would say that. They're simply that -- paid links...ads...whatever. It has nothing to do with search engines, nor spam.

Matt, I would like to report

the Yahoo Directory. They want $299 a year. Of course you may want to change the webmaster guidelines where it is suggested that I submit my site there - "Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, as well as to other industry-specific expert sites."

If you decide to punish Yahoo for selling links by removing Yahoo from all Google results, I'll understand, but I want to know if you are also going to go after the "industry-specific expert sites" that now charge for inclusion.

Seriously though Matt, when is a paid link not a paid link? I've been online since 1996 and have paid relevant sites for inclusion. These sites don't accept money to link to sites that are not relevant. I get traffic and they get revenue to justify their existence. Since Google values these sites as relevant authorities, why shouldn't the links be treated as legit by Google?

What about BOTW and Business.com? What about my local Chamber of Commerce? With the local CoC, you only get a link if you pay a membership fee and are a local business. Are those now persona non grata as well? Why are you trying to kill off the little guy - the mom and pop?

Quote: why is everyone now

Quote:
why is everyone now complaining that the long arm of the law is after them? Didnt they know that G might come in through the saloon doors with both barrels blazing, at any moment?

Thats my point, everyone is not 'complaining that the long arm of the law is after them?' - a few maybe, but some of us are pointing out that Google are spreading FUD again, specifically threatening something new to 'sort out' link buyers. They have done this before over cloaking, amongst other issues and not been able to deliver.

Its a PR exercise, probably prompted by complaints from big spending Adwords clients who can't rank in the normal SERPs.

Remember, I'm psychic, so I must be right, yeah ;)

Google Buying Links Disguised as Charity

Can it be that Google is buying text links and disguising them as charity contributions? You can get your own text link just like Google for only $5K

http://www.freebsdfoundation.org/donate/sponsors.shtml

They've been

attending the link building sessions.

Mad Matter

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."

Yahoo!

Kirby, great minds think alike, or at least my simple mind and your great mind do. I submitted my spam report on a link selling and buying scheme based on the same logic.

Part of the spam report requires you to show the phrase you searched for, I documented all of that in my blog post titled, I submitted my spam report

Basically do a Google search for: yahoo directory submit , and fill out your spamreport. Don't forget to add the word paidlink in the text area so Matt gets it.

(sorry if my own links are frowned upon, an editor will remove if required)

Google Buys DoubelClick,

Google Buys DoubelClick, Announces Penalties for Non-Google Advertising

The DoubleClick deal has some analysts puzzled, as the $3+ Billion dollar price seems very excessive given the reported sub-200 million dollar earnings booked by DoubleClick. But when coupled with the new rules banning sponsored links, reviews, and articles unless they are registered with Google first, this move makes sense. Google might be able to own all Internet advertising by effectively banning everything not included in the combined monster network of DoubleClick + AdSense. It seems that is what has begun.

It's not so bad......

Spread the FUD, less people buying links = more virgin real estate (which is important you know ;)
Disclosing paid links = even more unread spam reports (Get reporting)
Less people understanding seo = more $$$ in consulting and more traffic

Just link to yourself (buy domains instead of links) and row your own boat to the bank if you can. Maybe Matt is secretly helping us here, lol. Sure we don't move as a coherent industry (have we ever?), but we have more work and less competition. I wonder what's better long-term tho?

What I find most interesting (especially in light of doubleclick acq) is how G can demand such open policy from the content owners while shrouding themselves in secrecy. This could all become anti-trust on a new level if you think about it.

Some great commentry in this thread.

Buying/selling links for PR = spam

Oh (Jill) you must be a latent BH, not knowing that.

And yes: people (!) need to know that something (!) is currently done about this. Just so people (!) will sleep like babies

Paid in-line

Paid in-line text links piss me off. Annoying and in your face and the article or blog is generally only there to push the ad link. As such abolish them all I say....
If that is what Google is talking about I'm all for it.
I would normally want Matt's job today I'm glad to be sitting where I am.

..

When you play with the Devil (in this case google) your gonna have pay for it sooner or later.

If you don't like what google is doing, the answer is REAL SIMPLE... Just don't do business with them, drop adwords and adsense, close your gmail account and encourage others to do the same.

idiot

Lots0 you really have a great sense of humor... otherwise you are a complete idiot... I need gas for my car and am pissed at the cost - so I stop using the car and walk???

..

Ride a bike, its better for everyone.

..

@Aussie

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need google to make money on the www.

>>>Added,
You may think I am an idiot... But I don't depend on google to put gas in my $60k all wheel drive...

Who Owns Your Site?

I wrote an article about text link ads a few years ago, same issue. Webmasters own their sites and they get to choose what to do with them, including paid ads. This gets into the realm of who is allowed to make money and who isn't. You built the site, you own it. Period. The search engine wants to decide about quality of the site for ranking in their engine, fine. What you are allowed to do on your site, that is up to you. Google shouldn't be asking Webmasters to do their work for them.

Mixed messages, Lots0

Quote:
Ride a bike, its better for everyone.
Quote:
I don't depend on google to put gas in my $60k all wheel drive

Nah,

Buckworks, crass came through loud and clear. ; )

..

"Ride a Bike", was a metaphor. Didn't think I would have to explain that here.

'Crass'... Damn straight I am, much more so in person... Crude, Rude and Bigger than Life... BTW I like it when the personal attacks and name calling starts, shows I am pushing the right buttons... ;-)

The folks that scramble around scratching for a few Google Penney's and then bitch about them whenever they can... Now thats not 'crass' at all now is it?

sidetracked

Let's keep our eyes on the main discussion and not the side issues....

Clandestine Payment?

What I would really like to know is how they will find out what’s paid for and what isn’t when it’s done in a clandestine manner.
I've been approached a few times by PR8 owners who don’t usually link who have offered me a homepage link for substantial sums. I'd be the only one on the page and who's to say I paid?
Likewise I don’t sell links but I've got a few homepage links to my mates sites with no payment. Will they assume that I got paid or are they really just trying to get at the big links dealers who leave an algorithmically detectable footprint?
It simply cannot be policed fairly as it stands even if it was done by hand, so where are they actually taking it?

It simply cannot be policed

It simply cannot be policed fairly as it stands

I don't see how they can ban sites or hit them hard in the rankings. I think they will just look for ways to extend the 'devaluing' process for links which Google believe are paid.

How else can it work? I can't see Google wanting to deal with the deluge of site owners, complaining that their site has dropped out of the index. As has been pointed out here before, no one is going back through their sites to nofollow historical links. Even the most ardent Cuttlets. There's also a fair few webmasters who don't read Matt's blog - how are they meant to know this is Google's latest duck and cover plan?

I see them devaluing the links. That will put the clamps on the pay-per-link services that are emerging. The FUD will help them in that effort. Much like the posters in the supermarket telling you they have security cameras even if they don't - it's more effective to let people think they are being watched.

A penalty like that doesn't have to be fair or policed. No one is going to complain to Google that "they didn't get as much of a boost for that link as they thought they would".

Maybe they will try to associate natural link growth patterns for a site and dampen anything exceeding that - unless you have passed some social popularity filter. This could be a filter that stops you doing too well, rather than reducing your current position. I guess we'll see.

Quote: Bottom line is that

Quote:
Bottom line is that unless you're my accountant, you have no earthly idea about whether or not I was paid to link to anyone I link to.

This is exactly what I was thinking. How is google going to know? By guessing?

I guess I just don't see the difference as to why a paid link is "less worthy" than a "not paid link". If it is a relevant link, it's a relevant link.

Can you help me out Matt?

Two Issues here I see

First Issue;
Can google detect paid links?

I don't think it is possible to detect all or even most paid links. Google already tried a comparative algo to detect paid links and it obviously did not work. If the comparative algo would have worked Matt and company would not be asking for reports of paid links from webmasters now.

2nd issue:
Are Paid links as valuable in determining search engine ranking as 'natural' links? Should either paid links or 'Natural' links be de-valued in the ranking process?

Maybe, Maybe not.

IMO you can't even start to address this last issue until you can determine what links are paid and what links are not.

I agree Nick, google will be de-valueing suspected paid links much more so in the future. Keyword = "Suspected"

Maybe 'the google' should put up a page where webmasters can sign a contract with 'the google' to promise (cross their heart, hope to die, stick a needle in their eye) that they won't ever buy or sell links on their websites...

lotso, that contract goes into

effect by default the moment they make a report via webmaster tools.

Weathering the storm

This was destined to be a highly controversial subject, and the moment Matt wrote it, he must have realised the impact and feeling that would be generated throughout the community.

I for one feel that while Google should be working further on it's technology to improve results, it should be mindful of the impact it's decisions can have on site owners and the core of the people who make the decisions for the sites such as webmasters etc. Having these same folks start telling tales on each other about paid links causes ill feeling and mistrust.

I have no doubt though it will be another small storm that will be weathered and eventually sink into archive oblivion whether it goes Google's direction of not, all involved will have to swallow it up and find another way to be more creative with their work.

clandestine manner Over a

clandestine manner

Over a beer, under the radar.

telling tales

Yeah, it's the cheesiness of it all, kind of like the room monitors back in grammar school; thought I got away from that 45 or so years ago. Not sure I know of any other field where "professionals" are asked to out others. Makes me feel kind of dirty.

canibalizing real links

I recently got a site featured in the mainstream media. Almost the entire article was about that specific site. The media wrote that article, but did not want to link to the site they mentioned because they thought it might be too promotional. Then others are afraid to link becuase of spam concerns, while they will put AdSense in their content linking to garbitrage sites.

Google is devolving the web...making it where marketers have to do cheesy linkbait scams in order to get noticed. Thats fine for me because I am decent at it, but Google's profit is coming at the expense of the web in general, and they would have to be blind not to notice it.

They are destroying the link graph trying to keep it clean, while pushing smaller players out to prop up old offline authorities. Doesn't sound like a very innovative web environment they are trying to foster.

clandestine

I have people offering me those "three way links" all the time.... they are the ones I usually ignore... I like my paid links obvious... that way Google will just wipe them out and I can start again....

Supporters get

Supporters get content="INDEX, NOFOLLOW".

"Supporters get content="INDEX, NOFOLLOW"."

and "members" get exactly what they pay for. Pay being the key word.

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