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?