Text links and PageRank
It will come as no surprise to Search Marketers that Google have problems with text link advertising. As Google engineer, and "webmaster relations officer" Matt Cutts points out, it's not just Google, but it's interesting to see Google, normally closed mouthed on indexing difficulties, detail problems with their algorithms and advertising.
"Selling links muddies the quality of link-based reputation and makes it harder for many search engines (not just Google) to return relevant results."
Much of the post carefully, but not to subtely lays the blame for these indexing problems at the advertisers feet. This comes as no surprise, as Google are now infamous among those that follow the little twists and turns of the GOOG PR machine for putting the onus on the user, or the publisher rather than deal with a problem head on.
What if a site wants to buy links purely for visitor click traffic, to build buzz, or to support another site? In that situation, I would use the rel=”nofollow” attribute. The nofollow tag allows a site to add a link that abstains from being an editorial vote. Using nofollow is a safe way to buy links, because it’s a machine-readable way to specify that a link doesn’t have to be counted as a vote by a search engine.
Threats and Warnings
Google also make it clear, in no uncertain terms, that sites selling links (link brokers presumably) could be penalized themselves for selling links.
I wouldn’t be surprised if search engines begin to take stronger action against link buying in the near future.
Google famously penalized SearchKing some years back for selling links for PageRank - and much of the post does focus on "selling links for pagerank" but how they expect to tell the difference of intent on a case by case basis is quite beyond me. Most likely, we'll see a few high profile warning cases targeting those that sell text links - this again would not be to surprising.
Should Google Define How we Advertise?
I think saying (and although it's not stated directly, my interpretation seems fairly clear) that if you sell text links, you must use rell="nofollow" or suffer the consequences is arrogant, and outrageous - who are Google to determine how site owners conduct their business - who are Google to dictate the way webmasters code their sites, and make their money?
A good thread for Friday i think, let us know what your opinion on Google and Text Links.