Over the weekend Matt Cutts put out a short, but to the point, post on his blog about reporting paid links through the webmaster centrals console by using the authenticated spam report form or by using the unauthenticated spam report form (if you don't have a webmaster central account). I found this rather curious, and seriously pondered this thought.
Would you report a site you knew was selling links? Could you prove it? If you were "found out" what would be the repercussions? Where is the line between what a webmaster can put on their site and what Google "forces" them to put on their site?
I'm not about to play "lets kick Matt Cutts around", I really like Matt and respect his knowledge and his openness. However, I keep coming back to the question - "is this Google telling people what they can and cannot put on their sites, link wise?"
What if I worked really hard on my site, on my blog or on my portal, and it became an authority. Someone emails me and offers to pay $20 bucks a week for a link and it's truly relevant to my site, I've checked it out, it's totally legit, not a link farm, not a spam site, not cloaked - but a true, legit site. Does Google have the right to basically "blackmail" me with the "loss of page rank"?
Blackmail is a harsh term, but, in essence, isn't that what it comes down too? Either you want the page rank integrity, or you want the payment for your hard work.
And I'm not this "naive whitehat" that doesn't understand there's a lot more at work here. Sure there are companies that make their living at doing this. But if they are legitimate companies, that check these sites for relevancy and not spam/link farms - what's the harm?
I just feel that Google's starting to slide down a slippery slope here - how about you?