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April 16, 2007

Would You Report Paid Links?

By Li Evans

Buyinglinks 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?"

Money 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?

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Comments

I find this strange, is Google's pay-per-click model so shaky that they have to resort to this.

I don't know about you but I detest adverts on web sites. I know they are a necessary evil and provide the web site owners with a small revenue stream. What really gets me is the lengths some web site owners are willing to go just to get you to click on one of their ads. Pop-ups are bad enough but now some ads are obscuring the same content you are trying to read and that really winds me up.

Personally I think pay-per-link could be the way to go as it allows site promotion without obnoxious adverts or click-fraud.

Perhaps that is what Google is afraid of ?

I recently bought some text links via Text-link-ads.com on various forex related sites and get good traffic at least from some of them. So are you indicating that this business model might soon be out of business?
Juergen
www.Managed-Forex-Accounts.info

Sure I'd report it. Just did it yesterday. I work my butt off trying to play whitehat, cos I think that's what G. will reward. I no longer sell or buy paid text links. So when I saw my competitors buying links on a page that clearly stated how much the links cost (how dumb is that?) I reported the page, hoping that my competitors will be "tainted" as well as the seller. If it's a flat playing field, let's keep it a flat playing field.

Well, for me as a small website owner who's just breaking into Google's top 15, this probably means that I'll be sliding back down soon. Actually, I have made it to #16 for a very competitive keyword - _without_ the use of sold links. It's because of my upwardly mobile SERPs that I'm getting these offers.

I totally agree with the author's stand about "legit" sites that want to pay you for link space, and that fact of Google playing the "blackmail" bully - it's unfair.


Best Regards and God bless,

Martin
http://fiercestreetnetworks.com

There has been a great deal of controversy on this topic, with some people quite rightly saying that Google had better start off by reporting itself for all of the adsense linking. Others ask if it is based on pay for Directory submissions, which is clearly not the case. If Google want us to police the net. Damn well pay us for it!

Google created this problem by making a very large part of their algorithm be about links. Matt has said himself, if the link is for traffic and not SEO it is okay, but who is to judge.

I think they are getting to big for the britches and have forgotten that 99% of their revenue stream is about people paying for links. Of course, when Google does it, it is advertising.

This is getting really silly - is Google going after AOL next? the majority of their web content is based on links to other sites they call (partners). come on!

"Someone emails me and offers to pay $20 bucks a week for a link and it's truly relevant to my site..."

Guess what? That's called selling advertising space and it's a perfectly legitimate business procedure. Google has no business saying what other sites can do. They should police themselves.

If Google needs all of us to spy and report on each other then their business model is in serious trouble. What about all the people who'll report others that aren't doing anything wrong? How exactly is Google going to police fraud in that regard? Quick answer, they can't.

Is this "Google buy ads- get problem" like the kettle calling the kettle black? I don't see this going too far. Remember that Google was reported the other day for having 64% of searches. Google seems to be getting more arrogant about their power.

I found the thing, Matt reported in his blog, a really hard weapon.
Google develops faster and faster and only we, we seos are aware of this.
What with "normal" people like my parents, and your parents,...
Do THEY understand, what is happening now and here in our world?

I'm actually in agreement with what google are trying to do, from an ethical level. I've read a lot of comments from other web experts who have all sorts of conspiracy theories about google's ulterior motives. While I can't comment on whether they have some devious master plan, I can say that, on the face of it, the concept of giving credence only to 'natural' links is the right idea. The relevance of a site to a user's typed-in phrase should not be determined by their marketing budget (to BUY links), but by the genuine hype, and quality of the information/resource the user is after. While finance will always give a site owner an 'advantage', we should try to minimise that advantage as mush as possible. The plying firld should be level, conceptually at least. The quality of the content/resource/product is better judged by natural, unpaid link popularity. We all benefit from google's relevancy of SERPS. I don't want to see the richest sites in my organic listings (they can buy their way to the top in the PPC lists), I want to see the most relevant.

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