Report Paid Links to the GOOG Police!
Recently I wrote "Is Search Broken" about the amount of help search engines need to find and index web pages. Now Matt Cutts, GOOG's chief evangelist in the blogging community, has asked people to report web sites which are selling paid text links.
Those web sites would then be given a lower pagerank and might even be banished from GOOG's index.
It seems a bit rich for Google, the world's biggest seller of paid text links, to ask for help in identifying sites that sell paid links.
Threadwatch.org, a leading site about search, weighs in:
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?
Paid links can confuse Google's pagerank system which pays attention to links in web pages to help find relevant search results. Mr Cutts says that Google has some technology in the works that will identify paid links.
In the meantime, he wants webmasters to clearly identify paid links, and also content that has been paid for.
You could put a badge on your site to disclose that some links, posts, or reviews are paid, but including the disclosure on a per-post level would better. Even something as simple as “This is a paid review” fulfills the human-readable aspect of disclosing a paid article.
Does this mean if a magazine publisher pays a freelancer to write a review and to mention specific companies this has to be clearly marked? Does it make the review less trustworthy or less worthy of being indexed? There's a potential Pandora's box of issues here if you start applying this to mainstream media...
Over at Threadwatch.org, the paid links issue continues to rankle:
The more I think about it the more I realize why Google doesn't like the various flavors of paid links. It has nothing to do with organic search relevancy. The problem is that Google wants to broker all ad deals, and many forms of paid links are more efficient than AdWords is. If that news gets out, AdWords and Google crumble.