7 Reasons Google’s Paid Link Snitch Plan Sucks

    April 17, 2007

Matt Cutts blogged that Google would like you, the average search engine user, to report on sites you feel are displaying links for cash. This created a firestorm of negative responses from the SEO, webmaster, and free speech crowd. Below, I put together what I feel are the top 7 reasons Google’s paid link snitch plan sucks. I linked to my inspirations (No payment requested!).

7 Reasons Google's Paid Link Snitch Plan Sucks
Worried About Google’s Link Snitch Program?

1. Links are valuable because of the Page Rank display in the Google Toolbar. Matt, if Google doesn’t like the way paid links influence search results, then eliminate the scoreboard. It’s hard to take your call-to-action seriously when you have the power to grind serious link buying to a halt all by yourself.

If people had to guess a page rank, most of their motivation for buying links would go away. Of course, Google won’t eliminate the green bar because that is the number one reason the Google search engine is at the top of most web browsers.

2. Most people that post on Digg, or add articles to Wikipedia, or work as editors at DMOZ also send paid link reports to Google to benefit themselves in some way. My point: Anyone taking the time to send complaints to Google about a paid link that hurts no one and may even be relevant, probably has unseen motivations.

One of the problems is that there is no other motivation I can see to report a paid link than to help Google out. It’s not like paid links irritate the end user like poor search results do. Therefore, the detection these reports offer will be of no value to Google.

3. It’s impossible to define a paid link exactly. Paying cash is obviously what you meant, but is that any different than a link to a client or to a buddy who helped you submit your site to 1,000 free web directories?

If I’m right with that assumption, then it’s really about determining motivation. Humans cannot determine motivations any better than the Google algorithm. It’s a virtual coin toss!

4. Payment can be proven only by following the money trail. Otherwise, it is simply a case of ‘he said, she said.’ This creates a heavy burden on Google to be correct in their assumptions.

5. Marketing Pilgrim’s Andy Beal asks: "What business does Google have in dictating the disclosure of any business relationships on others?"

Google, you are just a search engine. You should be reacting to the internet world, not trying to recreate it in your own image. Links are not evil and payment for links is not evil. The Web is based on links, link-trading and advertising, which of course is payment for links.

6. The hypocrisy of being in the business of selling links and then asking others not to sell them is a bit much for many webmasters.

7. Is this just a way to create more spending for Google AdWords? Stopping the selling of links will make AdWords one of the last ways to generate traffic from Google. If the link police can slow this to a crawl, then what will businesses do?

They’ll buy AdWords!