7 Reasons Google’s Paid Link Snitch Plan Sucks

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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!

7 Reasons Google’s Paid Link Snitch Plan Sucks
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    i would have to agree with you. But, it is not so much that they allow people to rat out other people it is that they seem to depend on that to find links that you would think they would be able to find on their own. But, you are absolutely correct when you say that people will abuse this feature for their own gain. One would think that Google is smart enough to understand this and put in safe guards against abuses such as you outline. You would think….

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    You said, that no one likes this idea, were we reading the same blog?

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    Google wants to be a monopoly of the internet

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    thanks for your article. Very help me. I will more like visit to webpronews site. :) Fantastic

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    Half of the issue is the siteexplorer in Yahoo.com. If Yahoo removed the ability to check backmining in their search engine, backlinks to websites would be transparent and there would be less link selling / buying.

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    SEO and paid links are about connections in alot of ways. The guys who have money and can afford paid links and have access to the kinds of paid links that are going to matter and evaluate as trusted are doing well. The paid snitch program is a way to keep other businesses happy.

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    For the most part, I don’t think a visitor can normally tell a paid link from a nonpaid one.  Which does raise a moral problem – we expect political office holders to disclose, don’t we?  Same thing, vested interest and all that, that goes with that. 

    Don’t believe me?

    Ever been to hair loss website, or a hemorrhoid treatment review website, that claims to do a review and come up with the best product?  The best product in many cases seems to be the one that pays the highest kickback, and  these type of websites are all about product talk rather than information talk:  They may tell you what a hemorrhoid is, or define hair loss, but then they say buy this to fix the problem.

    So that’s issue 1, the vested interests of the webmaster over the visitor.

    But, lets get real, if Google wants the PR not interfered with by paid links, they have just as much right as anyone else to ask for help in detecting them.

    Like anyone asking for help, there is no law that states you have to help, but if you like the guy – the search engine in this case – then you are more likely to help I think.

    I don’t think there is a wrong or right in someone deciding to help google out, that’s an individual decision. So that’s issue 2, freedom to request help, freedom to give help.

    Most people who get mad at this sort of thing, I think, are the ones into black hat SEO, and want their or their customer sites high in Google without getting them there the Google way.

    See the point – they want to rank high in Google serps, but they don’t want to follow the rules of the club.  What happens when a club member doesn’t follow club rules – they get kicked out or severely cautioned.  So that’s issue 3, If you want to join in the club activities regularly, join the club, follow the rules.

    For those 3 issues, well, I come down on the side of Google in this case.

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    Very good read. Thanks!

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    Google has the right to go in this direction seeing that its working.

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    its already grown too big to stop as little sense as it makes , can’t blame them tho, theres money to be made.

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    I agree wholeheartedly with your comments that it is the height of hypocracy for Google to try to prevent others from selling links when they are the premier link sellers on the internet and their whole business model is based upon selling links. Excellent synopsis.

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    First of all we never signed up for Google

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    Good informative post. Thanks

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    Y thinks Google wants to be a monopoly of the internet on the world. no??

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    Ever hair loss website or a hemorrhoid treatment review site, to review any claims and come with the best product? The best product in many cases seems to be a check that pays the highest, and this kind of websites are all talking about the product, instead of talking about: You know what kind of hemorrhoids, or define say hair loss, but then They say: Buy this fix to the problem.

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