Are Paid Links Subverting Search Quality?

    December 5, 2007

Search engines, especially Google, say don’t do ’em. But some search marketers say paid links work. Are paid links subverting search quality? Or are they simply a fact of life, here to stay?

Moderator: Chris Boggs, Manager, Search Engine Optimization, eMergent Marketing/BRULANT, Inc.

Speakers: William Leake, Founder and CEO, Apogee Search, Eric Ward, CEO,, Brian Boland, Director-adCenter, Microsoft Corporation.

It’s William Leake who’s first up to speak about this contentious issue, he says that it has really flared during the last 72 hours and has been up for many months now. He emphasizes the need to be honest with clients about using linking strategies, including the paid links, and the fact that they are a risky proposition. But the question arises about the efficacy of the paid links. Well the fact is that they do as Google’s attempts against paid links haven’t been too successful.


He suggests that new link discounting practices might simply give rise to other types of such strategies. He illustrates or example, of eco-system-wise, we’re seeing that directory links haven’t had a depreciation in their value over time. We need to take account of the fact that but paid blog posting all the more common. The paid links however aren’t a panacea, they ‘re just one element of an SEO campaign.

Then he talks about the highly competitive industries such as dept consolidation, insurance, mortgage, etc., they show that paid links can’t simply be ignored. On similar lines negative political publicity ads have their own place. So the impact of competitive forces is greater than Google’s preferences. ROI rules the roost and not Google’s choice. However paid links should not be the only strategy, better would be to have a holistic approach.

He then talked about advertising without disclosing and that FTC has also condemned it. It should not be Google to determine morality for the Internet. No doubt about the fact that the quality of the SERPs depreciates sometimes but that doesn’t happen too much. However Google does provide high ratings.

Next, comes up Sage Lewis, he calls the content of a website a "horse," as it’s the content that drives the cart, and suggests it’s unwise to put the cart before the horse. For you to have a good campaign it’s important to have appeal for sites. The question that’s paramount is "What’s in it for the users?." he goes on to offer advice for link building like, integration of community and corporate events, promotion of good work for the community, and offer an incentive to those you want to link to our site.

Brian from Microsoft takes up to the dais and and straight away quips that Microsoft sees the paid links as a technical problem and that "it is not throwing in the towel on like some other engines." He says that MS is on the way to solve this technical problem, and says that not it takes a normal search takes about 11 minutes to get good results, so the paid links problem has a solution in algorithm, which is solvable. He goes on to discuss that it’s easy it is for search engines to dissemble the linking universe.

MS wants nothing less than a "100% protect user experiences." as far as the ethics are concerned the statements are a fascination and it’s quality that’s important to MS, and its important because the users don’t waste time to switch over to another engine if they are frustrated with one.

PHOTO CREDITS: toprankonlinemarketing, Andy Beal’s Photos