Cutts (Finally) Answers Paid Link Questions

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Awash in good intentions, Google’s Matt Cutts paved a hellish road for himself by asking people to fill out a spam report for paid links. Matt followed up over the weekend (and while on vacation) with details that may have saved him some initial grief.

Cutts (Finally) Answers Paid Link Questions
Cutts (Finally) Answers Paid Link Questions

It must be surreal, from Matt’s side of the fence, that there are mobs of people that know exactly when he takes vacation, when he’s coming back, and are miffed about it in general. Cutts and Scoble both are examples of why you blog at your own risk.

Instead of a new post, Matt updated the original thread that caused all the trouble – and over 600 comments – and swallowed up more than one weekend now. His update is lengthy, so we’ll just cover the highlights.

Do all paid links violate Google’s quality guidelines?

Not necessarily. Cutts says the only paid links he cares about are ones designed to game search engines. He cites an example of a Linux site with a group of sponsored links for casinos, drugs, and gifts. Aside from apparent spamminess, the links are presented in image format, which Matt thinks is to avoid detection.

"I’m sure," he writes, "some people will happily defend links like these, but in my experience people who search on Google don’t want links like these to affect Google’s search results."

Cutts says Google is not interested in reports on affiliate links or directories, just spammy gaming attempts like the example mentioned.

Reports used to make the algorithm better

A purpose of the spam report, is to add manual review of sites the algorithm may have missed and to bolster the algorithm’s accuracy in the future.

"Our current algorithm detected the paid links above just fine, but these outside reports are a great way to measure (and then improve) the precision and recall of our existing algorithms on independent data. Next, the reports help build datasets for future algorithms."

What about corporate sabotage?

Cutts says: We’ve always tried very hard to prevent site A from hurting site B. That’s why these reports aren’t being fed directly into algorithms, and are being used as the starting point rather than being used directly.

Make sites for users, not search engines

Cutts says: It would be a misinterpretation of that guideline to think “Okay, I can only do things for users, I can never do things for search engines. Therefore I can buy text links, but not in a way that doesn’t affect search engines.”

That same philosophy would mean that you wouldn’t create a robots.txt file…never make any meta tags…never create an XML sitemap file…and wouldn’t create web pages that validate…. Yet these are all great practices to do. So if you want to buy links, I’d buy them for users/traffic, not for PageRank/search engines.

Don’t trust sneaky link sellers

Matt cites an interesting example of someone advertising that their paid links can’t be found by Google. That’s a red flag for someone that’s not on the up-and-up, but is trying to game the search engine.


Cutts (Finally) Answers Paid Link Questions
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  • Christian

    I’m still detecting B.S. on the shoe, here. Those who practice proper SEO, or design sites without an SEO ability for the sake of best interest of a visitor, still battle enormous faults in the algorithms without worrying about this. All these faults just make a white hat noble effort even more cloudy, and more apt to mistakes/confusion/chaos; this is what drives relevancy crazy. You want to be the the Government – Police the bad guys yourself, and start promoting the noble ones without burying them in your algorithmic excuses.

    • Web Master

      Google is trying to become monopoly of advertising market , trying to scare webmasters. What about Google’s adsense? It’s ok for Google to sell links as it doesn’t alter page rank. Now tell that to Google when they accuse your website of selling links. Matt Cutt your an idiot! I hope this crapp blows your job out of the water. Out with my google search for sure. I have had it with Google and Matt Cutt.

  • Guest

    No need to pay for links. Add a link for free. Click here.

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