Google Talks About the Links-for-Money Spectrum

Usually, It's Just Money for Links

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In a Q&A session at SMX Advanced in Seattle, Google’s Matt Cutts talked at length about paid links. He was asked several questions about this.

Google recently announced it is now reading javascript and acting upon it. In the past, the advice given out has been if you have paid links, you should either nofollow those paid links or use javascript because Google didn’t read it.

Matt CuttsWhen asked about this, Matt says Googlebot has gotten smarter. He notes that Google began changing its messaging on this around 2007-2008 to stop mentioning javascript but to nofollow or do a redirect through a URL which is blocked through robots.txt. Cutts says this a very secure way to do it.

Cutts says the interesting thing is that even on the onclick in javascript, the crawl and indexing team has submitted code so that it will respect a rel="nofollow" so you can put a rel="nofollow" attribute on a link that’s running in javascript and in the majority of cases Google will make sure it doesn’t float pagerank even if they’re executing the javascript.

He says that if you want to be completely safe, nofollow or link through things that are blocked.

Someone then asked Matt how long they have to fix their sites if they didn’t know about this. Cutts reponded by saying that javascript has not been a problem in the vast majority of cases. "If you look at the major ad networks, they tend to be doing redirects through or iframes on things that are blocked out on robots.txt anyway."

Vanessa FoxHe does say that Google should probably put up a blog post about it though. A Vanessa Fox article about how javascript is executed and crawled these days was also referenced. Cutts thinks the other search engines are moving in the direction of having more sophisticated bots as well.

You may have heard that Google gave away Android phones at its recent developer conferences. This was brought up in comparison to paid links. Cutts basically says that it was not Google’s intent to acquire links, and that the move was more aimed at putting Android phones in the hands of developers to inspire the development of apps. Google doesn’t need paid links itself. He says they don’t even think about getting links as far as their own stuff.

Cutts also talked about the Federal Trade Commission’s stance, which basically just looks to see if there is material connection to linking. Are you getting something of monetary value for a link?

Contests were also brought up in this light. If you’re making people link to you to get into a contest where they can win a prize, that’s close to money for links. "If you’re doing a contest, don’t make it explicitly your role to try to get links," he says.

From this part of the Q&A there seemed to be two main points that Cutts wanted to make clear:

1. There’s a spectrum of how money is involved and there’s a spectrum of how people are trying to manipulate or spam the search engines. The majority of the stuff Google sees is where there is money being paid directly for links.

2. As a webmaster, you can do whatever you want on your site. "It’s your site and it’s your choice," he says. Google also has the right to choose what they want to display in their index.

If you are interested in learning about other things Cutts discussed in the Q&A, check out the following articles:

Duplicate Content not an Everyday Problem

How to Avoid Google Penalties with AJAX and display:none

Google ‘Evaporating’ Excess PageRank

Matt Cutts Opens Up About Google Penalties

How Google Handles Google Bowling

Google Talks About the Links-for-Money Spectrum
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  • http://inchoo.net Toni Anicic

    Google is hypocrite.

    The reason why we can’t buy/sell links is because people are searching for relevancy, not the ones that bought their way to the top of the results.

    On the other hand, it’s OK if you pay to Google to be 1st result (AdWords).

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