The Paid Link Reporting Debate

    May 17, 2007

What’s good for the Goose isn’t Good for Google?

There has been a lot of opinions being bantered around online regarding the recent post Matt Cutts did about “How to report Paid Links”. The majority of the opinions fall into one of three categories: those for it (the ability to tattle tell), those vehemently against it (probably from those that over abuse it…just my opinion) and those that worry that their competitors will sabotage them by buying a bunch of blogs, reviews etc…

But what I am not seeing anyone write about is the fact that Google seems to be “pouting” a little bit and basically threatening to “take its bat and ball and go home”. 

As the current owner (more on that comment in the coming weeks) of a search engine optimization company, I certainly do not want our client’s sites having to compete with other websites that have no business ranking in the top 10 organic spots. But if the sites that are ranking in the top 10 are relevant, and as long as they are not using black hat SEO tactics, why would Google want to possible “penalize” or in anyway take away that particular sites top 10 listing?

What’s that you say? Paid links is now considered “Black Hat”? Well, I would agree that some paid text links should be considered black hat…Having run of site text links where one website that has 3,000 pages and offers links for sale in the footer and is not on topic should not be an acceptable tactic and I think Google has done the right thing by modifying their algorithm to detect and then ignore (meaning the link is neither good or bad for the site…it’s just a waste of money for the site owner unless of course they are getting quality traffic out of it).

However, now that just about everybody in the world knows that anchor text links are an important part to Google’s ranking algorithm, and being that most business websites do not freely (or very visibly) link to other websites (how many other websites do you link to or promote on your business site? Didn’t think so) site owners are going to push the envelope as much as possible and with good reason. They have a lot to gain by getting top rankings for quality (relevant) keywords to promote their business.

Google needs to understand (and I think they do or they would not allow the Matt Cutt’s of the Googlesphere to blog like they do) that businesses every day count on the search engines to produce revenue. Google is no different. $465.26 per share at the time of this writing for 1 Google Share? And where does 90% or more of the money Google generates that makes the stock worth that much? A form of a text link ad.

Ok so let me for a moment a self appointed mediator between Google and the Website owners…

First let’s understand Google’s position. Google, the webmasters of the world understand that you can not afford to have your top 10 results be cluttered with non relevant websites. Doing so would only lead to your demise as your own search volume would rapidly decrease, leading to less money made through your primary business model.

Webmaster’s position: Our very existence seems to be connected to how well our search placement is on Google (and Yahoo and MSN) and not having top rankings for relevant keywords seriously effects our bottom line in a bad way.


Webmasters: Agree to follow the webmasters guidelines and understand that getting top placement is more often a marathon and not a sprint. If you truly deserve to be in the top 10 and your company is one of the best companies for your industry, stay at it and do all you can with in the guidelines. Hire outside help if you need to that has the experience to help you.

Google: Keep up the great work of making sure those that are not playing fair, get the boot so that those that are playing by the rules have an equal chance. But please do not punish those who find out a “secret ingredient” to your algorithm and then use that ingredient to benefit their ranking. If the results in the top 10 are relevant, who cares? I don’t ever remember Google crying “foul!” when title tags or h1 tags were discovered as being important.

Getting quality links is hard to do. And maybe that is why it is such an important part to your algorithm. But considering it “spam” when a webmaster or seo or owner of a website pays a blogger to post about their business in order to try and rank better for keywords that are relevant to their site? They are just doing everything they can to make sure they can put food on the table for their families. Instead, if you sense a threat to having this “ingredient” well known, improve the recipe. Chances are you will come out with a better meal for everyone.