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Matt Cutts Repsonds, Confirms Double Standards

Matt Cutts was gracious enough to respond to my previous post regarding no-follow links. I am still hoping to hear back from some of the other engines, but I recognize that many people may still be out for the holidays. I want to address his comments one by one.

I approached you at PubCon because I wanted to talk more beyond the conversations we've had over email, and I thought that discussing it in person might help. As I recall, you were interested to hear whether Google was consistent in taking action on sites, so I mentioned several of the larger sites that Google had taken action on to demonstrate that we were willing to respond to PageRank selling by big sites.

First, I want to say thank you for approaching me at PubCon. The line after your keynote was crazy long, so I decided to take a seat near the line and work while I waited. I was going to approach you after you were finished but to my surprise you came up to me first. It is refreshing to see how open you are despite our difference of opinion on some topics. I hope we can maintain that openness, my goal is to help define some standards everyone can be happy with as the leader in our space.

My objective in our conversation was to revisit some of the questions I had asked via email and gain further clarification and color. Email can easily be misinterpreted. Some of the responses didn't make sense to me and some of my questions were never answered.

I was indeed interested in understanding why there hasn't been a uniform application of PR penalties for sites with paid pagerank passing links. We talked about TechCrunch in particular, as well as some other sites like them. Unfortunately, your response in the P.S. confirms that there is indeed a double standard when it come to enforcement of Google's policy. Let me explain why.

I first brought TechCrunch and other sites to your attention (if you weren't already aware of them) on November 20th via email. We later discussed TechCrunch again at PubCon and you said that they were indeed in violation. After our conversation I waited to see what would happen to TC, a silicon valley insider and a blog who makes Google a pretty penny. I wish I could say I was surprised that nothing was done.

Now, almost a month later TC decides to add a no-follow to their most recent thank our sponsors post and you commend them in your comment. You were clearly aware of the situation. You said it was a violation. Why didn't TC suffer the same punishment as the smaller bloggers that were hit with a PR0? Why is there a double standard? What about the previous thank our sponsors posts that still don't have no-follow?

It is this double standard that makes it very difficult for us to enforce policies on linking. Competing businesses are not held to the same standard.

Then we talked about PPP's policy on nofollows. While it's great that in the future, required links will be nofollow'ed, I mentioned that I fully expected people to try to use "recommended, but not required" links as a another way to try to buy PageRank-flowing links. That view appears to echoed by some of your own advertisers, e.g. mentions "I've been active as both an advertiser and a postie for several months. As an advertiser, I really only see value in PPP as an SEO tool..."

Some advertisers clearly don't understand our value proposition. Just as some advertisers probably bought a mini solely to get a link from Google, or a sponsorship badge to get a link from TechCrunch, we have some advertisers who are just interested in links. We have over 13,000 advertisers and I can assure you that this is not the case with the majority. If it were we would be foolish to require no-follow in SocialSpark.

I think quoting me as saying "ALL links inside of any sponsored post should carry the no-follow tag period, regardless of whether they are required, not required or even link to the advertiser paying for the post" is different than our conversation. I believe that I said that adding nofollow to all links in paid posts would certainly be safe. Then I asked if you were going to require nofollow on required links, why not put them on all links in paid posts? I think you replied that your business model didn't support that, but I may be misremembering.

I may be misremembering our conversation, but this is what you said in an email to me: "Google (and probably all search engines) will consider all links in a paid post to be paid. If a link were truly editorial, someone wouldn't have had to pay for a review to get that link--the PageRank seller would have made the link on their own, without any payment involved." This email response is what prompted me to gain further clarification on the subject at PubCon as it left me confused. I think my recount of the conversation and the above email snippet are aligned.

As I see it you are saying that unpaid editorial content is the only content that should be passing PR. Why? Because it is the only content that would exist on its own without payment involved. ALL other content is compensated in some way. Or is some paid content ok... so long as it isn't a sponsored post? If so why?

If Google's stance is different than what I gathered from the initial email or our conversation please comment and let me know.

As a company that does paid posts (or as a postie), I support your right to do whatever you want in your paid posts and on your site. But in turn, Google reserves the right to protect the quality and relevance of search results. And this is not a Google-only stance; every major search engine has come out against selling links that affect search engines.

And I support Google's right to protect the relevance of search results. However, just because someone does a sponsored post doesn't mean that person is selling links. I support No-Follow for any links required by an advertiser, but why should a blogger be forced to no-follow any other link? The blogger is not selling those links. You are making some sweeping assumptions.

Regards, Matt Cutts P.S. I'm not sure if you noticed, but it looks like in its recent "thank you sponsors" post, TechCrunch did nofollow their links: And as we talked about earlier, Google does a pretty good job of recognizing banner ads, even those 125x125 ones.

I already tackled part of this above. But the 125x125 ads are another animal. You say that Google's algorithm does a good job of detecting ads that pass PR. Great, but why isn't the same PR penalty applied to those blogs that use them and don't adopt no-follow? Instead you decide to simply ignore these links. So if a PR passing link is hard to detect you penalize, if it is easy to detect you simply ignore. Again, this is another double standard.

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Comments (RSS)

Blogging Experiment said...

It certainly looks like your account of the conversation is more accurate. I don't understand why Google insists on this type of double speak. Is it really that difficult to let everyone know exactly what the rules are that you'd like us to play by?

My take on this issue is that Google KNOWS there are blatant double standards so by keeping the rules of the game obscure, they can continue to cheat at their own game while punishing others for doing the same thing.

And yes, just for the record my blog was hit with the PR0 penalty.

Dec 30, 2007 11:50:46 AM

Matt Cutts said...

Hi Ted, in our conversation I said that we detected the sort of banner ads and links the TechCrunch did quite well already. I do think that that what I sent by email is a fair statement; if we know that some links in a post are paid, that would naturally cause us to look closer at other links within the same post.

"I support No-Follow for any links required by an advertiser, but why should a blogger be forced to no-follow any other link?"

A blogger isn't forced to do anything; they can do whatever they want on their site. I'm trying to communicate Google's views, so that if a blogger wants to do well in Google, they know our stance. I think all major search engines have taken similar positions on paid posts that pass PageRank as well. I think Google has been pretty clear about our opinion on paid posts that pass PageRank.

Dec 30, 2007 12:24:39 PM

Matt Cutts said...

P.S. I'll be offline for the next week.

Dec 30, 2007 12:26:26 PM

Ted Murphy said...

That still doesn't explain why TC's PR was never hit. You acknowledged the violation. Why no penalty?

It also doesn't explain why those who sell PR passing ads aren't hit just because you can easily detect them. You should either ignore PR passing links all together or penalize them all together.

Dec 30, 2007 12:38:03 PM

Ann said...

It never ceases to amaze me how someone like Cutts thinks hwo their business operates is just fine, but he thinks everyone else's business model stinks.

Dec 30, 2007 1:47:38 PM

Ann said...

It's hard to pass page rank when it's N/A or 0. I've linked to a lot of sites. Places like Best Buy, Office Depot, Toshiba, Sharper Image, Sierra Trading Post, wholesale sunglasses, Fox News, CNN, Hilltop Beverages, and Musician's Friend, to name a few. Tell me if they are paid or not.

Dec 30, 2007 1:56:05 PM

Andy Beard said...

Maybe it will help the conversation with a concrete example

That post was a paid post through PayPerPost Direct

I negotitated with the person ordering the review that I would have 100% editorial control over everything that was written, links, anchor text... you name it, I originated it.

One anchor text link actually coincides with what was originally requested, but it is to a different page that is obviously optimized for that term.

My anchor text on the links throughout was laser targeted. That is my standard practice on all linking, in fact if you check my links to Matt's blog or Google over the last year, you will find those links are also well targeted, despite not agreeing fully with the content.

First question - is the content any good and worth being in the index?

It received 30 votes on Sphinn, even though it was older content, and was posted not long after Sphinn was launched
It also made Tamar's recent list of the top 250 SEO/SEM posts of the year, thus it probably has some value.

My own opinion is that much of the content is unique and can't be found anywhere else, and is probably ahead of its time as far as linking structures.
Throughout the post there are links to both my own content, and to other sites. Michael Gray got a mention, as did various plugin authors and the unique ways you can use their plugins.

With the current 34 comment links, 64 trackback links, and all the internal linking on the page, I would guess less than 3% of any juice from the article passes through to the person who paid me to review their blog.

The reviewed blog also doesn't receive any juice from duplicate content pages, and could probably get the same amount of juice just leaving a few comments on my blog.

I did stick nofollow on some of the links to forms in the PageRank calculations, but explained that clearly in the review. and I typically do the same for links to SERPs

It is my opinion that it is not in Google's interest to have all the links in the article nofollowed.

At the time it was written it was fully in compliance with the overriding Google principle, would you be comfortable explaining to a competitor or your mother what you did.

The post itself wouldn't necessarily have highlighted Tim's blog if he hadn't made the request at the right time, but he certainly didn't influence where I linked to, especially in the other resources.

Having spent around 10 hours writing the post, the reason Tim was included becomes a very similar situation to why a particular blogger might be highlighted in the Adsense blog - I have linked to Tim again since this post, and he has linked to me a number of times as well.

I honestly believe that my links are more valuable than the Yahoo directory, and that I have more editorial integrity.

They certainly send more traffic, I have a 75%+ rejection rate, they take me a lot of time to create the content, and are highly on topic for my blog and readers.

When the paid link reporting form was first introduced, I reported myself asking for feedback.
The first and only response from Google was to give me a -1 or -2 penalty on PageRank in October.

I didn't get "zerorank", but then I have never sold links for gaming search engine results.

The difference in quality of a paid vs editorial blog posts is very similar to the difference in quality throughout a particular blog. Blogs that typically write in-depth reviews will write in-depth reviews when they receive some monetary bonus, and generally over the long-term those blogs become more influential.

Should the people who received free laptops from Microsoft earlier this year go back and nofollow all the links to Microsoft from their blogs?

Should the Microsoft internal bloggers mailing list all nofollow links to Microsoft?

As Ted was concentrating on double standards, and PPP has been frequently dragged through the coals on disclosure (including on your blog Matt), this is still on topic - when will Google affiliates be allowed to openly disclose that they earn money when they encourage people to download Firefox with Google Toolbar, or sign up for Google Adsense with Google referral units? I have referred to that a few times in the last year as well.

Dec 30, 2007 2:03:19 PM

brettbum said...

At this point Matt Cutts and Google have painted themselves into a corner with a policy and a business practice that are inconsistent. Despite Matt's best efforts here and on his blog and probably in person, the inconsistencies can not be rationalized away as they are not rational.

Google is definitely protecting its interests as a search engine as Matt Cutt's mentions above

But in turn, Google reserves the right to protect the quality and relevance of search results.

The issue with Google's position and actions is that their actions to protect their product and service starts to abridge the products and services of their competitors in advertising. Google Search is connected at the hip with Google Ads and just like Windows 98, Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer, the actions to protect the larger product (the Operating system or the search engine) has direct impact on competition regarding the attached components (media player/browser as compared to Internet Advertising).

It would be one thing if Google made a change in their business practice that ONLY reorganized search results. Google has not done this alone, they have also required web masters to adopt nofollow procedures and they have manually penalized those web masters that do not.

Its the combination of changing their search and forcing the industry to adopt measures that impact their competitors directly that will move this debate from the blogs, forums and trade shows to the court rooms.

Anti-competitive behavior is what it is.

Many of us have tried to get Matt Cutt's to understand the implications of his actions running the web spam team. He works in a Google silo (IMHO) and is only slowly becoming aware (such that you could notice publicly) that his actions have a much larger result than preventing web spam.

To do no evil (as is Google's mission) I would suspect that Google would need to adopt a tactical guideline of 'Doing no Harm' just as doctors aspire to do. In this case the cure that Matt Cutt's enacted with the report spam hotline and the penalization of web masters across the internet (not just in this network) did a great deal of harm and as the search results were not even impacted, there seems to be no benefit that actually did protect Googles Search Engine Results.

Its a philosophically driven farce at this point and Matt's actions do not meet up with his words.

Furthermore, I do not believe that a company like Google can continue to be successful if they continue to play in the judge and executioners role. It is a role that belongs outside of business, and if it is necessary at all should be administered by an objective third party, probably the UN as we are talking about the internet and free speech and the issues here are likely to be beyond the boundaries of any single sovereign nation, especially as the current judge and executioner (Google) is a multi-national company with situs in multiple countries around the globe.

Dec 30, 2007 2:20:48 PM

brettbum said...

The blockquote tag did not work above.

here is the quote I attempted to cite (but it looks like the rest of the text)

"But in turn, Google reserves the right to protect the quality and relevance of search results."

Dec 30, 2007 2:22:25 PM

Doug Heil said...

I don't know why our industry has trouble understanding. Many of us see this as very clear.

If a post is paid for, IE: PayPerPost,.. they are paid for posts,...right?.. so why would you or anyone else think that a link within that "paid for" post would exist at all if it wasn't for the fact it was a paid for post?

Why would you or anyone else have to question Cutts about this? Isn't it a matter of... Duh?

I'm not getting it Ted; sorry bud.

Dec 30, 2007 2:35:18 PM

Igor The Troll said...

Matt, looks like you and Google are Catch 22, stuck between a rock and a hard place.

You need us Webmasters as much as we need you. So please stop dictating to us what and how to do it, in your encryptive code, or we will find an alternative to Google.

You know I do not make idle threats!

If you cannot show us the respect that we deserve, go back to your "unofficial" blog and you are free to do whatever you want!

Dec 30, 2007 3:01:56 PM said...

I think the reason this "mini war" between SEO and Matt Cutts is because both sides are stating their own extreme views, and nobody is clearly stating where the middle ground lies.

The way I see it, it basically comes down to INTENT. Unfortunately, since you can't exactly know intent, you have to go by perceived intent.

If I have a site or product I wish to promote, but I happen to be a terrible writer, I might pay someone to write an article for me. In this case, I am paying for the "writing services" not trying to gain some sort of PR boost. Therefore, I should be happy with the nicely written article and shouldn't be upset that a nofollow link was used somewhere because, after all, I wasn't paying for PR I was paying for the writing services.

Next, if I wish to promote my site or product and pay for this promotion, I may wish to have my own article (or an article written by someone else) displayed on a prominent site or blog that is visited by many people. In this case, I am paying for the visitors' eyeballs, like any other form of advertising. I should be happy with the increase of visitors to my site and not be concerned with whether or not PR was passed because, again, I wasn't paying for PR, I was paying for the advertising.

Finally, if I wish to give my site a higher PR to get more visitors from organic searches, I might find a site with a high PR and pay to have my article (with a link) to appear on that site. In this instance, I would clearly be upset if the nofollow tag were used because I am paying for PR, not just to have the article appear on the site.

So, again, it clearly comes down to INTENT with the exchange of money. If the person paying would be upset to find out a nofollow link was used, then that user clearly had a shady intent. They wanted to use their money to buy clout rather than relying on their own product/service and user testimony to do this. In this type of game, the better product/service doesn't win... the person with the most money wins... which greatly damages the "democratization of the web."

With this being said, there's the other side of the fence. That is, those who own blogs and post paid-for (or not-paid-for) articles. The way I see it is this... if you have a blog or "media site" with a high PR, and you want to protect this PR, your best bet is to make money by selling advertising (read, clearly marked ads that do not pass PR)... not by selling PR. Again, the battle isn't between whether or not anyone is allowed to link for money... it's about whether or not that link passes PR. If you are willing to take money to give up PR, clearly you don't have a whole lot of integrity when it comes to PR. If PR was so valuable to you, you'd treat it as your own child. Clearly, you wouldn't sell a piece of your own child to someone who is willing to open up their wallets. Google's only recourse in these situations is to remove PR from the site that sells pieces of itself for money and uses this to pass PR.

Now, keep in mind, PR doesn't really exist. It's an entirely fabricated calculation invented by Google. It's simply a number Google applies to pages in its index, that's all. If they feel that links from a site do not represent true "votes" from a writer but, instead, represents "bought votes"... then they clearly want to yank that site from it's "vote-based algorithm." That's all. They're just trying to make sure that all of the votes are as genuine as possible and not merely a financial transaction.

So, why would they punish some with a PR of 0 and not punish others? Maybe the fewer high-profile and well known sites will be communicated with and given a chance to clean up their act, or they get consequences. And possible the millions of lower-profile and lesser-known sites will simply be given consequences first, forcing them to contact Google after they have complied. While this might not feel fair, it's on par with a police officer pulling over someone for speeding. Some people get the ticket. Others drive off with a warning. It's all a matter of the police officer's judgment and what he/she feels the best solution would be for that given moment.

Personally, I believe I have a solution to this dilemma. I think there needs to be two different PR-like ratings for every site/page. One that represents the ranking of that page according to other sites/pages. Another that represents the clout of that page linking to other sites/pages. This would allow Google to prevent a site from passing on its high page rank (if it is found it is doing so for money) without hurting that site's own PR in terms of organic search results.

Imagine this scenario. Site A has a PR of 8 and gets lots of traffic as a result. Most of site A's articles are very informative but it is discovered that anyone who wants a PR boost can simply pay site A to host some links there. This happens for site B who once had a PR of 3 and, after paying to have an article hosted on site A, now has a PR of 7. Once Google discovers this, they simply ding site A's out-bound PR. As a result, site B goes back to a PR of 3 but site A remains at a PR of 8. So, site A doesn't lose a bunch of traffic, and site B doesn't necessarily "lose" traffic... they just fail to keep the gained traffic from the transaction.

In the end, people will realize that they can't pay money for an easy PR gain and, thus, get increased organic results. To get organic results, they will simply have to have a more compelling site that doesn't require flashing money around to get people to fake excitement about it.

Any thoughts on this possible solution?

(P.S.: I saw the comment regarding Microsoft sending people laptops and how this fares for Microsoft. In reality, if Microsoft had said "We'll give you this laptop if you post about it in your blog AND you don't use nofollow" then there would have been a problem. However, they likely didn't do this. While they might have expected the results, and probably carefully planned this tactic, it's the type of "intent" that can't really be enforced. It's also a gamble. Microsoft could have lost a lot of money [assuming PR was their intent] if it turned out that everyone used nofollow tags in their blog entries. Also, keep in mind that this is also an inherent flaw in the PR system as it is. There are likely many newbie bloggers who don't understand the consequences of using the nofollow tag and likely would never use it themselves. So, one way a site can gain lots of PR without actually paying money is to do something controversial or do something to upset a lot of people. Lots of people posting their articles of being upset may likely link to the site and inadvertently be "voting for" that site without realizing it. But that's a whole other issue and relates more to the way people who don't fully understand the web can really screw the web up by taking part in the experiment. Kinda like when Network Solutions/Verizon started hijacking failed DNS requests to display their own page. While probably intentionally malicious, it could very well have been something that a well-meaning person thought would "help" the Internet.)

That's my two cents. Anyone got change for a dollar?

Dec 30, 2007 3:24:40 PM

Mama BoK said...

Yes.. Matt ..!! i wanna know why my blog was hit.. and not others..?? especially the "BIG BOYS"!! if i am being penalized for doing paid posts/links .. so are they.. !! so why is my blog penalized . .and not theirs..?? I'm sure every one wants to know why..?? Just give it to us straight here.. why..??

Dec 30, 2007 4:00:13 PM

webduck said...

Once again, doesn't it all come down to GREED? I have a fairly good education, but I understood almost nothing of what Matt Cutts had to say. It boils down to Google and Cutts being the bullies, and when the game isn't going their way, they change the rules so they can win=make more money. If I have a paid post on my blog it is obvious, and this whole no-follow/follow bunch of hooey just sends the message that my blog visitors are idiots and can't determine advertising from a regular post. Just as the government in WA DC assumes that the general populace are morons. You know what? We GET IT! What I see is that PPP is successful, and that worries Google no end. Which brings us back to the GREED statement. Tell me this boys: Isn't there enough for everyone? How many billions do you need? How about being a good business and not just throwing your weight around?

Dec 30, 2007 5:03:43 PM

Andy Beard said...

Doug, as I posted about yesterday, there is a technical hurdle that with Wordpress you can't selectively decide which links should send a pingback, even on a post by post basis.

A blogger would have to switch pinging other blogs off before posting a review if he has links to other Wordpress posts within his review, and each time he updates a post if he wants to be 100% sure of not being mistaken for a pingback spammer by many spam filters.

Then there is the discover problem. One of the reasons bloggers use pingback in the first place is to notify other bloggers that they have joined the conversation, and to notify their readers with displayed pingbacks and trackbacks.
If you remove the trackbacks and pingbacks, then you have to rely on blogsearch and Technorati, both of which don't recognise nofollowed links (with Technorati this is only most of the time, sometimes they do, on certain sites)

Thus we are left with bloggers having to set up Google Alerts for specific occurances of domain names. Monitoring Google Alerts can be a much more time consuming process than just glancing at incoming links in Technorati or Blogsearch daily.

Dec 30, 2007 5:18:18 PM

Venomous Kate said...

When I started blogging FIVE years ago, it was with the same hope that 90% of people starting blogs have: to some day make money at it.

I now have almost 10,000 entries and can comfortably say that not one of them would have been written if I hadn't hoped to make money from them someday.

For that matter, every single blogger who has a "Hi! Buy me a beer!" (or coffee, tea, or whatever beverage you prefer) or a "Donate via PayPal" button ALSO hopes to make money through their blogs. In which case all of their links exist for the purpose of bringing hits in the hope that one or more of those will send them cash.

And what about None of the links on their site would exist if someone hadn't, in some way, paid for them. But they're a PR9 still.

Slash Amazon's PR to 0 and I'll believe Google isn't creating a self-benefiting double standard aimed at lining its own pocket books with increased AdSense sales. Until then, I'll use "no_follow" when and where I -- and I alone -- decide.

Dec 30, 2007 9:03:12 PM

Bob said...

I love how Matt prefaced any responses with "I'll be out for a week....".

Well Matt, when you get back for a week can you please comment and tell me if I email you my domain name and add a nofollow all to robots.txt or whatever global solution if you will restore my PR4? I can't seem to get any response from the Google webmaster central.

Dec 30, 2007 10:42:02 PM

JMorris said...

I've shared my comments on this subject along with some examples of how Google's Algorithm is broken on my blog.

Matt, I hope you stop by and take a moment to read my comments. When an SEO on the bottom of the food chain can get high rankings with junk, yet high quality bloggers like Andy get slapped for making a little money, something is wrong with this picture. We're all making something off our blogs. Focus on quality, not whether or not the post/link is paid.

Dec 31, 2007 12:32:16 AM

Anthony Lawrence said...

I don't do PPP, but I do sell text ads and do maintain a large consultants directory, and I hadn't thought that Google's war against links would apply to me (duh!) so I didn't have 'rel="nofollow" ' anywhere but in my comments..

Google slapped me from a PR6 to a PR3 - oops..

Okey-Dokey. Now - I wasn't selling any of this for the purpose of PR, so I don't care if there are nofollow tags. Therefore, I have changed my code so I *automatically* add a nofollow tag to any external link that doesn't already have one.

I do that in the hope of fixing the Google slap.. who knows if it will, but no harm in trying, right?

But here's the question: because I'm taking no chances and doing it all automagically, true organic links are being rewritten the same way: with "nofollow".

So what does this do for Google's PR algorithm? If everyone of us did this (automatically rewrote our links to include "nofollow"), how would Google calculate PR?

Obviously they wouldn't.. which would make this kind of a "slap-back"..

Which leaves me in a quandary: I don't want to destroy the value of true organic links from my site to other sites, but since I don't know how Google tells the difference, I'm going to play it safe and rewrite everything..

I'd love to hear Mat Cutts thoughts on that..

Dec 31, 2007 6:46:39 AM

Doug Heil said...

Hi Andy; OK; I can understand that totally.

I think the real solution for Google is going to be simply discounting ALL links made in blog posts and in forums, etc and social media type places. None are real and true votes/recommendations when it comes right down to it. How easy is it to submit your link to social media sites? How about to blog threads? How about to forums? Real easy. I know forum links are discounted anyway so why not blog links and social media links? I'd forget about the silly blogs and just discount any and all links in them. Problem solved. They are not true votes anyway as most blogs are interconnected with buddies and such anyhoo. I don't even know the reason a major search engine would consider these types of links as "votes" to begin with.

I don't know whether or not you use a nofollow on links in here.... like my url I just posted, but why the hell would a major search engine reward me just because I posted my own url in someone else's blog? Isn't that silly thinking? The owner is certainly NOT voting for my site, so why would a se count my link at all? They should not. No need to use nofollow as a major search engine should not be counting my link that I posted in your blog.

This seems so simple to me. Google should just discount every link regardless.

I'm asking Matt to think about this and come up with a good reason Google even cares about blog links? Are they real votes paid or not paid? I contend blog links in posts and threads are not real votes under any circumstance. Matt; just start ignoring ALL links in blogs and social media sites and your problems would go away.

Dec 31, 2007 8:44:45 AM

Blogging Experiment said...

Matt, Ted's question is exactly the issue here. You guys say you detect certain types of paid links very well and yet, you didn't b**** smack their PR. Also, you do realize that Google doesn't comply with your stance on this right? You link out to clients that wouldn't exist without the financial agreement etc. Do you ever find it difficult to be doing one thing and trying to intimidate webmasters into doing something different?

Dec 31, 2007 12:47:17 PM

rob said...

Doug, Google or any other search engine you care to mention would be insane to just ignore the content created by bloggers or forum owners, absolutely insane.Blogs are a constant source of new content and fresh ideas written by ordinary people from a vast array of cultures, ages and backgrounds.

There are zillions of bloggers and forum participants across the world, most of them have no care or concept of SEO and search marketing. One of the reasons why search engines like bloggers and people who participate in the web socially is that they link out to things that they have an interest in that are often new and highly relevant to the topic of what they are participating in or linking out to.

These people are part of the organic and evolving process of pages and content which make up the very fabric of the Internet and should therefore be an intrinsic part of any measurement system looking to deduce any snapshot of activity or social makeup of the web itself.

A search engine that ignored the social signals of the Internet would be a little like a library that didn't stock newspapers or magazines or new material. It would slowly become stale and irrelevant. Users would vote with their feet.

Dec 31, 2007 12:47:19 PM

Corey said...

Ted, the deal with TechCrunch is that paid links won't bring on a penalty if they are not discrete.

The reason is that a guaranteed penalty would allow me to buy a penalty for my competitors. If Google always penalizes they lose, so they "defuse" or devalue links they can easily detect, and penalize those that are not disclosing the paid link.

Doug, I never have to wonder why you don't run a search engine. Can you define a blog? Don't millions of people build their own websites instead of installing a cms? It sounds like you're saying "Google shouldn't value links coming from dynamic sites or ones that allow user interaction" Get a clue!

Dec 31, 2007 1:53:12 PM

Doug Heil said...

Hey Corey from "Linkworth"... you get a clue. Yeah, I know who you are.

Rob; Yes; that all nice and tidy in a perfect world. Unfortunately; SEO types are ruining things for blogs as we now see very clearly.

Like I stated; how hard is it to submit your link to digg or sphinn or joe's blog? Not very hard. Is it a vote by the owner of that blog? Heck no.

When you post your link in my forums, is that a vote from me? Heck no it isn't. Why do you think the major engines started discounting signature links in forums and links made in posts in forums? Isn't it because they got abused over time? Heck yes.

I see no other solution. If I were a major search engine there is NO way I would count a link made by a hidden user in a blog post. That link is not a vote in any way, shape, or form.

Just look at the outcry out there about the nofollow issue and paid links? Why? Because seo types and webmasters use to have their cake and eat it as well. NOW: Google has cracked down and all are upset because Google has made it harder for sites to buy up links that pass pagerank. Too bad, so sad.

Dec 31, 2007 3:39:42 PM

JMorris said...


Regarding your last paragraph... That is a very bold generalization that is not even remotely accurate.

Yes, I am an "SEO Type"; HOWEVER, not once have I ever purchased a naked link or review from any of the companies that provide those services or any private party for that matter. I've never had to. If I used paid advertising at all, it was usually through contextual ads, such as AdWords or I would buy banner ads directly. I'm not upset because a marketing channel is gone. It's a marketing channel I've never used and I've had no problems building high PR websites.

What I'm upset about is the concept of a company, in this case Google, who builds a significant portion of their multi-billion dollar business on the backs of webmasters/bloggers work, my work, is trying to tell me how to run my website.

Matt says that there is a choice. Sure... Just like there was a choice for all those Microsoft Windows users in the not too distant past. Yeah, I have a choice to not follow Google's guidelines, at the cost of a 60+% decrease in market exposure. Now, granted, for some of my sites, what little traffic that comes from Google is a drop in the pan for me. For others, Google traffic is a significant majority of their traffic. Some people don't have the option of being outspoken.

Google owes the entire existence of its search program to webmasters (and now bloggers). If there wasn't content to search, categorize and rank, there would be no need for a search engine. Google is the tail. Webmasters, bloggers, and other content producers are the dog. Google (the tail), is trying to wag the dog (the content producers).

Furthermore, Google is advocating the misuse of a standard to identify paid links. Remember when Google was an advocate for standards? The rel attribute defines the *relationship* of the linked page to the originating page. nofollow is not a relationship, it is an instruction. An instruction which should be limited to the META section of the document which is exactly where instructions to Search Engines are suppose to be defined.

Please do not make sweeping generalizations about those who are opposed to Google's actions. While there are some who meet the description you have given, they are only but a vocal subset of the greater whole who take issue with Google trying to dictate how publishers put content on their sites.

Dec 31, 2007 5:45:32 PM

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