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Washington Post Sells Blogroll Links  (View post)

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

Monday, August 21, 2006
8 years ago3,932 views

I've mentioned about this 2 days ago
blogoscoped.com/forum/63331.ht ...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Thanks, I added you to the credits.

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

I wouldn't pay for a such an untargeted traffic. And regarding PR, I notice that it's just a marketing gimmick these days. Google is too smart to be influenced by these paid links.

Tadeusz Szewczyk [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Once again here we have a case that shoul not be judged to qucikly. As discussed here: blogoscoped.com/forum/41263.ht ... buying text links can not be bad per se, not even from the Google point of view.

There are certain cases in which the selling may be indeed spammy. Crippling advertiser links with the nofollow-attribute seems silly to me anyhow. What site owners should consider is where they link their text link advertisers, how they do it and how many text links they sell to determine if they are useful or spammy.
What is really crucial besides that, is to whom they link. In short they need someone – indeed a white hat SEO preferably ;-) – to check those factors for them.

The WP displays the links on the frontpage in a spot where you probably won't notice them at once, but it is still likely that some people will. On the other hand search engine spiders certainly will.

As a journalist on the other hand I think that sponsored text links can compromise your editorial standards in the sense of credibility. If you look at the grey text links in the footer of PageRank 8 Die ZEIT the most renown German weekly you might think they are not that trustworthy. Well, indeed even as a SEO expert I deem those links spammy. I mentioned that t in an email to them about a different topic some weeks ago. There was no reaction.

I think renown publications should follow at least standads of white hat (ethical) SEO but also with regard to their overall ad decisions. Ads to gam*bling sites are in my opinion unworthy of the WP.

In this case the German ZEIT is probably more dubious: Look at their "Kreditkarten kostenlos" footer link. So being both an ethical SEO and journalist makes me feel that old media outlets are really unprepared for the ethical challenge modern search engine optimization poses.

Pip [PersonRank 8]

8 years ago #

i remember reading about the javascript "onclick"-behaviour permits the links form transferring google juice, doesn't it???

Tadeusz Szewczyk [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Ionut: "Google is too smart to be influenced by these paid links." Sometimes, in this case probably yes, in others not at all.

Seth Finkelstein [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

"The blogroll itself is rather hidden on the frontpage – it’s not hard to find it, but on the other hand, you also won’t see it at all on a 1280x960 pixels display – but its real value may be the linkjuice it passes on. ..."

Hmmm .. sounds like they're cutting it really, really, close, to violating Google's spam policies.

Bad, overpriced, SEO :-(

Tadeusz Szewczyk [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

What we need in such cases are probably several microformats like the existing ones but with more shades of grey:

microformats.org/wiki/vote-lin ...

The new values are "vote-for" "vote-abstain" or "vote-against", which are mutually exclusive, and represent agreement, abstention or indifference, and disagreement respectively.

With regard to ads we would need something like "vote-for-a-little".

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Pip, where did you hear about that?

Maybe Matt knows the answer...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

Tadeusz, the Die ZEIT's ad section you pointed out seems like partial keyword spam, albeit as long as they don't hide it, it's at least not sneaky...

Pip [PersonRank 8]

8 years ago #

Matt Cutts in SEW forums

   Yup, we certainly noticed these a while ago. dyn4mik3, it may look like a clean link, but the fact is that the onclick behavior invokes a new page and different behavior from a typical hyperlink, and that’s visible to anyone viewing/analyzing the source code.

forums.searchenginewatch.com/s ...

although I don't know it's really MC

Milly [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

The WP paid links *aren't* carrying PageRank: forums.searchenginewatch.com/s ... (via seroundtable.com/archives/0059 ...).

Matt talked about this a while ago: mattcutts.com/blog/text-links- ...

I suspect the JavaScript issue is a red herring: I think Matt was clarifying (part of) how Google might have noticed the fishy (er, potentially paid) links, rather than whether or not JS onclick links act as pseudo-condoms (which I doubt they do, though *really* complicated ones might stop the googlebot from following anyway).

I think the most important/interesting remaining question, which no one yet seems to have asked Matt and Brian, is whether Google is now only disallowing those particular WP paid links from carrying PageRank, or whether the whole WP site is now PageRank sheathed?

In Matts blog post above, he only talks about *sites* :-

"Reputable sites that sell links won’t have their search engine rankings or PageRank penalized–a search for [daily cal] would still return dailycal.org. However, link-selling sites can lose their ability to give reputation (e.g. PageRank and anchortext)."

Which implies, if only tacitly, that a per-link loss of ability isn't used. And indeed Matt's overall advice in that post, to use nofollow for paid links as a *safe* way to do it, supports the implication that a bigger drawback than merely having Google treat them as nofollow'd anyway, is likely.

And if the whole WP site *isn't* now sheathed, does that same relaxed attitude apply to smaller fish too?

alek [PersonRank 10]

8 years ago #

I bet if you looked at a random sample of 100 US meanstream media websites, you would see at least 80% are carrying "Featured Advertiser Links" ... and it's quite obvious from inspection that they are keyword rich links that are totally search engine targetted – recall a few years back even the Stanford Daily (Google's alma matter) got involved in this.

Interesting to see how Google (and others) try to handle/deal with this.

P.S. The Blogroll is new and a clever concept by the WP that I bet will be emulated by others.

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