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Update On One Of Google's Paid Links Info Pages?  (View post)

Elias Kai [PersonRank 10]

Thursday, November 22, 2007
12 years ago5,702 views

What about donating links?

I do agree with Google guidelines but sometimes links can be seen as paid, donated, sold, or bought. You will never know the intention of the website owner unless you pick TLA or TLB or PPP clients.

Would you Philipp donate some of your space to textual links for charities?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I sometimes drop in links to donations in normal posts. The question to Google I believe is whether the link is paid or not, so if you're linking to a donation site without getting any payment from them, I suppose it's OK...

But yeah, there are a lot of shades of gray, e.g. just take this "paid review" on Google.com – both Google Inc and the researcher got paid, and there's a non-nofollowed link in it, as Roger Browne noted...
google.com/answers/threadview? ...

Seth Finkelstein [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Mystery solved:

Google still has the old version on different language versions, including "en-uk" [UK English] (versus "en")

google.com/support/webmasters/ ...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Arghh.... thanks for solving this Seth.

Michell Funplaydate [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Hi Guys, I really appreciate what you are saying.. but these changing versions make it difficut to stay on top of everything. I am a content provider with www.funplaydates.com and in all honesty we are just trying to put some good, eco-frienly stuff out there and we are constantly having to switch strategies to connect and it feels like such a great loss of time.. Any suggestions?

John Public [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Hilarious. One day someone will realize the nofollow tag wasn't for spam at all ... it was an easy, end user forced action to help Google with their search engine.

Funny how nofollow was the savior of spam, but the spam continues in Google's index while they walk around devestating market niches that compete with adwords and adsense.

pittfall [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here]Michell – changes are the rules of engagement when it comes to the engines (especially Google). The key to building and maintaining your strategy is to stay on the proven way to build value for your website:
- quality content
- focus on your audience
- write content that is worth of a link
- be social and engage your visitor
- give visitors a reason to return
This is a holistic vision of optimization, but it is the only one that works every single time. It does imply time and work, but if it's worth having, it's worth getting it because you deserved it! (my opinion)

Michael Lodispoto [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Yeah they can do whatever they want to do with their search engine. But when they keep doing what Andy Beard said regarding dropping sites and yet still saying their pagerank is the way to judge a websites value and quality, that is blatantly wrong. The Internet moves fast and it won't be long before the next Google arrives.

Kalena Jordan [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Actually, that Google paid links page and warning has been in place since July. The only difference is they added the phrase "links that pass PageRank". See searchenginecollege.com/2007/11/video-official-google-paid-links.html

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Thanks Kalena and Seth, I added an update to the post.

Matt Cutts [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

That support page has mentioned selling links since at least October. Typically we update our English HTML documentation first, and documentation for other languages/countries (including the UK) is updated after we get the text translated into the dozen+ languages that we translate our documentation into.

Also, note that google.com/support/webmasters/ ... has mentioned selling links since at least July of 2007.

Scott [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

matt cutts quote:
"That support page has mentioned selling links since at least October. Typically we update our English HTML documentation first, and documentation for other languages/countries (including the UK) is updated after we get the text translated into the dozen+ languages that we translate our documentation into."

Gotta translate into Canadian too, ya' know add some "eh" and other colloquialisms eh?

Martin Porcheron [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

<<That support page has mentioned selling links since at least October. Typically we update our English HTML documentation first, and documentation for other languages/countries (including the UK) is updated after we get the text translated into the dozen+ languages that we translate our documentation into.>>

Here's a question. If Google automatically serves me the UK documentation without a specific phrase included, am I still meant to abide the US documentation.

Granted I personally know to look at the US version for everything Google – and being from the UK, I can cope with a couple of zs instead of "s"s. However, for example, a French person who does not understand English – should he and/or his site be punished because the documentation hasn't been updated in his language?

Michael Martinez [PersonRank 5]

12 years ago #

Google can dictate to me whether I'll report paid links or not when they own my soul. Until then, Google can take its Webmaster guideilnes and shove them up their collective inability to operate a REAL search engine.

You cannot determine the quality or relevance of a page to a query through links. When Google gives up on that crap idea, its search results will improve drastically.

Matt Cutts [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Michael Martinez, our guidelines are provided for people who want to know how to do well in Google's search results. I was only pointing out that Google has mentioned link selling in our HTML guidelines for months.

I've said lots of times that webmasters are welcome to do what they want on their own sites, but that Google in turn has the right to protect the quality of our index. If you want to hear me say that in a video, you can watch this video from the SMX Seattle keynote Q&A from several months ago: seroundtable.com/archives/0145 ... .

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> I've said lots of times that webmasters are welcome
> to do what they want on their own sites, but that
> Google in turn has the right to protect the quality of our index.

And webmasters in return could get together and create a Search Engine Behavior Guideline. Any search engine not conforming to this guideline would be banned.

E.g. if the webmasters decide they prefer to have paid links remain as they are (I heard many complain), one of the guidelines could be: "It is against the Search Engine Behavior guideline to ... penalize sites which sell links."
Then, if a search engine goes against this guideline, the robots.txt – which let's say would be additionally script-powered and be centrally fed its data via an API – would automatically be updated to exclude the search engine's bot from crawling the site's content.

But power structures being the way they are this would only work if a lot of webmasters, including many many important sites, got together to do it. Because else, the website would simply lose its rankings but Google wouldn't be forced to index it, because their search engine still works – only if many important sites start to be missing in Google but appear in e.g. Yahoo would there be some pressure on Google.
And democracy being the way it is, webmasters would need to collectively agree on these guidelines which diminishes any chance of this working even more... :)

Matt Cutts [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Philipp, I think some people act as if this is a Google-only issue. When Forbes wrote an article about this topic at forbes.com/2007/10/02/internet ... they asked all the major search engines for their position. The answer was that every major search engine was opposed:

"Search engines hate this kind of paid-for popularity. Google's Webmaster guidelines ban buying links just to pump search rankings. Other search engines including Ask, MSN, and Yahoo!, which mimic Google's link-based search rankings, also discourage buying and selling links."

That would mean that in addition to blocking Google, such a robots.txt would presumably also block Yahoo, Microsoft Live, and Ask as well..

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Matt, my fault as I wasn't able to find a better fitting example, but my comment in relation to a "webmaster union" was NOT about paid links. That was just a random example, and specifically one that might illustrate an issue that not even most webmasters would be able to agree on (as some or pro [non-nofollowed] paid links, some are con). But what I mean is a way for webmasters to hold a specific search engine accountable in any pragmatic way for what they do. E.g. when Yahoo uses predominantly Flickr results in images, then that might be against the "Search Engine Guidelines" and be punished; if Yahoo leaks a Chinese dissident's identity to the China government, that could be such an issue as well; if Google starts to self-promote near organic search results as they did before, that might be an issue as well.

Again, I don't believe there might be much of a real chance to ever get this done for reasons mentioned above (you'd have to basically vote for representatives handling the guidelines and bans, which would be a very complicated process I don't think a large percentage of webmasters could ever agree on).

Right now, search engines can do everything that's still legal, they do not need to conform to anyone's "guidelines"; it's only webmasters who need to conform to search engine guidelines (even though e.g. paid links I believe are "legal"). The only "penalizing" webmasters can do is dragging an issue into the spotlight (via blogs/ traditional news) which sometimes causes people to complain to Google, which might convince Google to change (e.g. they recently removed some of the self-pimping near organic results). But Google still has the last word on these discussions, and may disagree with public opinion. Of course there's also the theoretical element of consumer boycott, though somehow I have doubts there's any realistic chance for that as well. Not complaining, by the way, but just trying to describe the situation.

Keli [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

What about those of us that link to the sites they built via a portfolio... I've seen it asked a lot, but not answered. Must those be nofollow too? These are trusted links of my clients to show potential clients what I'm capable of.

John Honeck [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

All-in-all I believe the core of this post still holds true. Before October (according to Matt) the guideline said, " Buying links..." which is contrary to the other sites cannot hurt your ranking principle, currently it says, "Buying and Selling links..." Which puts the onus back on the site with regards to it's ranking/pagerank penalties.

Having just "buying links" in there inferred that Google had some sort of divine knowledge of who purchased a link on a site to another site. It's just too easy to come up with an infinite amount of possiblities where a link may appear to be purchased, but there is no way of knowing who purchased it, just the target link. If this were the case, buying obviously sold links for your competitors would be the newest way to help improve your own rankings.

"Buying and Selling" lends itself nicely to penalizing sites that take part in those many auto-magical link selling practices such as DP coop and TLA which are easily detectable through pattern matching.

As far as it being right or wrong, I hate to fall back on the old standby, but it is what it is. It's Google's prerogative to index and rank whatever sites it sees fit based on whatever standard they set forth. If Google wants to rank all sites with white backrounds above those with black, and ban the blue ones they surely can. Whining and complaining won't change that and to get back in Google's good graces you may want to consider using a white backround.

What I do find curious is their treating of this guidelines. The PageRank reduction thing in October is just silly to me. If you really believe that sites selling links are breaking your rules, then remove them already. Granted that many of the big name sites you are friendly with would be hit and Google's index would take step back in relevancy if people searching for Forbes cannot find Forbes on Google. But it's their guideline and if they want us to take them seriously they're going to have to act seriously on it. In my mind, if they could actually determine which links are paid and which are not, they'd just devalue those links and leave all this site banning and PR reductions stuff alone. Perhaps they are devaluing some links, but the simple fact that an obvious hand manipulation of PageRank values shows me that they don't feel confident that they are catching the majority of them.

My conclusion is at least they are covering their expectations in the official guidelines now and not just through unknown sources to search bloggers. I don't think the current enforcement has any teeth in it, but perhaps it will...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> But it's their guideline and if they want us to take
> them seriously they're going to have to act seriously
> on it.

Maybe Google considers link selling a mild form of search engine deception, deserving a soft penalty. Let's face it, if you created a website in 2000 and you never changed it since – and you never read updates to Google webmaster guidelines – you might suddenly be a spammer in the eyes of Google... because nofollow was introduced only in 2005 :)

Matt Cutts [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

John, we do try to be pretty clear about actions that can cause issues with Google. Just to add one more data point, we did this official Google blog post back in June: googlewebmastercentral.blogspo ...
and that post specifically mentions "Buying or selling links to manipulate results and deceive search engines violates our guidelines."

My main point is that I want to establish that Google has given this guidance on this subject for quite a while, and that all the other search engines have taken similar stances.

John Honeck [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Matt, agreed.

This thread is locked as it's old... but you can create a new thread in the forum. 

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