By Jason Lee Miller
Awash in good intentions, Google’s Matt Cutts paved a hellish road for himself by asking people to fill out a spam report for paid links. Matt followed up over the weekend (and while on vacation) with details that may have saved him some initial grief.
It must be surreal, from Matt’s side of the fence, that there are mobs of people that know exactly when he takes vacation, when he’s coming back, and are miffed about it in general. Cutts and Scoble both are examples of why you blog at your own risk.
Instead of a new post, Matt updated the original thread that caused all the trouble – and over 600 comments – and swallowed up more than one weekend now. His update is lengthy, so we’ll just cover the highlights.
Do all paid links violate Google’s quality guidelines?
Not necessarily. Cutts says the only paid links he cares about are ones designed to game search engines. He cites an example of a Linux site with a group of sponsored links for casinos, drugs, and gifts. Aside from apparent spamminess, the links are presented in image format, which Matt thinks is to avoid detection.
“I’m sure,” he writes, “some people will happily defend links like these, but in my experience people who search on Google don’t want links like these to affect Google’s search results.”
Cutts says Google is not interested in reports on affiliate links or directories, just spammy gaming attempts like the example mentioned.
Reports used to make the algorithm better
A purpose of the spam report, is to add manual review of sites the algorithm may have missed and to bolster the algorithm’s accuracy in the future.
“Our current algorithm detected the paid links above just fine, but these outside reports are a great way to measure (and then improve) the precision and recall of our existing algorithms on independent data. Next, the reports help build datasets for future algorithms.”
What about corporate sabotage?
Cutts says: We’ve always tried very hard to prevent site A from hurting site B. That’s why these reports aren’t being fed directly into algorithms, and are being used as the starting point rather than being used directly.
Make sites for users, not search engines
Cutts says: It would be a misinterpretation of that guideline to think “Okay, I can only do things for users, I can never do things for search engines. Therefore I can buy text links, but not in a way that doesn’t affect search engines.”
That same philosophy would mean that you wouldn’t create a robots.txt file…never make any meta tags…never create an XML sitemap file…and wouldn’t create web pages that validate…. Yet these are all great practices to do. So if you want to buy links, I’d buy them for users/traffic, not for PageRank/search engines.
Don’t trust sneaky link sellers
Matt cites an interesting example of someone advertising that their paid links can’t be found by Google. That’s a red flag for someone that’s not on the up-and-up, but is trying to game the search engine.
About the Author:
Jason Lee Miller is a WebProNews editor and writer. Currently pursuing an MFA in Writing degree, Jason received his BA in Communication/Mass Media. Certified in print journalism by the Kentucky Press Association, he has been noted by several online news publications and his work has been cited in the Yale Journal of Law and Technology. Email him at jmiller at webpronews dot com.
Not to mention that adsense and adwords are people buying and selling links.
Google = Evil hypocrites
Would be a nightmare for them to prove .
1. They have access to top level registrar information. Even “private” registrations.
2. They know what domains you own.
3. They dont have to prove anything to anyone. If they get annoyed with you for any reason they can penalize ALL your domains no matter where they are and not serve them up in their serps.
They HAVE done this in the past and they continue to do it. If they believe you have too many domains on a given topic they make you vanish from their returns because they assume you are a “spammer”.
I have all my links that i sold expiring july 7 or sooner and i dont plan to sell anymore on the websites I value in terms of income.But I do have exchange scripts on the websites now.There is also the snitch factor, if you have high serps as I do , all it takes is your competition to stab u in the back by paying for a link then turning you in to google.
But I agree, it sucks that Google strives for world domination. Now you can even end up on thousands of Blogs if you sunbathe in the park and your a*s crack is showing thanks to “Street View”. What’s next “Toilet View”?
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