Yeah, I couldn’t stay away from my blog, I’m stuck in Merced with lots of Farsi-speaking relatives of Maryam’s — I don’t speak Farsi, so instead, read my feeds, which brings me to this post.
So, today Matt Cutts, my favorite Google-employed blogger, caused a bit of uproar by writing several posts today suggesting that bloggers and others identify their links that are paid for, rather than genuinely-earned links — even going so far to tell us how turn in other bloggers who are accepting paid links. Matt recommended disclosing paid links: “The other best practice I’d advise is to provide human readable disclosure that a link/review/article is paid.”
I’ll link to TechMeme because his post is already getting an interesting conversation going.
I think they are missing the point. Google is shooting a bowling ball over PayPerPost’s bow (and, yes, I’m still speaking at PayPerPost’s PostieCon on June 1 — PodTech decided to pay my way — I’m giving a talk titled “it’s a Google World.” Which is why I’m interested in anything Google does about paid links).
Disclosure: I will disclose anything I get paid to do +in+ the post I do it.
Can Google detect paid content listing? Of course, especially if done explicitly like PayPerPost (or other paid linking services) do it.
Especially if that system is semi public, like PayPerPost is. All Google would need to do is have a group of employees join systems like PayPerPost and they’d get a detailed listing of who is trying to buy links. Someone just needs to enter those into a database, and watch the results, and they’d be able to reduce their ability to get into Google’s ranking system.
The real message? They will swat down anyone who really does a good job of selling advertising into Google’s page rank system. PayPerPost is just the most public example of someone selling access to Google’s search engine’s result set but there are others and Matt’s series of posts makes it clear he’s looking to track others.
Why does Google care? Well, Google’s relevancy rankings will be hurt if people can buy their way onto their pages instead of earn their way to those search results pages by doing the best content, etc. Lots of people are doing comparisons of Google’s search results to Yahoo, Ask, and Microsoft’s search engines. If Google’s result set isn’t the best Google’s market share will start to go down as people figure out there are better engines out there. That, in turn, will hurt Google’s advertising business.
Not to mention that if advertisers know there’s a cheaper way to get onto Google’s search engine than by buying an ad, they’ll go with that system. So, Google has a LOT of incentive to swat down PayPerPost and pay-per-link style systems.
Matt was just warning us all that if you don’t disclose ON THE POST ITSELF you might get penalized in Google’s PageRank system.
What do you think?