I was going to write a comment on the official Google Webmaster Central Blog but decided it would not get posted so I thought I would post it here instead. Google has actually written up something regarding buying and selling of links that is NOT on Matt Cutt’s personal blog so I guess we can actually believe it since anything on Matt Cutt’s personal blog has a disclaimer attached to it that says “The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.” I find it disgusting that official news about Google and what it is doing comes out through a non-official channel. It is even disgusting that the post on the official Google Webmaster Central Blog links to Matt Cutt’s personal blog for references (with no nofollows attached by the way). If it is official news about Google have the guts to post it on official Google blogs.
The long and the short of it is if you get caught buying or selling links Google will slap you with a penalty. Currently it only appears to be a PageRank penalty, but considering how Google flip flops on things like nofollow the next thing we hear will probably be a total ban from Google. The only way to fix it is to submit a reinclusion request after removing the bought links from a site and admitting that the great Google god was right.
The blog post has a little question and answer section that I would like to reinterpret for you with just a hint of sarcasm, just for fun.
Q: Is buying or selling links that pass PageRank a violation of Google’s guidelines? Why?
A: Yes, it is, because we can’t actually tell what links are organic and what ones are bought so we are going to pass the buck and blame webmasters for all the problems we have in sorting out our algorithm.
Q: Is this a Google-only issue?
A: No. All the major search engines have opposed buying and selling links that affect search engines. The other search engines though, do a much better job at being able to tell what is a paid link and what is organic than we do. Try using Yahoo search and see what I am talking about. We are the great Google Internet god and what we say goes so we want every one to stop buying and selling links so we don’t have to work. This is just easier for us.
Q: Is that why we’ve seen some sites that sell links receive lower PageRank in the Google toolbar?
A: Yes. If a site is selling links, that can affect our opinion about the value of that site or cause us to lose trust in that site. These rules don’t apply to Google however, we can do whatever we want. Give us $1995.00/year for a mini search appliance and we will list you on a PageRank 7 page.
Q: What recourse does a site owner have if their site was selling links that pass PageRank, and the site’s PageRank in the Google toolbar was lowered?
A: The site owner can address the violations of the webmaster guidelines and submit a reconsideration request in Google’s Webmaster Central console. Before doing a reconsideration request, please make sure that all sold links either do not pass PageRank or are removed. You also have to admit that you were totally wrong in what you were doing or we will never consider your request.
Q: Is Google trying to tell webmasters how to run their own site?
A: No. We’re giving advice to webmasters who want to do well in Google. Webmasters are welcome to make their sites however they like. We can run our
protection racket business however we want. If you don’t want to play along you never know what might happen to your website in our index. Even if you are the most authoritative site for a topic, accidents happen and your website might just disappear. (Think mafia movie)
Q: Is Google trying to crack down on other forms of advertisements used to drive traffic?
A: No, not at all. Our webmaster guidelines clearly state that you can use links as means to get targeted traffic. We just want disclosure to search engines of paid links so that the paid links won’t affect search engines. Of course in the future we might change our minds and only allow our advertising methods to be used, just like we have changed our minds about how nofollow is suppose to be used. So you better get ready to start spending a lot on Google Adwords because that is the only method we will allow in a couple of years. Again this also does not mean that we always have to disclose our ads.
Q: I’m aware of a site that appears to be buying/selling links. How can I get that information to Google?
A: Read our official blog post about how to rat out all of the other webmasters who rank above you for your keywords that sell paid links. We’ve received thousands and thousands of reports in just a few months, but we welcome more reports so we can punish all those that don’t follow our rules. We appreciate the feedback, because it helps us take direct action as well as improve our existing algorithmic detection. We also use that data to train new algorithms for paid links that violate our quality guidelines. What that basically means is, we go in and hand edit the search results to punish sites that sell links, because we really have no way of knowing. The whole thing is just a facade. Also, don’t worry about Yahoo, we don’t count them as selling links because they review the websites they list, and we know that the majority of webmasters out there don’t review the links they sell as long as they get paid.
Q: Can I get more information?
A: Sure. I wrote more answers about paid links earlier this year on my personal blog, that every one should read even though it is not an “official” Google information source and just my own ramblings. And if you still have questions, you can join the discussion in our Webmaster Help Group where no one really reads your questions or ever gets back to you about anything. Try it out sometime, there is nothing like never having a question answered.
Google really makes me sick sometimes. I wonder if maybe the web would have been better off without them?
Time to move along, nothing to see here!