Matt Cutts’ comments on how to report paid links raised a stink. It seems that paid links are undetectable by Google. The transactions take place by email or completely offline so, if it’s done well, Google wouldn’t know.
It seems Google wants to recruit the public to report on link buying. Good paid links aren’t obviously paid. So, Google will be divining whether or not those links are paid and then penalizing your site. Might some nasty competitor buy a textlink ad or, for that matter, a Yahoo! directory listing and then rat you out?
Here’s a summary of some of the questions and comments being raised:
Small Business SEM says: “Buying links is a form of advertising, and no search engine can decide when and where you should advertise. For me, the main takeaway from all this is that Google is admitting it has no clue how to identify paid links from non-paid links. ”
Scobleizer says: “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.”
Sugarrae says: “My general opinions on paid links aren’t important and neither are yours. This isn’t about whether or not paid links should or shouldn’t have value. What matters is that Google is going to decide whether you’re good or evil based on a guess they know full well has a coin flip toss chance of being accurate in the case of paid links done well. What is important is that Google stands up and admits their own weakness and finds another solution to their issue that doesn’t involve penalizing me or you, based on their “best guess” to a problem they themselves created when they based their entire algorithm on links.”
SEOCLASS offers a broad round up of comments in the blogosphere here: Google Wants To Tell You How To Run Your Website
Obviously, there are a lot of opinions on this. Few of them are full of love for Google. What do you think?
P.S. Do you think this might be hurting the Do No Evil brand?