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Why devalue paid links?
Google's apparent penalty against paid links could ruin their results
bears5122




msg:143221
 3:42 am on Aug 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

With recent talk about Google putting their foot down on paid links, I thought I'd give my opinion.

I think Google is crossing a line when they devalue advertisements on websites. Like I said in another thread, it would be like TV guide not listing a channel because they run commercials on the station.

When Google starts putting things like this into their algo, they are essentially penalizing the sites who are willing to advertise as well as the integrity of their SERPs. I feel as though Google is more concerned with stopping SEOs than their SERPs.

Why is it so bad to buy a text link? If I sell Blue Widgets and I want to advertise with a link to my site that says Blue Widgets, is that a bad thing? Does my site probably pertain to blue widgets? Of course. The fact I'm willing to pay to put my releavant site up there should be worth more.

Google needs to really look at their SERPs from a user standpoint. If I'm Joe User and want a blue widget, I want my results to show sites with blue widgets. I don't want some fluff coming up because all the sites who advertise their blue widgets won't come up.

Google should remember that their responsibility should be to the user, not to determine what is right and wrong on the Internet. When they start dictating webmasters paying for links or not, they are stepping on the toes of the sites they make money on for indexing. It is none of Google's business where my site advertises and where it doesn't. Their business is to provide good results.

With that said, I think Google is walking on thin ice. Search engine competition will get fierce in the coming years with MSN and others coming to the front. The winner will be the search engine who provides the best results. Right now, Google doesn't do that by a long shot. They seem far too concerned with getting rid of SEO's (which should be a search engines best friend) and dictating how webmasters should run their sites.

A good search engine should be one that stands in the corner and just puts up the most releavant searches. Not one who plays God.

 

shri




msg:143222
 4:04 pm on Aug 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Text links are a threat to google's revenue model. People buy text links on sites because they can get a better return on investment than say adsense.

Other than that, textlinks mess with google's democratic world of sites voting for each other.

hugo_guzman




msg:143223
 5:05 pm on Aug 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

There is no penalty against paid links at this point.

As long as they are relevant and there aren't too many outbounds on the given page there is no value lost. I speak from first hand experience.

SERPs get a great boost from paid links as long as the anchor text on the link is properly optimized.

The problem is that sites which may have garnered a high PR on the last update (June 22nd) may have fallen back down (in terms of actual PR) but those changes are not reflected because the PR bar has not been updated in almost two months. There are a lot of shady individuals who will sell a PR 5 link that poses as a PR 7. It's really quite easy to do pump up a site to a PR 7 or so, keep it there until PR is updated, sell as many PR 7 links as possible in a short time span, and don't bother to continue paying for the links that got you to a PR 7. By the time that PR is updated again you've already made a tidy profit.

That's why you have to be an educated consumer and purchase links from reputable webmasters who only sell links to related sites and don't engage in any black hat techniques. If you can find an established site with steady PR and not too many outbounds stay loyal to them and renew your links.

wyweb




msg:143224
 12:17 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google's responsibility IS to the user. Their stated commitment is to deliver unbiased results. I shouldn't be able to buy my way into that and neither should you. You might advertise blue widgets but when I get to your site I find pictures of naked women instead. I have absolutely no objection to naked women, either in principal or in fact, but my intent was to find a friggin blue widget. Your ability to purchase high rankings has misled me and that's not a good thing to do. Not saying you would do that of course but the possibility exists.

Regarding your comment about a penalty being assigned...In what way? Where is the "recent talk" that you mentioned. Maybe I'm out of the loop here but the only thing I recall seeing lately was some stuff with regard to adsense publishers and contextual advertising...clicks from a "free" site won't be worth as much as clicks from a non-free site. Nor should they be. Was there something else?

Haecceity




msg:143225
 1:02 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Like I said in another thread, it would be like TV guide not listing a channel because they run commercials on the station.

It would be more like a TV guide only listing the TV programs that were showing rather than listing the ads.

hugo_guzman




msg:143226
 6:16 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Google's responsibility IS to the user. Their stated commitment is to deliver unbiased results. I shouldn't be able to buy my way into that and neither should you. You might advertise blue widgets but when I get to your site I find pictures of naked women instead. I have absolutely no objection to naked women, either in principal or in fact, but my intent was to find a friggin blue widget. Your ability to purchase high rankings has misled me and that's not a good thing to do. Not saying you would do that of course but the possibility exists."

If links are purchased from relevant sites this is not an issue.

You cannot buy links relevant to what your site about, with anchor text optimized to what your site is about, and end up ranking for a completely irrelavent term.

What you are describing is UNRESPONSIBLE link selling/purchasing. For example, I would never sell a link to a site that is not relevant to my site and I would never sell a link that is optimized for "blue widgets" even though the site that is buying the link is about naked girls.

Decius




msg:143227
 6:32 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

The question here is:

Do wealthier webmasters have more relevent content than poor webmasters?

And the answer, is obviously, no.

I think the purpose of Google isn't to penalize people for payiing for advertising... it is to de-valuate the ability for a webmaster to choose what keywords his/her website ranks highly for.

Google's purpose, from the begining, has been to make webmasters focus on CONTENT rather than worrying about whether this content will get ranked well or found well.

Google's aim is to find intellligent and un-corruptable ways of judging whether certain content is valuable for the end user or not. The main sure-fire way to accomplish this is to remove as much control over this process from revenue seeking webmasters as much as possible.

Therefore, paid ads are, by definition, used to elevate your content over someone else's, with no logical reasoning except the fact that you can afford it more readily, which has little reflection on the quality of your content.

nippi




msg:143228
 7:24 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

the penalty is for paying for page rank, not for advertising

sit2510




msg:143229
 7:41 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>> the penalty is for paying for page rank, not for advertising

Nippi is right.

In real world, it is not that difficult for G to target paid links for PR. They can start with the popular sources such as link auction sites. You see everyone there sells links with PR advertisement. Often the paid links come out with attractive packages, and moreover, their community members are both merchants and customers to one another.

IMO, it would be the perfect place for Google to start cracking down on paid links for PR.

Decius




msg:143230
 8:09 am on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Paying for a paid link is advertising, in all senses. Text links have been useful for years. No sites should be penalized at all for using paid links.

And I think it is incorrect for Google to make assumptions about inbound links and de-valuate them based on the fact that they may be paid links, as opposed to free ones.

If anything, Google is simply reducing the importance of irrelevant inbound links.

DarrylParker




msg:143231
 11:33 pm on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Are people suggesting that the links under discussion are just disregarded by the Google algorithm? Or by purchasing a link am I actually receiving a negative effect on my SERP position?

If the arguement is about whether I have the right to demand Google Inc. give me full credit for having purchased advertising from some third party... I think that's a hard case to make.

If people are angry because Google Inc is drilling them down the SERPS because they dared purchase ad space from someone else... Maybe there's an arguement there, I dunno.

But in the end, if you're unhappy about how Google sends you traffic, can't you just set your robots.txt to prevent them from bothering you altogether?

Darryl.

Allergic




msg:143232
 11:43 pm on Aug 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

For my part, I got no problem with paid link. But ONLY if that is clear and indicated (Advertised link or Paid links)like the FTC make a warning to other SE more than a year ago.

Do you like see a SERPs with paid links inside the orgarnic results without notice?

ownerrim




msg:143233
 5:19 am on Aug 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

The idea that a webmaster should only allow outbound Links from his/her site to other websites which are relevant to his/her site...is STUPID.

Carried to the extreme, you wouldn't even have a web anymore.

That's how you get a WORLD WIDE WEB. sites linking to each other, and not necessarily to just other sites talking about the same &$*! thing.

And what's the #$(@# difference between an advertisement and a text link, einsteins? there is none! To say that text links should be penalized would be equivalent to saying "hey, sorry guys, you can't sell advertising anymore".

And to those who counter with "oh you can do text link advertising, but it has to be relevant"----how the #*$$ does google know what's relevant?

I mean, really, think about it. I know that an ad about window mounted cupholders is relevant to cars in some sense. But does Google? Of course not. Google only knows what text SAYS, not what text implies or infers. That's something an algorithmn is not capable of yet, but something humans can easily do.

So, I don't buy this text-link relevancy malarky. The guys at google should be smart enough to know that they're not that smart. Not yet.

Nicke




msg:143234
 8:40 pm on Aug 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Be careful when you buy textlinks, my experience lately with some testing is that it give you NOTHING and you pay a lot of money for it.

I know it works for some people but definetely not for me and I tried 3 sites lately with high PR. One of them for 3 months and nothing happened to your SERPs.

erykalefrak




msg:143235
 8:55 pm on Aug 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

The problem is that with or without the paid links, right now google is not making keywords reflect content as the top 2 pages of many of the searches I have been watching since this whole august thing have been crapy irrelevant things to the search.

AthlonInside




msg:143236
 8:36 am on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

bears5122,

If you are are not BUYING the links for PR but for advertsing as you said, then you can simply

Link to [yoursite.com...]

This page will redirect to your homepage

Then block this directory in ROBOTS.TXT. You will not be credited the backlink.

----

But it look to me most people said that they buy advertising, but at the same time looking for some PR benefit. Most people have tracking URL to track their advertising campaign and because they also want to take advantage of the PR, they remove their tracking parameters and link directly to their homepage. If you are worry about Google penalising yoursite, that used a tracking URL (or the example above) and block it with robots.txt.

CrimsonGirl




msg:143237
 2:01 pm on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google's apparent penalty against paid links could ruin their results.

I assume this is trolling with intent to provoke a response, because it might be the stupidest thing I've ever read at Webmasterworld.

The winner will be the search engine who provides the best results.

Yes. That means the best results, regardless of who has paid for links.

Kirby




msg:143238
 3:04 pm on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Devaluing a paid link (advertising?) and penalizing are two different things. Devaluing is more like simply ignoring it. No better or worse in the serps than if you never had it at all.

dirkz




msg:143239
 9:16 pm on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

> Devaluing a paid link (advertising?) and penalizing are two different things.

I think that's one of the points here.

Are you getting penalized if you bought a PR8 link but your position in the SERPs doesn't improve?

Nope.

So even if Google really devalues some links (which is pure speculation) it's no penalty.

Another point:

If you buy an ad (text link) and Google "devalues that link" you still have the effect of the ad. So you lost nothing of your ad. You got what you paid for. If you bought it for PR and feel punished: I doubt buying PR is of democratic nature [google.com].

Ouroboros




msg:143240
 12:21 am on Aug 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

You're all missing the point. Ask yourself: When I search Google, am I searching for information on something most of the time? Or am I searching for something to buy (such as widgets)? Not more than one honest person in a million is going to say that they are usually looking for something to buy.

For most of us, the very best results are pages from bulletin boards (such as this one), and a close second and third are weblogs and online-newspaper articles. A distant fourth are personal homepage type of websites. Nothing that you have for sale is of any relevance to 999,999 out of 1,000,000 searches. (Am I exaggerating? Well if so, consider that my exaggeration may exist in the form of giving sites with keyword related things for sale too much credit.)

As such, if I'm looking for who ran in the Democratic primaries of the 1976 US presidential election, or the name of the person who wrote the ILOVEYOU virus, or who the band members are in my favorite rock group, Google is right to avoid any paid links associated with those types of searches, and instead focus on links which actually measure the importance placed upon a specific page by others (NOT the page's author) - which is the very basis of using PageRank.

In fact, you can disagree with everything that I've said in this post up until that final point. Paying for links violates the spirit of pagerank. Paid links create false positives, by definition.

nuevojefe




msg:143241
 5:05 am on Aug 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

In fact, you can disagree with everything...

I do, and then some.

But seriously, I'm just not quite sure what you're talking about in terms of searching to buy. Millions of people search for things to buy.

dirkz




msg:143242
 7:52 am on Aug 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

> Millions of people search for things to buy.

You can always add the buy word in your search. But I think this is leading us astray from the thread's topic ...

nuevojefe




msg:143243
 6:48 pm on Aug 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Nothing that you have for sale is of any relevance to 999,999 out of 1,000,000 searches.

Completely irrelevant to this topic because you'll find that many people buy paid links to sites that don't target commerce keywords and in fact may have highly relevant information on their sites. Some of the paid links point to pages that simply make money from advertising or adsense but are in fact very relevant to the user's query.

We have paid links going to sites with $30,000 dollars worth of professionally copywritten content. This is highly educational/informative information that simply wouldn't be available if it wasn't for the ads that support us, and the visitors we obtain through search queries that are mostly not commerce related.

Also, if people are buying links, then what they're selling is probably doing just that "selling" so obviously a fair amount of people are satisfied enough with the search results to spend cash.

sachac




msg:143244
 12:22 am on Aug 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

Recently, I have noted that the #1 site in my category, has slipped to #5 for our main category keyword. Now, this is no small player. They are by far the market leaders with annual sales close to $1 billion. They deserve to be #1.

Since they have deep pockets they advertise heavily both offline and online. Online they are heavy into banner ads on premium sites.

I am wondering if they suffered some sort of penalty for this. While they previously had 400 backlinks, mainly though these ads, they now show 6!

This certainly does not speak well for the quality of the results. I have also noticed a number of garbage sites with hyphenated domains displacing some really quality sites.

Has anyone made similar observations?

hutcheson




msg:143245
 1:50 am on Aug 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

Several points:

(1) Thankfully, I'm not the only person who noticed that "not getting free Google credit for paid links" is a totally different thing from "getting penalized for paid links". The latter, of course, isn't happening.

(2) But is the former even happening? Last time this perennial urban chestnut came out for a roasting, someone quite sensibly pointed out -- how can Google tell which links are paid for? Duh. Are YOU sending in your "Permission to purchase promotional page link" form 147b to Google every time you buy a link. Duh. The most I can imagine happening here is that Google might be ignoring (NOT penalizing!) known PPC redirectors.

(3) If SEOs are Google's best friends, ... Google isn't EVER going to need enemies. But Google may prefer to choose its own friends, and (if my own personal experience is any guide) Google will find that it gets getter friendship by not taking whole industries, but by picking trustworthy folk regardless of which guild they belong to. Is Googleguy allowed to say "You ain't _my_ chum, chowderhead, you're just plain chum."

(4) If Google DID stop listing paid links, it would be just as evil as, um, listing only the TV shows but not the advertisements in TV Guide: and making advertisers PAY for their advertisements there. (Hmm. Maybe Proctor and Gamble should open up a forum to abuse TV Guide. Or maybe they think they have something more constructive to do.)

notsosmart




msg:143246
 2:02 am on Aug 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

(Hmm. Maybe Proctor and Gamble should open up a forum to abuse TV Guide. Or maybe they think they have something more constructive to do.)

LMAO!

----

G can't tell one link from another, except for in the case of "known" offenders, as someone else mentioned, and this requires manual intervention, and therefore affects a minuscule % of sites.

The answer for G lies in the further tweaking of their algo, IMO: once they're able to accurately give much more weight to links from contextually-related sites on a regular basis, and much less to un-related ones, then the issue of paid vs. "natural" links will disappear, because only the relevant links will be counted.

I've been waiting for that to happen for years.

birdstuff




msg:143247
 2:41 am on Aug 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have also noticed a number of garbage sites with hyphenated domains displacing some really quality sites.

I own several sites with hyphenated domain names and I assure you they're not garbage sites.

europeforvisitors




msg:143248
 2:44 am on Aug 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

The answer for G lies in the further tweaking of their algo, IMO: once they're able to accurately give much more weight to links from contextually-related sites on a regular basis, and much less to un-related ones, then the issue of paid vs. "natural" links will disappear, because only the relevant links will be counted.

If I get a FORBES "Best of the Web" award or a PC Magazine "Top 100 Web Sites" listing, shouldn't the resulting link from FORBES or PC be worth as much as a link of equal PageRank from another-site-on-my-topic.com?

Also, giving proportionately more weight to contextually-related links might just play into the hands of spammers who have networks of sites on similar or identical themes (e.g., half a dozen affiliate networks for Elbonian hotels).

dirkz




msg:143249
 7:59 am on Aug 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

> once they're able to accurately give much more weight to links from contextually-related sites on a regular basis

What are contextually-related sites? Is it the same topics? Complimentary topics? Or topics you decide?

owlcroft




msg:143250
 8:37 am on Aug 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

To what extent, if any, Google is assigning relevance weights to sites to determine the significance of their links to other sites, is unknowable to anyone not receiving a paycheck from Google.

But to whatever extent it is, it is horridly bad judgement. It is child's play to conjure pairs of sites with no least discernable relation, from either page content or inbound links, for which a link from one to the other is perfectly rational and "relevant."

Just for advertising, it may be that those interested in Topic A have demographics closely paralleling those of aficionados of Topic B, even if the two are utterly disparate. Is an ad on an A site pointing to a B site "not relevant"?

If I am writing an article on, oh, say Google, and I ask sarcastically "Are we having fun yet?", is it "not relevant" if I link back to the home page of the "Zippy the Pinhead" comic strip? (That saying is now in dictionaries of quotations.) But what is the connection between Google and pinheads? (Though I imply an answer here, pretend the original topic was something else.)

The underlying truth is that the shibboleth "links are votes" is itself as inherently defect-riddled as the internal-combustion engine. But SEs continue all to operate with their white elephant while Detroit continues to operate with its.

To digress a bit and perhaps overextend the simile, the superior automotive power plant, the external combustion engine, was unable, at the critical moment in history when automobile manufacture was settling into a pattern, to compete effectively with the internal-combustion engine owing, not to any inherent problem--it is superior in many ways--but to the defects of the ancillary technology at that time. The Stanley Steamer people had a standing offer of $10,000 (think of that sum's worth back then) to anyone who could find the top speed of a Stanley; one got over 200 mph before it blew up. But the means of rapidly firing an engine, so a driver didn't have to wait a half hour for a head of steam, and of using low-pressure systems so there was no explosion risk, were simply not in place yet, and by the time, not so long after, when they were, the fork in the road had already been passed and the cranky, wanky internal-combustion engine, which today has widget after wadegt piled atop it to try to overcome its inherent defects, dominates.

So with search engines. The clearly superior methodology is pure on-page evaluation. At the time a couple of bright college kids looked smart for dreaming up a three-word formula no one else had yet seen, the computing expertise--and sheer computational firepower--to do solid on-page algorithmic evaluation was not in place. So the "links are votes" nonsense became the dominant mode, and today we see (as these forums constantly make plain) widget piled atop wadget by all the SEs as they try to overcome the inherent failings of this frankly goofy scheme.

If it starts with folly, wherever would you *expect* it to end?

This 32 message thread spans 2 pages: 32 ( [1] 2 > >
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