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Who is going to use the no follow in paid links? - part 2
willybfriendly

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 3:04 am on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >

>>>- The "nofollow" attribute was created to prevent "linkspam" in blogs, Wikis, forums, and other anyone-can-post venues. Matt Cutts has suggested that it might also be useful as a way to handle paid links that exist to drive traffic and not to manipulate PageRank. (He and his coleagues have suggested other methods as well; take your pick.)<<<

If we acdept this statement, the we must conclude that no follow was not intended to deal with people choosing to monetize their websites.

Google has a problem with their algo. It is in large part due to their dominance as a search engine. They can solve their own problem without infringinn on the right of others to make money.

I will grant that it is an intersting approach to get site owners snitching each other off when it is Google's problem. We have no obligation to assist Google in their search to maintain dominance, especially if it infringes on our ability to monetize our sites.

If Google can sell adspace, then I can damn well sell ad space. Further, I can do so according to my own policies and guidelines, not those imposed by Google.

And, if Google attempts to control my internal policies and guidelines by using their market dominance to impose what are ultimately fianancial penalties against me, well then I guess we need to start discussing unfair trade practices.

WBF

[edited by: tedster at 5:50 pm (utc) on April 20, 2007]

 

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 3:10 am on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

If Google can sell adspace, then I can damn well sell ad space. Further, I can do so according to my own policies and guidelines, not those imposed by Google.

Why not do the smart thing and use Javascript links or the "nofollow" attribute? That way, you can sell ad space and not endanger your organic traffic from Google. Still, the choice is yours.

And, if Google attempts to control my internal policies and guidelines by using their market dominance to impose what are ultimately fianancial penalties against me, well then I guess we need to start discussing unfair trade practices.

OK, we can do that when you're willing to acknowledge that Google has the same rights you do in terms of sending traffic to third parties. (Do you allow anyone and everyone to demand unlimited referrals from your site?)

simey

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 3:13 am on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

If googles market share was 30%, or 5%, there probably would'nt be 2 posts on this subject.

This is'nt really that new either. People have known that google does'nt like paid links for some time. Doubt a year from now anything will have really changed.

But if paid links magically went away tommorrow, probably some of my sites would fall, and some would rise.
diversify, diversify

lfgoal

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 3:45 am on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

"The idea that this is some way to out the black hat practioners by getting them to fall for the nofollow trap is ridiculous."

And that's what it would amount to. Yes, it would make no sense.

"It (hoarding) still is, and it violates the guidelines by artificially manipulating to fool the search engines."

It violates no guidelines whatsoever. Without resorting to nofollow, a site can already choose to retain the page rank it holds among its existing pages by simply A. not building additional pages and/or B. not linking out to an external site in ANY fashion.

Quite the opposite, the use of nofollow is the antithesis of manipulation because the user of nofollow is employing a linking method that, by its very nature and design, has no direct effect on search engine rankings.

Again, Google is concerned with how reputation is passed along and for what purpose, not how it is retained or "hoarded".

dclick

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 4:34 am on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think its kinda scary myself and reeks of monopolistic power. Google is the worlds largest link seller. Their entire business model is 100% selling links.. and now they are instructing you on how you need to sell links or else?

If a giant/dominant retailer like wal-mart told all of its competiting local mom & pop stores to sell widgets the way we tell you to, or else we will cut off your supplies(ie traffic), i think there would be some serious anti-trust laws and acts being broken. I dont see much difference really.

Words like sponsored links, advertisement mean little as well, they do not verify paid link in anyway shape or form. Whats to stop competitors from putting up a bunch of non-paid links in a box with the label "Sponsored Links" ontop of it, then complaining to google YOU are a paid link buyer?

The net effect will probably be more link buying and less disclosure. If google is successful in filtering a % of paid links which really are impossible to detect unless viewing credit card statements, checks, or even monitoring bars for cash exchanges over a beer, Buyers will just buy more to offset it. Likewise if sellers feel their links are less valuable links with words like "Sponsored Links" or "Advertisement" next to them, they will just disclose less/not at all and their links will be more valuable.

Play_Bach

WebmasterWorld Senior Member play_bach us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 5:07 am on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google is responsible for nearly 80% of my search referrals. How about you?

"Their attitude is more like: 'You can do anything you want to your pages, and we can do anything we want to with our index---like exclude your pages.'"
--Google Hacks (O'Reilly)

buckworks

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 5:15 am on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google is the worlds largest link seller.

One aspect that many people seem to be overlooking is that the links Google sells via Adwords do not get affect how a site might rank in Google's organic results. They're for direct traffic only (assuming the clicks are all valid, but that's a different discussion).

Adwords links = apples

Plain-vanilla direct HTML links = oranges

willybfriendly

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 5:27 am on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>>OK, we can do that when you're willing to acknowledge that Google has the same rights you do in terms of sending traffic to third parties. (Do you allow anyone and everyone to demand unlimited referrals from your site?)<<<

There is a bit of a difference here. Google uses my site's content to make their money. Without my site ("my" in the global sense of "our" sites) Google would not have anything on which to piggyback their "paid links".

What was once a symbiotic relationship is becoming a parasitic relationship. Google, via their dominance, has twisted the "natural linking" of the Internet.

"Paid links" existed before Google. But, Google has turned virtually all links into commodities. Understand that. Links are now a commodity just as surely as eggs, pork bellies and operating systems. Google did not create links, but they have pretty well cornered the market on commoditized links, and they are using their market share in ways that are very much aimed at controlling others ability to trade in the commodity.

The no follow tag was implemented so that site owners could protect themselves from third parties placing uninvited and unscreened links on their sites by disincentivicing their placement. It was not intended to help Google clean up their SERPs (consisting of scraped content), nor to assist Google in monopolizing commoditized links.

Let's give up the myth that Google is just some young nerds organizing the world's information and freely providing a service the everyone. Google is the world's largest ad agency, and they are monetizing the the world's information for the benefit of their stockholders.

They are monetizing your information, and mine, and they are now taking active steps to interfere in our ability to monetize it for ourselves.

If Google did not have its current dominance, no one would care a bit that they were trying to stamp out paid links (other than their own). And, no one would pay much attention to their request (demand?) that people use a no follow tag. It is only because of their dominance that their demand carries any weight.

You seem to want to discount the relevance of: 1) Googles dominance, 2) the commoditization of links as a result of their dominance and algorythms, and 3) the fact that their business model is based on the parsitic use of other's content.

Your argument that my site and Google are identical in terms of rights to refer traffic lack merit due to the fact that you ignore such significant differences. If all things are equal, as you suggest, then I have a right to utilize Google SERPs to monetize my site equal to Google's right to use my content to monetize their site. Win/win. Everyone should be happy, right?

WBF

Marcia

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 5:36 am on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

A lot of people might think Google's selling Kool-Aid, but they're certainly not selling link juice.

And they're not exerting any kind of "monopolistic control" with selling advertising - people are free to buy PPC wherever they choose, it's a free market out there with plenty of choices.

Incidentally, I do have a total of *one* no-follow on *one* single link. Some site owner used my graphics sitewide a couple years ago and when reminded that *a* link where credit is due is part of the terms, took down the graphics rather than give *one* lousy link back where credit was due.

There's been a recip up with her (no, Google does NOT penalize recips), and in checking for bad links a couple months ago I caught her selling a couple of homepage links (they're still there)- very nicely disguised. Beautiful camouflage job.

But I can TELL they're sold links, and sure the site's still worth sending visitors to, it's a good site. But still, I put no-follow on the link back to that cheap, chiseling link miser.

Google would never, ever catch it algorithmically, and it's doubtful it would be noticed even with a hand check.

Added:

OK, I really have to be honest and admit that it is so, soo, soooo tempting. If nothing else other than to demonstrate the point that it can be done almost undetectably.

IMHO they need to spend less time worrying about payment, and spend more time on getting better at spotting topical theming. That would probably solve 3/4 of it right there without collateral damage, and not hurt for links that are compensated but are still valid votes and are actually beneficial and helpful for users, which some really are.

[edited by: Marcia at 5:57 am (utc) on April 20, 2007]

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 12:55 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

"Paid links" existed before Google. But, Google has turned virtually all links into commodities.

Nope. Selfish, shortsighted Webmasters and SEOs turned links into commodities, and they're understandably upset by the possibility that what worked yesterday may not work (and may come back to haunt them) tomorrow.

stever

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 1:09 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>Selfish, shortsighted Webmasters and SEOs turned links into commodities

Well, in the same way that print journalism commoditises its users with commercial pull-outs, media commoditises them with product placement, and you commoditise them through Adsense and affiliate links. Let us not be too virginal about this, efv.

Play_Bach

WebmasterWorld Senior Member play_bach us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 1:38 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

OK folks - one day later after adding nofollow and my main $ site just jumped to the top of page two from 950 nowhere for THE keyword in my niche! Coincidence?

[edited by: Play_Bach at 1:46 pm (utc) on April 20, 2007]

300m

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 1:50 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

"Coincidence?"

I would have to say yes. It would seem that if this was the case then everyone who has nofollows would own the serps. However, it could have jumped because of a few things, I have personally seen instances when i would post something and it would appear in the SERPS the same day. I think that this was discussed somewhere on WebmasterWorld a month or 2 ago.

Play_Bach

WebmasterWorld Senior Member play_bach us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 1:58 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

In looking at my stats, Googlebot hit my site pretty hard yesterday - not all the pages, but probably about half got spidered. I'm wondering if all those pages with outbound links that now have nofollow on them somehow helped boost the site?

jimbeetle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jimbeetle us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 2:16 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

BTW, where did Matt say anything about using nofollow for anything other than blog (forum) posts and paid links? As far as I know he hasn't suggested using it in any other way.

Yeah, during a site review at last year's Boston PubCon he made positive comments on how one site nofollow-ed internal links to the contact, about and other such "utility" pages.

I guess there can be a couple of different interpretations of what was implied, so infer what you wish ;-).

randle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 2:19 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Since Big Daddy, the only thing consistent in the Google Algo is that if you buy quality links, your site will rank in the top, even if your site is poor quality (less than 20 pages with stale content).

Exactly, and its no coincidence Google is beginning to step up its efforts relative to this issue. Paid links have always been a part of life, its just they have become even more effective.

rekitty

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 3:57 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm wondering if all those pages with outbound links that now have nofollow on them somehow helped boost the site?

Quite possibly. This used to be known as hording and manipulating PageRank. It can work but it is specifically against Google's terms of service. Quite the pickle, yes?

I think you should be more worried about your users than about Google. Based on your previous post quoted below I'd be concerned that your users and community may go away.

On my sites, most of the links submitted are by users and though I do visit each one to make sure it's OK before publishing it, things change over time - links go 404, get redirected or worse. I'm rolling the dice on this nofollow biz because so far, Google has been very good to me and my sites - I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt unless I see evidence to the contrary.

Sounds to me like you are giving Google the benefit of the doubt over your users. Why might that be? This quote from you explains it:

Google is responsible for nearly 80% of my search referrals. How about you?

There is the problem. I respectfully suggest you have chosen Google over your users, and as many here will attest that is almost always a bad long term business decision.

By adding nofollow yesterday you changed the deal with your users. The previous deal was they gave you free content and you gave them a link. Seems like it was working well for both sides. In the new deal your users no longer get the link popularity benefit from giving you free content.

Don't be too surprised if your users and free content start to dry up now that they don't get a link in return.

It's your business and your decision... who is more important to you in the long run, Google or your users?

Yours is the same story as a website where I have been advertising for years. It's a very relevant website that has driven good traffic through the link. The link also passed link popularity, making it even more valuable.

One day I noticed they had added nofollow to all their outbound links. Suddenly the link is not as valuable. While the link still brings traffic, they changed the deal. I probably won't renew that ad since there are plenty of other sites where I can advertise that bring both traffic and link popularity. Why not get both?

If you are a publisher, you need to decide... who is more important to you in the long run, Google or your advertisers?

[edited by: rekitty at 4:19 pm (utc) on April 20, 2007]

sonny

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 4:03 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

That's how I feel too!

activeco

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 4:12 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

OK folks - one day later after adding nofollow and my main $ site just jumped to the top of page two from 950 nowhere for THE keyword in my niche! Coincidence?

It doesn't have to be related to paid links explicitly. The chance was good that you had one or more links to a bad site.

Play_Bach

WebmasterWorld Senior Member play_bach us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 4:29 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

rekitty: The vast majority of people who post to my sites don't add a URL, just text. When they do add a URL it's often to a site like flickr, photobucket etc., or a page they've made to help provide more info regarding their post - it's not - generally speaking - a link to their website. I doubt very much flickr and the rest need tons of links from my site to help boost their popularity, but I suspect all those outgoing links to them somehow has affected mine.

[edited by: Play_Bach at 4:32 pm (utc) on April 20, 2007]

rekitty

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 4:59 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Glad to hear that Play_Bach. Your community is different than many others who have a much more difficult decision to make.

I personally like the strategy where links in user's posts get nofollow until they become a trusted member of a community. After that they get their nofollows removed. That is a legitimate and reasonable use of nofollow as it was defined when introduced.

That's not the point of this thread. This discussion is about using nofollow on advertising links. Few argued with the original intent of nofollow. It's Google's recent illegitimate re-purposing of nofollow to discourage use of a competitive advertising medium that is at contention here.

idolw

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 5:11 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

or what it's worth, here is my policy:

- If you've got good content and I'm referring to that content in my content, you get a link.
- If I'm writing an article and I consider your website an "authority" on the topic then you get a link.
- If you want to advertise on my website then you get a no-follow tag.
- Send me an email about exchanging links and you go right in the trash.

and what happens if I DO have good content AND am a spammer (i.e. I run all shady activities on my good content site)?
will you still link to me? with or without the nofollow tag?

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 5:39 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's Google's recent illegitimate re-purposing of nofollow to discourage use of a competitive advertising medium that is at contention here.

So? Use JavaScript for your advertising links. That way, you won't need to feel guilty about using "nofollow." :-)

MrStitch

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 6:12 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

heheh... funny thread to follow, but I think a lot of people are taking this a bit harder than they should.

Has anyone ever considered that google just made a 'suggestion', hoping that it would land anywhere other than deaf ears?

Lets face it, anything G says is read and repeated by people that have some sort of knowledge of SEO and site building practices. But in reality, the truly honest natural links are all developed by people that either don't know, or simply don't care, about anything G related. Furthermore, there are sooooo many variations of these natural links that there is no physical way for G to snoop them out.

Also, I believe the original comment was that G wanted people to use nofollow on paid links from blogs, forums, etc. Key note there... forums. Forums are probably the best known places where you can find actual natural links. But even then, algorithmically speaking, there is no way in heck you can determine spam from natural. Just not physically possible, without causing collateral damage.

In the end, I suspect G understands all this already, and are already working on some other new project. But as for the no-follow subject.... it's already in the garbage.

Next topic please.

rekitty

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 6:13 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

So? Use JavaScript for your advertising links.

It was very thoughtful of Matt Cutts to suggest multiple ways a publisher can de-value the non-google ads they sell. I believe he also suggested redirecting through a robots.txt excluded page. That works too.

Recommendations from Google's official representative to the webmaster community of ways to stifle a competitive advertising medium are much appreciated, thanks Matt.

We also really appreciate the threats of being penalized or banned from Google if we don't follow your ways of de-valuing these ads. Pretty nifty how you managed to scare both the buyers and sellers of direct advertising links.

We'll all just switch to buying and selling Google adsense ads now.

jakegotmail

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 6:29 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

So? Use JavaScript for your advertising links.

The problem here is this. Google tells you to create sites for the user, and has been since day 1. Explain to me the benefit of doing this to the user?

Ohh the hypocrisy.

arieng

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 6:57 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think Google should show a good faith effort to adhere to its own guidelines and add the no-follow tag to its AdWords links.

Obviously they aren't allowing AdWords ads to affect PR, but it just seems rather inconsistent...like a slap in the face.

Play_Bach

WebmasterWorld Senior Member play_bach us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 7:18 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

> It was very thoughtful of Matt Cutts to suggest multiple ways
> a publisher can de-value the non-google ads they sell.

I'm failing to see how adding nofollow devalues the non-google ads. If the objective is to game Google by manipulating page rank then yes, I can see how adding nofollow would hurt those sites trying to do that. I'm all for Google clamping down on the sleezeballs, more power to 'em!

MrStitch

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 7:46 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

K... I'll bite the bullet on this one.

My site tanked in the serps (well... #50something if you wanna know). I was in the top ten.

So, what I've just done was go through all the recips I had (all of which are on-topic sites), and placed no-follows on anyone that had a link partnership with an SEO firm or some kind of link swapping program (like link helpers, or whatever). For the most part, these partner sites are doing pretty good, and they had extremely few questionable links (extremely few, in comparison to the whole). However, I didn't add a nofollow to people that were 100% legit, and have nice sites.

I then placed, on some pages, a no-follow tag to the menu links that point to our companies affiliate program, and the faq.

I didn't take these steps on all pages of the site, just the core ones. I'll see what happens over the next couple of weeks.

rekitty

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3317050 posted 8:54 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm failing to see how adding nofollow devalues the non-google ads.

I'll gladly spell it out for you. Hopefully this will also be useful for the army of attorneys from both Google and the DOJ that should be trying to understand this complex issue about now. Matt's comments being coincident with the Google acquisition of DoubleClick will end up being very unfortunate for Google, I predict.

Here's a detailed scenario: A small town dentist hires a small town webmaster to build a small town dental website. When the website is complete, the dentist asks the webmaster how he should market it online, and he expresses a desire to get ranked in the search engines for the search term "small town dentist."

The webmaster recommends that with his $500 budget he should spend $100 to list his site in four dental directories and the remaining $400 on Google adwords. That way, she says "you will get immediate placement in Google with your paid ads, and hopefully the links from the directories will over time help you get some free traffic from Google and the other search engines too. No guarantees on the free traffic, though." All good Internet marketing advice.

Here's where Google's anti-competitive behavior becomes clear. Compare two different scenarios and their outcomes. One with nofollow on the directories and one without.

Scenario 1: Directory publishers sell listings without nofollow as they have for years.

A year later the dentist reviews his traffic results from his advertising spend. 49% of his traffic came from Adwords, 1% from the directory links, and 50% from free organic search results split up between all the different search engines. Total traffic X. He decides to split his $500 advertising spend the same way the next year, $400 for Google and $100 for directories.

Scenario 2: Google scares directory publishers into putting nofollow on all their outgoing links.

Total traffic in this scenario is half of the first scenerio, or X/2. Looking at the split of traffic, the dentist sees 99.5% of his traffic came from Google Adwords and 0.5% from the directories. He's disappointed in not getting any organic results and the lack of clicks from the directories. He decides to drop the directories the following year and spend his entire $500 budget on Google Adwords, since that's what delivered all the clicks.

In scenario 2 the dentist was clearly harmed by Google's actions as he only received half the traffic to his website due to nofollow being on the directory listings at Google's recommendation. The directory owners are also harmed as the dentist didn't renew his directory listing the following year. And the Internet as a whole is harmed as it's more difficult to find a good "small town dentist" in the organic listings of all the search engines. The only place you can find our "small town dentist" is on Google. Good for Google, they get more money and more market share.

The really evil thing is the dentist believed based on public statements from Google that the directory links would help his organic rankings. Every article he read about Google in the last 5 years said Google ranks based mostly on links. What neither the small town dentist nor the small town webmaster knew was google devised a HIDDEN way to make those advertisements basically worthless. Then Google scared publishers into de-valuing their advertisements by telling them their sites would be banned or penalized from Google if they didn't add nofollow tags to their links.

Clear enough? Google is manipulating the online advertising market far more than link advertisement buyers are manipulating Google.

[edited by: rekitty at 9:17 pm (utc) on April 20, 2007]

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