Google Eyeballs Paid Goons

While we’re still making sure that everything is screwed down nice and tight before everything gets switched, it might be an idea to actually post something. If truth be told we’ve been raring to go since last week but there appears to be a problem or three regarding some of the redirection from this digital marketing blog to our new one. But panic ye not – we have a back-up plan that we can implement once we’ve got Thanksgiving out of the way.

While we’re on the subject of blogging, or at least while I’m on the subject of blogging, there’s been an almighty brouhaha going on of late relating to Google’s steely cyber stare to various site owners and bloggers engaging in paid linking and now they’re fixing their gaze on pay per posters.

Pay per post involves getting paid to post about a particular product, service, or subject. On the surface this doesn’t appear like it’s the most evil thing you could do with your 9-to-5, but there is an underlying current to both Payperpost and things like Text Link Ads in that they both manage to game the system by throwing in top quality one-way links to those who have paid for the service.

You see, Google’s algorithm relies heavily on links. It determines where a site ranks in its natural search rankings by looking at around 100 factors (if algorithm patents are to be believed). But, one of the most important is linking. Basically, Google sees links as an endorsement of your site. The more related and authoritative the site doing the linking the more Google thinks of your site and places it in the rankings accordingly.

It is quite safe to say that in Googleland links are currency. It’s also quite safe to say that natural search results have nothing to do with real currency – you can’t pay your way to the top; that is what PPC is for.

So, when you have a system of ranking that relies on people linking to content they deem worthy and you then have people gaming the system by paying for this type of link, then we’re going to find ourselves with natural listings that are dominated by those willing to pay for them.

It doesn’t take us too long to work out that we then have quite a different Web on our hands.

However, the amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth that has accompanied the respective site owners who have received a Pagerank smackdown would lead your average punter to believe the second coming is upon us. But that is all that has happened – a little drop in Pagerank. There’s been no ranking penalization and nobody has died, just plenty of posturing and preening.

Frankly, it’s been somewhat pathetic.

Pagerank means nothing to your average person and it’s debatable what use it serves within the SEO industry other than as a contest for bragging rights. The only people who use it as a metric are those involved with buying or selling links in some shape or form as it was originally started by Google as a measure of how well linked a site was. People just like to obsess over green bars and scores out of ten – the more out of ten, the more they could charge for a link.

I have no qualms with what Google is doing here. People are completely missing the point when they claim Google is satanic for infringing on the rights of a few bloggers to make an honest buck. But I don’t buy into that. Google is not a charity and still obviously understands what its core service is. There would be more problems and far worthier whining if Google simply let paid links dictate natural search listings.

At the end of the day these offenders have used Google to present an alternative business model to earn cash through their sites and be part of something cancerous at the core of Google’s values. I don’t even care that Google is doing it in order to protect Adwords – they have every right to do so. Other arguments about that though need saving for another day.

So, the moral of the story is to play by the guidelines that Google has given us – or find another playground.

That feels better.

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