One thing I heard at SES London was that people wanted a way to report paid links specifically. Iâ€™d like to get a few paid link reports anyway because Iâ€™m excited about trying some ideas here at Google to augment our existing algorithms. Google may provide a special form for paid link reports at some point, but in the mean time, hereâ€™s a couple of ways that anyone can use to report paid links:
- Sign in to Googleâ€™s webmaster console and use the authenticated spam report form, then include the word â€œpaidlinkâ€ (all one word) in the text area of the spam report. If you use the authenticated form, youâ€™ll need to sign in with a Google Account, but your report will carry more weight.
- Use the unauthenticated spam report form and make sure to include the word â€œpaidlinkâ€ (all one word) in the text area of the spam report.
But this brings up a whole lot of issues, which particularly affects the business model of a lot of blogs and websites out there.
You see, selling links (both image and text) has been the staple of professional bloggers, blog networks, and webmasters for some time now. This brings them good money, and in exchange advertisers get good link juice (especially if a site has high PageRank). But Google apparently thinks link selling dilutes the quality of the links, and hence Google is asking people to report sites that they think are selling links in exchange for compensation.
People are concerned because this means these things -
One, Google’s algorithm is unable to automatically detect link spam (aside from those that are blatantly obvious), and hence they need human intervention.
Secondly, if a site is reported to have been selling links, there needs to be a good way to prove this. But how can you do that really?Â And sites that are in the business of selling advertisements would probably be downgraded in terms of link potency.
Third, Google’s competitors in the online advertising world might be on the losing end. Companies like Text Link Ads, for instance, make a living from putting up text links on publisher sites. Does this mean Google is using its dominance in setting up a monopoly of sorts?
Fourth, there are pay-per-post and pay-per-review schemes where bloggers are paid to write reviews. With this new trend in reporting sites that sell links, bloggers might decide not to disclose that they’re blogging for compensation. This could create a whole new trust problem when it comes to blogging.
SEO Class has listed reactions around the web, and is worried that Google wants to tell us how to run our websites.