Why Google shouldn’t care about Paid Links

Over the last week there have been stories popping up about Google manually lowering the displayed Pagerank of some blogs, because they were selling links. One of the blogs affected by this was that of Andy Beard.

I know that most of my readers are either bloggers or have an interest in becoming a blogger. Most of you read Andy’s blog at least from time to time, so you know that if there is one guy who doesn’t put up links to sites, just because they offer him money, it’s him.

Unlike The Stanford Daily (PR drop from 9 to 7) Andy doesn’t sell unrelated sitewide links. Heck, he doesn’t even sell related ones.

It seems that he got punished for some sponsored reviews he did. They were all balanced, informative for his readers and relevant to the topic of his blog. His PPP profile even states that he highlights “both good features and flaws constructively and offers suggestions for improvements”.

These reviews were simply blog content, and since they were about a website, they had links to the source. This is not link selling, it’s basic journalistic practice.

That’s what really pisses me off!

  • You want to penalize bloggers for unrelated links in the sidebar? Go ahead.
  • You want to punish bloggers for reviewing and linking to unrelated websites? Have fun.
  • You want to tell bloggers that they can’t write a post for money, which you would have no problem with if it was unpaid? Are you nuts?

Payment shouldn’t be a criterion to evaluate the worth of a link, but relevance should be.

The only website I’ve reviewed on this blog so far was Dosh Dosh. I admire Maki’s ability to write his signature articles, so I wrote about his blog and even put in some deep links. Would they be less relevant if he had paid me? No. I’ve never done a directly paid post, and I don’t think that’s gonna change. But if I did, I’d do it like Andy and only choose sites & products relevant to my blog.

I don’t like to read about day trading on SEO blogs, and I don’t want gadget blogs to tell me about headache treatment.

If it is possible to base the price of an AdWords ad on a quality score, then Google should be able to judge links by something that really counts - relevance.

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