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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What's The Deal With Paid Links?

I did not write this article, however I feel that it has value and is well worth sharing, giving full credit to the author of course! Thanks Jason!

About the author:
Jason Lee Miller is a WebProNews editor and writer covering business and technology.

Google Time Warp Edition

Here's a hard truth for the hardliners to swallow: Outlawing something sometimes has worse consequences than the thing outlawed. Or, as the mob tried to tell Congress once: Prohibition's a bitch.

Pardon my French. I'm descended from Appalachian bootleggers.

Google's recent and notorious hard line stance against paid links is resulting in something quite predictable: The disaffected are leveraging every back-alley strategy they can think up. At least it doesn't involve exploding trailers, tripwires, or bullets.

Andy Beard was a bit of a pioneer on the link-laundering front; his (complicated) strategy for masking paid links got some attention last month. But simpler tactics are emerging, some inspired by Google itself.

One of them, which is the digital-world equivalent of impersonating a police officer is destined for a crackdown. Dave Naylor points to (and thus becomes a bit of a narc) what appear to be Google ads but are really nicely done spoofs.

Now that's pretty sneaky.

John Andrews reports another method, which Google would have hard time targeting since the idea came from them to begin with. Instead of buying links, barter for them, which makes for a weird 21st Century currency time warp.

It's so dreamy, oh fantasy free me/ So you can't see me, no not at all/In another dimension…

It's just a jump to the left and then a step to the right to find Google rewarding volunteer participants at the Google blog with juice-filled back links. Andrews gets a little dramatic in his analogies (so do I, for that matter) comparing Google to a casino and SEOs to card-counters before suggesting Google is actively looking to destroy the entire SEO industry.

There is a nugget of reason within this paragraph, though. See if you can find it. (Hint: It's in bold type.)

The take-away is this, folks: Google is controlling you not for some benevolent reason, but in order to control the currency of the web. It took X amount of effort in those forums, dedicated for free by those posters, to earn a direct backlink from Google’s very popular webmaster blog. What was that worth? Google got to decide. Google thinks it is fine to barter in links without the nofollow… it just wants the price for such links to remain pitifully low, managed by Google. Can you see it now? Do we really need to wait a few more years until it is perfectly clear beyond any doubt that Google has all of the money and there is no room for us to share?

… But it's the pelvic thru-ust/ that really drives you insane-yay-yay-yay-yane.

Bob Massa carries on that idea in this extraordinarily long, but perhaps more reasonable, post, which you can read for lots of good industry insight, or you can rely on Aaron Wall to dig out a solid, actionable nugget. In a smaller nutshell, people will barter links in exchange because:

Either it makes them money, saves them time, provides added value to their visitors or they believe it makes them look good or smart or benevolent to their visitors, their peers, their friends, their relatives, to the search engines, award sites or just about anyone that can make them a buck or stroke their ego.

Or, as it's still known by the revenuers in Washington: You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

By Jason Lee Miller - Sat, 03/29/2008 - 12:26pm.

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