The discussions that take place in the search marketing world are like sports talk radio to me. It's fun to listen to the analysis and armchair quarterbacking because I view it as harmless entertainment. Now, every once in a while you'll hear a radio sports host making statements about a coach that are off track and the coach will call in to the show to set things straight.

I don't blog. That's Jennifer's territory. But this week, I felt the need to respond to public statements about Search Engine Guide.

Jill Whalen's article, Google's Paid-link Smack in the Face, presents a "get things back on the right track" opportunity for me because of the things she said about Search Engine Guide. Keep in mind, Jill really isn't talking smack like radio hosts do. She's simply expressing her opinion. I don't have a problem with that, which is why we ran an article of hers that many have viewed as an attack on us.

Opinion or not, when someone with Jill's stature makes incorrect negative comments that portray our site and advertisers in a poor light, it's important to respond in order to sort opinion from fact.

So, let's have a look at what she said.

"Even my very good friends at Search Engine Guide were smacked down. I hadn't been to their home page in ages since I usually visit through direct article links, but when I looked at their home page today and scrolled down to the bottom, I was taken aback to see what looks more like a link farm than anything else!"

If you aren't familiar with the term, a link farm is basically a set of web pages built for the sole purpose of exchanging links and manipulating PageRank. Relevance isn't of much importance to link farmers.

To a publisher, having a portion of your site portrayed as irrelevant junk meant to manipulate search engine rankings can be a pretty severe insult. But I think this is a case of myopic thinking on Jill's part. She eats and breathes SEO so naturally she sees the world through SEO glasses. She makes assumptions based on her perspective as an SEO without understanding the perspective of the business she's critiquing. Jill sees a categorized list of our advertisers on our homepage and she thinks "link farm."

I'm not an SEO. I'm a publisher. A big part of my job is to do my best to get my advertisers as much exposure as possible. If I hide them away I'll be going out of business pretty quickly. So guess what? I proudly showcase my advertisers and do whatever I can to shout out to the world about their businesses and what they do. It's why I list them on our home page. I want everyone to know who our advertisers are. In fact, I use big bold lettering above them to declare:

"Please visit our sponsors who make Search Engine Guide possible"

As you can see, I'm not trying to hide anything or slyly manipulate anything.

So is it a link farm? Obviously not. It is what it is... a showcase of our advertisers. Nothing more, nothing less.

Of course relevance is another factor that her SEO-centric perspective would likely focus on. If you look at our advertisers you'll see things like directories, a bank, business opportunity affiliates, web hosts, a press release service, software, seminars, a big list of SEOs and search marketing firms and a number of other products and services all relevant to our audience of small business people.

When companies promoting things like jewelry or real estate show up with their advertising dollars I turn them away. Why? Because I know my audience and I know they aren't at Search Engine Guide to learn about those types of companies. They don't mind ads relevant to small business issues because the ads provide an opportunity to learn about products and services that could benefit them.

If my audience didn't mind seeing non-relevant ads would I sell them? Of course. As long as it wasn't anything illegal, immoral or in my opinion distasteful, you bet I'd sell those ads. The bottom line is my audience doesn't want those ads so I don't sell them. There is always that balance I have to keep.

Here is another statement from Jill I'd like to address:

"I haven't seen any comments from Jen or SEG yet on this recent development, but I'm sure they will be taking their lumps like the professionals that they are."

Actually, Jennifer posted her thoughts on the situation right around the same time Jill published her own article.

And lumps? What lumps? The shifting of little green pixels (toolbar PageRank reduction) is of no relevance to us. Now, if our revenue dropped because of the pixel shift, you bet I'd consider that lumps. It's no secret we took our first green pixel hit earlier this month yet we've had no revenue drop. And if our advertisers really were in it for Google's green fairy dust, wouldn't there have been a mass exodus? There wasn't.

Another thing to keep in mind is this is not the first time Google has adjusted either our green pixel number or our ability to pass PageRank. In fact, it's not even the second. It's at least the third time and for all I know it could have happened more than that.

I don't pay attention to how or if we pass PageRank because it doesn't improve the experience for our audience and it doesn't help me sell ads. The reason I know about previous instances of Google blocking our ability to pass PageRank is because we have a bunch of very successful SEOs as advertisers. They told me about it. And you know what, we didn't lose them as advertisers then either. Why? (drum roll please)

They weren't buying ads for PageRank.

Jill goes on to say:

"It will be interesting to see if they (and others) remove the paid links altogether..."

ARG! This drive me nuts. It's as if Google and a good number of people can't comprehend that links are for anything other than trying to boost PageRank. You know what? Quality links drive traffic and can be quite effective for branding. Oh my, how's that for a crazy thought?

Jill says:

"Since they're [the links] buried at the bottom of the home page where they won't be seen by actual visitors (IMO), I can't imagine that they bring much traffic to the ad buyer's website. There is no denying that at least in the case of the SEG site, the links do appear as though they were purchased for the sole purpose of gaining PageRank and/or anchor-text juice."

Well, Jill did say it's just her opinion and I can't blame her for the fact that she doesn't understand our audience, advertisers or business model. Of course, that fact that it's her opinion doesn't change the fact that she is wrong.

Once again I believe Jill is suffering from tunnel vision. She calls the list of advertisers on our home page "buried... where they won't be seen by actual visitors..." Uh... buried? Errr, ok... I guess my big...

"Please visit our sponsors who make Search Engine Guide possible"

...heading isn't enough in Jill's mind to grab the attention of our visitors. Maybe she thinks a big flashing neon sign is necessary to get our visitors to notice? (Hmmmm, flashing hot pink neon might be kinda cool actually.)

And Jill says she "...can't imagine that they bring much traffic to the ad buyer's website." Well again, Jill is making statements on a subject she knows nothing about. She can't imagine our text links delivering traffic (don't forget my crazy branding notion either) because she doesn't know a thing about traffic patterns on our site or what our audience looks at.

Now I do have to take Jill to task for being lazy when she says:

"There is no denying that at least in the case of the SEG site, the links do appear as though they were purchased for the sole purpose of gaining PageRank and/or anchor-text juice."

Remember how I pointed out that I don't hide our advertisers? Well, I don't hide our rate card either. The link to our rate card is right up there at the top of the page so everyone can see and visit it:

http://www.searchengineguide.com/ratecard.html

Now, the reason I said I think Jill was being lazy is because it's apparent she didn't even bother to look at what our advertisers are purchasing. We sell CPM ads and we sell a Site Sponsor Package where I've bundled a combination of static and rotating text ads with rotating graphic ads at a flat monthly rate. CPM ads for larger advertisers and Site Sponsor Packages for the smaller advertisers.

Contrary to Jill's opinion that the Site Sponsor Packages are being purchased "...for the sole purpose of gaining PageRank and/or anchor-text juice" I think our advertisers actually do purchase the package because they see the value of having:

1. A featured, non-rotating link on our home page
2. A non-rotating link in our marketplace directory
3. A rotating, run of site text box ad
4. A rotating, run of site 300x100 graphic ad
5. A rotating, run of site 125x125 graphic ad

"Hold the phones! Mr. Robert, did you just say you sell text ads?!" Yep. Since 1996 I've been selling text and graphic ad packages on our sites. Proud of it too. Why? Because we deliver a good value for our advertisers.

And in case you missed it, that's 1996 B.G. (Before Google)

I don't know, maybe Jill thinks we just sell text ads. And I would if they made business sense to do so. But think about it, what would I charge for a single text link? $50 a month? I can't afford to service clients who are only spending $50 a month. Naturally customers want to talk with me, submit changes, ask questions, etc. My business can't provide that support for $50 ads and make a profit. And just so there is no confusion, I have no qualms selling text ads, graphic ads, video ads, or whatever if it benefits my audience, my advertisers and my business.

I also want to address from another angle Jill's belief that our advertisers are purchasing our ad packages for the sole purpose of gaining PageRank. The reason I bring this up is because there is something about the way Jill, and apparently Google, appear to view my advertisers that bugs me.

Look at our home page. There are a zillion and one links on there. How much PageRank value could a single link from that page really provide? I don't even pretend to be an expert on PageRank but it seems obvious to me there is very little, if any PageRank value. Certainly not enough to justify spending the $150 for our advertising package.

Now Jill made the following comment after one of Jennifer's posts:

"Thanks for the clarification, Jen. I wonder if they will continue to buy them if you removed those ones on the home page? (Not saying you should by any means!) Because I can see those ones being the draw as far as real PageRank and anchor text go."

I was surprised by that statement so I responded to Jill: "Wait, are you saying you actually think that with the 10 zillion advertisers I have linked that anyone is actually getting PageRank benefit that would remotely matter?"

Jill's response:

"No idea if they are or aren't; but it doesn't matter what I think, it's the perception of those buying them that matters."

I told Jill that my advertisers aren't as ignorant as she seems to think they are. Let's face it, only an idiot would spend $150 solely to get PageRank value when there probably isn't any to be had. I know it. I believe she knows it. And I certainly hope everyone buying ads from us knows it.

The bottom line is, I don't think my advertisers are idiots. Of course, it will be easy enough to see if I'm wrong. If we have a bunch of advertisers suddenly defect, feel free to publicly parade them in front of me as proof that they were buying only for PageRank and that I was wrong.

Now there is something that Jill said that I do not disagree with:

"I imagine Google is putting on the PR-smackdown show in order to make a statement, and I believe that statement is: 'This is your chance to put nofollow on your paid-for links. If you don't, we might actually make this penalty the real thing.'"

Jill very well may be right about that and it's a dilemma many publishers like me face. Knowing we've done nothing wrong, why should we bow to Google's demands that we make changes that have no benefit to our visitors and are solely for the benefit of a search engine? On principles's sake, we shouldn't.

Do I really think Google wants to unfairly punish people they know have done nothing wrong by yanking them from their index? No, I don't. But I do think Google is willing to inflict collateral damage on the innocent in the name of making their jobs easier.

Even worse, I'm afraid the people in charge at Google are drinking too much of their own kool-aid and they are beginning to believe their own nonsense that only sites trying to cheat them won't comply with their demands.

Are we willing to risk losing the traffic Google sends simply because we don't buy into this crazy notion? Will we nofollow every paid link just because Google demands it? At this point, I don't know. It's a decision that will be made based on what is best for, and with the input of, our readers, advertisers, contributors and employees.


October 25, 2007





Search Engine Marketing Columnist






Comments(128)

Robert; you know that I disagree with JW more times than not and am not afraid to do so. But in this case, her article in here about this issue is "right on". Matter of fact; I could not have stated anything she wrote any better or differently. You know I would not be writing about how much I agree with Jill unless I "totally" agreed with Jill.

There is something else in play that I don't think you quite understand:

WHO you link out to makes a whole lot of difference... it "really" does. Forget about whether or not all those links at the bottom of your front page and in your sidebar are paid for or NOT paid for. It doesn't matter. How about the fact that some of them are to "bad neighborhoods", or are third parties who actually create many bad neighborhoods?

That's right Robert; this is not just about paid links, but it's also about websites who promote and give praise to websites who they themselves are bad stuff and are in bad neighborhoods, or who create the bad neighborhoods.

It's about time Google is "now starting" to do what my forums and others have said they should do for years now.

Your very best bet is to start "nofollowing" all links whether you like it or not. Furthermore; I'd really start thinking about "who" you link to in a more stricter way as it does not matter whether the link is paid for or not. The facts are the facts... and this stuff really has always been this way.

The difference there is now is that Google has finally started cracking down, of which "some" of us have warned about for years, but not many in this SEO industry listened.

Doug, I think you bring up a good point but... if Robert is selective about who advertises (and I don't know because I've never discussed this with him) and he trusts all the sites advertising, then your issue is moot. No follow was intended to mean "I don't trust this link". Now it can mean "I do trust this link but I got some kind of compensation that may or may not be monetary so I have to provide a label for it, not for my human readers mind you, but only for search engines." That completely flies in the face of Google saying, only do things for your visitors, not for search engines.

As a SEG advertiser, I can confirm that we do not buy ads for link juice or PR but rather for the exposure and traffic SEG sends us. And believe me, each and every month, SEG sends plenty of qualified traffic. I would continue to advertise even if links were nofollowed, however I'd be a bit disappointed if Robert gave in to "Big Brother."

Yes David; and that is why the SEO industry is in the state it's in. That's why there is all the hoopla and hype right now, and that is why Google is "just now" cracking down.

Think about it a minute; you run the largest, biggest, baddest, and most relevant search engine on the planet. The "most relevant" part is not my opinion, but the obvious opinion of "most" of the world, since the world is who visits Google and does searches every day, right?

Now think about how "you" would run your search engine? Would you continue to allow anyone to buy their way to the top, or do you want to be as unbiased as you can be? Do you want to continue to allow "SEO" types to dictate how you should run YOUR search engine and allow them to continue to move "your" search engine closer to being the same as the "paid ads" in YOUR right hand column.... "buy your way", or do you want to somehow make sure the organic side and the paid side are different?

What would you do?

Common sense rules the way to the answer.

Further; Like I stated, this isn't a matter of a publisher "trusting" who they are promoting, but a matter of "WHO" they are promoting... paid or NOT paid. What you may say is trustful, may not be what Google thinks is trustful. Do publishers really check out each advertiser fully? Do they really know how to do so? I think not.

Remember; this isn't about what you and the SEO community wants to have happen; but this IS about a very large search engine doing what it thinks is best for itself.

If you ran that engine, what would you do?

Oh, and Stoney, you wrote:

"if Robert is selective about who advertises (and I don't know because I've never discussed this with him) and he trusts all the sites advertising, then your issue is moot."

That isn't the issue though. It's not about how well Robert selects advertisers, but about what Google thinks of those advertisers. Unless you know "how" to look out for bad neighborhoods... I mean really know how, you can't know what Google thinks of ALL of these advertisers in this site. By not using the nofollow tag, you are basically saying "I know exactly" who Google likes and does not like, and I trust my selectivity".

I can tell you by looking at some of them, I would not personally take 10K per month from them..... no amount of money would be enough to promote some of them. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. :-) If I may think this way, what way would Google think? If you ran a large and popular search engine, how would you think?

Google is very clear in the guidelines about linking out to bad neighborhoods.

Doug, it's always interesting to see what you have to say.

I'll give two quick responses.

What would you do?

I'd adjust my algorithm to stop counting paid links that are clearly marked as links (per FTC guidelines) and stop expecting other people to do the work for me.

That isn't the issue though. It's not about how well Robert selects advertisers, but about what Google thinks of those advertisers.

My parents always taught me to make my own decisions about who to like/trust/admire instead of relying on what "the popular kids" liked/trusted/admired...

That's all nice and fine Jennifer, but that's really not the issue. It's "Google" that everyone seems to be upset about. It's Google who most do not want to be on the bad side of. It's Google who sends many sites lots of free referrals. It's Google who has "guidelines for webmasters" to follow or to not follow. Google does not care about your site or my site or Robert's site, but Google "does" care about their very own site.

In that context; what would you do if you ran the largest search engine on the planet? Again; common sense rules.

BTW Jenn; I'm probably about 50 miles from you right now as I'm from the columbus area and am here for a long time. :-)

"That's all nice and fine Jennifer, but that's really not the issue."

I'm starting to think this is your favorite phrase Doug. ;)

And your last post doesn't change my stance at all. I've never believed that it was someone else's responsibility to make my life easier.

I mean could you imagine Google demanding that any site that cloaked put a "wecloak" meta tag up there? How bout if they asked sites with hidden text to use the "style=hiddentext" attribute? ;)

It's idiotic. It's not my job to make Google's indexing life easier.

And you seem to be missing the fact that I am not upset at Google. I don't care if they dropped our PageRank. Whatever. It's a green bar. As Robert has noted, people don't buy ads on our site for that purpose, so I highly doubt it will hurt us.

If Doug agrees with me, I probably need to retract my entire article. :(

I do plan to answer Robert's very interesting points made here, but might not get to it until Friday. (Sox game, yeah!)

Well Jenn; you are just missing my point, but no big deal. I do think Robert knows what I'm trying to say.

If Google did do what you are suggesting IE: only discount paid ads that are disclosed... what about all the other paid ads that are not disclosed?

Don't you see that this is not just about "paid links"? There is lots more to do with this than paid links. It's something that you nor I cannot control,.. with Google in FULL control. We all can either do our best by abiding by the stated guidelines involving paid ads, and involving "linking out to bad neighborhoods", or we don't. The only thing you or I or anyone can control is the "how" we choose to do things. Google has never cared about how we choose to do things. We do with our sites how we wish, and Google can do with their site how they wish. It's really that simple.

I'm simply giving you my thoughts and opinions like I have for years and years. One can choose to try to listen and understand them, or one may choose not to. :-)

I've stated for many years now that linking out to questionable sites is not going to be good for a site for the long term. It makes no difference whether the link is paid for or not as a link out is a link out. You are telling Google "and" your visitors that the link is trusted by you and is helpful to your readers. Just because you think so does not mean Google will think so as well.

Just like linking out to not so good sites could be bad,.... linking out to good sites could be good... and I have lots of evidence that suggests if you do link out to great sites, and sites that Google also thinks is great.... you will be rewarded as such. Your outgoing links are just as important as your incoming links, and they have been this way for a few years now. That's something this SEO industry does not seem to discuss too often. Don't know if it's a matter of "not knowing" or what the heck it is. :)

Well Jenn; you are just missing my point, but no big deal. I do think Robert knows what I'm trying to say.

That's ok Doug, you're missing mine as well. I do think my readers know what I'm trying to say though.

;)

As always, your comments are interesting.

Oh, I get your point Jenn. You wrote this:

"It's idiotic. It's not my job to make Google's indexing life easier."

I'm happy you don't care how a search engine lists it's results, nor do you care if the results are full of spam or if sites buy their way to the top.

As a designer/SEO myself, I happen to actually care how other sites get to the top of Google. Since there is great interest in a site getting to the top of Google, I feel it's in the best interest of my client that other sites do not spam their way to the top. For that reason, it certainly does matter to me about how Google goes about "controlling" their stated guidelines. If I and others simply shrugged our shoulders and claimed "it's not my responsibility" to help Google, my clients would not think too much of me then. Actually Jenn; your stance on all things Google is not unlike the "majority" in this SEO industry and is a big reason why the industry is in the state it's in.

You also wrote this:

"As Robert has noted, people don't buy ads on our site for that purpose, so I highly doubt it will hurt us."

Exactly how does Robert know why someone buys an ad? You really believe they buy ads for just the traffic? I know darn well advertisers buy ads on SEG because the site gets lots of great visitors. I know this, but do you not think those same advertisers saw a big o'l PR7 on that silly bar and had a thought it just might help them with Google? I think so. To think otherwise is called "denial". :-)

And Jill; I suggest you take a compliment a tad better the next time. I don't give them freely as you well know.

Oh, I get your point Jenn. You wrote this:

"It's idiotic. It's not my job to make Google's indexing life easier."

I'm happy you don't care how a search engine lists it's results, nor do you care if the results are full of spam or if sites buy their way to the top.

Umm...that's a fairly big leap in interpretation there Doug.

Exactly how does Robert know why someone buys an ad?

You may find this hard to believe, but we actually talk to our advertisers. In fact, we probably talk to them more often than you do. ;)

As Robert pointed out though...if we're wrong and people were buying ads based on our PageRank...we'll see a big exodus of advertisers, won't we?

Doug Said: Exactly how does Robert know why someone buys an ad?
Doug, you are right, I can't read the minds of people who buy ads from us so I can't be certain of everyone's true motivations. But something I am 100% certain of is I don't try selling something we can't sell which is PageRank.

Yes Robert; I know you don't "sell" pagerank and Google knows that as well.

Again though; that's really not the main issue that I'm speaking of.

"Linking Out"

is the issue. ALL ways you link out and to "whom".

So in "other" words, you are "arguing" about something that isn't even "mentioned" in this post?

I'm "confused."

Not arguing at all. I'm pointing out what is missing in the original post. :-)

Many out there seem to believe this is all about paid links and not using the nofollow tag on them. I'm simply trying to explain that this is not all this is about.... not at all. Not even close really.

I don't seem to be doing a good job of explaining since you are now confused.

Not arguing at all. I'm pointing out what is missing in the original post.

Umm...but that's not what the post was about, so it's not really "missing," now is it?

;)

Doug, you said, "That isn't the issue though. It's not about how well Robert selects advertisers, but about what Google thinks of those advertisers."

You're suggesting then that Google is being dishonest about what it "thinks". You're suggesting that on the one hand, if Robert added those links without being paid for them, Google probably wouldn't care. But since those links are paid, suddenly Google "thinks" differently about the sites being linked to. If the links are to bad sites then and Google wants to penalize for linking to bad neighborhoods then fine. But the links should not suddenly be considered "bad" because they are paid.

So, you're wrong... it's not about what Google thinks of the sites to which Robert is linked to, but Google thinks that everybody must label links as paid--not for the site's visitors, but for Google.

Hehe, quite an interesting array of opinions although the main part I am taking away from this is that SEG isn't necassarily too bothered about Google's "opinion" of them because they are selling adspace to interested 3rd parties. If SEG suddenly lost 90% of their traffic because of Google dropping them I'm sure things will change but unless something like that happens I can't see why you would have to give into Google's demands.
All things being equal then surely Yahoo! and MSN should be penalised withing Google too then they sell HUGE amounts of adspace on their homepages :P

erf.. typos in my last post sorry :P

"All things being equal then surely Yahoo! and MSN should be penalised within Google too since they sell HUGE amounts of adspace on their homepages"

Stoney summed it up:

"Google thinks that everybody must label links as paid--not for the site's visitors, but for Google."

Huh? No Stoney; I didn't say that at all. I hope you decide to actually read "all" my posts in here in their entirety.

Again, and yet again;

It makes NO difference whether a link out is paid for or not paid for. ANY outgoing link on your site is subject to being to a "bad neighborhood" which causes "this" site to be associated with that same bad neighborhood. It makes NO difference whatsoever if the link is paid or not paid. It makes NO difference whatsoever if that link is labeled as "sponsored" or not.

If you are looking at Google only; it truly makes no difference. If you are linking out to bad neighborhoods, you are also in that same bad neighborhood.

How many different ways would you like me to explain the same thing? :-)

I can tell you for a "fact" that this site is linking out to bad neighborhoods. Period.

Now; is that more clear to everyone reading? :-)

If SEG suddenly lost 90% of their traffic because of Google dropping

And if we got 90% of our traffic from Google, we'd be doing something very, VERY wrong.

Not saying a traffic hit from Google wouldn't hurt immensely, but I always worry about the marketing strategies of sites that say they get 75-90% of their traffic from Google.

Okay, I'm back to respond to Robert's very well thought out comments to my original article.

First, it's important for everyone to know that I have already personally emailed Robert with an apology for appearing to attack his business model. As I stated in my article, we happen to be good friends, and have been for a good 6-7 years. I would hate to have something I said in an article come between our friendship, and my one big regret with the whole thing was using SEG as my example, when I could have chosen any of the other sites that had previously been mentioned in the other posts on this topic. Robert responded that there were no hard feelings at all and that he just felt it was necessary to clarify some points for the community.

So for anyone looking for an out and out mud-slinging brawl, it's not going to happen here!

With that out of the way, let me explain why I did choose SEG to use as my example even though they are friends. For one, I know that Robert has always appreciated my outspokenness on all SEO issues, and I had hoped he would take my article in the spirit to which it was intended...me reporting on why Google may have reduced the toolbar PageRank of SEG. Remember here folks, I'm not the one who reduced their toolbar PR. I was just trying to make sense out of it.

When I saw in the previous posts on this topic that SEG was a Google target, my first reaction was complete shock. I thought, "Huh? Why in the world would SEG's toolbar PR be reduced?" I've obviously known they've been selling ad space for years, but never thought of that as something Google was targeting. It was only when I visited their home page and saw all the text links at the bottom that I thought, "Ahh...okay...exactly the thing Google stated they were going to start targeting."

That's really all there was to it. No judgment on my part as to whether what happened was a good or bad thing, simply a reporting on why it probably was happening.

To comment on Robert saying that I was being lazy in not looking at their advertising packages, I have to whole-heartedly disagree with this. Why would I need to look at that? Why would it matter to me or to the point of the article what their ad packages were? The package they're selling was obviously of no interest to Google, as they are the ones who lowered the toolbar PR, not me!

All in all, I believe my article was a fair representation of what was happening and it was in no way meant as an attack on SEG or anyone else. The one thing I wrote that was wrong and that I would like to retract at this time was calling their paid text link ads at the bottom of the home page, a link farm. That was admittedly an overstatement, and done more as poetic license for maximum affect to the reader. But it was an inaccurate label as link farms by the definition I've always used for them are something completely different. (Link farms are a group of sites that get together to all link to each other.) Clearly this is not what SEG's links are, as all the sites that advertise do not all link to each other as far as I know.

Whether the SEG ad buyers' purchase their ads for PageRank or anchor text purposes (as well as for direct traffic purposes), who knows? I suspect many or most of them do, which is perfectly within their right! That doesn't make them idiots at all, as Robert seemed to try to suggest that I was saying. But let's be honest, text links such as those on the SEG home page can often provide a nice SEO benefit (which is why Google hates them). People buying them for that purpose is not surprising, nor is it dumb. It is simply good business sense. You do whatever works for you in this business, and that's fine.

My major point in the article was really to wonder out loud what those who do advertise for the anchor text/PR benefit would be doing in the future if/when that is taken away by Google. I wrote about buying text links back in Feb. '06 which may be worth another read now that it's all coming to a head.

I do hope that people will re-read the original article in light of Robert's comments, and see that my intent was certainly not to attack Robert, his business model or SEG. And to Robert (and Jennifer) I do sincerely apologize if it came across that way, and also for using the incorrect and inappropriate "link farm" phrase to describe your links.

For the record, I did immediately post a link to Jennifer's article on this topic with my original article as soon as I saw it.

I will also post a copy of this post/comment with my own article and point to Robert's post here for reference.

Thanks for listening!

So search engines started out as a service for their end users. Find stuff that you were looking for online. They were able to easily handle this on there own. As the web grew and so did spammers, Google is now asking us to make their product better without any guarantees from them for our websites? No guarantees that if we use the nofollow properly that our websites will perform in the index better than those that are clearly spamming? Hmmm.

Doug comments like these:

"I'm happy you don't care how a search engine lists it's results, nor do you care if the results are full of spam or if sites buy their way to the top."

are simply misleading. I am sure SEO's, SEG, webmasters, you and me care about that stuff, but it is essentially Google job to fix it. They are the search engine, not us. Plus as said above, where is even the slightest incentive for us to do this? Mom and pop shops can follow all the right guidelines to a T and still find themselves behind crap spam websites that should be easy for Google to find. Even if SEG nofollowed the links will the PR go back up? Does Google tell us that this will happen. Nope they just leave the concept hang out there in the thin air and let us grasp at it like children trying to reach a balloon.

Clear definitions from Google on right and wrong would truly help, but I have seen nothing like that. Some statements like "If you do this, this will happen" would help since they want us to tag most all links on our and our clients websites.

I have to agree with Jenn here. It seems SEG, could care less about TBPR. It really is not a factor at all nor has it ever been. I am sure SEG traffic is still the same. My traffic is the same. So what is the big deal?

"I can tell you for a "fact" that this site is linking out to bad neighborhoods. Period."

Well Doug, at least you had the sense to put "fact" in quotes.

;)

Not misleading at all incrediblehelp. Matter of fact; my statement is right on the money.

Would any other industry members allow their spammers to run the industry? Nope. Let's get it straight; every industry has their spammers. If you do not know what I mean by that, then you are too young to have actually worked for companies in the REAL world and offline. I have. Many of them. Each and every industry has their spammers just like the online world has them.

Do you honestly believe firms in other industries allow spammers to do as they please without any help whatsoever from the firms who play by the rules? They don't allow it at all.

And Jill Whalen; I saw your post at "Spin". I have not ruined this thread as you state. I have helped Robert in here. The other's who have posted? I doubt they listen.

People who have not listened in the past always seem to get bit in the future. nuff said.

I'm with Doug all the way here. Funny how all his long term forum members have not lost any PR and are still doing really well. Funny how some have increased PR while all these PR drop blogs and forum posts are surfacing. I guess 1+1=2 after all :)

One only has to glance at sites like this one, to see they ARE trying to game to SEs and affiliated with some of the largest link Spammers on the Planet. Thick as thieves comes to mind.

Jill and all her blackhat buddies (yeah I know, there aren't REALLY blackhats and they are sooooo nice) have a VESTED interest in selling/buying links to try and game Google (yeah I know, they aren't REALLY for PR).

This would be fine if ONLY the above are getting what is coming, but they SPREAD their spamming ways and make money doing so. All the while beefing up the benefits, while playing down the risks.

I just checked Doug's Forum and main site. Seems he has NO vested interest to skew his methods of SEO. There are not many SEO sites that can make that claim.

Time wise up blackhats, start to learn REAL SEO and site designs. IHY forums are a great place to start.

Me and my blackhat buddies! ROFL! That's classic.

Well, that may be the first time I've ever been called a black hat.

I've been called worse...

David J said:

"Jill and all her blackhat buddies (yeah I know, there aren't REALLY blackhats and they are sooooo nice) have a VESTED interest in selling/buying links to try and game Google (yeah I know, they aren't REALLY for PR)."

We AREN'T Jill's BUDDIES, we ARE Jill's MINIONS. She SENDS us OUT at NIGHT to DO her BIDDING and SUBVERT all THAT google HOLDS dear.

BY the WAY david J. why DO you WRITE like THIS? ;)

incrediblhelp wrote:
"Clear definitions from Google on right and wrong would truly help, but I have seen nothing like that. Some statements like "If you do this, this will happen" would help since they want us to tag most all links on our and our clients websites."

Excellent point!

Robert, you mention that you reject irrelevant links, but how much do you check out your advertisers?

I grabbed the web directory with the weirdest name (www.apahcinc.org) and looked at it. It only took a couple minutes with the Internet Archive to see that in 2006 it was a non-profit site called the Asian Pacific American Heritage Council:
http://web.archive.org/web/20060209161154/http://www.apahcinc.org/

It looks like the domain expired and someone completely different snapped it up and turned the site into a pay-to-be-listed directory. If a user clicks into the "Apahcinc" Web Directory to a page such as http://www.apahcinc.org/Travel_Accommodation/ there's no notice that the listing are paid-for, or that the "Featured" listings are just sites that paid more. I couldn't find anyone's name or address on the site, and the registration information for the site is private.

Doesn't this strike you as a low-quality site, or at least that other people might see it that way? But you're taking this site's money, and linking to it from your home page.

Hey david j, please don't put "Robert" in with everyone else. He just receives some not so good advice is all. I'm only in here to help him. He knows that. I really could not care less about anyone else in here. Sorry. :-)

But yes; the site does link out to both "free" and "paid" to bad places. Facts are facts. I think Robert is now aware of this.

@Doug:
Let him classify me however he chooses. I am the publisher and I have the final say on the advertisers. I am 100% responsible for my own actions and I don't actually recall getting any advice regarding advertisers.

@Curious User:
As long as the ad is relevant to my audience and doesn't offer something illegal or IMO immoral, I have no problem selling them an ad.

Well Robert, that is just it though. That directory you may be selling that ad to might be engaged in lots of link schemes. If you link to them you are associated with it as well. Do you see? It's as simple as "guilt by association". It's really common sense stuff. That's why I say that it makes no difference if a link is paid or given for free. Linking out to bad places is about the worse thing a site can do to itself.

@Doug:
Did you try logging in? The comment had to be approved again. If you did try logging in, I'll see if I can find why you aren't automatically being approved.

Back on topic...
Yes, I'm fully aware of everything you are saying and have been so since day 1.

LOL! mention the words blackhats & spammers (no names other than Jills) and all those, who claim they aren't, post denying it. Funny stuff. If the shirt fits :)

RE: "Clear definitions from Google on right and wrong would truly help, but I have seen nothing like that. Some statements like "If you do this, this will happen" would help since they want us to tag most all links on our and our clients websites."

The Google guidelines are patently clear to myself and many others.

Doug, sorry, but so long as Robert is making money out of high risk practices without disclosing the VERY real risks, he's as guily as sin IMO.

RE: "why DO you WRITE like THIS?"

To warn the ignorant masses that read this page.

A quick reminder to everyone... if you plan to post more than one comment you may want to consider registering so your comments don't have to wait to be approved.

Just look for the sign in link under "Leave a Comment"

David J:
Unlike you, I don't consider my readers ignorant.

The Google guidelines are patently clear to myself and many others.

Show me on Google's website where they explain why we need to implement nofollow on ads and how?

...so long as Robert is making money out of high risk practices without disclosing the VERY real risks, he's as guily as sin IMO.

To whom am I supposed to be disclosing the risks of linking to whichever site I want to? Myself? I own this site, I'm taking the risk. Therefore, there is nothing for me to disclose to... er... myself.

And feel free to label me a blackhat, blackcat, blackrat or whatever makes you feel warm and snuggly inside. ;-)

It won't let me use my name. I registered but can't remember what I registered with. lol

Anyway; yeah, Google is not going to tell anyone, especially the SEO industry exactly what it wants and needs, or how close to the line you can go before a site is bad or not bad or whatever. That's just foolish thinking, so you all can forget that. Robert simply needs to be careful of who he links out to is all.

And yes; the guidelines are very clear to me as well. Heck, they have been crystal clear since day one, way before Google added a few hundred more "detailed" pages to the guidelines. LOL

Yeah boy; if I ran the largest search engine on the planet and had thousands of SEO's all scheming to game me, I'd certainly be telling every one of them exactly how close to some spam line they can come. LOL

Come on now; that's pretty far out stuff (way of thinking)

David J, so if I call you a blackhat, are you going to deny it? ;)

Doug, check your email. I sent the username and password.

Google is not going to tell anyone, especially the SEO industry exactly what it wants and needs, or how close to the line you can go before a site is bad or not bad or whatever

Doug, what I'd like Google to do is post on their site why and how we are to implement nofollow on ads. That isn't giving away any trade secrets and has nothing to do about being close to the line. I'd like them to do this not for the SEO industry but for the small business market. If this really is what Google wants, they should post it on their site not assume small business owners will magically hear about it through the grapevine.

Doug, why am I starting to get the feeling that back in the 1600's, you'd have been the guy in Salem shouting "if they weren't really witches, they'd let us dunk them underwater until they drown to prove it! After all, a witch would survive a drowning!"

"Show me on Google's website where they explain why we need to implement nofollow on ads and how?"

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66356 specifically mentions "Buying or selling links that pass PageRank" as a link scheme that can affect your site. So it is official.

Robert, it doesn't bother you in the slightest to take money to promote an expired domain that used to belong to a nonprofit?

Because that's what white hat supremecists do.

Jennifer, as I said, the ONLY name I mentioned was Jill's. You CHOSE to defend yourself personally based ONLY on my generic post.

RE: "Unlike you, I don't consider my readers ignorant."

Well you should and stop assuming they all know the risks associated with links to game Google.

RE: "To whom am I supposed to be disclosing the risks of linking to whichever site I want to? Myself? I own this site, I'm taking the risk. Therefore, there is nothing for me to disclose to... er... myself."

Not talking about YOUR site and yourself. I'm talking about the likes of "text links ads" etc that you take money from while NOT disclosing any risks to your readers. No surprise there for me though . As I say, you have a vested interest in keep it all nice and glossy.

RE: "Show me on Google's website where they explain why we need to implement nofollow on ads and how?"

You don't NEED to do anything, it is your site and you can as you please. However, Google retains the exact same rights. Just don't moan and whine when Google exercises that right.

If you are trying to tell me, based on the Google guidelines, that trying to game SEs with links is something yourself and others don't do, you are either playing dumb, or are dumb.

But, this is ALL down to common sense though, which apparently isn't so "common" around these parts.

I bid you all farewell.

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank

Umm...maybe I'm blind, but I don't see the word "nofollow" in there anywhere...

Curious user, I wouldn't bother, they will somehow twist it to suit their own vested interest.

Jill and Jennifer have always resorted to childish insults......................

Curious user:
Nice try CU, but you've come up short. I've read that page more times than I care t count. That says absolutely nothing about the why and how of implementing nofollow on ads.

So, I'm still waiting for you to show me on Google's site where they explain why we need to implement nofollow on ads and how?

Robert, it doesn't bother you in the slightest to take money to promote an expired domain that used to belong to a nonprofit?

Nope not a bit. As you clearly pointed out, it was (past tense) an expired domain legally purchased by a company who then turned it into a directory. It's no longer an expired domain. Sorry, nothing illegal there.

Thanks for playing, please try again.

Well, looks like David J also failed to locate on Google's site where they explain why we need to implement nofollow on ads and how?

Sadly, you won't find it because it's not there.

In my opinion, Google needs to put this information on their site so it is clear to everyone outside the SEO industry, the vast majority of whom aren't tuned into the SEO grapevine, the rules they expect us to follow regarding ads on our sites.

Robert Clough, the official Google documentation says "Buying or selling links that pass PageRank." One could decline to sell links, or one could sell links that don't pass PageRank--either of those approaches would be well within Google's guidelines. But Google specifically mentions "Buying or selling links that pass PageRank" and that's pretty clear.

"Jennifer have always resorted to childish insults."

Umm...okaaaaaaay.

I guess the only way to respond to that is to say "I'm rubber and you're glue..."

;)

As for the other...there's no denying that Google says "don't buy or sell PageRank. We're not arguing that. What we're arguing is that Google has now decided to ADD to that to say "and make sure you nofollow paid links or we'll come and get you."

The average web site owner has never heard of nofollow and has no reason to think they need to go look for it.

I realize that those who live and breathe SEO have a hard time looking outside the tunnel, but as someone who deals with bazillions of small business owners on a regular basis...I can tell you that most of them have never heard of nofollow and don't read Danny Sullivan or Matt Cutt's blog.

Curious User, you are going in circles again.

Everyone can read and we fully understand what the page you've already pointed out says and does not say.

You evade my direct and simple question because you know the answer. Nowhere on Google's site do they explain why we need to implement nofollow on ads and how.

The only problems with the Google guidelines for you Robert, is they are to be read with just a tad of common sense applied. NoFollow is mentioned many times as is buying/selling links.

Robert, you are making a complete fool of yourself by harping on about specific words in the order you WANT and you already KNOW don't exist.

Google doesn't specifically say a lot of things, but using that as excuse is a very hollow defense.

NoFollow is mentioned many times

If it is then why not just show us?

tap...tap...tap...tap... waiting...

"Nowhere on Google's site do they explain why we need to implement nofollow on ads and how."

That's because Google's guidelines explain the policy. The mechanism is up to you, and could include

- not selling links
- selling links that don't pass PageRank, by adding nofollow to paid links
- selling links that don't pass PageRank, by making paid links redirect through a page that is robot.txt'ed out

among other methods.

Oh wait, do you mean I sling insults because of the Doug/Salem comment?

Perhaps you need some context.

Back during the Salem Witch trials, a common thing to have happen was to "press" or "dunk" someone accused of witchcraft. Part of the thinking was witches could survive anything (because of the magic) so nearly drowning someone was a great way to have the "witch" come out in them.

Of course the accused generally drown before anyone decided they weren't really witches.

Those who tried to refuse such tests were assumed to be guilty. After all, if they weren't guilty, they'd take the "test" right?

I see a lot of that going on here with Doug.

"If you aren't selling PageRank, then just nofollow...what's the big deal?"

It's like we MUST be guilty because we don't want to do what someone else says.

I find that sad.

Ok, I'm going to save myself some time by cutting and pasting what I said elsewhere.

This is why I want to see Google do the right thing regarding providing the information on nofollow...

As far as I know, Google has not published on their site the information regarding their stance on nofollow and why and how we should implement it on ads. If I am wrong and they have published this, please correct me.

By not officially publishing this on their site, Google is doing a disservice. The vast majority of small businesses out there who we serve, have no clue about this. I can't point them to a page on Google that explains their position and how to implement it.

I would have a lot more respect for Google if they would simply make this information officially available on their site instead of thinking people should just hear about it through the grapevine. Ignorance of the law is no excuse if you break the law. But never publishing the law for all to see is an abuse of power.

If they would do that I would seriously consider implementing nofollow.

Also, as I and others have said. You are free to sell links and buy them. BUT, if sell them you should let it be known that Google will NOT see them as VOTES. In other words, they are good for click traffic only. Yet all link mongers have the word PR and Google all over the place and BASE the cost of a link on PR in many cases. But, no, nothing immoral there at all. Yeah right!

You will NOT get outed/penalized for buying/selling links alone, they are simply discounted. This is why many sites have lost PR, which they never should have had to start with. Opportunity lost.

However, you run a VERY real risk of being associated with "bad neighborhoods" in both the SE's eyes and you site visitors. Being associated with "bad neighborhoods" WILL get you a outed/penalized.

Again though, all the above is plain old common sense, which is perhaps why Robert and co cannot grasp it.

David J said:
"Robert, you are making a complete fool of yourself"

Solid argument there David.

:-)

Oh, Robert. See that little search box in the Webmasters Guidelines, type nofollow in it and Search.

And before you say it YET AGAIN, no they don't have the exact words you are waiting for and using as a cop-out, all that is needed is common sense.

RE: "Solid argument there David."

Selective and out of context non-response there Robert.

David J wrote:
"Again though, all the above is plain old common sense, which is perhaps why Robert and co cannot grasp it."

LOL, another solid argument David.

Yet all link mongers have the word PR and Google all over the place and BASE the cost of a link on PR in many cases. But, no, nothing immoral there at all. Yeah right!

Bummer, I thought you were going to call me a link monger but according to that I'm not because we don't...

"..have the word PR and Google all over the place and BASE the cost of a link on PR "

David also said:

"You will NOT get outed/penalized for buying/selling links alone, they are simply discounted."

You may want to read this David:

Official: Selling Paid Links Can Hurt Your PageRank Or Rankings On Google

That's why I believe Google needs to clearly provide the details regarding nofollow on their site.

If that is the "official release", how will the vast majority of businesses that have never heard of Search Engine Land get the information they need? And is that really official? I'm not doubting Danny's word but if you had never heard of him, would you believe him?

If Google has indeed made an official announcement, they should do it on their site.

you run a VERY real risk of being associated with "bad neighborhoods" in both the SE's eyes and you site visitors. Being associated with "bad neighborhoods" WILL get you a outed/penalized.

And it's the right of every site owner to take that risk if they choose to.

And as far as being outed, how can I be outed when I've never hid or denied the fact that we sell advertising that includes links and you can't say I'm hiding the links I put right on my homepage.

By the way David, why are you hiding your identity? It's not like you are saying you sell links and need to fear Google's wrath. And I think even Doug will vouch for the fact that I don't bite.

I've always found it a bit humorous that those who like to hurl insults and call names hide their identity.

You can post a link to your site and include your real name if you'd like. I won't delete it.

But, something tells me you will continue to hide. :-)

Well I'm off to bed.

David, I would like to thank you for spending so much time here and creating so much user generated content for me. I'm use to paying for content so it's nice of you to enrich me by contributing your posts. Think about the long tail implications of what you've written and all the extra visitors your efforts will bring me for months and maybe years to come. (banned or not from Google, there are other search engines)

We are paid handsomely by the impression so have a good night and thank you for contributing to my impression count. :-)

Let's play it your way for a minute then, Robert.

The Google guidelines don't tell Webmasters about selling/buying links for PR and/or using nofollow. Also, Google DOES ban sites that participate in the selling/buying links for PR.

You believe the above to true and have repeatably made the claim.

YET, here you are profiting via your pride of place site wide ad, above the fold, on your site, which you control and NOT DISCLOSING A WORD ABOUT THE RISKS anywhere near the ad. Now, in my book, that makes you immoral and proves you have a vested interest in blurring the lines.

You are no different to 1000's of other blackhats out there, you prey on site owners ignorance and profit from it.

Great business model, but sadly not unique! That's me done, I bid you farewell for good.

The password did not work Robert.

Hey Jenn; you wrote that nice comment/analogy about me and then wrote something that I do not recall stating. You said I wrote something about selling pagerank:

"I see a lot of that going on here with Doug.

"If you aren't selling PageRank, then just nofollow...what's the big deal?"

It's like we MUST be guilty because we don't want to do what someone else says.

I find that sad."
------------

Where did I write that? I haven't referred to Robert as selling PR at all in here. I said he was NOT selling PR. I don't mind you trying to defend yourself and others for not caring about what spammers do, etc, but please quote me right and please make sure you don't twist my words around to make them seem like something I stated. Thanks.

Anyway; Google is not going to state everything they want websites to do. They can't. There are many situations I can think of when a link might not be nofollowed. The common argument people make is that Yahoo sells links so they should use "nofollow". That is FALSE btw. It couldn't be any more false than it is but many in this industry love to state it... and it's false. You submit to the Yahoo directory and you are paying for a "review". You don't pay and then get listed. A listing comes about because after the review you got listed. Some sites do not get listed just because they paid.

A different thing applies to something like SEMPO. You pay. You get listed. You pay 5K. You get listed on the front page. ALL those links really should be nofollowed as there is not a tinge of review. You pay, and you get listed. Period.

There are other type situations where one might not use nofollow. Google could not possibly start writing about all these situations. I can see it now:

If you do this, do that. Do that, then do this. Do this and that and this... then do the other. Do that. Do this. Do this and that.... then this.

Come on. LOL

Robert can use nofollow if he wants. He also can choose to not use nofollow. I'm suggesting that if he chooses to NOT use nofollow, then he had better get a great grip on what makes a site/advertiser a great site to where Robert will not get knocked down by Google because he is linking out to bad neighborhoods. That is all I am saying. Some of us can spot a bad place a mile away. Others have big trouble with this. The point is that no one can start crying if Google starts penalizing paid links not using nofollow. We all have to understand that linking out to a site is "voting" for that site... according to Google. It's simply a fact, and one we have to deal with. Not dealing with it, or shrugging it off by saying "google cannot tell us what to do" is not really helping your business, nor is it helping our industry. Stop crying already. You either use common sense with things or you don't. You either choose to use nofollow or you don't. I truly do not care what other sites do. I'm just saying that whatever you choose to do, you have to live with the consequences of it later... good or bad.

You can do with your site as you wish. Google can do with their site as they wish. Simple.

The SEO industry wants to be spoon-fed on a consistent basis. It wants all se's to fully disclose how and when and where and for how long and how much and when this happens and what happpens if this happens and that happens.

It ain't gonna happen. Hopefully; se's like Google will STOP being so damn friendly to this SEO industry. They are actually part of the problem if you want to know my thinking about it.

The SEO industry wants more and more. Google gives it to them, so then the SEO industry starts crying about more detail when they just got "the more" they asked for. It's a never-ending cycle of silly games. I was perfectly happy with the goog guidelines of 3 years ago when they were very simple to read and clear. Today; they are multiple pages long and too damn detailed. So detailed that the SEO industry now has complaints on the detail and the position of the exact words in that detail. LOL

I have to write another comment. :-)

Jenn; you state that you do not feel you should have to help Google because of the nofollow issue. That's fine, but think about things a moment.

Many out there claim they do not ever use the spam report form to out spammers to Google. What other industry out there does not have self-policing in some way of it's members? Can you think of any? I can't.

This SEO industry has buddies upon buddies, which are also peers. Many do not want to disrupt this little party within parties you all have going on. That's all so sweet. Many would rather have the "outside" bash and trash this industry at every turn instead of taking on some of the responsibility itself. This is not about what Google wants or needs, but it is about what many in this industry want and need. That's BS IMO.

Take Jill Whalen for example; she wrote a good article about her thoughts on this newest link issue with Google and even gave good constructive criticism AND help to Robert about things.

Oh but then:

She went on to almost "take back" everything she wrote because she feels she "offended" poor Robert in some way. LOL Poor Robert, huh?

I think Robert is a very big boy and can take any constructive criticism with the best of them. Why did Jill Whalen feel the strong need to send poor Robert an apology, and to also state as much about the whole thing at spin.com? I'll tell you why:

She didn't want all her buddies and fans thinking that her and Robert had a spat. She was so concerned she had lost a "friend" in Robert just because she spoke the TRUTH about things. Poor Robert, huh?

A large reason this SEO industry is in the state it's in is exactly the above. Many LOVE to sugarcoat things because they are very weak people with not a piece of thick skin to be seen. Robert isn't one of those people, but whalen certainly is one. She is so self-conscience that a few people out there just might not like what she said, so she decided to "re-write" the whole thing to make it "sweeter" and less alarming. Very nice of you Jill. NOT wanted nor needed though. You only served to make yourself look silly and VERY weak. I already knew you were weak to begin with, but making something more sweeter, and being so damn sorry, was actually sorry looking at best.

Robert appreciates straight-forward and to the point. He has never needed any sweet sugar mixed in with facts. He can stand up for himself on many levels.

I suggest the industry starts telling things like they really are instead of trying to make friends with peers. This isn't about your self-egos, nor is it about how many peers you are friends with. This is about a very good industry that is being tossed to the gutter because of the many actions and words of many people.

Get your collective heads out of other people's asses and start talking some hard truths for a change.

(steps down from the soapbox)

YET, here you are profiting via your pride of place site wide ad, above the fold, on your site, which you control and NOT DISCLOSING A WORD ABOUT THE RISKS anywhere near the ad.

Huh?

The only site wide ads above the fold are for TLA and Microsoft.

What are we supposed to be disclosing and to who?

Is Robert supposed to slap a big message up there saying "warning! Search Engine Guide may be risking it's own rankings by selling ads!"

I don't see your logic...

I also find it interesting that you've accused me of resorting to childish insults (though I have yet to hurl any) and you've repeatedly called Robert and I quite a few names. Are you familiar with the old pot and kettle routine?

David Wrote:
.. which you control and NOT DISCLOSING A WORD ABOUT THE RISKS anywhere near the ad.

David, I mean this with all due respect, but that makes no sense. I alone am the one taking the risks with who I take on as an advertiser. As you can see, I know the risks.

Disclosing the risks to myself sounds a bit schizophrenic.

I accidentally deleted this comment from the pending comments. My apologies to David J for my mistake.

David J's Post in Full:
Jennifer, as I said, the ONLY name I mentioned was Jill's. You CHOSE to defend yourself personally based ONLY on my generic post.

RE: "Unlike you, I don't consider my readers ignorant."

Well you should and stop assuming they all know the risks associated with links to game Google.

RE: "To whom am I supposed to be disclosing the risks of linking to whichever site I want to? Myself? I own this site, I'm taking the risk. Therefore, there is nothing for me to disclose to... er... myself."

Not talking about YOUR site and yourself. I'm talking about the likes of "text links ads" etc that you take money from while NOT disclosing any risks to your readers. No surprise there for me though . As I say, you have a vested interest in keep it all nice and glossy.

RE: "Show me on Google's website where they explain why we need to implement nofollow on ads and how?"

You don't NEED to do anything, it is your site and you can as you please. However, Google retains the exact same rights. Just don't moan and whine when Google exercises that right. If you are trying to tell me, based on the Google guidelines, that trying to game SEs with links is something yourself and others don't do, you are either playing dumb, or are dumb. But, this is ALL down to common sense though, which apparently isn't so "common" around these parts. I bid you all farewell.

David J Wrote:
"Not talking about YOUR site and yourself. I'm talking about the likes of "text links ads" etc that you take money from while NOT disclosing any risks to your readers. No surprise there for me though . As I say, you have a vested interest in keep it all nice and glossy."

OH...MY...GOODNESS!!! That is what you mean?! You mean put a disclaimer next to each of the text link brokers explaining Google might punish them for buying from the text link broker?

Poor, poor David. I hate to burst your little bubble but your precious Google is evil by your standards.

Everyone, please go to Google and search for this term without the quotes:

"text link ads"

In fact, you can just click here to get the results.

Top of the page above the regular results Google has ads for... text link brokers. That's right, those aren't natural results, Google takes money from the link brokers to put their ads above the regular results.

Now, look at the right column of the page. There you will find. ad, after ad, after ad for companies selling links.

Google profits from, and runs ads for, companies who buy and sell links. And Google does not run the "disclosure" David insists we should run.

Oh my, David, Google is profiting from the ads run by Text Link Ads -the company you pointed out that advertises on our site.

Sorry David, Google sells ads to "the likes of "text links ads" etc that you take money from while NOT disclosing any risks"

Google will take their money and provide no disclosure of risks anywhere on the page. Nope, no disclosure near any of the ads.

So David J, who I notice is still too cowardly to reveal himself, is a total hypocrite if he doesn't immediately go after Google for what he considers evil practices.

But, we already know David J is a hypocrite and he won't go after Google. David J will come up with an excuse "well yeah, they take the money and do everything you do that I say is vile and eeeeevil but, but, but...uh... oh, they tell you buying and selling links are bad somewhere on their site."

David J, who's too cowardly to expose his identity, will try to change the focus of the discussion, he'll call names, he'll do whatever he can to avoid dealing with the facts.

The problem is, David J already knew about this and he is just here because he wants to create arguments, call people names, point fingers, and declare us all eeeevil because we sell ads to text link brokers.

I'm very open to opinions counter to mine and I even run them on my site. Doug Heil's viewpoint is the polar opposite of mine and Doug has made it clear he thinks what I do is wrong. I can still respect Doug and his opinions because he doesn't hide like a coward and hurl insults. Doug uses his real name and we know his site, where to find him etc.

David J is a coward. David J is here only to call names and create chaos. David J already knew everything I pointed out about Google. David J is a hypocrite.

We like to keep things civil and under control here. This thread has become less than that. We are going to get this back on track.

I'd just like to say for the record that my original article, which was being discussed here (at one time) has nothing to do with what Doug and Doug Jr. (David J?) are talking about.

I don't in anyway agree with what they are saying, nor have I ever.

Doug Wrote:
Robert can use nofollow if he wants. He also can choose to not use nofollow. I'm suggesting that if he chooses to NOT use nofollow, then he had better get a great grip on what makes a site/advertiser a great site to where Robert will not get knocked down by Google because he is linking out to bad neighborhoods.

Doug, you are right. I am taking a risk by choosing not to nofollow. Your warnings have merit.

As unusual as it is to have Doug and Jill in agreement, they've both made it clear that not abiding by Google's guidelines could have severe consequences.

Here is the last thing I wrote in my article:

"Are we willing to risk losing the traffic Google sends simply because we don't buy into this crazy notion? Will we nofollow every paid link just because Google demands it? At this point, I don't know. It's a decision that will be made based on what is best for, and with the input of, our readers, advertisers, contributors and employees."

I'm not going to dig my heals in and refuse to consider every option. Do I fear the loss of traffic from Google. Absolutely yes. Do I still disagree with Google's nofollow approach? Yes.

I've already begun talking to everyone who will be affected by our decisions. The families who rely on this site for a paycheck, advertisers, bloggers, and readers. Together we will decide if this is a fight we can fight.

Curious User said:

"Robert Clough, the official Google documentation says "Buying or selling links that pass PageRank." One could decline to sell links, or one could sell links that don't pass PageRank--either of those approaches would be well within Google's guidelines. But Google specifically mentions "Buying or selling links that pass PageRank" and that's pretty clear."

So anyboyd who takes money for putting a link on their site that passes PageRank is guilty? Every dircttory in the world should then get tossed. Is it just money that has to change hands? What about favors or gifts? And what if someone gives me a link out of a friendship whtere a lot of mutual favors are exchanged? Seriously, though, If Google doesn't want bought or sold links to pass PageRank then they shoudl turn PageRank off. That's the real solution here. It's not a matter of manipulating the search engines, it's a matter of doing what people have always done on the web. Linked out. Link to stuff they linked, linked to stuff they don't like, linked to stuff that was paid for, linked to people who were nice to them, etc. Why do these links pass PageRank? Because Google created PageRank. If PageRank shouldn't be passed then Google needs to change something so the links they don't want to pass PageRank won't pass PageRank. It's not the rest of the worlds job to find out what links Google does or doesn't like.

Doug Heil Said:

"Anyway; Google is not going to state everything they want websites to do. They can't. There are many situations I can think of when a link might not be nofollowed. The common argument people make is that Yahoo sells links so they should use "nofollow". That is FALSE btw. It couldn't be any more false than it is but many in this industry love to state it... and it's false. You submit to the Yahoo directory and you are paying for a "review". You don't pay and then get listed. A listing comes about because after the review you got listed. Some sites do not get listed just because they paid."


This was hilarious, Doug! Where to begin. 1) Nobody is asking Google to provide guidelines for every situation. This is classic overstatement to make a point and it don't fly. We are only asking Google to make THIS situation clear "officially". There is lots of speculation and seemingly actual action from Google regarding THIS specifically, but nowhere is there anything official about it. 2) Yahoo only charges for a "review"! Classic. You really ought to do standup comedy. I don't think anybody submits their site to Yahoo for a reiview. That's just Yahoo's careful wording so they don't have to add every submission to their directory. I guarantee you that if Yahoo chargd $299 for a "review" but had no directory to put a link to the reviewed site into nobody would ask for a review again. That's the whole point... to get a link in the directory. The review is just part of the process.

Oh and speaking of. Yahoo only does a yearly review. How many of those sites pay, get listed and then turn into spam sites after? By your comments above that would automatically make Yahoo a spammer. It's their responsibility who they link to, right?

Hey Robert, maybe you can add an additional "monthly review" service for your ads. Everybody get's nofollowed but anybody who wants to pay more gets a "review" each month. If they pass the review each month the nofollow comes off. Why? Because you trust them. Hey don't worry about taking money for the extra reviews, they aren't paying for the nofollow to come of, they're just paying for the review each month. ROFL. Or maybe you can just not have "advertisers" at all. Let people pay for "reviews" and they just happen to get some image ads strategically placed if they pass. This would put you in the same camp as Yahoo and Doug would then have to approve of what you're doing. Change one word and you've gone from blackhat to whitehat overnight!

"Is it just money that has to change hands? What about favors or gifts? And what if someone gives me a link out of a friendship whtere a lot of mutual favors are exchanged?"

It sounds like money is what is involved in this specific case? Which is directly covered under the "Buying or selling links that pass PageRank" policy?

As unusual as it is to have Doug and Jill in agreement, they've both made it clear that not abiding by Google's guidelines could have severe consequences.

We're not in agreement!

And I have no idea what (if any) the consequences are for not abiding by Google's guidelines. I don't even know what Google's guidelines say! I don't read them, because they're not necessary to know for the work I have to do.

As to what Google is doing, or might do in the future in regards to obviously paid-for links that are not nofollowed, I did not say that there would be dire consequences. How would I know that?

All I do know is that they (well Matt Cutts) has stated that they don't like them and that they will be on the look out for them.

What they do from there is anyone's guess. Right now, it appears they were giving some sort of warning to see what would happen. Who knows if they will go further? I certainly don't, and I quite frankly don't care!

I do think it's smart of SEG to evaluate their current model as they do need to care about this issue since it affects them directly. If I were selling ads on my sites or my clients' sites I would also be thinking about the methods I use. But like Robert and Jen, I don't believe I would use nofollow on my links. It's not a standard attribute and it's not Google's place to tell anyone to use it.

If I were in SEG's shoes, the one thing I might think about doing would be to simply remove those text links from the home page. Keep the ad package the same as it was, but remove that aspect. Perhaps offer something different in return. But it's not for me to say as it's not my business or my business model.

Also, I just noticed the personal attacks on me from Doug. Not sure if you guys allow those or not, but it's a shame to see yet another thread online ruined by personal attacks from him. :( It's unfortunate that he can't seem to participate on a forum in a professional manner and has to resort to personal attacks. This may in fact be the last forum in the world where he's not completely banned -- yet.

For the record Robert; I've stated many times how a despise the fact that Google sells ads to "spammers", and I call "text link ads" a spammer... one of the biggest out there going. Them and ALL other brokers are the same. I hate Google for it as well and have repeatedly posted that I hate it.

But Google is Not in the SEO industry. Google makes the rules for this industry. That's a different sort of apple. Just because joe sells links to spammers, should we all do so? That's the question I have. Two wrongs does not make it right. There are many, many firms out there who would buy your ads .... just because. I don't see a need to have to sell ads to firms who do this industry NO good whatsoever, and frankly; hurt the industry more than anything else.

Same goes for any spammer who buys advertising and ANY site out there who sells that advertising to them.

Example:

seoroundtable.com
sphinn.com
searchengineland.com

matter of fact; ALL sites run by danny sullivan. ALL OF THEM sell ads to spammers. Period. I see ads for text link ads and other ad brokers on EVERY damn "elite" based website out there. It's pathetic.

People outside this industry bash and trash this industry for damn good reasons. Most everyone in it only wants the damn buck. That's it. Not many are actually in this industry who take on responsibility by the balls and stand up for the good and OUT the bad.

Google is not one of my peers, but other's are including those damn spammers. I really have no say in what Google chooses to do... and I hate the fact they sell ads to spammers, but I do have a say in what peers actually do because those peers do not understand how much they harm the industry.

Yes Stoney; you are quite a prize as well, and what you write can be also a reason why the industry is in the state it's in. Always whining about Google. Always having something negative to say. Really never taking on the actual responsibility of fixing the industry. It's always someone else's fault, right?

At least Robert knows damn well now that WHO he links to can make a big difference.... good and bad, and that was one of my points and why I'm in here.

And Whalen? I have no idea what you just went on about with your article. You wrote an article about Robert and this link issue, etc. I agreed with it. You apologized to Robert for being too harsh with him. You took back most of your original article.

Anything I left out? Don't think so.

Now you are saying that I was not talking about the article you wrote? Funny stuff. I love how the elites twist in the wind and come up with lots of good spin when it comes to me. You all look oh so foolish doing so, and trust me, I and others get a large kick out of seeing you wiggle and squeal.

Doug Said:
For the record Robert; I've stated many times how a despise the fact that Google sells ads to "spammers",
Absolutely.

Keep in mind my comments were directed toward David J only.

Jill Said:
We're not in agreement!

My bad and I apologize for getting the points of view mixed together.

Doug said:

"Yes Stoney; you are quite a prize as well, and what you write can be also a reason why the industry is in the state it's in. Always whining about Google. Always having something negative to say. Really never taking on the actual responsibility of fixing the industry. It's always someone else's fault, right?"

Huh? I'm certain you're not referring to me here... unless of course you've never read anything that I write. Good grief Doug, talk about negative, read back through your own comments here (and your forum). I can't say I've read much of what you write within the past year, but I couldn't participate in your forums because of the contestant negativity toward the industry that you guys project over there. Everybody is a spammer. Everybody is a black hat. For negativity, you take the prize.

I'd like to know what about the SEO industry needs to be fixed? (Other than overzealous whitehatedness?) You say "Not many are actually in this industry who take on responsibility by the balls and stand up for the good and OUT the bad."

What's good? What's bad? I'll tell you what bad is... people who lie, steal, cheat and rip off their clients, preying on weak and using deceptive means to make money. Those things are "bad". Is disobeying Google's rules bad? If so, why? And why Google and Not MSN or Yahoo? They don't all agree as it is. Why is buying ads bad? What gives Google, or anybody else, the right to say it is?

But answer this... what have I done that is "bad"?

Jennifer, as I said, the ONLY name I mentioned was Jill's. You CHOSE to defend yourself personally based ONLY on my generic post.

Am I imagining the text on this page where you said...

"Jill and Jennifer have always resorted to childish insults"

Because it looks like my name...but maybe you meant some other Jennifer?

ALL sites run by danny sullivan.

Umm...actually, SERoundtable is run by Barry Schwatz.

Most everyone in it only wants the damn buck

Yep! That's why I sit here day in, day out writing content and information teaching small business owners how do do it for free. It's why I make a fraction of what most in the industry make...because I take on very limited clients and devote most of my time to writing content here.

Only in it for the buck. That's me. :)

How to calculate the Google Page Rank of a website?

hmm, erm, no Jill; Not a personal attack at all. The truth hurts and I spoke the truth. What you call a personal attack, others see as the truth. What about my comment above is not the truth? If you can tell me what is false about it, I'll retract the statement. Until then, please keep quiet as the more you write, the more foolish you look.

And for your information, the only places I am banned at was "your" forums and SEW when Sullivan was there. EVERY other place wants the truth about things. Every other place wants to hear the other side of things. Places like your place do not want to hear it and do not have the stomach to hear it.

Now you state that you and I are not in agreement. Oh really? That's nice to know. Your very first post about this issue I was certainly in agreement with it. Now I guess we are not in agreement huh? Funny stuff Jill. Just as long as you don't agree with me, then you are fine, right? LOL

I'm thinking you are always on the wrong side by disagreeing with me, but that's just me, right?

And Stoney? You run with the "pack" as long as the elites say it's okay. That's fine as well, but don't be surprised if others don't agree with your assessment on things. Many of us do not see Google as the enemy as you do. I call it "negative" when people don't take responsibility for their actions. I see Robert taking FULL responsibility for his actions. I see all the rest in here simply following whatever makes it convenient for them. No spines in here "except" for Robert. He understands that Google will do as it pleases. It appears that most of you think Google is the evil bad people out to get you. Keep on thinking that way and keep on running this industry into the ground if you wish. Not me, as I'll keep standing firm with my beliefs. I've never wavered from them, nor have I ever bowed down to the elites. That's certainly unlike most of you.

"the only places I am banned at was "your" forums and SEW when Sullivan was there"

Well, actually...when I was admin at Search Engine Forums, you were banned there as well. Don't know if you are now, but you were banned there as far back as when I first became a mod.

doug, read your comments again. You got personal instead of addressing the issues. And you're not banned from my forum just on moderator preview so that we can ensure that you dont ruin our threads like you did this one.

I am still wondering if page rank have anything to do with rank position. I have dropped from pagerank 3 to 2 and my rank position varies week to week.

Back in the year 2000 at SEF Jenn? Well sure.

Now? I don't think so. I think that John Kokos (spelling?) or g1smd or many other mods over there would welcome me there now, right? Most places want to hear NO BS or no spin type statements.

Looks like David J's "true" "identity" "has been" revealed...

In my last comment regarding David J I wrote:

"David J, who's too cowardly to expose his identity, will try to change the focus of the discussion, he'll call names, he'll do whatever he can to avoid dealing with the facts."

As expected, David J did everything I said he would and more. His last post was removed because, lacking the ability to discuss things rationally and lacking an argument, David J resorted to profanity. A simple little mind.

I've been asked why I've been so tough on David J. Simple, I have no patience for cowards who attack people and hide. David J is a coward who refuses to reveal his identity. David J even signed in using a fake email address. No surprise there.

Well apparently David's friends are willing to sell him out and now I actually feel pity for him. It seems David's inability to "Excel" in life and business has left him angry and frustrated. When you feel life will only Rain-a lot on your attempts to do anything, it's natural to want to lash out to compensate for your inadequacies.

David, knowing what I now know about you, I feel sorry for you and I actually feel bad that I've been so rough on you. I'll let you come back and participate in the conversation but you won't be allowed to use profanity and you'll have to argue about opinions and ideas without attacking the people who've expressed them.

We've let this thread go beyond the realm of civility and everyone has been allowed to vent their frustrations.

It's time to address only the topic at hand and leave personal animosity out of the discussions.

Doug Said:

"And Stoney? You run with the "pack" as long as the elites say it's okay. That's fine as well, but don't be surprised if others don't agree with your assessment on things. Many of us do not see Google as the enemy as you do."

Doug, your talking about things you have absolutely no idea about. I guarantee you don't know me. All of your suppositions above are dead wrong.

Since when do wise witches feed trolls? Sorry Jill and Jennifer. I can't understand why such a notorious troll isn't banned.

I used NO profanity at all, not one single word, in any post. You are born liar my friend and my last post showed you for what you really are.

Goodbye and enjoy you warped selective self-serving censorship.

Robert, I just read the rest of your post. So the comment anonymously link ONLY applies when the commenter agrees with you.

As I said, I have not used one profanity. You AGAIN are only showing you naivety. IF there was a post in my name and IF there were profanities, don't you think the low-life who gave you my PERSONAL details is NOT my friend and actually made 'the' post under the guise of me?

Anyway, regardless, you have chosen to post my personal details and you now know I have NOTHING TO LOSE and WILL take any and all action against you. Sleep tight my friend you WILL regret your stooping to a new low.

Jill Wrote:

"doug, read your comments again. You got personal instead of addressing the issues. And you're not banned from my forum just on moderator preview so that we can ensure that you dont ruin our threads like you did this one."

Jill; I started this thread by "agreeing" with your original post "totally", which was in response to Robert's post that started this entire thread. Tell me where I got personal? You have VERY thin skin and always have. The truth has always made you feel uncomfortable.

Your first post in this thread was NOT about what Robert had to say at all. Your first post was stating this:
------
"If Doug agrees with me, I probably need to retract my entire article. :(

I do plan to answer Robert's very interesting points made here, but might not get to it until Friday. (Sox game, yeah!)"
------
That was your first post in this thread. So tell me Jill; who was off-topic in this thread?.. you or me? I posted saying I agreed with you. You posted saying you needed to take back things since I agreed with you.

Gee.

The only trolls I see in here are people piping in with quick comments that have nothing to do with what Robert posted IE: "Sabastian".

And david j; I've known Robert for a very long time. He's certainly not a liar. He's a real good guy who just needs help with some things. You have been extra harsh with him. Him and I have actually talked over the years and he is very real and honest and upfront with everything.... I get along with straight-shooters who play their very own game. I don't get a long with people who "follow with the crowd" as those types have no spine or a brain that's a free thinker. Robert has always played his own game. He's not a part of the "establishment" like many are in this industry.

Let's see. Will the readers believe me, who is totally open about who I am. Or, will they believe you, someone who threatens and then hides and won't reveal themselves.

David J threatened:
...and WILL take any and all action against you. Sleep tight my friend you WILL regret your stooping to a new low.

It was only a matter of time before you started making your threats publicly and revealing your true self. Of course, if you are foolish enough to carry out any of your threats, you've already announced to the world in advance who is responsible.

David, my source didn't post your information publicly which is why I used a couple of hints that only you would pick up on in my post. So don't worry, they didn't post anything publicly and you can still hide - at least from our readers.

Like I said, with friends like yours, you don't need enemies David. I pity you.

"Since when do wise witches feed trolls?"

Sometimes it's fun to see what each of the courses are.

Besides, I'm fully confident in the points I've made. I highly doubt any of my readers are going to be swayed by the arguments and suddenly decide I'm evil and everything. ;)

Wow, this was the first forum thread I actually read in it's entirety. Mostly because of the topic and partially because of the nonsensicalness it made (yea, I made that up). It began as a smooth conversation and then progressed to mud flinging. People were too busy heated because of a comment someone else made they didn't actually read the previous post completely. There ended up being a lot of "oh I'm sorry I didn't read you're previous post" and "please read my post" and don't forget after 10 or so posts some random quote from someone that was off topic to begin with. Anyway, I agree with whoever said that the comments regarding SEG should not have been retracted. I don't think Jill's word has the power to damage SEGs business to the extent that he loses his advertising income. Robert (may I call you joseph?) did the right thing to post in response to Jill's comments which were her opinion of the site. I visited the site for the very first time after following a link in an email from sitepronews (go figure). I found to the site to be very loud and unprofessional but then again that's because I'm from an entirely different field. I totally understand Joseph's (can I call you robert now?) point and I'm not sure why he had to reiterate it so many times that his advertising dollar is not generated from pr hungry webmasters. He displays more than 10+ (maybe 30 or so) links on his home page so anyone who is purchasing ads on his homepage should realize that they aren't going to get a pr boost because of it. The fact they know what pr IS would let you know they could not be doing so. Anyway, this was an amazing feat reading all these comments in a single sitting and I may come back again if you continue to post relevant content. YaY

Why do you use such specific anchor text, if the links are just supposed to advertise your sponsors?

jeez this went way past where I thought it was gonna go on Friday.... Although it seems that it's turned into personal attacks rather than discussing the points at hand...

RE: where does Google say to use rel=nofollow and how?

see page located here

...
"Google and most other search engines use links to determine reputation. A site's ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to it. Link-based analysis is an extremely useful way of measuring a site's value, and has greatly improved the quality of web search. Both the quantity and, more importantly, the quality of links count towards this rating.

However, some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying links in order to improve a site’s ranking is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.

Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such. This can be done in several ways, such as:

* Adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to the tag
* Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file"

Sorry to say this thread has become completely ridiculous

But it does look like a link farm! Most of the links are totally out of context and from google's point of view, are exploiting the pagerank. Why should some sites keep to the rules and not others?

I think googles' approach is understandable and reasonable.

Shondal Said:
"He displays more than 10+ (maybe 30 or so) links on his home page so anyone who is purchasing ads on his homepage should realize that they aren't going to get a pr boost because of it. The fact they know what pr IS would let you know they could not be doing so."

Exactly. There are over 100 advertisers listed on our home page which is why I find it hard to believe they buy the ads for a PR boost.

Carfeu Said:
"Why do you use such specific anchor text, if the links are just supposed to advertise your sponsors?"

We use what the advertisers submit with their creatives package.

Wow, great job Ian! You are the only person who has been able to show me that Google actually does document the how and why of using nofollow for ads.

I'm glad to say that I was totally wrong about Google not making the information available directly on their site. The fact that they aren't just expecting people to hear it through the grapevine does change my attitude about them in that regard.

That will also play a role in my decision on implementing nofollow or not.

Gary said:
"But it does look like a link farm! Most of the links are totally out of context and from google's point of view, are exploiting the pagerank. Why should some sites keep to the rules and not others?

I think the Google approach is understandable and reasonable."

Well, that is the whole point of what Google is trying to do. It's not to hurt anyone but to distinguish the difference between links webmasters say are actually relevant to their site. Since Robert is actually stating none of the links are relevant then he should induce the 'nofollow' anchor in all of his links, regardless of if it is 'paid' or not. Doing the job of Google isn't the idea of but rather giving people who actually are crediting their outbound links due to content rather than monetary value should be a well respected praise considering sites like mine that have 0 inbound paid links but a well done SEO from it's webmaster due to research and hard work still fall short by spammers with a lot of money.

This guy wants a cpc conversion on my site but this guy actually has content. that I think is relevant.

I failed to add a comment to my previous post. I also meant to mention the fact that SEG did have a reduction in pr but why I don't understand. According to Google, links of no relevance at the bottom of page is considered 'pr spamming' and isn't weighted by their formula anyway. This also follows invisible links or links that are too small to read. So if this were the case, why did they give weight only to reduce the SEG pr. I know Robert doesn't care and nor should I but I figure it was interesting to put out there. I personally don't take the green pixels into account because our sites have a 2 or 0 but we still have the number 1 & 7 Google ranking with our specific keyword market (virginia beach computer repair).

Shondal Wrote:
I also meant to mention the fact that SEG did have a reduction in pr but why I don't understand

I think it is because Google wants to make an example of us. We are a high profile site and I've never tried to hide the fact that we sell text links as part of our ad package. I even highlight our advertisers on our home page for the world to see. Perhaps Google sees that as thumbing our nose at them.

I think what she was trying to say is your website looks like garbage.

I am new to this site and to this community of SEO individuals. I don't consider myself an SEO expert. Actually I don't see how anyone can claim to be an expert in this field - when no one has the exact specifications of the major search engines algorithms for indexing and ranking... But I do consider myself somewhat experienced in the field having implemented several successful SEO projects for startups to medium-sized businesses over the past several years.

As someone with vested interest in the field of SEO and the industry, I would like to see this industry be more responsible and hold each other accountable for the work we do and the perception of our work. So I felt compelled to question and call-out the credibility of some its participants.

There were several posts for, and for a while this thread became focused on, a demand from Google to post information on the use of the “nofollow” tag. I was bewildered how the webmaster and editor for a site titled “Search Engine Guide” could not find this information. A simple search using Google “nofollow site:www.google.com” yields results, with the first result pointing to page located here . This page is also fairly accessible for anyone who is aware of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines – it’s 3 clicks from the homepage of that guide: homepage -> “participate in link schemes” -> “buying or selling links that pass PageRank”. In short – anyone who claims to be a credible source for expertise in the SEO industry should either already know about this, or be experienced enough to find it (by knowing how to actually use a search engine or by knowing about the Webmaster guides Google provides).

A bit of context….
All too often I come across bad SEO implementations by so called experts. I’ve seen my clients “understanding” of the search marketing world. It’s not pretty. These so called search engine marketers would have a client implement SEO and then charge a percent of the SEM budget for management of their SEM. This fundamentally presents a conflict of interest and can encourage a poor implementation of SEO. The worse the SEO, the more SEM is needed. I have even seen clients actually turned away from search marketers on a SEO RFP because they didn’t have a big enough budget for the SEM – even though they were a great candidate for SEO (had a lot of quality incoming links, good content to work with, poor SEO implementation from ranking competitors…). So search engine companies must decided if they want to provide the best value or the one that makes them the most money. Unfortunately… it easy to guess which one wins the most. Because of this the industry’s value and knowledge of SEO is sorely lacking.

How it’s relevant….
As stated in the About section for this site, Search Engine Guide is an “educational web site aimed at translating the search marketing world into something that small business owners can understand”. The editor and webmaster, who seem to be active participates in the site’s content, failed to find or be aware of this guideline... It is short comings like this that cause, not only the SEO industry to suffer, but also our clients. What kind of translation can I expect to receive from sources who can’t find something so accessible or something so core to the domain they are translating? What kind of cultivation of understanding the search engine world are we receiving and accepting as valid?

I find it ironic that Robert was quick to call out Jill for being lazy by not clicking on the rate card. Seems the laziness is shared on both ends – I find it just as lazy to sit and demand for Google to spoon feed you information regarding the “nofollow” tag , even though that information is about as accessible as I think it can be. This is where we, as implementers/consultants/managers of SEO/SEM need to call foul and hold each other accountable. We need to do the hard work and truly understand our domain. Don’t rely on others for your understanding of this domain – go to the source – do your homework. We should hold each other responsible and make note of when something is just not acceptable.

Otherwise, I will keep coming across clients who blew thousands upon thousands in SEM campaigns and have horrible SEO implementations. The latest search marketing benchmark guide from Sherpa showed that search marketers are spending one-fifth as much effort on SEO compared to SEM. This is bad for the client and bad for our industry. This has created a multi-billion dollar industry and has caused great profitability for search engine companies – but all at the expense of increased marketing budgets and reduced ROI. I’m not saying that some SEM campaigns aren’t/weren’t effective, but I am saying this industry relies too much on it. Just as the marketing industry underwent a transition of measurability from brand impressions to costs-per-click, so will it eventually complete its transition from costs-per-click to costs-per-transaction. Then we will be even more responsible for a better understanding of SEO. This won’t happen without the Ian’s of the world – those that spend time and truly understand the search engine world.

So ask yourself – do you want to be an Ian or a Robert?

Regardless of who's right or who's wrong ... here's my opinion:

1) Google's PageRank element is one factor that they, alone, use in their ranking algorithm. They invented it, and now they are trying to keep it working for them even as it becomes corrupted by SEO gamers.

2) Frankly, Google shouldn't pass along any PR through any link. The relative authoritative value of any incoming link should (still) be based on the composition of the originating page, the link text, and the composition of the destination page ... just like it used to be before PageRank.

3) The only people I hear talking about buying or selling ads based on Google's proprietary PR element are people who are trying to SEO game the system. Smart business people make ad purchasing decisions based on more tangible things like traffic ("circulation" or "viewership", in the traditional world), visitor demographics, and a wide variety of other factors.

4) If Google insists that a site with a paid link (ad) on it identify that link by including the "nofollow" attribute, then 2 things: (1) Why not? Who cares? Big deal! As Robert pointed out, and with which I concur, smart advertisers don't really give a darn about PR or whether the spider finds them through their advertising; and (2) Google's vaunted algorithm isn't as smart as we have been led to believe if it can't tell the difference between paid and non-paid links despite FTC-approved notification and the use of standard markup.

5) I am with Robert et al. re: capitulating to the Google Gods (or any other) and I am with some other posters re: playing the game the way Google demands if it means continued exposure in their results. There really doesn't seem to be any good reason NOT to include the nofollow attribute, once the non-capitulation motives have been overcome.

IMTHO, Google seems to be grasping to keep PR humming. Why? Because PR distinguishes them from Yahoo, MSN and the others who do not have a similar, public function. It's a marketing thing, for Google. The more webmasters and SEOs argue about PR, the more important Google becomes. There's no good reason to make PR public except to toot their own horn ... and it's working quite well, it seems.

They should stop making PR available to the public, and just use it in their algorithm, if they still think it's valuable.

Lastly, Google should get back to work on implementing semantic relationships in their algorithm, rather than pedantic relationships. Sure it's more complicated, but it is far less prone to gaming, it's more reliable, it's a better indicator of shared value, and it will keep them going long into the future ... long after the "touchie-feelie" concept of PR has been discarded.

While everyone takes a breather, allow me to interject on this topic from an outside perspective.

First, after viewing SEG's web site I admit that I would no more click on text links at the bottom of this page than I would a link in a spammed email. I simply don't know enough about SEG and certainly don’t know where these links go to. I don’t trust the web anymore and after years of cleansing my client’s computers, never will. And I tell my all my clients the same thing.

Second, after reading all the threads here I agree that, as a small business owner, I only host ads for my own services (outside of Gate.com) and use trusted text links for my clients as a convenience. I do not receive compensation for these links and I write all of own blogs; I do not pay anyone to do this for me. Yes, I see the ads for good pay to write these for someone else, and I see the ads for products that shotgun thousands of “generic” text out onto the web in order to gain rankings and get click revenue. It's just all getting out of hand.

Lastly, from a pure user perspective, we are all much smarter today than we were back in 1998. End users know what’s going on in the world of search engine ranking because you see the same links come up again and again. Also, keep in mind that Google is not the only fish in the sea. My clients use everything from Yahoo search, MSN search, Ask, Lycos (powered by Ask), Dogpile (which is what I use most of the time now) and countless others, although I do use the Google search engine for my own web site searches. Keep in mind as well that the atmosphere out here is more of what, not who. I’m not as concerned about who the advertiser is as much as what I am going to get infected with if I click the link. I tell my clients, “Think before clicking.”

So I agree with Google’s position. It's not fair for small people like me to go up against all the big guns out there (such as you folks), so we don't even try. We just sit back humbly and are thankful for what business and revenue we DO get. Will we ever make the top ten in rankings? No, probably not even the top 1,000 or top 10,000. But we try anyway. Who knows, maybe someday?

If Google is taking a leadership position in this arena, I applaud them and would hope others would follow suit. Right now all we see from out here is muddy water.

Mike McCarthy said:
It's not fair for small people like me to go up against all the big guns out there (such as you folks), so we don't even try. We just sit back humbly and are thankful for what business and revenue we DO get.

I hope you'll take a more positive outlook because you don't have to sit back and be thankful for what business you get. I'd encourage you to spend time reading at Search Engine Guide because Jennifer and our family of bloggers provide information that small business owners can use to get proactive and grow their businesses.

James Butler Wrote:
"...playing the game the way Google demands if it means continued exposure in their results. There really doesn't seem to be any good reason NOT to include the nofollow attribute, once the non-capitulation motives have been overcome."

As much as I'd like to continue to ignore Google's moves on principle, my pragmatic side reminds me that your viewpoint (which is shared by many others who have taken me to task here) carries a lot of weight from a strictly business perspective.

Ah man, Steven Pena discovered that I'm human and make mistakes. :-P

And Steven, I agree, kudos to Ian for being the first to show me where the info was located.

I think anybody who is now jumping on Robert for not having "found" the information on nofollow is being a bit shortsighted and narrowly focused. In fact this makes a perfect case for what Google is doing wrong.

1) I'm sure Robert has looked for that information once or twice in the past. How recently did Google ad that? Does anybody know for sure? Was it several months ago, several weeks ago, or several hours ago?

2) If Robert had a hard time finding it how likely is average Joe small business owner who is simply trying to make a living going to find it? Do they even know to read Google's guidelines? I bet most don't. And if they do, do they know that they have to go back and constantly re-read to find any new guideline that's been added.

I have to say I've disagreed with Jill in the past about the usefulness of reading the Google guidelines but now I'm leaning more her way. How often do they change? I'm in the SEO industry and I can't even keep up. What about business owners busy with their products and services? Heck, does Google have a service that notifies people whenever they update their guidelines?

I mean that seems fair. If you are going to have guidelines for use then you should require users to agree to the guidelines before they are allowed to search. Am I being ridiculous here? Yes, but it's still a valid point. Google is making webmasters and business owners do all the heavy lifting. Not just in fixing a piece of their algorithm that they can't make work but also in knowing that it's our job to do that. Just seems kind of silly to me.

"1) I'm sure Robert has looked for that information once or twice in the past. How recently did Google ad that? Does anybody know for sure? Was it several months ago, several weeks ago, or several hours ago?"

June 6th, 2007. I know this, because I blogged about them adding the nofollow text.

You want to talk about feeling like an idiot. You try saying "They don't mention it, I can't find it" and then search your own archives and find the post you made when they first added it.

Like Robert though, I'm not one to shy away from admitting a mistake. I was wrong. It's there. I stand by my statement about the ridiculousness of expecting people to know they should have to hunt for it (If you don't know what nofollow is, why would you search to see what Google says about it?) but I was wrong in saying they didn't have it on their site.

Unlike Robert, I'm going to chalk my mistake up to 18 months of no sleep. Maybe that baby of mine will sleep through the night eventually. ;)

Just wanted to say thanks for admitting the mistake. It does restore some hope that we, as SEO/SEM professionals, can rely on one another to ensure that our work and knowledge is as sharp as it can be.

On another note...

Stoney, it seems you are asking for Google to cater their indexing algorithms, guidelines, and implementations so an average Joe or small business owner could take advantage of them. I'm completely disagree with this. The more Google caters to this lower level of skillset the slower advancements will be in this space. Consider what is needed for indexing images, videos, rich internet applications... If Google needs to funnel everything through the lowest demoninator - businesses will truly suffer because there will be a whole new set of content they can't tap into because it's not easy for the average Joe to tap into it.

The web will continue to advance at a pace much faster than an average Joe can keep up with. It's the job of the expert to keep up to date and provide their clients with this knowledge and service. Small business owners trying to keep up to date will only continue to be frustrated at changes like this and will not be spending time on their true areas of expertise.

Taking some poetic license here...It's almost like asking the medical industry to slow down do they can develop tools and guides so the average Joe could perform operations on themselves. Unless SEO/SEM can be wrapped up into a little pill or band-aid for mass distribution, I don't see this sense in catering to the average Joe.

Steven Pena said:
Just wanted to say thanks for admitting the mistake.

Thank you Steven!

I run a small website hosting remixes for DJ's. It's large for it's field, but small in the overall scheme.

My site ranks 3rd and 4th position in the serps for my keywords. On this site I have a regular links page that links out to other sites related to remixing, DJing, software etc. Stuff I thing the guys might actually be interested.

Because it is a personal site, I also have my own blog page on the site where I go when I just want to ramble, post links to things I've seen on the net, etc.

Since my "blog" page is attached to my main site and contains links to completely irrelevant sites, should I nofollow the link to it in my menu from the main page or should I nofollow all the links on the actual blog page?

The site doesn't make me any money, I mean ZERO, in fact it's cost me quite a bit, but I want to get the DJ's all the exposure I can and don't want to risk losing any.

I read 5 or 6 SEO newsletters throughly each day and find the whole thing a little "black magic" that boils down to mostly common sense issues, don't try to game the system and the system won't try and game you.

And Guys/Ladies, thanks for the articles!

Robert wrote:
"I hope you'll take a more positive outlook because you don't have to sit back and be thankful for what business you get. I'd encourage you to spend time reading at Search Engine Guide because Jennifer and our family of bloggers provide information that small business owners can use to get proactive and grow their businesses."

I have. I registered on SEG and am awaiting email confirmation.

Meanwhile, I wrote a long dissertation of my thoughts, and then realized the last paragraph I wrote really summed it up.

Maybe what search engine companies need to do is search by relevant keywords, and then by area, then region, then national, and then by global. This way searchers have the option to search locally (when they want/need local support) and then widen their search as needed. Maybe the search engine companies should include fields for zip code, city, state, country, etc. and if you leave any of the data out, it searches on what you’ve provided; in that order. This way it doesn’t matter how you got out there, only that you’re there. Of course, this would also mean vendors would have to list their own geographical origin to get picked up for local searches or rely solely on global searches (which is what we have now, right?). I guess this could wind up falsified anyway.

Bottom line; I don’t mind competing with Internet companies wanting to make rankings, as long as they are within the geographical boundaries established by the searcher. I don’t mind going up against a few thousand local merchants, but going up Against 100,000 globally is ludicrous.

Pipe dream? Maybe, but food for thought though…

"Stoney, it seems you are asking for Google to cater their indexing algorithms, guidelines, and implementations so an average Joe or small business owner could take advantage of them."

No, I'm not asking Google to cater to anybody, but we have to be careful about a single company changing the face of the Internet to suite their own ends. The internet does not belong to Google but unfortunately they are in a position to throw their weight around to such an extent that the world is supposed to go out of their way to find out what makes them happy.

"It's almost like asking the medical industry to slow down do they can develop tools and guides so the average Joe could perform operations on themselves."

A bit too much poetic license there. It doesn't require eight years of college and a license to build a website! :)

What a dreadful day - I'm in bed with Jill Whalen *and* Doug Heil. Oh well... this is Google's bus, kids, and you're on it or you're off it. So long as they're driving, they decide the route. If people can buy the number one spot in Google, and currently they can, then it destroys Google's business model and puts them out of work. You really think they'll sit still for that? You want to really see the fur start to fly, let's get this issue some publicity outside of immediate SEO circles. The general public still believe that the organic results in Google are just that, genuinely untainted by commerce and visible as a direct consequence of people, plain vanilla folk just like they are, voting somehow for the sites they found to be the best quality. Wait till it hits the headlines that the results can be bought and paid for just like any other commodity and watch people start leaving Google in droves. Right now this is just a little local spat between us techie types but if the general public get an idea what's happening here... well, I'll still be ok, I have other income streams, how about the rest of you?

BB

This situation with Google is getting absolutely ridiculous. What's the difference between a "spammy paid link" and an ADVERTISEMENT for a site on your site? And how does Google know if someone paid you for the link on your site? Why SHOULD they know - are they saying no one can't advertise their sites on other sites? Google itself pays umpteen sites to advertise other sites on their sites - it's called ADSENSE.

So, is Google just trying to monopolize everyone's sites - don't put up ads for other sites on your sites by providing links to these sites. WE'RE the only ones who can do that.

I am SOOOO sick of Google. I think it's time for an un-google revolution. Let's start taking our searches elsewhere. Let's get rid of Adsense and use YPN or some other.

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