Google has been on a witch-hunt for paid links. They have already cracked the whip on TLA, and TLA responded meekly with the launch of ShoppingAds. Many popular sites, from mainstream media to blogs, have been penalized in terms of PR. Experts comprehend that the next step in penalty would be in terms of search results. Seeing the danger of being removed/punished in Google’s index, many blogs have removed ads.
The hunt continues, and the latest victim is WidgetBucks. WidgetBucks has been notorious for sneaking a text link inside the code to display the ad units. Google soon realized the breach of their defence and penalized/removed WidgetBucks from the search index.
There have been numerous calls of foul-play by Google, with many people claiming that the moves to penalize sites using link brokers and review brokers as a means of protecting Google’s cash cow, AdSense and AdWords. It should be noted, that most claims are made by people angered by the penalties they incurred.
Allow me to scoff. Google is a private firm, and they make decisions on what sites to include in their index. Nobody pays them to get listed, and it is done solely by merit. The listings are based on various factors as decided by the Google bots. Google is not involved in link brokering or review brokering, which means that you can count out monopoly in those fields as a motive.
Gaming any system, whether search engines (Google) or blog trackers (Technorati) is frowned upon by its owners. Google is no different. Google (or more specifically, its Larry Page and Stanford University) owns the PR algorithm, which is what caused all the uproar. PR is just a stat, that boosts or drives down the ego of bloggers, webmasters and advertisers alike. It is well known that PR is just a small part of the Google algorithm for web indexing.
Also, it is not Google’s fault that PR has been relied heavily upon, by the incriminating services. When links are brought to game the system, it is only natural that Google reacts. Their bots are not yet smart enough to recognize links when buried deep. This has prompted them to adjust the system manually. How can you blame them?
I remember Technorati adjusting the Top 100 blogs list to exclude those blogs which gamed the system by indulging in link-exchanges. But there was no considerable uproar against it. People said that Technorati sucks, and moved on. So how does Google merit this uproar?
Imagine this : somebody tries to milk your blog by including links in the post, and as commentator URL, when you have got into the dofollow movement. Wouldn’t you thwart the attempt by such spammers, by deleting those comments, and at a later stage, by adding the spammers to the blacklist? Google’s actions are no different. When somebody tries to thwart the system unfairly, they just squash such attempts. How can anyone blame them?
We have our choice – either accept Google’s guidelines and take whatever traffic they provide, or ignore them and build your own traffic. John Chow has built his blog successfully, now with practically zero traffic from Google. We all have the choice – either the quick buck via TLA and reviews, or long term income via CPC ads + search traffic. It is obvious. Google has made its message clear : Either you can be in by the rules, or you can be out without any rules.
This post can be seen as my justification for selecting the Google camp. Which path do you chose, and why? I would like to hear how you justify your decision.