Since the first real information came out about Izea’s (PayPerPost) new SocialSpark service, that is in testing but will formerly launch in January my excitement has been a little tempered.
As I wrote in my initial preview of SocialSpark, there will be new metrics for gauging the authority and influence of a blog, to help determine advertising spend, not only based upon traffic and demographics, but also on past performance with CPM and CPC data also being made available.
With SocialSpark, any required links will be nofollow, though there is an option for editorial links without a nofollow.
All the negotiation about a particular campaign will be 100% transparent, thus there will be an audit trail to prove that an advertiser didn’t require specific linking, and that audit trail will be open for public, or search engine approval.
There will be full disclosure within each post, with a link though to that 100% transparent audit trail, far exceeding any stipulations or recommendation from either the FTC or WOMMA.
Advertisers will no longer be able to require a positive tone, everything will be neutral, bloggers can write what they want, but that may affect click-through rates and return on investment.
Based upon this, everything seems at least on the surface to be everything a search engine would want to see and encourage.
This Isn’t Going To Work
At least not without some cooperation from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Ask.
Other than the 100% transparency, a lot of this has really been available using the PayPerPost Direct system introduced by Izea 6 months ago.
Whilst on the surface the form for PayPerPost Direct suggests that advertisers were able to make specific requests for the tone, and specify linking, PayPerPost direct also provided a negotiation interface.
In many ways you can look on the initial order process as being purely suggestions, and the real final negotiated terms were often vastly different to any initial enquiry.
That was certainly the case for every review I wrote, yet I still received a PageRank penalty
In some cases I even finished the negotiation process, but just didn’t have time for a full review, so declined or gave a quick link for free.
But I have still received a penalty to my Google Toolbar PageRank, either -1 or possibly -2
A totally open system, with absolute disclosure and a full audit trail is the ideal scenario for internet users, and the search engines really have to make a choice, embrace the openness, or everything IS GOING TO GO UNDERGROUND.
PageRank Is STILL In The Equation
You will notice on the following exclusive screenshots that PageRank is still being displayed on the new interface, and Ted tells me that a final decision as to whether Alexa and PageRank will remain is still to be made.
If it does remain, I would hope they are looked at as the least important statistic, those used to find new publishers who haven’t been using the SocialRank code on their site for long enough to generate reliable statistics.
Both search engines and bloggers have difficult choices to make in the coming months.
The PayPerPost MarketPlace represents 11,000+ Advertisers and 85,000+ Bloggers, and I am sure that is set to increase.
It is noticeable that only a fraction of even PayPerPost bloggers have actually received some kind of penalty, and those are typically ones who were prominent in the PayPerPost Direct marketplace.
The funny or sad thing is that there has been a lot of collateral damage. As an example take Rob’s situation. To my knowledge he has never written a review for PayPerPost, yet is listed in the marketplace, mainly just to check out the system.
As far as I can see, and I have been reading his blog since he had just 3 subscribers, he also doesn’t sell links, hell he doesn’t even link to his own niche sites from his blog.
Rob’s PageRank took a -2 penalty purely from association
Thousands Of Sites Remain Unpunished
There are plenty of sites that are selling PageRank pasing 125×125 advertising spots that have slipped under the radar, yet sites such as SERoundTable and Search Engine Journal have been quite obviously targeted.
I know sites where Matt Cutts is a frequent visitor, and has even read paid reviews which have not had a penalty to their Google Toolbar PageRank applied.
The reviews were not “under the radar” but written by an authority in the topic being discussed.
There are many very prominent sites who every week, or every month blatantly thank their sponsors in what amounts to a post just full of PageRank passing links with no other content.
At one time these pages contained at least an introductory paragraph for each one, but often you will just see 8 or 10 links with no other content.
Time For An Olive Branch
Isn’t it easier for search engines to encourage good practice that is accountable, than to punish sites indiscriminately or based on some level of personal bias.
Without doubt there is bias and double standards in penalties that so far have been applied, and this is not a purely automatic process.
To finish here are a couple more exclusive screenshots to wet your appetite, featuring some of the statistics available in the new interface, and what appears to be a search result.