Google Dictating Nofollow For ALL Links From Compensated Content

 

As I had hoped, ( http://community.izea.com/blog/2007/12/an-invitation-t.html ) Ted Murphy had a chance to chat with Google’s Matt Cutts at Pubcon

It seems Google want all links within content that “wouldn’t exist without payment” to use nofollow, but seems to be focusing on services like PayPerPost, and not other forms of links which wouldn’t exist without compensation.

  • Matt Cutts frequently links to Google from his personal blog – if he wasn’t employed by Google, those links would likely not appear as frequently.
  • Google employees link to outside sites all the time, and they are frequently sites that are “flying the Google flag” in some way, prominent Adsense partners, large corporate partners etc.
  • Shareholders frequently link through to the companies they invested in (I wonder what Fred Wilson might think about not being allowed to link to Twitter)
  • I know Robert Scoble is leaving Podtech on 14th January, but Podtech have always had SEO friendly links to their sponsors, both on Podtech and on Robert’s own blog
  • Google themselves sponsor events such as Leweb3 recently, and for as long as I remember, links have always been part of event sponsorship packages, even before Google. Even attending an event or being an exhibitor, one of the “perks” is often some kind of profile online along with a link.
  • On many business directories, you get a free listing, but if you want a link to your website, you have to have a paid entry, whether the links are followed or not. Yahoo wouldn’t give me a free listing as this is a commercial blog – I wouldn’t honestly buy a Yahoo entry for $300 for the traffic
  • Techcrunch and many other sites still get away with thanking their advertisers with links that are followed, and many still have graphical advertising without nofollow
  • Search Engine Land and the SMX Events (and even Sphinn) wouldn’t probably exist in the same way without corporate sponsorship, very often by the large search engines. Should Danny nofollow every link in every post he mentions Google, Yahoo or Microsoft?
  • Rand has mentioned the occasional client within posts, and SEOmoz does have a clients page – should all links be nofollowed to clients? Should there be a difference between a $10, $100 and $10,000 client?
  • Carsten Cumbrowski when writing on Search Engine Journal has frequently tried to get clarification from Google regarding affiliate links that pass juice, to no avail.
  • Shoemoney has a great disclosure policy (blanket coverage like this is honest), stating that “You should assume I have motivation for linking to everything on this page and will benefit from it somehow.” – maybe he should now nofollow every external link?
  • In the past I have received income from both Google Adsense and PayPerPost – that means there is a certain amount of earned goodwill.

Should I now nofollow every link in this post because it is in some way previously compensated?

Just before Christmas I received a “Postie Pack”, with a few small trinkets that Tamar Weinberg would be proud to add to her collection of Schwag, so I am “double cursed” – lots of people earn similar (much more expensive) trinkets from Google every year.

Even worse, as I have hinted in the past I am looking at creating a startup that is affected at least partially by this issue, falling in the grey area of employees, stock holders, semi-automated contextual linking, affiliate links etc – I am triple cursed.

I couldn’t possibly include followable links in this post, so why bother linking to anyone?

A Review Is A Resource

When I write a review, I try to make it valuable content, often 3000 words or more, and I ensure I have editorial discretion on who I link to, not just to someone ordering a review, but also to other sites, whether they are competitors, or useful resources that are related to the review I am writing.
I also like to have the option of linking internally to related content.

Who you link to is likely looked on as part of ranking calculations used by search engines because it helps define the topical authority of a resource.

The compensation I receive from writing a review doesn’t cover the time I spend on them, so for a review to bring in search traffic and potential subscribers is important.

Technical Hurdles

This site being created using WordPress also offers a technical challenge that currently there isn’t a solution for. If I reference another WordPress blog post, it is most likely to receive a pingback. However spam detection software is likely to spot that I have nofollow on a link, and flag me as a pingback spammer.

Thus Google is forcing me not to link to blog posts from compensated reviews just in case I might get myself blacklisted as a spammer.

WordPress does not have granular control of pingbacks, and I doubt Google are going to fund the development of such control.

There is another problem of course, both Technorati and Google Blogsearch ignore links with nofollow, so even if I give someone an editorial link from a compensated post or paid review, they might not find out about it unless they set up specific Google alerts for their domain name being mentioned.

(note to Lucia: Don’t solve this one unless Google pays you)

Paid Content or Paid Links Are the Devil?

The next thing Google will dictate is that all compensated content should use Yahoo’s robots-nocontent class so that it doesn’t appear in the search engines at all.

This really is looking less and less about the quality of search results, and more about the failings of Google’s algorithms.

If Google paid me for a review of Google Reader, I should be able to link (without nofollow) to specific features of their terms of service, their faq, the Google Reader blog etc at my own editorial discretion.
I should also be able to link to other quality reviews of Google Reader, useful Greasemonkey scripts, Howtos etc, and above all competitors.

Those people didn’t pay for the review, I should be able to link to them without nofollow

I should also be able to link in an editorial manner to the site purchasing a review, as many don’t even request a link… seriously – but it appears Google have problems with the quality of links from anyone not in corporate employment.

This Is Different To The Webmaster Guidelines

Time to rewrite the Google webmaster guidelines yet again, and make everything abundantly clear exactly what classes as compensation and what is allowed – no fuzzy grey area that is biased against the self-employed, the small business owner or the less well off.

There is absolutely no way I can comply with these current new demands, I would have to stick nofollow on every link within some of my most popular and highly rated content.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    It strikes me that Google is using it’s power as a monopoly to dictate how people publish on the web. I appreciate that Google isn’t forcing anyone to do anything per se – they are simply threatening exclusion to anyone who dares publish in a way Google doesn’t like.

    I have no idea what form it will take, nor when, but I am sure Google will find themselves up against the EU at some stage.

  2. says

    I am right there with you. This is only going to get worse.

    Google continues to chip away at the web and manipulate webmasters just a little at a time. Matt says he only has the end user in mind and I believe him. Unfortunately, instead of working internally to make their product better, they are blackmailing us to do their dirty work for them. You can say it’s their index all you want, but when they control 90% of the traffic and then tell webmasters to bend over and adjust their business practices that have nothing to do with Google if you want any of that traffic, I consider that blackmail.

    /rant

  3. says

    Great post Andy, and some very valid points raised about the paid link issues, if you have £100,000 to shell out for an exhibition stand at a major conference you will get a link from the conference organizers.

  4. says

    Hi Andy,

    Sorry if this is a painfully elementary question, but will Google’s enforcement of this no-follow policy be implemented through it’s algorithms? Or will it require a manual review by Google?

    Or, in other words, is this issue only going to effect bigger sites who Google chooses to slap during its next TBPR update?

    • says

      Google has been slapping websites with PageRank drops since the beginning of October, and whilst a lot of the hits seem to have been tactical, Google have also stated that they have not hit everyone they have detected.

      Lots of sites they have detected selling links may not be passing PageRank to other sites from some or all of their pages.

      Previously it had been determined (by Google) that if you write paid posts, then any requested links by the advertiser would have to be nofollowed, even if you think they are editorial.

      Google said (well Matt Cutts to Ted in a private conversation) that the plans for Social Spark to have nofollow required on requested links is not sufficient, and that all links in a paid review have to be nofollow.

      If you just think back a few months, many A list bloggers were receiving free laptops with Windows Vista from Microsoft, and the uproar was about disclosure. Once there was clear disclosure, there was no ethical problem.

      None of those bloggers would have thought to nofollow links to Microsoft (or other resources) when they reviewed the $4000 freebie, then or in the future (if they kept it)

      As far as I can see, this conversation between Ted and Matt is current policy, so if you have a paid review currently, you would have to have nofollow on all links, not just to the site that requested the review.

      Google hasn’t defined any of the grey area specifically other than suggesting that it is ok to buy links from Yahoo, but if you have the same or more stringent requirements for a site being reviewed on your blog, you could face a penalty, even if you are a medical professor reviewing a medical product.

  5. says

    Thank you for posting this excellent review of the latest developments regarding Google’s policies on paid links. I agree, the webmaster guidelines really do need to make it absolutely clear, and in plain English too, what is expected of us in relation to linkage, nofollow and the like.

    I don’t do paid reviews, and although I do have affiliate ads in my sidebar, I do not include affiliate links in my posts. However, I do review other sites, services and sometimes products too as informational posts for my readers across my three blogs, and link to relevant sites in these posts. Will the Google bots be intelligent enough to know that these links are not paid? For that matter, will my blog eventually be tarnished because of the ads in my sidebars?

    The future with Google is frightening. I sincerely hope that as Gary suggests, Google will end up having to defend it’s actions online before the EU!

    • says

      Amanda I have only written 10 paid reviews in over 12 months (and over 600 posts on the blog), and the primary reason is to try to clear up some of the grey area, though obviously it does cover a few beers.

      I would certainly be careful mentioning anything about any of the paid review or paid links services on your blog, as there have been a number of false positives.

  6. says

    Google themselves link out to clients that purchase Google Mini’s. Should those links be nofollowed?

    In a MUCH broader sense, should all blog comment links be nofollowed? Sure many still use the nofollow default but would this mean that any blog in the dofollow movement would be breaking Google’s guidelines? I mean when you think about it, you’re paying for that link with your content and input so technically it could be considered an exchanged link or a paid link depending on how far Google slides down this slippery slope.

    It never ceases to amaze me that Google can be so stupid on issues with so many bright people working for them. It’s like they never go out into the “real world” but they do! Google is all over the place at conferences etc, so it’s not like they don’t know. This stuff infuriates me.

    • says

      I can pull out of the ether some comments from Google that they have no problem with nofollow being removed from user generated content that a site owner trusts.

      That being said the lack of clarity does have an effect, and some people have stuck nofollow back on their blogs.

      The interesting thing is many of the people who stuck nofollow back on their comments also use the Subscribe to Comments plugin, but their comment subscriptions end up in various spam folders because it is so full of junk and as an additional legal problem, probably not CAN SPAM compliant.

  7. says

    I can see only one simple answer to this: Nobody should use ‘nofollow’ at all, except maybe when linking to anything Google related ;-)

    ultimately Google only have as much power as we let them – those people who ran round kicking out advertisers two months ago, only to get hit with a PR drop anyway only convince Google that they do hold power over all of us.

    Screw ‘em.

  8. says

    Your point about Yahoo is an excellent one. Surely Google doesn’t expect us to depend on the benevolence of DMOZ for anything. A link is a link, paid or not, and should be treated as such. I would say that a paid review on your site makes a site more relevant.

    If you can come up with $130 bucks to be reviewed on a blog with the amount of readership you have, then you are probably not some low-rent viagra salesman.

    Google should quit promoting internet socialism in their algorithm, or start subsidizing my Adwords account.

  9. says

    An utterly brilliant observation of the situation, Andy, and one that I’d like to see Mr Cutts and the guys respond to. I’m not going to hold my breath, though…

    The last data I saw suggested that Big G have a 65% market share in search. I would suggest that most publishers would probably add another 20% on top of that when they look at their search referral traffic. Whether we like it or not, Big G own search. If it were as simple as saying a big FU to Google and continue to make websites and blogs for our readers benefits, life would be so much easier but it’s not. Without a Google presence, a website will wither and die and it seems that Google want to dictate how we operate online.

    Doug Heil is one of the most vociferous fans of G over at Matts blog and he constantly refers to the “free traffic” from Google. Crap! There’s no such thing as free traffic. You basically have to lube up and take whatever they give you from the Plex because without that 65%/85% of traffic, you have nothing so what choice do you have?

    The woolly areas are, as you say, borne out of G’s algorithmic deficiencies. There is no way on Gods earth that they can generate an algorithm which accurately detects all paid links. It’s impossible. So what they do is put into place the “Report a paid link” option within Webmaster Tools and spread the biggest FUD campaign in living memory. A downside to this is that innocents get caught in friendly fire as we saw in the October Bitch Slap Fest. A further downside is what you highlight here. A fear of linking at all.

    An Andy Beard post without a single link? Unheard of.

    So does this mean that Google have won? That basically webmasters, bloggers and content publishers become so paranoid about linking out for fear of a Big G Bitch Slap that they don’t link at all? Well FU very much, Google. Congratulations on shafting the Internet!

    I’m in no doubt that the visible TBPR reductions were the first part of the “penalty”. The next step will be removal from the index for the heathens that dare to link out without a Google condom.

    I’ve been following Google since the late 90′s and this is by far and away the most f*cked up piece of brand degradation that I’ve ever seen. They were once the geeks champion. They’re now the biggest bullies in the playground.

    Sorry to ramble in your comments section, Andy, but as you know, this is a subject close to my own heart and you’ve reopened a can of worms that I’d put to one side for the festering…I mean festive break.

  10. says

    Andy, a few times I’ve tried to go the paid review route with you and each time the ‘controversy’ of paid links starts up again from Google. Since you were the very first person to comment on my blog ( an excellent strategy by the way) I have made many links to you on numerous sites that I own, and from this and your excellent content I have will always consider this site an excellent one written by someone with similar views on this whole search engine controversy.
    I think it is time to stop already and at the very least plant a seed that may bear some fruit. I will write you over the weekend personally and give you some great info, but i think Google can only be challenged by using Google themselves. What do you think about a Meta-Social Hybrid search engine based in web 2.0 that you love so much, bearing the best results from Google, MSN and Yahoo and with LESS Spam? I’m not joking and the release date is Monday for EarthFrisk.Org. The blog that is linked in this message has an interesting write up by me with one of your articles linked in it again on this whole Google is flirting with evil.
    If people like you with at least a little influence take a stand, maybe others will follow. Just a thought rather than us all complaining. I remember you telling me this very thing on my blog in the very first response I received when I was asking why people care about Pagerank. Well what if a new system existed with a new way to rate sites, for instance like CV rating (Color Value) with toolbars available in Firefix and IE. No joke brother and it is indeed time to step up to the plate and hit back. Imagine a whole community with you involved where comments and votes make the already superior results even better over time, all with a new ranking system not reliant on the whims of any one company. Join me Andy, you will like what I have to say and I think by Monday’s launch of EarthFrisk.Org you will see at least the possibilities. Keep an open mind and check it out.

  11. says

    In all seriousness, I too am pretty pissed about this whole scenario for many of the reasons that you so clearly outlined in this post.

    Google wants me to tell them what links I get paid for?

    Fine, just make it damn clear what the definition of “paid” is because it means a lot of different things depending on who you talk to. I’ll even go as far as nofollow my affiliate links. Fine, no problem there.

    Will I go nofollow on my whole blog? Hell no!
    Will I nofollow unpaid links in a paid review? Hell no!
    Will I belly up to the buffet of bullshit that Google is shoveling down my throat and say, “Please sir, may I have some more”? Hell no!

    When Google applies the same standards to major partners and themselves that they are holding me to, then I buy this BS they’re shoveling our way. Until then, it’s a resounding f*** that s*** coming from me!

    OK, I’m going to stop right here because I feel a full on rant coming on and I’ve already stolen too much time with this comment.

    My suggestion for a solution… mass pressure from the webmaster community. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

    Thanks for the great continued coverage on this issue Andy!

  12. says

    Andy, Matt Cutts links rampantly and shamelessly to Barry Schwartz aka RustyBrick aka SerchEngineWatch aka SeoRoundTable aka SMX

    Does Google own Barry Schwartz???
    Does Barry Schwartz own Google???

    Why Matt Cutts on his “unofficial” Google blog plugs with follow links to Barry Schwartz???

    Thank you,
    Igor

    • says

      Yes Google never responds to criticism. Google support group are a shame. You ask a support question that is not in Google Play Book, you get a user acting all authoritative saying No, No, No!

      Does Google have Googlers pretending to be regular users answer user questions in authoritative way?

      If a user in Google support group is not a Google employee how can they speak authoritatively on behalf of Google.

      Google needs to provide answers, real answer to criticism on their official Google domain, by official Google employees!

      I am tired of “unofficial” Google blogs! I am tired of users speaking as if they are Google employees without showing a Google badge!

      This is Abuse, Harassment, an Infringement of Human Rights!

      If a person stops you on a street and says they are police, would you want them to show you a badge?

      Google is Evil, Google is a Bully!

      This is Rodney King, all over again!
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_King

  13. says

    The way google monopolizes what we publish on the way is a problem now, and the problem can get worse once it takes a graver form. But I’m opting to look at a more positive side. I don’t think this will go on for a long time. I believe that in the near future, google will come to its senses and shape up.

    • says

      Jen, I do not think so! The only way Google is going to change if Wall Street votes it unpopular! The VC’s do not want to hear about Google problems. Even the US Government is in bed with Google. Google collects personal data information for US government agencies.

      Look Google is dangerous!

      Remember when US Department of Justice went after Microsoft and won a settlement against them for anti trust and monopoly. European Union also showed victory. We talking billions of dollars Microsoft had to pay!

      Can you show us one case that Google was found guilty of Monopoly and anti trust, in any jurisdiction?

      Thank you,
      Igor

    • says

      If left unchecked, by virtue of their ever growing monopoly,Google will rule the world. The governments of the world must do something now before its too late.Some high level regulation of the Internet has to be done.

      • Vik says

        Regulation? OMFG! You think you have problems with Google so you turn to Governments to regulate the Internet?

        Here are a few thoughts:

        Back when radio (and then TV) were new, the US Federal Government decided that it owned the “Airwaves” in the USA, and if someone wanted to be a “broadcaster” they had LICENSE the Airwaves from the FCC. This involved a lot of money, acceptance of censorship, etc.

        Fast Forward to 2008. Can you IMAGINE what the world would be like if the US Government, & other governments REGULATED the Internet?

        Much better to keep the Government out of the Internet. Our best chance is that the idiot politicians don’t really understand it.

  14. says

    IZEA’s RealRank algorithm looks cool to me. Google can borrow some ideas from the IZEA guys and come up with a better algorithm that should not have huge dependency on links.Back links are good indicators of the quality of a site but there many other parameters that must also be taken into account.

  15. says

    Andy, enough of Google..:)

    You know Scott Wallick?
    My Travel Agency in Thailand helped evacuate him and other PCVs from Nepal during the Mao upraising. He was one of the 50 or so PCV volunteers.

    He actually started blogging in Nepal, on a 28 baud modem. That is what aspired him to start http://www.plaintxt.org he wants us bloggers to KISS.

    Wow small world…

    We’ll probably be bumping into each other on the travel trail one of these days.

  16. says

    Hello Andy,

    Excellent post! You seem to be one of the few still carrying the tourch in this fight. Hats off to you for keeping the issue in the forefront.

    Matt Cutt’s logic in explaining Google’s big push of the “nofollow” on links is a bit self serving, for both himself and Google. Moreover, their enforcement of their policy is a bit dubious as well.

    You would think that the Google brain trust would be able to tweak their algorithm to compensate for properly labeled paid reviews etc…

    Penalizing sites that do reviews etc is counterintuitive to their philosophy of putting the search user first by presenting the best most relevant results. Penalizing one group for something that is outside subject area of a search result actually harms their search users.

    Anyway, thanks for fighting the good fight.

    Beau Hooks

  17. says

    I have raised the question before with Matt Cutts about the paid directories that essentially pass PageRank for a fee. He claims that if the fee is for the hand-editing of the directory that this is ok, i assume because the money is for the time involved…not the PageRank, in theory. Are blogs not hand-edited? Could blogs not be considered a directory, in the loosest of definitions? A collection of links within a given category, however broad that category may be. I say if you penalize bloggers, etc, you have to go after some of these directories that diminish value of SEOs and try and take money for short-cuts to PageRank.

  18. says

    I think this sums it all up Google is FuBar..:)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FUBAR

    I have joined an interesting project
    http://www.aboutus.org I hope some of you can come and contribute to the next user friendly search engine!

    We work by consensus which is contrary to the electoral voting process of Google and other social media networking services.

    I guess we are sort of like Andy’s blog, we do not vote each other up or down but try to educate each other to empower us bloggers as a community.

    Thank you,
    Igor

  19. says

    Google’s algo is smart enough to recognize, quantify, and rank based on content and context. Moreover, the AdSense/AdWords bots can determine the best advertising to display based on the content of the page.

    How hard is it automatically grep “Paid Review”, “Sponsored Review”, “Sponsored Message”, etc and then devalue the links on the page programmatically, without any action on the webmaster’s part?

    Seriously?

    Yes, there are those that do not require disclosure in posts. Google is never going to stop all forms of paid linking, no matter what they do, so that is a moot point. By altering their algo to detect the finite number of keywords and phrases that are present in the vast majority of paid posts, Google could get the benefit to their precious PR that they are looking for while avoiding pissing us webmasters off.

    Of course, I’m not a programmer, and I certainly have never written a search algo, but with all those uber-bright people at Google, I would think that the above would be possible.

  20. says

    I’m pleased that at least a few people haven’t rolled over yet. There are so many levels that you can criticise the actions of Google – from a simple PR (public relations, not pagerank!) standpoint, to the fact that focusing on paid links alone is completely missing the point of what Google should be aiming for (relevant search results).

    * Paid link in ‘spammy’ content = bad (should be de-valued)
    * Unpaud link in ‘spammy’ content = bad (should be de-valued)
    * Paid link in quality content = good (adds value to the web)
    * Unpaid link in quality content = good (adds value to the web)

    By all means, use the probability of a link being paid as a factor in an algo, but it has to be coupled with the context in which it was used.

    That logic still means that a lot of the reviews done through PPP should have links de-valued, but someone like Andy doing a review is not comaparable to someone on blogger.com (how ironic) doing a 100 word copy and paste spam job.

    But at the end of the day, it HAS to be up to Google to do this filtering, not the webmaster. This is simply because good quality work shouldn’t be penalised (paid or not), and the poor quality work (paid or not) will usually not want to use nofollow, because they have nothing else to offer, other than ‘link juice’.

    It may be more complex to judge (quality of) content in combination with links, rather than just looking at ‘paid links’, but if Google’s aim is to give relevant results, isn’t that the only way they can achieve it?

    PS. I use spammy to mean poor quality, irrelevant to the link, lack of context etc

  21. says

    The first thing Google needs to do is have an open forum to listen to its customers! Webmasters, developers, and SEO’s are Google’s customers.

    But if you go to Google Webmaster Help Group and Matt Cutts blog you are repeatably told by the regulars acting with presumed authority that Webmasters are not Google’s customers!

    That Webmaster are getting free service of being indexed by Google and they should just shut up and be thankful.

    IMAO, talk about a power trip! Me think that Matt has a very tinny body and a humongous head and his followers the same! The power just went straight to their brains, and ready to explode like a Super Nova..:)

    Without Webmasters, Blogggers, Developers, SEOs, WTF is Google going to serve to their searchers?

    Larry Page and Sergey Brin naked on a Pink Plate…

    How stupid can these people be???

  22. says

    Heh, that’s funny. I put forward an argument in a post a few weeks back, where I reasoned that the relationship between Google and webmasters is indirect.

    Therefore, the job of providing relevant search results to searchers (the direct customers) should fall on Google’s shoulders, and shouldn’t require the help of any indirect participants. That doesn’t mean that Google shouldn’t penalise particular links or content, but that it shouldn’t ever demand that webmasters use nofollow to define things for them.

    The fact that webmasters are indirect beneficiaries should be of no consequence in my opinion. We get indirect benefits from many sources, that doesn’t mean we need to actively do something for that particular source to avoid being penalised. Especially when such penalisation affects direct customers.

    However, I still maintain that the blanket Google approach of “paid link is bad for the web” is the main problem here. A paid link is merely an indicator of something that is potentially detrimental to the web, and is not a problem in itself (in my view).

  23. says

    Sorry Andy, did not mean to step on you, but being that you were a way, I figured I keep the board busy with some hyperboles juxtapose and fancy schmancy tongue and chick..:)

    But now that you have returned, I go do some coding or something!

    Have a nice day,
    Igor

  24. says

    Alot of the comments on this post are off-topic (e.g. “Google traffic is not free” – that has nothing to do with nofollowing all links on a paid post; also the question “what is a paid link” is a big question that deserves its own thread).

    That said, I do agree whole-heartedly with Simon. Paid/unpaid should be a signal just like hidden text is a signal. Just because a site uses hidden text doesn’t mean the site is trying to spam Google, though compounded with other negative signals the hidden text could become the final straw that broke the camel’s back. Paid link should count fully if other quality signals on a site/page suggest that the link is highly editorial. For example, is a paid link with [search engine optimization] as anchor text pointing to searchmarketing-experts-in-india.info/search-engine-optimization.html or is it linking to seomoz.org? Of course then you have a problem of authority sites having a paid-link loophole (as long as a site is highly valued by Google, it can buy a whole bunch of links, burry the competition, and escape unscathed), but that scenario still is better than what we currently have because at least search results will remain highly relevant.

    I also like to know exactly what Matt said to Ted; People often fail to paraphrase Matt accurately, as the recent news about subdomains/subfolders proved.

    BTW, I’d love to have email updates of comments from your blog.

  25. says

    HalfDeck, if you get emails you will not come at all..:)
    But we do like your participation and your logical input, so please come more often.

    Maybe subscribe to Bloglines.com feed if you have not done so yet. You can see the comments, although they are not real time, which is ashamed! Is Google reader real time?

  26. says

    The other day I added the code for the Feedburner email subscription form to my blog. What a surprise that Google includes a nice static link back to feedburner.com WITHOUT “nofollow” at the bottom of the form!

    If Google wants to make ridiculous rules to try and dictate how the web works, then they and all of the web properties they own should follow suit. You won’t see Feedburner putting nofollows in links from their code they give out, I promise you.

    One of my sites’ PR got zapped the other day. It’s a respected directory for licensed therapists. I had ONE text link ad on the site, and all of the therapists’ websites, which are reviewed, don’t have “nofollow” tags. I removed the text link ad, and requested reconsideration. If they don’t restore its PageRank, I’m not doing another thing to try and impress Google.

  27. says

    Hear, Hear, I feel your pain! I had my business website deindexed for a few weeks and until I went to Google Webmaster Help Forum and Matt’s blog and bugged them about it, they did not put me back. Now I am banned from both…who knows everyone is banning me for speaking out..:)

    I hope you get back in Google, but try to find alternative ways. Come check out AboutUs.org we sure can use some help and maybe you will get some ideas for your directory.

    Regards,
    Igor

  28. says

    Andy or anybody —

    Would links to Amazon product in legitimate unbiased editorial content now be running afoul of Google law? Should they be no followed? I’m getting kicked way back in the SERPs and cannot figure out why.

  29. says

    Glenn,

    Google’s stance on affiliate links, at this point, is gray at best. After getting my blog PR slapped down, I started nofollowing all links that I get compensated for. I wrote a post on Use rel=nofollow Only When Needed where I discuss this.

    The reasoning I gave in the comments of that post are exactly what Andy’s post here illustrates. While “technically” affiliate links are not specifically required to have nofollow (last time I checked the Webmaster Guidelines), there is a very real potential for Google to come back and say that they manipulate search results.

  30. says

    Sorry I just want to know why such a big deal with using rel=nofollow for your PPP posts? If you are a very prominent figure in the blogger community and you have many followers, your advertisers will not care if you use rel=nofollow or follow the links, because to them what is more important is brand awareness and marketing not some Google Juice that is suppose to pass to the link or not.

    If you are obscure blogger who just starting out, is anyone going to hire you for a PPP? Hey your blog does not even have Google PR to pass in the first place! If you are less than PR 3 no one will really take you seriously, and if they do will the pay be enough to warrant all this hoopla?

    So to the average blogger this debate is actually a destruction from their real cause, which is to blog, and communication their thoughts and believes to the public who are in turn learn from the blogger and become his or her follower.

    Please, to all you bloggers new, middle, and experts let’s not waste time on Google and try to have them listen to us, it is unproductive! Let’s us be wiser then them and not stoop down to their level of greed. If you are, which most of you are so, only earning a few hundred dollars a month from PPP, just be benevolent and volunteer your money to Google because they are so indigent and in such hardship that they need our help to survive..:)

    Let us be the better man! And Andy and others who are strong and followed in the community, if an advertisers wants to by your Google PR link juice tell to go Fuck Themselves, and do not edit this! You guys are not for sale. How can pure people be for sale. Please, never in history! Artist, poets, philosophers, leave and create by donations from a few patrons!
    If a patron cannot recognize the nobility and association will benefit them more than some stupid Google juice than send them all to hell! FuBar

    I do help Andy continues to let me share me knowledge with all of you. I have a lot to impart on you, but if he would ask me not to comment I would respect his wishes!

    I have many enemies in the SEO industry who just hate my guts! I do not like fake and thin veiled people! I believe in Integrity and will rather sink with the ship than run away like a scared mouse to live another day!

    But to ban a user for expressing their thoughts and opinions is inhuman and gutless persecution and restrain of human rights, against the principles of freedom of speech, which every civilized society is based on.

    I have been banned from tons of places. I see it as a Ego Power Trip of the people who are banning me! They befriend me, and when I get too controversial instead of asking me as a friend not to post, they Pull The Trigger..:)

    All I can say they are week individuals and scared for their little world!

    Be a man and stand up for yourselves no matter how much is adversity out there!

    Blogging is not about a few hundred dollars, but about empowerment of the underrepresented and oppressed people! Bloggers who face persecution and oppression from their governments. Bloggers who are ready to be thrown in jail for their critique of their dictatorial governments!

    This is not about Google, Google, Google!
    Please, I urge all of you! Do not think about that few hundred dollars from PPP, just Blog and say what you believe in with your soul and your heart!

    Be that hard core blogger! Be that Core Hacker!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_definition_controversy

    Stand up for injustices not on behalf of yourselves but on behalf of others!

    I hope every one of you joins me in a round of applauds for Andy in thanking him for standing up to google on behalf of all the Webmasters and blogers!

    And let’s hope Andy is never swayed by the corruption and hypocrisies of the SEO industry.

    Have a nice day,
    Igor Berger

  31. says

    For the record, I wasn’t evacuated from Nepal. My group completed its term before the Peace Corps program was suspended there. I did, however, have quite a lot of good pals who were evacuated to Thailand.

    • says

      Dude, nice of you to join us and not be a stranger..:)
      I am sorry for labeling you an evacuee, but it is not a bad thing in anyway!

      You guys while in PCV help many people all over the world and place yourself in grave dangers.

      Does PCV do Gaza and Sierra Leon?
      I really want to find out more about the organization!

      Come around my blog or email me.

      Peace,
      Igor

  32. says

    I applaud the concept of “no nofollow”, but I think it’s the wrong way to do it. As I’ve said in another post here, I’ve added “nofollow” tags to ALL my links – organic and otherwise.

    Think for a moment what it would mean if everyone did that..

    I don’t feel like I have any choice. Google isn’t going to tell us how they determine if a link is linkbait. I run a legit site, and I don’t want to be punished by Google misinterpreting my links.. if I make them all “nofollow”, I can’t be misinterpreted, right?

    But if we all did that, Google’s PR algorithm would be worthless, forcing them to find a better way to do PR.

    • says

      Tony,

      I understand why you are doing nofollow on all links, but the end result will have a more detrimental impact on you and those you link to than it will Google.

      PR is a broken metric, but slapping nofollow on all links is not the way to get it fixed, IMHO. The real issue is that Google needs to find a way to differentiate between quality content and junk content.

      A high quality article/post with a relevant link in it (paid or not) adds value to the Internet. A spammy or poorly written article/post with a relevant link in it (paid or not) does not add value to the Internet. Google needs to find a way to tell the two apart.

      • says

        @Jmorris:

        You said:

        “I understand why you are doing nofollow on all links, but the end result will have a more detrimental impact on you and those you link to than it will Google.”

        I’m not trying to hurt Google. I don’t WANT to hurt Google.

        I just want to protect myself. As I asked in another reply (and darn it, I should have put all of this into ONE replay, sorry), what algorithm can I apply that will tell me when I can safely omit “nofollow”?

  33. says

    Believe me, I fully understand that using “nofollow” everywhere is not the answer, but tell me this: what algorithm can I apply that tells me when it’s “safe” not to use “nofollow”?

    Should I use it on my free Consultant List? I would guess yes, though certainly that’s as white-hat and above board as you can get and every one of those folks is organically related to my site – so it’s “unfair” that I have to do that, isn’t it (unfair to them, not me).

    Should I use it on any link in a Review section? That would seem to make sense.. but then how do I know how Google looks at my pages? If I have something tagged “Hardware” I may not consider it a Review, but they might..

    Can I guess that Google won’t penalize me if 99% of my site is apparently organic and 1% is “suspect” (by their rules, not in actuality). How about 80%?

    See my point? How do I know what makes me “safe”?

  34. says

    “Google needs to find a way to tell the two apart.”

    I don’t think that’s possible, and if it is possible, it is going to require looking at a site as a whole.

    For example, you can go to my site and pull down the “Random Page” link from my menus (well, you can unless you are still running IE 6 or earlier). Judge the value and relevance of whatever comes up.

    You might decide the page is junk. I hope not, because I do work hard not to create junk and to weed it out or improve later if I do, but still, you might. But surely if you, as a rational human being, looked at my ENTIRE site, I think you’d have to agree that it is packed with useful content for its target audience.

    Can a ‘bot do that? I really can’t imagine how.. and if I could, I think I’d be heading for a seven figure job at Google, don’t you?

    • says

      Tony, please, everything is possible, and actually very easy!

      You can do it algorithmically and add some editorial authority as you go on!

      The thing with editors you need to work by consensus not by electral.

      I can clearly imagine Stimblers and Diggers running away from my human rights activist home page as soon as they discover it.

      We tend to get scared of Lepers and other deformities!

  35. says

    In some ways, the issue about nofollow or paid links is a non issue. This dance is just another in a long list of issues past, present, and future.

    Google, along with other search engines are attempting to create the perfect relevancy construct. With billions upon billions of webpages, some day trillions, search in some ways is like finding for a needle in a haystack.

    So, there’s a catch-22 that’s been developed. Seach engines develop algorithms for perfect search, webmasters create the strategies to comply with the algorithms.

    If I remember correctly, Google’s mantra this past year or two was relevancy. And relevancy was in the form of backlinks. So webmasters complied. The science wasn’t perfect and here we are with an issue.

    The Internet truely is in its infancy. Today, Google makes some of the rules because they took a lead role many years ago.
    Either they’ll keep leading the way or someone else right now is birthing the next generation of search and relevancy.

  36. says

    Ask.com has recently stated that it has the ability to locate and offer or remove relevance to paid links. Google wants us to tattle. It would appear that Google is becoming the company that is too big to manage.

    It would also appear that Google is in the business of rocking the boat for their own benefit. Google triangulates as well as Bill Clinton does, maybe even better.

  37. says

    We just instituted a Dofollow policy for trusted commenters and links… I’d hate to try to figure out which of the links (past, present, and future) are somehow compensated.

    Thanks for an intelligent review of the issues.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] ALL links within a sponsored post should be no-followed. Andy Beard picked up on this and wrote one of the best articles about the subject that I’ve read and Rob over at Yack Yack has weighed in with some interesting views on the [...]

  2. [...] Google Dictating Nofollow For ALL Links From Compensated Content Andy Beard writes another great post regarding Google’s policy on paid links. It seems that Google is merely attempting to manipulate the actions of webmasters just so they can cover up their own algorithmic inadequacies. This fight will continue but it can’t go on forever. Posted in Winner of the Week Related Posts: No related posts [...]

  3. [...] There is no justice when one cannot rank for one’s own name. There is no justice when weeks (and perhaps years) of hard work are lost due to an algorithm shift that makes little sense. There is no justice when the biggest game in town doesn’t play fair to the very people that are feeding its belly. [...]