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Is Google right to come down on text link ads economy?

Discussion in 'Google' started by libervisco, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. #1
    Google apparently penalized sites which participate in link selling and buying. Are they right to do this or not?

    One side of the argument is that the page rank system can only be fair and result in good quality search results if all links are relevant to the site holding them and genuine. If a site A links to site B which isn't relevant to site A it gives site B a "vote" hence affecting its overall google rank due to a money transfer alone rather than it being a relevant resource to site visitors. So in short there are two problems:

    - Link is not adding value to site's visitor.
    - The site being linked is being pushed up in the rankings based on a payed vote rather than a genuine vote.

    The other side of the argument, obviously largely coming from the participants in the text link ads economy essentially defends this practice of selling links. Some arguments may include:

    - Google set up a system in which, from the start, every link counted as a vote, and wasn't clear on whether payed votes are acceptable or not. Majority of people took this, in combination with history that never included penalization based on modest link selling, to mean that link selling is fine. Now things suddenly and without much warning changed.

    - Link ads may not be adding value to the site visitor, but are far less annoying to the user than full banner ads. It being non-intrusive makes it a non-issue for most visitors.

    - Web publishers with money can pay to get their sites higher in rankings which implies that those with most money eventually end up having best ranks. However, at the same time, money they give often goes to small web publishers who hence use it to fund their web activities, making it easier for them too to grow and at some point buy links too. This basically balances the rich with the poor web publishers in a rather beneficial symbiosis leaving very little space for really unfair situations. There aren't many web publishers and bloggers which are disadvantaged with the prospect of link selling or buying. It was by all means a healthy economy.

    - Sites which buy links buy them for relevant keywords meaning that search results of these sites should be relevant. The only question remaining is whether these are better than the sites which grow without buying links. This is not always a question with a clear cut answer as it may simply be that these are two strategies for achieving basically the same thing. One who produces better content may sometimes actually rank better due to viral advertising that exceeds the buying power of the link buyer. The two may in many cases balance out.

    Now, for the sake of being fair we can acknowledge that there may be some difference in quality of search results. Then basically the only thread on which google can hold on to for justifying banning link selling economy is to increase relative quality of results.

    However, not only is this not assured (as there may be worse things than link selling that impact the quality), but it is google's relative lack of clarity on the issue actually helped stir the link selling economy in the first place. Now, that the industry established itself, it turns around and wars on it.

    So, here is the big question: Is closing down the link selling economy a fair price for little better search results or is google to be held responsible for acting too late, once the price to pay was already too high?

    Of course, if the answer is the latter, it is not google who is paying the price. It is the text link ads industry, their competitor, which makes it a quite convenient deal for them. How exactly fair this is, however, is a question worth thinking about.

    Feel free to share your thoughts.
    libervisco, Oct 30, 2007 IP