Google = Mafia?

Everyone seems to be talking about Google the last few days and how they have started to penalize websites that sell text links, such as Text Link ads. Search Engine Watch has an interesting article on the topic and Daily Blog Tips has decided to stop selling text link advertising altogether.

The Search Engine Watch article states that

Google said that some sites that are selling links may indeed end up being dropped from its search engine or have penalties attached, to prevent them from ranking well.

There are several things that bother me about Google and this whole campaign against selling text links.

  • Text links have been around a lot longer than Google. It was one of the best forms of advertising long before Google came along with their PageRank formula that relies on links to calculate. People used to buy text links for the actual traffic it could send, not for some mystical Google PageRank juice. If Google wants to do something to stop text link advertising to manipulate Google rankings, then they should stop using links to calculate the rankings in the first place.
  • There appears to be a double standard from Google. They want people to have advertising on their websites, but only Google Adsense (or some other Google approved advertising system). I sell text links on some of my websites and I have to tell you if I have to choose between running Google Adsense for revenue and selling text links, I would take text links. Google Adsense is unreliable as far as income is concerned. I can sell text links and have a more stable income source from month to month than I ever had with Google Adsense.
  • Many blogs run other ads on their sites, typically you see the 125 x 125 ad spots, with no nofollow attribute on the links. Many blogs rely on that income to continue to operate. What is stopping Google from targeting that advertising next, or affiliate marketing now that Google has pay per action advertisers. If Google threatens to drop your rankings for having other forms of advertising on your site they are no longer providing people who search the best results. Shouldn’t the search results be about the actual content, and not whether the website sells links, or have other forms of advertising?
  • Google is starting to sound a little bit like the mafia running a protection racket. Drop the paid links or you never know what is going to happen to your search ranking. I can almost see the scene from a gangster movie. Search engines should return the best pages for a query, irregardless of how the website makes money.

Personally I find the whole Google campaign against text links to really show a problem with Google and their PageRank algorithm. Google needs to reexamine how they catalogue and rank websites and pages. Search results should not have anything to do with whether or not a website sells links or not. Does Google really do their users a good service by filtering results based on a websites monetization? Google needs to stop the mafia act regarding text link advertisements and spend some time working on how they rank websites in the first place. Yahoo and MSN are probably watching Google closely here. They might just have a chance to gain a little ground on Google.

3 Responses to Google = Mafia?

  1. […] Q: Is Google trying to tell webmasters how to run their own site? A: No. We’re giving advice to webmasters who want to do well in Google. Webmasters are welcome to make their sites however they like. We can run our protection racket business however we want. If you don’t want to play along you never know what might happen to your website in our index. Even if you are the most authoritative site for a topic, accidents happen and your website might just disappear. (Think mafia movie) […]

  2. I’m not defending Google… just adding our observations from our research. I think the key is remembering that Google is not running a public service. It is simply a very large business that needs to show a profit, and its profits come from Adwords. They’re under no obligation to include anyone’s pages in their “free” search engine.

    Perhaps more to the point. There’s basically no such thing as a “best result” for a search, and indeed all of our research is telling us that Google is moving away from even trying to produce “accurate” results. It’s been a long time since Google even allowed a proper Boolean search. With the introduction of Google Chrome and the statistics they have gathered from the pervasive use of Google Analytics we expect that they have already begun to bias results towards websites that have high Time on Site numbers.

    Google’s rationale is simple… if people are spending a lot of time on the websites that Google ranks, they must be happy with the website, and that’s a good enough result for Google’s business model.

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