When Google finally realised their PageRank ‘guidelines’ were simply functioning like a scarecrow that has become a perch for the black hat crows then something had to be done. The powers that be decided they were prepared to sacrifice search rankings to prove they no longer wished to tolerate those who refuse to follow their guidelines; so, to deter the crows they unleashed a penguin!
As a consequence there has been much disquiet in the kingdom of Elsinore…. sorry, Google recently and Webmasters are still not convinced the coast is clear regarding text links and link building. Before we go any further, I guess the first thing to say is that the penguin update was never about improving search results; it was a clean-up operation, the problem is when you use a high powered pressure washer everyone and everything gets soaked!
The question people are asking is, ‘does Google actually have the right to tell a website how to market itself?’ This is difficult to answer and has provoked much debate. On the one hand any community needs a set of ‘laws’, I don’t think anyone would disagree with that fundamentally; although people do get very twitchy, when it appears to be ‘one rule for one and another for all the rest’.
Matt Cutts has stated for a long time now that Google felt gaining PageRank by buying links was not the correct spirit to adopt as most search engines view backlinks as a way of establishing a website’s reputation. Therefore if you artificially skew this process it undermines the search ability of a search engine to bring up appropriate and useful results. Right, we all get that and if hyperlinking was all that happened it would be a level playing field but, and here’s the big one:
“penalizing paid links is trying to go against the natural commercialisation of the web and the fact that Google makes its fortune from advertising based on people wanting to search the “organic” listings. While they do that they are also being force fed sponsored ads, which does appear to be slightly hypocritical.”
Obviously living in what purports to be a free society and with capitalism still alive and kicking, albeit in a slightly weaker state it has to be said, then links will continue and what should happen is Google must consider just how useful any kind of link is and ultimately what specific impact they have on overall rankings. Let’s face it if a link is useful and advantageous then surely that adds something to a website, doesn’t it? This would represent an improvement on the real world, I mean, since when did Coca Cola and McDonalds equal the kind of diet an athlete might adopt for a top flight Olympic performance, but I digress.
If the web had been set up in such a way that it was a non-commercial, non-profit making area then no one would buy or sell such links. One would imagine people wouldn’t just keep up blogs, updates, etc. just for the good of their health and nothing would be bought or sold. Come one guys, it’s commercial!
The irony of it all, of course, and the thing which really sticks in people’s collective craw is that Google profits from paid links but they are called AdSense. So Mr Cutts, who exactly is going to want to shell out for links if they have to be ‘nofollow’ ones? It’s not going to happen.
So there needs to be an alternative solution and right now the insistence on not using link advertising that also passes Page Rank is causing much discontent and you know what people do when they are discontented!
One has to ask the question why have Google tried to eliminate paid links when they use back links as part of their ranking algorithm? Is it just because they don’t receive the dosh? Can you fight human nature and natural commerce? Is it time for them to change how they rank sites overall?
Yes, we are treading new ground and it’s probably time for Google and other search engines to actually consult with their users, be slightly more transparent and appear supportive. Just because an organisation reaches a dominant position it doesn’t mean they are always right and if fail to listen to dissenters then that’s not the greatest scenario.
Should we simply capitulate and adopt the lowest denominator, greed? Or should we develop another approach? Looking at the rumbling undercurrents regarding the various financial crises playing out all over the world one might hope Google, of all people, could come up with something creative to solve this dilemma which has so far been responsible for too much collateral damage. Does anyone have any good ideas I wonder?
‘To link, or not to link: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The pandas and penguins of outrageous Google,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?’
With apologies to Shakespeare and Hamlet
By: Silver Teede