• http://www.mesotheliomaweb.org/alimta.htm alimta

    Maybe. But it will be a sad day for the internet and for web users when we all give up the fight against paid links. So sites with large budgets will come up high on SERPS? I know a lot of people who read this blog would probably embrace the paid links economy because they are in the business of promising clients they can achieve high rankings, and they want a sure-fire way to make that happen. But it means the potential for lower quality search results.

    The paid links economy also seems not fair to those of us who have been white hat all along and never used paid links.

    I know I’m probably fighting a losing battle here.

  • eric_ward

    It might take a few high profile busts to instill enough fear to slow the paid link tide. We have all driven faster than the speed limit. You tend to keep doing so till you get a ticket, or until you see a police car hiding behind a billboard. Then you slow down. For a while. The scripps example is a beauty. Probably zero intent to fool the engines, but there it is. My (probably naive) belief is that in the overall web universe of trillions of links, a few million paid links will not become so common as to overide a well tuned algorithm. I also wish every engine would simply double-column the results. Left side results include basic inbound link analysis, right side results include a chlorine enchriched super cleansing only giving credit for links with 100% perfect pedigree.

    Like I said. I’m naive. :)

  • http://www.luckylester.com Lucky Lester

    If everybody started using other search engines then maybe Google wouldn’t be so quick to penalize us for the problems they themselves have created. Wasn’t there an article or two on here last week that said that 2 other search engines scored better than Google in terms of relevancy and such?

  • http://searchengineland.com Danny Sullivan

    alimta, if you’re worried that budgets mean all, then you’ve already lost the fight. The point is that links have been bought and sold for some time, despite the pressure Google in particular puts out on this issue. The pressure is simply making the paid links harder for Google to detect. The solution, I suspect, is to accept that paid links are a fact of live and simply work out new ways to detected whether any link (bought, paid, bartered or whatever) should count as a vote or not.

    Eric, I’m fairly certain those Scripps links are there precisely to influence search rankings. It makes no sense at all for them to be showing up on so many pages where they are pretty irrelevant.

  • BrianL

    I keep hearing the argument that paid links only favor those with big budgets. IMO, if a site does well and the user it happy with it, the site makes a profit and can afford links. It may take some time for a smaller site to catch up with a big site with a big budget, but it’s not impossible. In some ways, the whole argument is like someone saying it’s unfair for Walmart to mostly carry big brands of cereal on their shelves. If a company wants space on that shelf, they need to work hard to get there, but it can be done (Kashi brand items for example). Walmart isn’t going to come out and say “we’re going to devote equal space to every brand that wants a piece because we want to be fair” and Google shouldn’t either.

  • http://www.paulpedersen.com/ Paul Pedersen

    It’s interesting reading the comments. Although I do not work for Shopzilla or uSwitch, I am intimately acquainted and can say that these links are not paid links. It’s just simple linking between sites like you or I do between our personal websites. That’s not deceptive. It’s just smart …and a common practice. It has also been on the footer of Scripps sites for several years now (since the purchase of these properties), and is not some new “trick” that has recently been implemented.

    I can’t say what the goal of the links is, whether it’s to influence rankings or drive awareness. But I will say, if it is to influence rankings, I think we would all agree that there are much more intelligent ways to do it.

    I would say, if anything, the comments have made more of a case that it is intended to drive awareness than to influence the SERPs. If you look at the banner advertising on the page, I would challenge you to find any that is based on the page content. None of it is …And that’s just the way news sites work. For them, right or wrong, links to other sites don’t need to be relevant. It’s more of a shotgun approach than anything. Why wouldn’t linking to their sites be any different?

    I would take a look at the sophistication at which news sites operate. Greg Sterling’s blog (http://gesterling.wordpress.com/ ) will give you a lot of insight into the lack thereof. Once you understand how their sophistication level, you will be less inclined to think “conspiracy”.

    I think those of us that work in the SEM industry tend to assume that the whole world knows to put “rel=nofollow” in the anchor tag. That’s just not the case. Most developers don’t even know to put a title tag in there.