• http://www.buzzsmith.com/ Gary Lee

    Why doesn’t Matt talk about all the money content farms made for Google through adsense? That could be a big reason Google didn’t want to go after the farms too quickly. Right?

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    On paid links “probably [violating] Federal Trade Commission guidelines…”

    Highly unlikely. FTC guidelines are concerned about consumer confusion, not about search engine algorithms. I can think of only a few scenarios where paid links would be interpreted by the FTC as undisclosed endorsements.

    I doubt the FTC will ever require people to use “rel=’nofollow'” for disclosure since it doesn’t disclose anything.

  • Scott Davis

    I’d appreciate it if they’d act quicker in squishing all the Google Maps abuse.

  • Durant Imboden

    As a searcher, I’ve always been less bothered by content farms than by sites built around millions of keyword-driven, machine-generated pages that often have no content other than an invitation to “Write a review” or “Compare prices for [keyword].” Some of the big tech and travel sites have done this for years. Wikipedia is another culprit with its pages that read “This page is a stub.” Maybe the sites shouldn’t be penalized for publishing stubs, but why do stubs show up in Google’s search results?

  • Durant Imboden

    Another thing: How is WikiHow any better than eHow? And how did wiki.answers.com come to be a powerhouse site in the Panda era?

  • FaceOnMars

    I’m a bit confused as to how paid links could possibly be fathomed as a violation against the FTC’s guidelines?

  • Durant Imboden

    This might be helpful:


    Then again, it might not be. (The FTC has a way of using 5,000 words to explain a simple concept.) In any case, Matt obviously cares less about the FTC’s stance on disclosure than he does about Google’s.

  • Sweta Srivastava

    Had they taken action on Content Farm and Paid Linking, our future could have been secured.

  • https://www.freightlink.co.uk/ Freightlink

    Websites are still buying links and ranking far higher than sites that use more content marketing than SEO with which to succeed. Too much contradictory statements coming from Google.

  • Yokesh Prabhu

    This is out of subject, but I’m curious Is he wearing a Firefox T-shirt?

  • Christine

    Are FTC guidelines universal ? or applicable to those only in the US..

  • Durant Imboden

    FTC guidelines apply only in the U.S. (But they’re really a side issue in this case.)

  • Durant Imboden

    The FTC rules on disclosure do apply to advertorial (such as “guest posts,”) which often are used as vehicles for paid links. But that’s really beside the point. Arguing about when or whether FTC guidelines apply to paid links is a distraction. Google’s Webmaster guidelines are about protecting the integrity of search results, not about helping SEOs and site owners to keep the FTC happy.

  • guy

    tss. not tell anybody his small dirty secret (with cost of few billions of $$$)

  • http://andreas.com/ Andreas Ramos

    So Matt Cutts goes to ONE content farm, feels that it’s okay, and that’s how he made the decision on content farms?

    Amazing. No research. No awareness of the massive discussion around content farms. Just a “shucks, looks good to me” and walks away.

    This is an example of the casual or even lackadaisical decision-making at Google. I’ve met senior people at Google who make decisions on practically no information, no discussion. These decisions impact other companies.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    ” Arguing about when or whether FTC guidelines apply to paid links is a distraction.”

    Quite the contrary, if Matt still feels compelled to invoke the name of the Federal Trade Commission over links, that means he is not where he wants to be with respect to fighting link spam.

    The FTC couldn’t care less about link spam. Links are not endorsements.

  • http://netpeak.ua/ Dmitry Pelymsky

    Google begins new era without links.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Google’s position on links as endorsements is based on Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s failed analysis of Web citations (they used links on the Stanford University website as a proof of concept, rather than looking at the broad Web where links were already being bought and sold, swapped, etc.).

    Citation Analysis, which has served as the basis of academic paper evaluation for decades, has come under serious fire for being incredibly flawed (in part because information becomes outdated or may be cited by numerous articles that dispute it).

    Nonetheless, instead of learning their lesson Google continues to insist that links should only be used as they want them to be used. That will never happen. People will continue to link to each other as they see fit.

  • http://andreas.com/ Andreas Ramos

    This is a pretty good summary by Michael. Larry Page copied the idea of link citations from bibliometrics, which is a standard method in library science dating back to the 1930s for evaluating chemical and physics papers. Yes, Page just copied it and covered up that he copied this.

    In the sciences, it works because if a researcher uses fake links, it’ll eventually be uncovered and he’ll be fired and his reputation will be ruined.

    However, there is huge incentive for fraud in marketing and practically no penalties. In fact, honesty will often be penalized.

    When marketers realized they could spoof Google by buying links, that led to explosive fraud. Google did very little about this for various reasons.