Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Google's "Paid Link" Advertorials in The Globe & Other Newspapers

I will be the first to admit that while you SEO's are buying links, we are buying advertisements disguised as editorials.  Advertorials themselves are equivalent to paid links in the news world, since the intent is to deceive users into thinking they are reading a real editorial (regardless of the nearly invisible fine print). We're not proud of it, but it is so much hard to get real coverage for our products these days as you are probably aware.

That said, let me focus on the paid links issue:

1. You know that we no no problems penalizing our properties because our sites never rank in the first place. You see, we're never "keyword targeting" like all those spammers (a.k.a. SEO's). Seriously, do you think we are ranking for words like "search engines" and "online advertising?" Of course not, and even after a penalty, we are going to usually rank for our brand name, which is something we often do to small webmasters. For larger brands, we generally like to just discount those links, because they are a brand, and we know they are honest most of the time.

2. Our teams that bought the links are in direct contact with the reinclusion team, getting out of penalties is easy I must say. I do feel bad that we penalize other sites for years at a time, without really giving them details on specifics.

3. In other cases like BeatThatQuote, it is true that we penalized the site only for a week or so, and then when no one was looking, reincluded when Aaron Wall spotted it ranking a second time http://www.seobook.com/beatthatquote-buythoselinks. True it ranked for a lot of keywords, but it was sort of a brand because think about it, we paid about $60 million for it, it had a lot of users, and bought a lot of advertising from us.

4. P.S. Visible pagerank penalties are usually just that, a visual thing we use to educate people, not a penalty per se.

So at the end of the day, we are doing the right thing. Actually, the opposite is quite true, as we get lots of media coverage and reinforce our stance on paid links. I can also tell you that the number of teachers looking into products like Google Hangouts is increasing.

But Aaron is right in one thing, maybe we should do a full audit, especially on sites that are more keyword driven, as well as be more transparent forgiving to small businesses, like we are to ourselves.