Is Google Getting Soft on Paid Links

Has Google seen the light or are they just getting soft? What I mean is that they recently pushed a pagerank update out to the toolbars and it would appear at first glance that the big G might be getting soft.

Paid Links

Google in the last year or so has taken a very firm stance against paid links. They have made it clear that paid links are not acceptable, this includes paid text links, sponsored reviews, payperpost etc. If they find out about the paid links, or even if they suspect them to be so, they will put you to a PR0 in a heartbeat.

Like it or not, Google is a powerful force and they can essentially remove you from the Internet if they choose. Certainly not altogether, but they can make sure that nobody EVER finds you via their search engine. Depending on your model, this could be a kiss of death or nothing to worry about. For most it is the former.

Google claims to do this to protect the “relevancy” of their search engine results. I fail to see how if someone is buying Cheap College Textbooks links that points to a cheap college textbook website, affects their rankings? That would seem pretty relevant to me.

They certainly don’t mind people buying links through their adwords campaign. Those links you see at the top and right of a Google search are paid links. They don’t seem to have a problem with those though, why? Well because THEY are the ones getting paid.

Hypocritical? Absolutely.

History Repeating

Google came to be the 800lb gorilla that it is today because they had a goal to provide the most relevant search engine results possible. I still think they do a good job of it however I wonder if history could repeat itself?

Google survived the search engine wars because they focused on being the best search engine around. While names like Alta Vista, Excite and Lycos worked hard to have a content packed portal site, Google ruthlessly worked to develop the biggest index of relevant sites known to man.

This, combined with some great timing and simple luck, propelled them to the top and really only Yahoo remains today as a moderately relevant player. Google was able to dominate because they weren’t focused on revenue, they were focused on providing relevant results.

That was ok then, but now they have stockholders to answer to and revenue obligations to meet. Will this need to generate revenue via sponsored search be their downfall? That remains to be seen. I don’t think anyone would argue that have alienated users in the past and seem to incite outright anger from some.

This seems to be very similar to Microsoft, another widely reviled company. Microsoft is still an 800lb gorilla but I am writing this on Firefox, not IE. Google, can you hear us now?

Stance Softening?

With this latest toolbar update, it would appear at first glance that the big G might be softening up a little bit. I have seen a number of sites that were previously banished to PR0 hell, pick up some pagerank. I know of one blog that every other article is a paid payperpost and even that site went from PR0 to PR2.

The evil John Chow even went from a PR3 to a PR4 and he’s definitely Personae non Grata around the halls of Google. At one time he didn’t even rank for his own NAME!

This may be a sign that Google is easing their stance on blogs that generate income via links and reviews or maybe bloggers are just getting wiser and hiding it better. It appears to me that the former is the case just going by some of the blogs that I have seen enjoy a PR increase.

This would be a good thing for the bloggers who are just trying to scrape a few bucks from their blogs. I hardly think they could affect the SERPS enough for Google to be so hardcore. If they can, then you would have to suspect Google’s algorithm as not being that great to begin with.


I applaud Google for wanting to protect the relevancy of their search results but I think they need to recognize the real enemy. It isn’t the bloggers, it’s the Spammers. I have my content regularly scraped by SPLOGS and I can do nothing about it.

Reporting it to Google falls on deaf ears but let someone report a paid link or let them suspect a sponsored review and they will hit the eject button on you pretty darn fast. Let’s hope that this recent toolbar push is a sign that Google has recognized the real enemy and will rally their efforts around eradicating SPAM from the online world.

In my humble opinion, that is a far worse enemy than some poor schmo trying to make a few dollars by writing a review of another bloggers website.

So how did you make out in the recent toolbar push? Are you a PR hero or a PR zero?


This post was brought to you by Viagra so if you have trouble……….nah just kidding. If you liked what you read here then you can check me out at my own Make Money Blogging blog that has just enjoyed a bump from a PR2 to a PR4. Have a great weekend.

5 thoughts on “Is Google Getting Soft on Paid Links

  1. Kevin

    Very good post Adnan.

    I have said many times that many of googles stances on paid links are a method of pushing more business towards people using their adsense program (even though most websites get very little money from using them).

    With regards to johnchow, I wrote a post about this last year. I think its a joke that searching for john chow did not return as the first result. They were effectively returning a poor search result to the searcher (and this is always their main argument when applying penalties). I guess it’s difficult for them to penalize a website without providing poorer search results as well.

    I don’t think that the recent update means that google has gone soft on paid links. Taking johnchow again for an example, the number of subscribers has more than doubled since the last time their was an update so no doubt there are thousands of more backlinks to his site therefore even with a penalty his PR should still have increased.

  2. Sarbartha

    Everybody should get chance to grow. Monopolistic nature is not competitive. When Google banned PayPerPost blogger and ranked back to ZERO, they came up with their own Ranking system IZEARank.
    Always there is alternative solution. Due to splog real blogger’s are suffering and for taking care this issue Google should take steps.

  3. Pingback: Weekend Links 05/02 | PureBlogging

  4. Tammy

    I just about crapped myself when I went to my site and my blog is now a PR2. And my other blog, is a PR3…
    I kept checking – to see if it was a fluke… but today – it’s still the same.
    Strange….freakin strange…

  5. Kate

    I’ve given up trying to understand the ways of Google. One of my blogs was a PR5 and got reduced to a PR3 a year ago due to paid links. (It has 5500+ incoming links, so that’s particularly infuriating.) One of my blogs on which I don’t do paid reviews at all has a mere 38 incoming links but went from PR0 to PR3. Where is the sense?

    Although I find Google indispensable and quite possible the best thing to ever happen to the internet, I’ve been online long enough to believe that everyone should have their opportunity to make money online in their own fashion. If people are accepting money for links and turning out quality content that’s relevant to the inserted link (paid or not) then it makes no sense for Google to penalize them.

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