Why The Debate About Paid Links Was Over Before You Knew What PageRank Was

No one noticed what was really going on while Google was penalizing PageRank

I’ll start this post about paid links with a quote from one of the finest pieces of science fiction ever.

As you will no doubt be aware, the plans for development of the outlying regions of the Galaxy require building of a hyperspatial express route through your star system, and regrettably your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition.

-The Vogons at the start of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

This of course would cause a reaction on earth since no one had ever had communication with another planet. This prompts the following statement:

There is no point in acting all surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in your local planning department in Alpha Centauri…so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Blogosphere and Webmaster world, the debate on paid links ended years ago.

Way back when the nofollow tag was introduced. Remember? Oh, yeah, we were supposed to start putting nofollow on affiliate links and stuff like that.  Doing so was supposed to keep your site from being penalized from linking to sites that should not be linked to. At least, that is what we were told.

This was supposed to be a standard for the Web.

Just like <h1> headings and other html code that is standardized. Yep, those same people that check their site to make sure their page code is validated may be the same ones complaining about being penalized for paid links.

We were told to start using nofollow long ago to keep our page’s ranking and reputation in order.

It was added to WordPress comments because it was hoped that this would discourage spam commenters from taking advantage of blogs. It did not work and we now have more effective comment moderation plugins so now we remove the nofollow on comments on blogs.

That was not the only reason for nofollow.

There was a bit of a fuss as major affiliate networks changed their links.

Some complained when Commission Junction switched. Java links are now common because they do not transmit PageRank or link authority. So is flash.

What do you mean, you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri?…I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs that’s your lookout.

Energize the demolition beams.

Google has just kind of fired the gun into the air.

As far as I understand, none of the pages hit by the PageRank slap were actually penalized in the search rankings. We could consider it a wake up call. Laying in front of the bulldozer is not going to stop it.

Worse things are coming and may already be here.

I did not realize or remember any of this till I read on a forum that someone found some of his Websites had been removed from MSN/LiveSearch completely. The only thing in common with the delisted sites was use of paid links.

MSN and LiveSearch may already have started to penalize paid links.

I don’t know..

…apathetic, bloody planet, I’ve no sympathy at all.

-Vogon Leader

While all the focus has been on the Google PageRank slap, MSN and LiveSearch may already be moving farther along. Eventually, Yahoo probably will too. This is the way it was decided long ago.

Many think that soon Google will start to penalize in the search rankings for bad links out from your site.

If you do not have a nofollow tag on a link to a commercial site or affiliate link, you may be looking at a penalty. It is not just Text Link Ads. Microsoft has the patent for link strength cancellation in link lists. It will not just be Google.

What bloggers need to do.

Check your links to see where you are linking to. Should you be promoting that site with a link? Or, should it be a nofollow link? Your link reputation depends on it.

Do I like this?dontpanicaboutpagerank

NO! I think it goes a bit too far. I think it is even possible that some of those who were in on the nofollow tag did not see it as being used in this manner. I have made my feelings clear about the situation on my post about the Google PageRank slap.

However, it is really too late to do anything about it.

Other options to paid links will come out. Good content will still be valuable. We will just have to figure out how to replace the nice income from paid links.

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