Google Breaks Own Guidelines – Sells PageRank

Posted January 29, 2007 4:40 pm by Comments (2)

Well folks, you knew it would happen sooner or later. Google has once again been caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar. You see, according to Google’s (painfully outdated) Webmaster Guidelines, you should, “Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings.” as well as “Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank.” In fact, Google feels so strongly about the issue that they allowed Web Dominatrix, Matt Cutts, to discuss it on his blog. His post “Text links and PageRank” is quite appropriate to this discussion. Specifically these bits:

  • “Google does consider buying text links for PageRank purposes to be outside our quality guidelines.”
  • “But these [paid] links make it harder for Google (and other search engines) to determine how much to trust each link. A lot of effort is expended that could be otherwise be spent on improving core quality (relevance, coverage, freshness, etc.).”
  • “Using nofollow is a safe way to buy links, because it’s a machine-readable way to specify that a link doesn’t have to be counted as a vote by a search engine.”

So, given the fact that Google has discussed this issue several times, you’d think they’d be clear on it. However, as the Web Professor discovered earlier this week, that’s not quite the case.

Apparently the wonderful people at the ‘plex have applied that wonderful nofollow tag to all the links on Google Video’s home page… on all links that is except those belonging to their paid advertising partners.

Proof Google is Selling Links and Funneling PageRank

As you can see, only links from Google’s paid partners will actually pass PageRank. In effect, Google is doing the exact opposite of what their Webmaster Guidelines and Matt Cutts have told the public to do. And, since this is obviously a concerted effort to funnel PageRank only to those “paid links”, we can only conclude that Google is trying to

  • make it harder for Google (and other search engines) to determine how much to trust each link”
  • and of course to dilute the internet’s relevance, freshness, and coverage by diverting “a lot of effort is expended that could be otherwise be spent on improving [these things]” .

And there you have it, proof positive that Google participates in the very type of schemes it claims to be against. This is not just some webmaster’s opinion or a bitter opponent claiming Google is in the wrong here. It’s Google’s own words that are condemning their actions this time. They have painted themselves into a pretty tight corner. Either they lied when they said that paid links and linking schemes are bad for the internet, or they’ve once again abandoned their supposed motto of doing no evil. I’ll let you choose for yourself which option is more likely the case.

2 responses to Google Breaks Own Guidelines – Sells PageRank

  1. Nice Paul January 30th, 2007 at 8:35 am

    This would hurt themselves. If Google helps improve the organic index position of their advertisers then they’d no longer need to buy sponsored ads.

  2. 14th Colony Scout » Blog Archive » There is no such thing as a free link April 27th, 2007 at 6:03 am

    […] Especially when Google got busted selling PageRank on their own site. And Google recently purchased DoubleClick which own Performics which is an SEO company who purchases paid links. […]