An extremely lengthy debate has commenced on WebmasterWorld about paid links after Matt's earlier post about Google seeking out reports from webmasters who acknowledge that other sites are selling links.
A very frustrated user writes in to say that he is entitled to monetize his site just as Google can monetize by selling ad space:
Google has a problem with their algo. It is in large part due to their dominance as a search engine. They can solve their own problem without infringinn on the right of others to make money....
If Google can sell adspace, then I can damn well sell ad space. Further, I can do so according to my own policies and guidelines, not those imposed by Google.
He's not alone. Google sells links, so why shouldn't webmasters be penalized for doing the same?
But others are taking Matt's announcement seriously. If you add nofollow to paid links, you're safe. If you diversify, you'll do better.
An interesting quote has come up:
"Their attitude is more like: 'You can do anything you want to your pages, and we can do anything we want to with our index---like exclude your pages.'" --Google Hacks (O'Reilly)
The discussion is pretty extensive. There are many individuals supporting adding nofollow to these paid links so as to inform Google that you are they will not promote competitive sites, but there are others who feel that this is hurting them substantially. A few members have to emphasize that the concern is only about paid links and not other links.
What do you think? The discussion is still heated, and you can write in at WebmasterWorld.