Matt Cutts Talks About Paid Links -- Again

Dec 31, 2007 • 7:23 am | comments (11) by twitter | Filed Under Other Google Topics

Michael Gray spotted an interesting quote from a recent interview with Matt Cutts and Ted Murphy of Izea (formerly PayPerPost).

I explained to Matt that in SocialSpark all links required by an advertiser would carry the no-follow tag. I thought this would be a great thing. Matt commended the decision, but then added ALL links inside of any sponsored post should carry the no-follow tag period, regardless of whether they are required, not required or even link to the advertiser paying for the post. That means if Nikon pays me to review a camera and I link off to a site about photography that link needs to be no-follow, along with the link to the blog of my buddy the photographer. His reasoning was that the sponsored post wouldn’t exist without the sponsor paying for it, therefore all the content is commercial and should be no-follow.

Naturally, there's a lot of shaky ground with this statement, because Michael believes that Google should start employing nofollow on all the links you see on Google pages -- such as press releases, partnerships, and the like.

Ted Murphy, by the way, clarifies his stance in the Izea community blog, and Matt responds:

"I support No-Follow for any links required by an advertiser, but why should a blogger be forced to no-follow any other link?"

A blogger isn't forced to do anything; they can do whatever they want on their site. I'm trying to communicate Google's views, so that if a blogger wants to do well in Google, they know our stance. I think all major search engines have taken similar positions on paid posts that pass PageRank as well. I think Google has been pretty clear about our opinion on paid posts that pass PageRank.

So in the end, if you want to do well on Google, you should probably use nofollow on all paid posts regardless of the sponsor from what we're all reading.

Forum discussion continues at Sphinn.

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12/31/2007 06:54 pm

To me, this highlights why the use of "rel=nofollow" is misguided as applied to paid links. If the blog post included a relevant (albeit new) tag for the sponsored link, such as "rel=paid" or "rel=sponsored", Google would automatically be able to identify the blog post as including sponsorship and automatically adjust the weight of other links contained in the post. By insisting upon the misapplication of "rel-nofollow", which was supposedly mean to help webmasters deal with spam and user-generated content, Google does not gain any direct insight into why a particular link is tagged. Instead more (unnecessary) work is imposed upon webmasters, to compensate for the shortcomings of the misapplication of "rel=nofollow".

Kevin Whynot

01/02/2008 08:41 am

How about if we all agree to start using nofollow for ALL links, every single one. Paranoia over what Google wants is going to get us to this point anyways, so let's just go for it. Of course if every webmaster did this it would put Google's "links are votes" algo into a tailspin since they would have no way of counting votes if there are no votes to count. Is that what you want Google? Do you want everyone to stop casting "legit" votes because you're incapable of sorting out the good from the bad? Thank god you don't run elections.

Sam I Am

01/02/2008 11:38 am

"therefore all the content is commercial and should be no-follow" If this is really Matt's opinion, we might as well close down the entire world wide web. There's a commercial angle to just about all websites created after all, whether they are monetizing through adsense, paid links or banner ads. People like to be paid for their time and work you know.... I assume it's Michael going overboard, but if not, someone high up in G needs to step up and clarify this is NOT Google's point of view.

Trevor Walter

01/02/2008 06:44 pm

If reciprocal links are out and paid links (or any link for that matter) is going to have to use a no-follow tag, then what is left for building link popularity? Are we just going to throw the baby out with the bath water? What if we want to blog about products or services that we like but aren't being paid to do it - why shouldn't those sites get a little link pop credit for that? The internet was built to share information and personally, I think it is great when a website can receive a little boost in link pop when someone blogs about them or wants to link to them from another website. I understand that making these links for artificial ranking purposes is not good but someone needs to figure out something different then a "blanket" penalization for sites not using the no-follow tag.


01/02/2008 08:48 pm

My site is basicaly an advertising site. I do not charge people to advertise on it nor do I demand a reciprocal link. it was born out of the fact that google adwords makes no sense to me. They told me my submission was no good because my site is constantly changing. Well duh it's for people to put ads on. I will keep my robots at index follow no matter what the mighty google decides and will not go back to them ever again.

No Name

01/02/2008 10:24 pm

Google is the most used search engine but why should we modify the way we run our websites because they say so. Freedom stops when it starts to prevent others to have their freedom. If I want to modify all external links in my website it's my choice and if I don't who else will complain other than Google because we are not helping them to give us relevant search results. They can improve or modify the results they give us but they can't dictate our activities !!! They can ban my websites but I will never change anything unless it harms others.


01/02/2008 11:12 pm

I noticed one of the above post shows the nofollow tag as "rel=nofollow", I was thinking it was rel="nofollow". Which is it? I'm now confused.

Frank Plate

01/03/2008 12:32 am

Isn't it in the way, that Google wants us to stop making money from any other opportunity than Google ADSense? But ... how does the business work really? You are pushing a new website, because your company needs to make some money. And pay for links;) If you are famous enough, you are getting free links. And you reach the wanted and needed results in Googles List. But Google wants us to stop this. They don't mind how many employees you personally have. They put any website on side 1. Thinking about the conclusion it is more or less a nonprofit website, which .... uses Google ADsense for making some Money. To pay the costs for Hard- and Software and specially for the amount of free Time lets call it sallary for the content of the website. So Google wants to bring up Non Profit companies, thats not bad! But ... thats one of the biggest global Players who wants to force the "Democracy" of the Internet. And they make billions of Dollars each Year. That's Pervers! For me. Who is personally running a small German Company with a few Employees means that, if I am not able to be listed in the first Places of Googles list, a lot of People in Germany and Nepal are getting unemployed. Google doesn't mind, but I do! What to do? I don't know at the moment! Google is too big in Germany. And ... I am not willing to give the paid links a Nofollow. F...k you Google, I am not willing to follow this extortionate robbery .......................... Hopefully I could express my thoughts in English, cause it is no so good!


01/03/2008 03:47 pm

Well google is privately owned company, search enginge like hundreds of others that just happen to do better so they can make whatever guidline they want and webmasters are in no way in requirement to follow them, they don't owe you anything. The only way to win a lawsuit over such a thing is to make google a synonym for searching the net (like, in dictionaries) so the court accept google become also a public good on top of being private company, but you know what google is fighting against those attempts panically, they are not stupid. Yes everything is paid in this or other way, a lot of advertising will go underground, clever guys will get away, those not so clever eventually punished, a bit of a mess up in adversising space but eventually nothing big will change - only google will feel beter about themselfs.

Steve Baker

01/03/2008 07:41 pm

My site's ranking went from a two to a one after being on the Internet for about a year. I inquired as to the reason over a year ago, (smile)no answer. I guess Google feels like they can do what they want as many of us are expressing the same. Thanks for all of the postings, I'm new and don't know a thing; but trying my damnest to learn. steve


01/13/2008 06:59 pm

Others have argued with me saying "This is Google's right as a company. If you don't want to follow their rules, your problem. Add rel="nofollow" to paid links and you'll get your pagerank back. Don't do it, and you do so at your own peril." So, I've decided maybe they're right. I've added the rel thing to every link on my site except for internal links on my own site. They thought paid links were a problem? How about no links to follow? How do they intend to crawl the web for new sites like that? Guess they'll be putting all these personal sites at the top of the results. ...and here's a photo of my cat fluffy eating Hellmans Mayonaise. SERP's = #1 in gg for Hellmans Mayonaise - fluffy the cat. Brilliant.

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