Michael Gray discovered a very controversial tactic that Google is employing on their website. He notes that several partners who have implemented Google Checkout have PR8 links without nofollow. Obviously, there's some concern here. Why is Google not following their own rules? If they continue penalizing paid links from regular webmasters like Jane and John, why are they not practicing what they preach?
This issue with paid links and highlighting "random" sites doesn't seem to be new either. In November, we reported that Google was selling PR7 links on its domain for $1,995. Matt commented that there have been changes in place as such:
Hey, just to avoid even the appearance of problem, we added a redirect to these links through a robot.txt'ed page so that these links don't pass PageRank.
The problem is that these sites still appear to pass PageRank.
The discussion moves over to Sphinn where some people feel that this is a point of contention. These aren't really "paid partners," per se. They are simply companies that utilize Google Checkout. But eventually they will have to pay to be on Google Checkout, so are they getting some good link juice right now until then?
The concern for some is that Google is such a large corporation that the left hand doesn't always know what the right is doing, and there are still communication issues. (As a side note, I mentioned to my friend who has been working at Google for several years that I've met Matt Cutts, and he said to me, "Matt who?")
Here's the thing though like any big corp lots of times the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing, and things get done in complete contradiction of company policies. So how can Google expect everyone else to have their house in order when they can't do it themselves.
The question is: when is it going to stop and when is it going to be reconciled?
Forum discussion continues at Sphinn.
Update: Rob also wrote about this last week over here, kudos goes to Rob for spotting it also!