Yesterday, Google's Matt Cutts posted a detailed video trying to define how Google's manual spam fighters determines what is a paid link versus what is not.
Now, 99% of the time, Matt Cutts said it is clear if a link is paid or not. It is a clear transaction that the link on a site was paid $X for. But sometimes it is not clear. Matt summarized it on Google+ these are the other criteria Google uses to determine if a link is considered paid or not. Google asks these questions when looking at a suspicious link:
- What is the value of the gift, product, or service?
- How close is the gift, product, or service to actual money?
- Is it an outright gift or a loan?
- Who is the intended audience?
- Is the intent of the gift to get links?
- Would the gift be a surprise to third party?
Here is the video:
I strongly recommend you listen to it once today and once again shortly after.
Now, of course, folks at WebmasterWorld ask:
I never got this, how will they know if someone is giving another money for a link. I know Google is big brother but I dont think the spam team as access to that happy!
I guess it depends on how clear it is. Like if the link is from a paid link network or from a site known to sell links.
Matt said they reserve the right to change or adapt the "criteria" they use for determining what is a paid link. But he also suggests you review the FTC guidelines as well.