Not too awfully far back I used to see a phrase on UseNet once in a while “Google is your friend” in reference to how somebody should go about finding some bit of information of whatever flavor, especially when the question was one that could easily be answered with a few minutes on a search engine.  For a long time I kinda agreed with that statement because let’s face it, they got to be the biggest search engine by coming up with good, useful results and doing so quickly and consistently.

Now that image of Google as the good guys is fading quickly.  The company’s motto used to be “Do no Evil” however now I think that, inwardly at least, it’s been revised.

This whole mess about how they’re talking about devaluing paid links unless they have rel=”nofollow” on them.  Um.. excuse me guys, but that makes Google a hypocrite… or have they stopped selling adsense links?  No?  How about that?

I’m thinking that, like any company that grows to mega large proportions, Google isn’t interested in it’s old “Do no Evil” motto.  Now I’m quite sure it’s something a lot more along the lines of “make lots of money and crush the competition”

Crushing the competition is what I think the whole campaign against paid links is all about.  Granted, there’s been a lot of efforts to game the system and try to engineer search engine results, but I think that there’s a lot more legitimate use of paid links.  It’s called “Advertising” and everybody is allowed to do it.  Except now Google is trying to change that.  This effort against paid links can prove to be more harmful to the ability of bloggers to earn some extra money by selling links on blogs or websites that they own.

Yeah, I know, all ya gotta do is put that *&@^#^&@#& rel=”nofollow” on any paid links and you won’t be penalized for them.  The problem with that is that advertisers, the ones who want to BUY the links in the first place, will **NOT** buy links that have nofollow on them.  This is because they want those links to be indexed as well as crawled by search engines.  It’s part of how they’re trying to increase visibility because buying a link on a site is NOT just about hoping that somebody will see it and click on it.  It’s about increasing their site’s visibility and making it easier to find.

Google insisting on paid links being tagged with nofollow is coming dangerously close to censorship and it is definitely penalizing bloggers, webmasters and advertisers for doing the most natural thing on the Internet, linking.

My stance on nofollow is that it does have it’s place… If I’m linking to a site that I know qualifies as a “bad neighborhood”, then I can put the nofollow on it so that their reputation doesn’t rub off on my site.  Adding it to links that legitimate advertisers have paid for is ripping off the advertiser because it keeps them from getting what they paid for, which is a link to their site that does not have rel=”nofollow” on it.

What I’d like to see is a response from bloggers and webmasters around the world that lets Google know in no uncertain terms that they’re NOT going to dictate how individual webmasters and bloggers run their own sites.

I suggest that the best start to this campaign is to avoid using Google’s search engine and any of their sponsored links.  As a substitute I will heartily recommend both Ask and Yahoo!.  Both search engines return very good results and they do it quickly.  Best of all, neither one of them is trying to tell bloggers and webmasters how to run their own affairs.

[Edited on 1/6/08 to add: I have expanded on my nofollow stance.  I am now using a LOT of nofollow… however I am doing so according to what *I* think should be "nofollowed" and not according to anybody else’s standards.]

Technorati Tags: internet, google, search+engine, nofollow, pagerank, punish+bloggers, punish+advertisers, censorship, crush+competition

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