The Real Reason Google Doesn't Like Paid Links

Being a (Near) Monopoly is Expensive

The more I think about it the more I realize why Google doesn't like the various flavors of paid links. It has nothing to do with organic search relevancy. The problem is that Google wants to broker all ad deals, and many forms of paid links are more efficient than AdWords is. If that news gets out, AdWords and Google crumble.
DoubleClick was the wrong model until Google bought them. But smart marketers are not trying to waste millions of dollars on overpriced brand ads.

Google Doesn't Sell Social Ads

If you are buying ads on Google you are trying to reach everyone searching for a keyword. If you buy contextual ads you are trusting relevancy matching algorithms. Those used to be the standard, but now there are far more efficient ways to reach early adopters. Social influence is far more important than most people give it credit for.

Content as Ads & Cheap Social Ads

People game Digg, draft stories for specific trusted editors, suggest stories to popular blogs, buy reviews on blogs, create products or ideas with marketing baked in, link nepotistically, etc. There are a lot of cheap and affordable ways to reach early adopters.

Editorial and social relationships have far more value than Google realize, and Matt Cutts's recent outbursts are just a hint at how Google is losing their dominant control over the web. And they deserve to, because...

The Web Doesn't Want to be Controlled

Sure Google likes link baiting today, but that is the next paid link. Google is backing themselves into a corner, destroying each signal of quality they once trusted, until one day the web is a piece of junk or Google is no longer relevant.

Published: April 17, 2007 by Aaron Wall in google


April 17, 2007 - 10:19am

Bad Google!

Sometimes it's interesting to see how Google turn itself into evil colors. Agree to your opinion on double click - they were the wrong model until yesterday not anymore - it's with Google.


Dave Hall
April 17, 2007 - 10:30am

Very nice post, I agree with you 100%, I have issues with this on so many levels. Its like the rel="nofollow" fudge that Google are suggesting we all use I never understood how that fits in within Googles webmaster guidelines of only doing something for the user never making a change with the crawler in mind. The user cant see nofollow links so wheres the value to them?

This to me is an example of exactly how Google is "destroying each signal of quality they once trusted" as you say, when wikipedia placed nofollows on all their outbound links, surely from Google's perspective this is a bad thing, they lose all that indication of page rank / trust from what is obviously valued and trusted links, ok so the page can be edited by anyone but the content as a whole is managed and looked after by a community and Google obviously values the rest of the content as its get prime placement in their results a lot of the time.

The whole thing (Google) is starting to show the signs of looking like a broken mess.

Hope this makes a little sense its early in the morning for me ;)

Peter van der Graaf
April 17, 2007 - 10:44am

I'm afraid you are right. Google is again showing its evil side and if they continue this way it will become the downfall of the search engine. The company will still be making alot of money, but it will become the next Microsoft.

People don't use Google because it's the best search engine. People started using Google because it seemed the most impartial search engine at the time and people continued using and promoting the engine untill now. I'm allready looking for the next Google, but it will take some time before it rizes.

April 17, 2007 - 11:10am

I agree with you, Google does not like paid links, simply because they do not get paid for it. They are turning into a monster and changing everything that they stood for.

Most website owners do not realize the benefits of buying paid links for getting traffic. Their perception of paid link is warped to please google. Last month, I bought a link on a site for $30 / month, and it send me atleast 200 uniques daily. And when buying the link, I didnot care if, google will like it or not.

I follow this simple rule of buying links or ads on high traffic related sites and found it cheaper than adwords.

So google can have my royal finger salute.

April 17, 2007 - 11:16am

Google wants informational sites on the organic results front page while forcing commercial sites to battle it out in the right column. Searchers looking for information on "coffee" will be happy with his organic results (Wikipedia, nationalgeographic, coffeereview, coffeeuniverse), and searchers looking to buy coffee will click on adwords and buy.

If commercial sites show up in organic results, there's no reason for people to click on Adwords.

That means Google not only wants highly relevant organic results, but highly relevant results that are also non-commercial.

Rui Augusto
April 17, 2007 - 1:40pm

Nice coments. I don't know if it has something related to these rumors, but I lost this week some payed links on my sites

Google will turn into a monster and will soon control the web, more than Microsoft does for the PC operating systems.

David Burdon
April 17, 2007 - 2:08pm

I did some work with DoubleClick in 2003. I can see why Google were prepared to pay $3.1 billion. There are obvious synergies. DoubleClick is worth more to them than anyone else.

Aaron I agree with your main point though. Google wants total control of the search food chain.

April 17, 2007 - 3:00pm

Strong post Aaron. As you correctly state, Google has to trust to others opinion otherwise their search loses relevance. It seems with desire to earn more, they ignore more the third party opinion. You write that linkbaites work well Google. What if a website has not one, but 20 linkbaits at the same time? What if the number of incoming links grows tenfold in a relatively short time? How Google looks on that? There is a strong evidence, that Google does not like this. Our online tool webpage lost the most positions in Google, when it gained links quickly in the natural way. This is a clear sign that Google is in the opposition to the internet population opinion. This fact just bolsters your theory.

Kyle M Brown
April 17, 2007 - 3:11pm

I feel that Google will do something responsible with this newly acquired company given time.

I also feel that they will NOT become so fascinated with advertising that they will let search quality suffer.

I'm more interested in seeing how Double-Click is integrated into AdWords.

April 17, 2007 - 4:01pm

I couldn't agree more. I basically came to a similar conclusion.

You could say that as it becomes harder and harder to get to the top of the SERP's (the popular stay popular because they are popoular) it will increase the low barrier to entry that currently exists for "getting onto the net". That makes it less and less attractive until which point Google is left with search and nobody trying to climb their way up the ladder (and paying to do so).

Of course thats worse case and it will never get to that, but it could significantly impact Google's revenue. In some respects buying double click was a good backup since this more traditional style of advertising is what the big players will always want.

April 17, 2007 - 6:23pm

I totally agree with you. There is some thing wrong with Google for the last 3 months. Either they are updating or their ALGO Break. I got evidence with screen shot here about their ALGO Break.

Ricardo Trinidad
April 17, 2007 - 6:51pm

Google is sucking the life and fun out of the Internet by dominating with irrelevant searches. This is part of the strategy that forces one to purchase add links. It's time for the a new social movment away from Google. I say Google Sucks.

April 17, 2007 - 10:33pm

I think that last part says it all "the web doesn't want to be controlled" and the problem is, Google wants to control it.

April 17, 2007 - 11:38pm

Your getting warmer!

Andrew Johnson
April 18, 2007 - 2:09am

I wonder if Performics has been optimizing their clients through paid ads? This whole Google thing is really turning into one big soap opera.

April 18, 2007 - 5:32am

I am fairly new in the Internet Marketing game and I have been keenly watching SEO developments. I noticed that Google has been really flexing its muscles and telling webmaster what to do with their sites, and with their income. They put a lot of emphasis on PR and then penalize other people for coming up with ways to have links. My friend who does SEO says he has given up on trying to figure out what Google wants, because it's just impossible to please that engine. As a user, I have responded in my own way: I have switched to Yahoo and I found that their search results are better. The only way to beat a rising monster (dictator:) is to cast your vote. After all, the Internet is the biggest democracy.

oral seymour
April 18, 2007 - 9:03pm

I somewhat with how google feels about paid links. Makes it harder for the smaller sites to compete when the "big boys" can just resort to buying links.........I don't agree with the way they are going about it

April 18, 2007 - 9:56pm

Social ads, and the entire web 2.0 is very powerful & influential.

You're right, Google doesn't sell social ads and probably won't be able to get a portion of that market.

The best thing to do, is let more and more people know about Google's real motives on diminishing paid links.

Advertisers may not at this time be able to see the real picture and when they have an understanding, they themselves can decide on whether to go with Google ads, paid links or maybe experiment with both and see what kind of return over investment they get.

April 19, 2007 - 1:17am

Gotta kinda disagree here,

Google likes link baiting because it means the content was good and people voluntarilty link to it.

Paid links are not like that, they are designed to artificially raise a site to a level where it may not be achieveable naturally.

I think they just want to preserve the best organic results. (they do have a strange way of going about it and is actually a kind of admission that they don't have a clue about when a link is a paid link sometimes :))

Frank Schilling
April 20, 2007 - 8:28pm

Great Post aaron.. sorry it took me this long to read it (sorry for me). :)

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