In an SES panel yesterday Matt Cutts claims paid links pollute the web ,while he advocates off topic link bait as a useful search marketing strategy. Michael Gray and Greg Boser are a bit more honest:
Link Baiting, what Googleâ€™s suggest as link building strategy, is as egregious if not worse for relevancy than paid links - viral content of such an off-topic nature should not help your rankings and is more â€œpollutingâ€ than relevant paid links.
Linkbaiting is Expensive, Time Consuming, and Unpredictable
The reasons search engineers advocate link baiting are:
- it is expensive
- it is time consuming
- the results are hard to predict
- it requires social connections
- it provides off topic low value traffic
- it typically creates content of limited commercial value (other than the ability to pull in links to rank other pages for stuff they did not have enough relevancy or authority to merit ranking for)
- the valuable results can take a while to show
- it often undermines the credibility of the source doing it (by allowing people to think of information from certain sources as link bait, which is a derogatory classification term)
- many companies have restrictions that prevent them from doing it
Because of the above reasons, the technique of link baiting is outside the reach of most webmasters. Since few people can do it, it is highly unpredictable, time consuming, and expensive OF COURSE that is the only way search engineers recommend you build links. They might even like you to believe that almost all links are acquired that way. The more brutally tough it is to build your SEO strategy the more appealing AdWords ads look.
Shopping Search? Try AdWords!!!
If you can't buy links to rank, then some irrelevant old sites and marginably relevant articles on authoritative domains (that typically gained their link based authority before Google polluted the link graph with AdSense and NoFollow) gets to clog up the organic search results, and the only way people can find commercially relevant results is if they look at Google's AdWords ads.
May I Lend You a Hand?
It gets worse when you think about the uneven policing of the search results, where engineers hand edit small webmaster sites out of the search results (even ones that get free unrequested links from the US Coast Guard and US embassy), and look the other way while large corporations (which have large AdWords budgets) OWN the entire Google search result page for some keywords.
The Death of Organic Links
A mainstream media magazine did a spread on one of my friend's websites, where my friend gave them virtually all the content for the article, and they refused to link to my friend's site in the article because they felt it would be too promotional. Sorry, you already sent out 100,000 magazines with the article in it. You already were too promotional. Sadly, that is just one more example of the death of organic links caused by Google's fearmongering.
Optimize Your Account: Pay Us More
I tried Google's AdWords Campaign Optimizer yesterday. It kept telling me to increase my budget for link buying.
If I have a blind bid that is too high would it tell me to lower that bid? Nope. A search marketing campaign is only properly optimized if it sends more money to Google, which is the problem with the field of SEO. Google doesn't get a cut of the action. The organic results have yet to be properly optimized.
Why Waste a Breathe Scaring People Unless the Intent is to Lie or Deceive?
From Rand's blog post about the links SES session:
Matt also says that it's very difficult to buy paid links effectively as a business or as a search marketer because Google does such a good job detecting and eliminating the value of those links.
How often do you hear Matt Cutts droning on about duplicate page titles or stuffing your meta keywords tag? You don't, because they are no longer effective.
Google would not be trying to brainwash webmasters about links so often if paid links didn't work. The problem with paid links is they work too well.
Who is Getting Paid?
To properly understand search marketing you have to understand that the fight over search spam has NOTHING to do with result relevancy. The label of spam is only applied if the wrong company gets paid.
Google even recommends you go out and buy text links. As an SEO, I trust the SERP more than the engineer. When Google engineers lie publicly to push their business model it doesn't bode well for the future of that company or the future of the web.
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