Paid Links Debate Heating Up: Google Under Massive Fire at SES San Jose

Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable features a very graphic write-up of a turbulent session at Search Engine Strategies San Jose (2007) where Matt Cutts got massive flak for Google’s hypocritical anti-paid links stance and their egregious FUD tactics from prominent SEOs left, right and center, with the audience in uproar.

To put it very mildly, Matt’s explanation of what Google deems appropriate linking (and what not) was not exactly received with standing ovations. If anyone should have nurtured doubts that Google’s days of playing everyone’s sonny boy are over for good, this should set them right once and for all.

Which begs the question: Will it work? Will the Google monster, the paragon of Web Apartheid, finally relent? While there’s life, there’s hope, as they say. And until then, follow the advice people like Michael Gray (graywolf), Todd Malicoat (stuntdubl), Todd Friesen (oilman) and Greg Boser (webguerilla) are giving you, neatly summarized in Todd Friesen’s statement (as summarized by Barry):

If you follow all the rules, you might not compete. Stay in your space.

Caveat Webmaster!

Bruce Clay’s Lisa Barone has her own story to tell, and here’s her first gem:

Matt says paid links are like littering – it makes the Web a dirty place. Heh. (If only you could have seen the look on Greg Boser’s face when Matt said that. It summed my thoughts up pretty well.  )

And summarizing Michael Gray’s speech:

Google’s campaign is about creating fear and uncertainty and doubt. They’re trying to convince you that by buying or selling paid links you are breaking the law or being unethical. Google is not the government. They can not change your ethics. (About three people just said “yet…” Ha, I love this session.)

Finally, Greg Boser again:

It’s not search marketers’ problem that there are flaws in the engine’s index. The big brands get special treatment and are able to survive because Google can’t not bring up if someone does a search for it. However, the little guys get blasted from the engine and are never heard from again. That’s not right.

Ain’t we SEOs havin’ fun…

Barry’s story: Are Paid Links Evil?

For the Bruce Clay/Lisa Barone view: Are Paid Links Evil?

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