Back in February, I wrote a nice little piece that both predicted a top in this boom we’ve seen in the business of blogging, at the same time taking a steaming dump on the Yakezie network. As you probably remember, the backlash was immediate and strident. My comment section filled with scorn, most of which came from the more devoted members of the network. Even now, imagining the hand wringing and email exchanges done privately between members still brings a smile to my face.
Let me quote the greatest blogger and 2nd most handsome man in existence, (DAMN YOU CLOONEY) me.
Google eventually figures out that only a few blogs are consistently linking to each other, hence reducing the effectiveness of the network.
That’s some fine quotin’.
Just a few short weeks later, I was proved so right it was all I could do not to stand at the top of the nearest mountain and shout “I told you so”, but that would be incredibly douchey, so I didn’t do it. See, I show restraint sometimes. Google punished a bunch of the network hard, thanks to the offenders posting some links from a UK payday loan company. If you want to read all about it, I suggest this thread.
Of course, members of this particular network weren’t happy, and I can’t say I blame them. Text link advertising is the most lucrative activity a PF blogger can do. Hell, I do it. But instead of getting up and moving on, they decided to do what every person who has been wronged does – bitch about it. But nobody (that I saw, anyway) actually went to the trouble of writing a post about it, possibly because they feared the wrath of Google.
That is, until Friday.
Eric J. Nisall of Dollerversity decided to end the silence, and just in time, because I haven’t taken a steamer on a post this wrong in a while. Now, before I begin, Eric isn’t actually bad at blogging. He actually has opinions on things and he’s willing to say them, popularity be damned. I like that in a man, even if I don’t agree with it. I’m sure after I’m done he’ll feel the exact opposite about me.
I don’t want to do this, but I have to. If his blog post was a slapstick comedy starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, it’d be called Wrong and Wronger. If it was a professional basketball team, it’d be the Miami Wrong. If it were a Realtor working the west side on The Simpsons, her name would be Cookie Wrong. If it was a giant ape throwing barrels, it’d be called Donkey Wrong. I should probably stop now.
Anyway, onto the crap.
I find it just a little hypocritical that Google takes money for advertising links, yet it punishes websites that do the same exact thing. Perhaps it is because the way Google sets up AdWords in the form of an auction, where you bid for your placement, they don’t consider it to be an outright sale. To me, it’s simply semantics. They are taking money in exchange for the opportunity for the advertiser’s ads to be shown ahead of others based on how much they are willing to pay. Straight sale or auction format, it is still selling links.
The reason Google punishes sites for selling links is because this isn’t a straight advertising transaction. When I sell a link on the homepage of my blog, the company paying for it barely cares if it gets clicked on. All it cares about is that I’m linking to their page, which, in the eyes of the Google algorithm, means I’ve giving that site my thumbs up.
Buying and selling links is a thinly veiled attempt to game Google’s system. The system works on sites linking to each other because the content is good, not because somebody has bribed their way up the rankings.
Google Adwords and selling text links are two completely different things. It’s like comparing apples and apple crisp.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with selling/buying links in general, but I do have a problem with all of the sites that game the system while providing little to no value.
As I mentioned in the aforelinked (screw it, it’s a word) post on a certain blogging network, that’s exactly what blog networks do. A bunch of bloggers get together and agree to “selflessly help others,” which is just code for “link to each other relentlessly.” Admittedly, most blogs in the network aren’t spammy, but they sure do try hard to promote within.
Punishing those sites is a good idea, as long as there is consistency and accuracy in flagging the bad as opposed to the good, quality sites.
If the good sites and the bad sites use the same underhanded techniques to get ahead, how’s Google supposed to tell the difference?
In this modern age, however, websites are the new newspapers and magazines. Since old media sold advertisements in the form of both textual and pictorial ads, why is it such a big deal that websites do it as well.
I think the folks at Google are quite okay with selling ads on your blog. But, again, the companies buying text links on finance blogs aren’t doing it for the click-throughs.
Businesses build strategic alliances to strengthen their positions in their respective fields and gain advantages over their competitors.
Teammates in NASCAR and cycling work in tandem to win, even though those particular ones are individual sports.
Medical professionals band together to form care groups so they can negotiate better rates from the insurance companies.
So what is the big deal if a group of websites band together to collaborate and broaden the collective reach beyond that which was possible as individual sites?
Perhaps the primary point of having a blog network is to collaborate, but one of the secondary reasons is to pepper each other with links, hence improving your rankings within Google, and quickly.
Becoming successful at blogging has become more about being good at following the proven system to success, and considerably less about actually churning out content, which is pretty much the exact opposite of actual journalism. Everybody in Yakezie claims they’re free to link to whatever they want, but they know that they’ll receive nothing if they give nothing. So of course they’re going to mostly link to other members of the network. It would be suicide not to.
Now, I can understand the removal of those networks which do nothing of any value, or charge users to join in exchange for trashy links.
How is Google supposed to tell the difference between a free network and a network people pay to join?
Also, I’ll ignore the request for donations on the Yakezie home page. Oh, wait.
The whole idea behind Google shrouding the reasons for banishment in secrecy, using the excuse of protecting the privacy of the AdWords customers is complete and total crap. If you get denied credit, you are legally required to be sent an explanation notice revealing the specific reason for the denial (ie: too many recent inquiries, not enough history, poor history, credit utilization ratio too high). But, I guess we now live in an age where the government and the credit industry are more customer-friendly than the almighty Big G, and its stranglehold on the internet, and by extension, almost all of us.
If you don’t like Google’s Adwords, you are free to use one of its competitors. I think it’s cute that Yahoo also has it’s own version of adwords, but I’m sure there are all sorts of blogs using it successfully.
If people continue to get banned from using AdSense to monetize their sites, that would be bad business. The advertisers need the publishers to display their ads just as much as the publishers need to display those ads to make money. If you continue to eliminate heavily trafficked sites, real sites–not like the crappy tabloid sites where people go to read bullshit stories and leave half-assed comments–
So, you’re telling me there are absolutely no blogs in a certain blog network that have churned out the 38,432,832nd post on emergency funds with 32 comments saying some sort of variation of “an emergency fund is awesome!!1?” Because if you claimed that, I would probably call you a bullshitter – after 5 minutes of hysterical laughter.
Okay, it continues, but I’m bored, and this is getting long. If you’re a blogger, you need to know what tricks Google is looking for, so you can avoid making those tricks. If you sell text links, keep in mind the gravy train may come to a screeching halt one of these days. And, no matter what you’re doing in life, be aware that the person on the other side of the transaction may change the rules at some point. Google is responsible to their shareholders. That’s it. They’re not responsible to you.