There’s continued buzz around the blogosphere about the recent Google PageRank demotions of blogs using Pay Per Post, Smorty, and other review services. Courtney Tuttle thinks that you’ll be fine if you just observe Google’s rules about paid links, ie use nofollow on them. Other’s like Andrew Ooi have become so afraid of a Google slap that they avoid saying “Pay Per Post” or “PPP” in an article and instead use something like “Pee Pee Pee”. We’re not talking about a link anchor text here, we’re talking plain text. In short, many bloggers have become paranoid about what Google will do next. I’m calling it “Googlenoia”.
Why This is Bad for Google
While there is some justification for dealing with paid links that pass PageRank, Google has been rather heavy handed about it. In some cases they’ve applied penalties by mistake or unfairly. Because they’ve had a lack of transparency and been rather arbitrary about it this has created Googlenoia. Nobody knows what they may be penalized with next, including simply mentioning the name of a company that competes with Google in plain text.
By creating this atmosphere Google is exposing themselves to the risk of facing US and EU anti-trust legal actions. As I mentioned before in this article, Standard Oil and Google, companies that have done this in the past have ended up spending years defending themselves in court, much to the detriment of their company and investors.
I think Google can deal with this by clearly and cleanly separating their advertising business from their search business. This would remove the aura of conflict of interest. If they don’t do this, they should be much more transparent about exactly what they’re going to penalize and when.
Why This is Bad for Bloggers
Googlenoia is bad for bloggers too. By having this kind of paranoia they may be cutting themselves off from potential revenue as the paid review model changes from a way to gain PR to a way to generate buzz for a product. Fear is one of the biggest obstacles in seeking wealth, even on a modest level.
Some with Googlenoia are nofollowing every offsite link, even ones that should be organic such as those to other blogs. This defeats the community spirit of blogging and, in fact, skews Google search results in the wrong direction.
Operating in a spirit of fear also kills motivation. Blogging, particularly pro or semi-pro blogging, requires considerable motivation to stay on target. Giving in to Googlenoia could very well kill your blog.
What, Me Worry?
I’ve had some people privately mentioned to me that my Free Blog Reviews or my habit of doing unsolicited and uncompensated reviews of commercial sites like Happy Neuron or Tailored Music that I find interesting may cause OpTempo PR problems in the future (OpTempo is too young to have PR yet). I do make it very clear in which reviews are paid (I only have one, the Spock people search one) and links in these posts are nofollowed. Non-compensated reviews are not nofollowed. Since I’m following “da rules” Google has laid down there shouldn’t be cause for any penalty unless Google really is evil.
5xMom said this in her article about her attitude after taking a PR drop, The positive ten things of having PR 0/10.
When you can’t win, you just laugh it off.
That’s probably the best way to deal with it when it’s time to pick up the pieces and move on. (Someone who’s Googlenoid would say that I shouldn’t link to her blog without a nofollow since she’s been penalized.)
Ultimately, Google will do what they do and, if they do wrong, they’ll face the consequences in court. As bloggers, we will have to take the good with the bad and roll with the punches and, if we can, anticipate them before they land. While we should follow the rules that Google clearly states, like “Don’t Sell Links That Pass PageRank” we shouldn’t be paranoid about what Google may or may not do.
Do you have a case of Googlenoia? Leave me a comment and let me know.