Do You Have “Googlenoia”?

Googlenoia Is On The Rise

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

Google, the 800lb Gorilla 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 In Full Swing 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?

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.


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Comment by Simonne
2007-11-30 13:39:50

Well, I don;t have Googlenoia, but I’ve got an ugly Googletitis, as my PR has vanished over night. I’m not treating my disease, I expect it to cure by itself. Do you see a better option?

Comment by jfc
2007-11-30 13:59:53

Hi Simonne,

The recommended cure is using rel=nofollow on paid links. You may also need to pay obeisance to Google on their Webmaster Tools page. In theory, this should return your site to its previous PR glory.

Now, if you have Googlenoia, you should delete all paid posts and links from your site and nofollow all external links.

Comment by Ian Eltringham
2007-11-30 16:54:04

I’m personally growing to hate the big G more and more everyday more for their lack of transparency than anything else.

I can fully understand the whole paid links fiasco, and to a large extent I do agree with Google in principle.

But no, I’m not suffering from Googlenoia.

Nice post, I enjoyed reading it.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-01 09:07:48

Hi Ian,

Improving their transparency would go a long way in curing most cases of Googlenoia.

Comment by Sue
2007-12-05 09:18:02

Its maddening trying to follow the entire string of the G-way when you are pretty new to the blogosphere and web world. I’ve looked and read, and each and every day something I should do, changes to something I shouldn’t do it seems.

Comment by jfc
2007-12-05 09:48:38

Hi Sue,

What I’ve found is that blogging and a few other rapidly changing web site types require to you stay on top of the latest trends. While Google likes frequently updated content they also judge it a lot more strictly since it can also be used to game their algorithms.

Comment by Sue
2007-12-06 10:14:28

“the only constant in life is change” someone once told me, and it stuck, and it is quite fitting in this situation for sure!

Comment by jfc
2007-12-06 10:29:14

Hi again Sue,

The problem is that the people who tell you that are usually trying to sell you something, usually an opportunity to buy into whatever they’re trying to do to you. It’s a real popular line with managers just before they lay you off.

Comment by Terry Didcott
2007-12-08 14:49:17

It’s all very well saying “use rel=”nofollow” in your paid review links.

Slight problem you may have overlooked. If the paid review sites catch you using rel=”nofollow”, they can kick you out of their program and not pay you for reviews you’ve completed and are awaiting payment of.

And Googlenoia is very much Googlereal I’m afraid. I lost PR on my sites too.


Comment by jfc
2007-12-08 15:37:33

Thanks for stopping by Terry,

As for paid reviews, I only accept paid reviews where the reviewee is looking for promotion, not page rank. Besides, those looking for PR won’t accept OpTempo because it’s too new to have any PR. As such I’ve only taken one paid review through Sponsored Reviews (the Spock People Search Engine) and I got paid for that no problem. I don’t apply for or accept reviews that require PR, ‘do follow’ or non-disclosure. I would not apply to be a member of any review brokerage where ‘do follow’ is a requirement, such as Smorty.

I noticed that you mentioned losing PR on your Squidoo lens in your most recent post. These have been heavily gamed by spammers and have faced PR reduction since the summer.

I doubt that Google will apply PR reductions to sites that are growing through natural means, including things like ‘do follow’ or ‘top commentators’, unless these links lead to bad neighborhoods. To do so would hurt the relevance of their search results. Of course, if you run these plugins it is up to you to make sure these followed links don’t go to anything that might hurt your site’s reputation.

2007-12-10 03:10:30

[…] PageRank Concerns and Paid Links - Some bloggers have what Frank best describes as “Googlenoia“, or being paranoid of Google’s evil acts. Big name bloggers seldom (or never) do viral […]

2007-12-12 00:49:20

[…] Do You Have “Googlenoia”? | OpTempo - Do You Have Googlenoia? […]

2008-06-30 05:36:45

[…] Do You Have Googlenoia?, one blog post asked. Creating content to impress Google sounds a lot like giving partial content control over to a single corporation. Can you Live Without Google? points out some of the factors that make being on good terms with Google essential for all webmasters. […]

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