Google’s Matt Cutts finally responded to the Net’s profuse sweating over the paid links controversy. It’s a rather long post and he simply updated the post that started it all back in April. He does clarify a few things:
- The primary concern is “clean and relevant” search results
- Google is mainly concerned with links that try to game the search engines PageRank stats
- Google is taking precautions that prevent one website owner from hurting another by enticing them to buy a link and then reporting them
- Paid links for traffic are not the concern and shouldn’t be affected
- Affiliate links and directory links should not be affected
If you were worried that Google was trying to turn webmasters into spies against each other, I think Matt put that concern to rest. The idea is not to stop people from buying links altogether, but to stop the practice of buying links solely to receive PR benefits when such links are probably not relevant links in the first place. Matt even gives a few examples that seem to explain the problem more than anything else. And I draw the same conclusion that Jason Lee Miller of WebProNews has drawn:
Matt cites an interesting example of someone advertising that their paid links can’t be found by Google. That’s a red flag for someone that’s not on the up-and-up, but is trying to game the search engine.
Bottom line: Most of us don’t have anything to worry about.