Paying For PageRank

Earlier today, Matt Cutts published his magnum opus on guest blogging and why it is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It’s the same sad song that we’ve seen before with directory submissions, article submissions, blog commenting, etc. I’ve seen people “selling” guest blog posts on popular UGC sites and am getting tired of spammy requests from overseas vendors wanting to submit a unique article to my site. Guest blogging had a nice run but I agree with Matt’s broader point that it’s time to put it to rest.

So where do SEOs go from here? If you read between the lines at all, you can tell that Google is going to be taking some sort of action against networked guest blog posting in the near future. I’ve written before about the problem with just writing great content and hoping for links to start showing up and money to come trickling in. The works in the perfect world, not the real world.

The long term problem that will keep Google and SEOs at odds with each is that something of value is always going to be exchanged for links and promotion online. One of Matt’s biggest issues with guest blogging is that people are “paying for PageRank” by exchanging money or content for backlinks.

This is a complex issue. I’m sure Google is aware of this, but money is exchanging hands behind-the-scenes like crazy when it comes to online publications. Today’s journalists aren’t schooled in ethics like they used to be and people don’t mind taking handouts from brands to write about them. Microsoft, for example, has been paying people on YouTube to talk about the Xbox One. How much different is that from accepting 500 words for your blog in exchange for a link? Is one form of marketing worse than the other?

No matter what type of link/press you are acquiring online, you are paying for it one way or another. If content is a currency that constitutes “paying for PageRank,” are images, graphics, time, money, talent, et. al also in violation?

If Google really wants to stand tall against “paying for PageRank,” guest posting should probably be the least of their worries, but I can’t say I’m sad to see it go.

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