Why Google Hates Paid Reviews
Last modified on 4th December, 2007
I haven’t been able to post anything for over a week because something came up and I needed to take care of it right away. Anyway, since I’ll be away from the computer again tomorrow I guess it’s best to spend sometime writing to let you guys know that I am still alive and kicking 🙂
While browsing my RSS feed on a lazy Sunday afternoon looking for something to write about, I saw a post by Matt Cutts which I thought you should know especially if you are doing paid reviews.
I’ve written several times in this blog that selling and buying links that pass PageRank is frown upon by Google. In the post Matt gives an example, a serious one at that, of paid posts to illustrate his points how some paid posts writer couldn’t careless about the accuracy about their reviews. Inaccurate information is not only bad as far as the users experience is concern but it can potentially be a matter of life or death for the readers in certain situation.
To illustrate his point, he uses brain tumors paid reviews, and ask you to put yourself in the reader’s shoe. Matt’s main concern is that most of the reviewers knew nothing about the treatment before getting paid to post about it. As a result, the reviews were often inaccurate or uninformed. In the end of the day, the one who suffers are the end users who believe the reviews are accurate.
Now if using brain tumor treatment as an example is a little too serious for you, ask yourself if paid reviews actually offer good users experience and how it could unfairly affect the search engine rankings in the long run. If you think that it’s unfair for Google to stop people from selling/buying links as it closes the opportunity for small website publishers to advertise their websites at a low cost, imagine when all the big companies with million dollar budget join the party.
If Google were to allow buying and selling links to continue, I won’t be surprise to see one day that acquiring top search engine rankings is a matter of spending the most money to buy paid links and reviews. Gone were the days where the Internet was a level playing field, at least as far as SEO is concern. Surely nobody wants that to happen, not me, not Google and definitely not you, right?
I’ve posted a comment in the post and I hope Matt will answer my questions
I agree with everything about this article but I wonder if your algorithm is able to determine whether a paid post is well written/well research. What if someone writing a paid review about brain tumors and was able to write an amazingly accurate and honest article about it? Do you still demote their page rank just because they are writing paid review about brain tumors?
My guess is that, such thing might require a manual review. Take JohnChow.com for example, he’s ignoring everything Google says about not doing paid review or selling text link ads and he still have PageRank 4. Google is giving mixed message here for not demoting his page to 0. Perhaps Google realises that his readers actually find some of his paid reviews useful and that’s how he can get away with it. Is that an accurate assumption?
Then what happen if JohnChow.com suddenly writes a paid review about a brain tumor treatment and the information is not entirely accurate. Will he get a 0 PageRank then?
Perhaps even with PR4, JohnChow.com has lost its ability to pass along Google Juice so Google couldn’t care less about what he writes?
What about someone promoting an affiliate program related to brain tumors treatment? And let say the link was able to pass Google Juice along. Are you going to do anything about that?
What do you think?
By the way, I know I am selling text link ads here so some readers might perceive that I’m contradicting myself by not doing what I write. Actually, I didn’t escape the wrath of Google when my PageRank was reduced to 3 from 5. Hey they could be gone soon and I might start selling banner ads as an alternative.