A big news item last month was Google stating that they are actively pursuing websites that purchase links specifically for the purpose of passing page rank. They recommended various tactics to use for text link ads geared towards driving traffic so that you can still get the traffic without the search engine link juice being passed. You can read more details in Google Engineer Matt Cutt’s blog. I would also recommend reading some of the industry backlash including this post.

I recently stumbled upon this article and scrolled down to the bottom of the page. In the section labeled “Paid Advertisements,” you can see links to a number of major brands, and low and behold, a link to Google.com. This link does not have a nofollow tag and appears to be a straight link without any redirects. I can draw two conclusions:

1. Google is saying don’t do this, but using the “do what we say, not what we do mentality.” Realistically, this is not likely; however, Google certainly does not rank #1 for the phrase “search engine” in their own results, and some more text links could potentially help them improve their rankings.

2. Some individual has placed links to all of these major brands in an attempt to demonstrate a point. If this is the case, I think it is an extremely relevant point. Anyone can add links to any site with the right motivation and money. The possibility exists that I could add links to my competitors from link farms, spammy sites and obvious paid link sections. Can Google algorithmically determine who requested the link placement and their motivation behind the link placement? I would have to answer with a big “NO.”

So I leave you with this to think about…how much say should Google have on how I advertise my business, and what is stopping an unethical SEO from tricking the algorithms (especially with paid links) and negatively affecting their competitors’ search engine visibility, similarly to what appears to be happening to Google in this situation?