For better of for worse, an economy has built around the buying and selling of links. Google doesn’t like the TLA economy very much. That’s not news. We’ve all known that for a while. It screws with their fundamental metric of a page’s value. Really, the big surprise so far has been Google’s lack of decisive action in this regard.
Up until now, they’ve taken a bunch of half-measures, like placing a delay on the Toolbar PageRank.
But it seems that things, well, they are a changing. A Spring Offensive is underway.
As many of you may know by now, Matt Cutts is calling on the webmaster world to report paid links. Cracking down on PR transferring paid links is Google’s prerogative of course. And really, there not telling us we can’t have unqualified paid links on our sites, just that we should be prepared to face the consequences.
So far, the consensus seems to be that rather than issuing penalties, Google will simply devalue any link juice from links they determine to be purchased. Whether Google’s new methods will deflate the TLA economy remains to be seen. What’s clear is that they’d like to see the TLA economy burst into a million pieces. And Google has the resources to make their wishes come true.
The sad thing about this development, as Raj Dash points out in our forums, is that for many bloggers, Text Link Ads is the only real source of monthly income. For the small scale blogger, Google AdSense brings in pennies a day. Text Link Ads has the potential of making all the time and hard work worth it. It scales down well to the little guy. Google AdSense, on the other hand, doesn’t scale nearly as well.
So what are your thoughts? Should Google be cracking down on Text Link Ads? Is doing so not much different than cracking down on alcohol consumption during the prohibition era (a minor pleasure for the average blogger)? Or is the imminent short-term pain a necessary corrective for the long-term health of the net?