At SMX one of the more contentious subjects was the debate over Google’s Android Phone giveaway, and demonstration that they are in practice profiling SEO’s.
Let’s back the clock up and review the facts:
- On May 27th at the Google I/O developer program Google has what is the press calls an “Oprah Moment” and gives away FREE cell phones to all attendees.
- Within 1 hour of the giveaway the phone finds it’s way up on Ebay with a starting price of $200.
- This phone receives 29 bids and has a final selling price of $760
- Within the 24 hours after that phone is given away Android receives approximately 50,000 new links.
- It doesn’t require a huge leap of faith to assume that at least 1 and quite possibly many more of those links can be directly attributed to Google giving away a cash in kind gift valued at between $200-$760.
Why does this matter, I run a website ViralConversations.com the purpose of the website is to put free gifts in the hands of bloggers, the exact same way Google did with the android phone, yet I have had to modify my FAQ to tell all bloggers to use nofollow on all links or risk a google penalty, while Google gets to corrupt cell phone searches with impunity.
How does this show that Google is profiling SEO’s and not the rest of the blogging world? How else can you explain high profile A-List bloggers like Robert Scoble and Sarah Lacy accepting free all expense paid trips to Isreal and not getting penalized? How can Guy Kawasaki get “loaned” one, two, three cars in three years and still be within Google’s guidelines . How can “lending” Guy Kawasaki an Audi Q7 for three months in exchange for him blogging about it be OK but I can’t connect bloggers with people who want to give away a pair of sunglasses? Matt Cutt’s says “The closer you get to money for links, the higher risk we consider it”. Go to any rental car agency ask how much it is to rent an Audi Q7 for three months, you’ll have your answer how close it is to the money.
The other cop-out we get is “the link wasn’t influenced by the money”. When Matt asked TechCrunch Editors about this post featuring someone who was recently a paid sponsor on their blog they said it wasn’t influenced by the advertising. First off Matt Cutts running around asking everyone on the internet what their intent is, just isn’t going to scale. Secondly after getting in trouble a few minutes earlier for selling straight links on the CrunchCam do you think he was going to fess up to running an advertorial? Would You? Don’t be fooled Techcrunch knows the value of the link:
Fair Use Vs. Free Speech in the Internet Age: The Lane Hartwell Problem
The currency of the Web, after all, is the link.
What we have is a pattern of behavior that closely mirrors racial profiling. Assuming someone is terrorist because they are of middle eastern decent, assuming someone is guilty because they are black, or assuming all SEO’s are guilty of being link brokers just because they know the value of a link, it’s all profiling and it’s all wrong.
Don’t believe that Google profiles known SEO’s read this post on SEOMoz from Mathew Inman where he talks about Google pre-emptively banning sites he’s involved with. As Jeremy Lubke said “Google is determined to make any scalable link building process blackhat.”
We’ve been discussing and debating this for years and at this point is pretty obvious Google isn’t going to change their policy. However what we can do is band together and continue to point out where google profiles SEO’s and educate more people to Google’s inconsitant behavior.
My advice to you don’t involve anyone with SEO experience in any of your link building tactics, have it run entirely by a public relations person, and you should be fine, Google lets them get away with murder … or at least giving away free cars, cell phones, and all expense paid trips in exchange for links.