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I’m sure this isn’t going to be popular but I’d ask anyone reading this to hold off making a judgment on this until you read the entire post. Over the last few months I’ve observed a disturbing but undeniable pattern of behavior with posts and comments by employees of SEOmoz...
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Comments

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from mridout196 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Good post, bringing up some good points

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from NickWilsdon 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 2

It would be interesting if this turned into a discussion about whether or not it’s right to ’out’ sites. Personally I’m divided on the issue, I’ve done it myself before in very public cases but it’s certainly not our role to be policing the web for Google. I’m sure some SEO’s have done it to gain positioning. Under what conditions is outing appropriate/ethical? About Rebecca and Jane in that thread, I don’t see a problem with that myself. SEOMoz has a very open and frank culture, people there are encouraged to speak their mind. In my view those aspects are key strengths of the Mozzer brand. You can’t just turn that off for different situations.  

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from JohnWeb 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 9

With popularity comes some responsibility.  I don’t care if Rand has a teleconference every morning with Matt Cutts to share his list of evil link buying sites, but to do it publicaly is bad form and moves him from being an information source to a Google lacky, and we’ve already got plenty of those.

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from Skitzzo 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 4

Nick, You don’t see a problem with their behavior at all? You think sarcastic dismissal of valid critique is a good thing? Even Danny mentioned in one of the threads that Rebecca had gone over the line. Sure we all have bad days and probably say things we shouldn’t but they are acting as a company. That calls for a MUCH higher standard to be applied to their actions. Yes SEOmoz has an open culture, but they certainly don’t seem to like it when you call their actions into question. To me that screams hypocracy and I can’t imagine it would be seen as a strength.

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from Skitzzo 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Dangit! I did it again. John and Mridout, please excuse the -1 next to your remarks. I meant to give you a +1 but I’m apparently incapable of paying attention.In my own defense, I figured out why I do this so often. On Digg, the up and down votes are reversed (up being on the right). Sorry!

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from NickWilsdon 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 2

>Yes SEOmoz has an open culture, but they certainly don’t seem to like it when you call their actions into question.Who does?>Even Danny mentioned in one of the threads that Rebecca had gone over the line.The way I read it both Rebecca and Michael has stepped over the line. He called them both out about it. http://sphinn.com/story.php?id=6384#c9102My point was that the Mozzers are encouraged to speak their mind. Sarcasm was flying about and they responded in kind. They don’t have a coporate culture that says everything has to be passed by the legal department (or even the boss). Danny stepped in and that was the end of it.

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from NickWilsdon 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Err, not sure what’s going on with all the spans. I think Pligg hates me tonight - just got a parse error too. Parse error: parse error, unexpected $, expecting ’)’ in /var/www/html/sp/sphinn.com/templates_c/c_ef20b2b5fff08f636a080a9108ff9329.php on line 255

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from Skitzzo 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Nick, it tried to do that to me as well. Not sure what’s up...Anyway, Yes, as I mentioned in my article IMO both Rebecca and Michael probably traveled over the line. But, as my parents tried (unsuccessfully) to beat into me, two wrongs don’t make a right. Also, one represents himself while the other is a representative of (now) a million dollar company!I’m not saying they need to change their culture of sharing ideas etc. I’m saying they should act responsibly and professionally. Unless you’re telling me that SEOmoz’s corporate culture is unprofessionalism, I don’t understand where the disconnect is.

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from dannysullivan 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 6

Actually, I had a real pause when I saw this and almost started a separate thread.First, like Nick, I thought the issue of whether it’s right or not to out sites was more interesting and focused rather than a grand compilation of whether SEOmoz actions overall or not are responsible. I almost changed the title but decided to give it some leeway.Second, I’m concerned that I really don’t want Sphinn to simply become a place where people find they can attack other people. Skitzoo, I DO understand that you’ve tried to be very clear that you’re not meaning to attack people but rather actions. In addition, Rand is a public figure of notability within the search marketing space. People will be both critical as well as providing praise. It goes with the territory and can also hit anyone else.Anyway, thoughts from others on that? In terms of the paid link outing, I’ve done it myself to many sites, but I think that’s always been to very large sites like New Scientist where I feel like they’re not going to get hurt by being knocked out of the index -- or if you were a small, scummy site that mislead me about something, dude -- I’m not going to ponder much about whether I’m doing a public spam report.

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from dannysullivan 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 1

We’re looking at the spans. It’s not you, Nick -- promise!

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from Skitzzo 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Danny, I can easily see how this might turn into two different conversations but I feel my post is VERY valid and needs to be discussed openly. I debated a while as well before posting it because I didn’t want SEO Refugee to become synonymous with SEOmoz bashing. However, I feel Rand and SEOmoz need to be taken to task in regards to their actions, especially in light of their growing sphere of influence.I understand this is going to be a difficult discussion and there will be passionate opinions on both sides, but I tried extremely hard to steer away from anything personal in the post and attack the actions and I feel that this thread can be handled the same way.

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from TimDineen 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I felt the same as Skitzzo when I originally read SEOmoz’ article - is it really worth it to "out" sites like that?  Report link sellers if you feel the need to, but it wasn’t necessary to blog about them publicly - especially small sites like this.I could care less if they get penalized, in fact I actually wish Google could solve the problem of paid links so legitimate sites/SEOs won’t have to feel the need to cheat, too, just in order to compete on a level playing field.But I guess if Rand is going to "out" little blogs and sites like this then it’s fair game for people to criticize him for doing so.... as long as the bickering doesn’t clog up Sphinn and keep topics that are truly important from getting attention.

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from pops 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Danny, I don’t see how outing sites for selling links is OK some of the time. It’s either right or wrong. Why should you get to be the one that decides whether it will "hurt." And, if you don’t expect your report to have much effect, why do it?As for small scummy sites that intentionally mislead you, I think there might be other Google rules that they are violating that we might all agree they should be reported for.

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from dannysullivan 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 7

I’ve done it such as here Time For Google To Give Up The Fight Against Paid Links? usually when sites have become notable in other ways. Sometimes, it’s also essential to look at real example to make points. Don’t sell paid links, we’re told. Then you go to the Washington Post -- a Google partner -- and there are non-nofollow, non-blocked paid links on the home page. Shouldn’t the WP get wiped from the face of Google? Shouldn’t Google decide it doesn’t want to partner with a company that’s polluting its results? How can you have a debate without citing some examples, unless you want to debate hot air. I figure the Washington Post is big enough to take care of itself. Moreover, time and again we’ve found that large authority sites easily get forgiven if they violate guidelines. So that’s why I’ve tended not to worry about it much if I’ve cited a real example from time to time. Over the years, I can’t recall that I’ve gotten any flak about it, either, which makes me think my readers aren’t concerned that I’ve somehow hurt an innocent party or caused harm to someone. Moreover, look -- these are things on public web sites. In the public. To suppose that no one is going to notice or mention something in public is odd.I guess to me, the idea of you never out a site makes no sense. Instead, I think you talk about real examples when you feel there’s a real, solid appropriate reason to do so. Was it relevant and important to mention a particular case.

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from oldschool 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 4

First, keep in mind that a blog is just that, a blog. SEOmoz offers some great SEO industy insight, but they are not the ultimate authority. Blogs are often controversial, and in fact, the more controversial they are, the more action they get; it’s the nature of the beast. Sure some come across as more authoritative, but shame on any company or journalist that takes the easy road and doesn’t validate their facts, regardless of where they are found.If Google is reducing a sites value based on their criteria, then they are just a bit further ahead when an industry "evangelist" helps them find what their technology or staff would eventually find.Now if Rand were being paid secretly by Google to do this, that would be a different story altogether, but I don’t think this is the case.

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from Skitzzo 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 2

In that case, I’d like Rand to disclose all the paid links he and his clients buy. If they are out there on websites for all to see then what’s the harm?

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from earlpearl 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I was trying to think of someone with prestige in the industry who has written extensively about link "acquisition" and never once referenced a particular site.  Jim Boykin comes to mind.  I’ve read tons of his stuff on his blog and in some other places.  I didn’t go back to reference it, but I’ve always been struck at how he has made a great case for "acquiring" links (it might be paid-and it might be through some other mechanism.  I’d bet some are paid.I don’t have the faintest idea as to a single link he’s placed on a single site representing a single other site that might be paid.  He is very well published, his business seems to be growing, he is well respected, he makes the point that you can buy links.....but I don’t have the smallest shred of evidence that there are particular links bought on any particular site.You can discuss the topic in many ways without identifying particular sites.On the other hand, what goes around comes around.  So if I had a site that was "outted" and it suffered penalties because of it I’d be extremely aggravated.  If I was vindictive I’d find out who are Moz’s clients (not hard).  Some of them have been made public by Rand.  Then I’d scrutinize those sites for any probable paid links running back to them.....and I’d "out" that client to Google, somehow, surreptitiously or not, I’d let the Moz client know, somehow, surreptitiously or not that the ranking penalties are payback.  Nothing good comes from the process.  Its Google’s problem and issue.  In fact, I can see why they want to combat "linkjuice" links.  Regardless, let them work on it.  Don’t get yourself involved. 

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from TannerC 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It looks like the world of optimization is becomming fairly corrupt, who will save us now?

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from Halfdeck 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Wow man the SEO community is so full of fear it’s ridiculous.Folks, stop living in fear.Sell and buy links to your hearts content.Talk openly about it. You’re not talking about sites associating with Al Queda here. Just conducting day to day business by investing in online advertising.Whoever thinks outing is wrong are brainwashed by Google. Whoever thinks outing sites lead to sites getting banned or penalized are the ones that’s bought into Google’s scare tactics.Outing leads to nothing. If you think otherwise, you believe Google way too much and you run your business too close to Google’s guidelines.This tired debate’s agenda is to create FUD in the SEO community and scare everyone into a code of silence.Fuck that.Google can do and say whatever it wants. Webmasters can say and do wahtever they want. Rand can publish anything he feels like publishing.It’s a free country/intraweb/whatever.YOU are not the government.

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from Skitzzo 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@ HalfdeckYeah and if we stick our head in the sand and pretend we don’t have to pay taxes the IRS will just go away too. Look, I agree that Google is using FUD tactics but there’s no denying the fact that selling links can get your site in trouble with Google. Now personally, on my own site, I don’t bother to hide it because I say screw Google. But for those sites and webmasters that would like to still receive traffic from the big bad G, then no, it wouldn’t be wise to openly flaunt your link sales. Hell, just ask John Chow!

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from bartimus 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Ultimately, it’s all just sphinn...Right Danny?

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from NickWilsdon 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Oldschool said it well, outing a site helps Google staff find it a little faster. I do think sites are getting penalised at the moment, just to set a public example. Detecting paid links algorythmically is complicated, if not impossible and the best course for Google is to keep doing hand jobs until people get the message. Or the climate of FUD is high enough to make people self-regulate.It seems that outing has become more acceptable. I’d like to hear what the old timers think, but I thought it used to happen less. I even remember seeing cases where you fired off a warning email before making it public. That seems quaint these days. Opposite to you Halfdeck, I see the increased FUD resulting in more outings, not less. Google is the environment for most and that is bound to have an effect. I’ve even seen some people refer to breaking Google TOS as illegal! As for me, well I work in Runet, Yandex is the environment for me at the moment. They don’t have as many rules for webmasters but you can certainly get a site banned if you report them.

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from dannysullivan 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 0

FYI, http://sphinn.com/story/8403 gets into the issue of Rand saying he’ll ask Google not to harm any innocent sites. I’ve pulled that from What’s New as it’s part of the discussion here, and I think one thread on the subject is enough.

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from JeremyLuebke 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 3

While all of you have been debating this topic I have been busy passing you up in the SERPS ;)j/kBut seriously, maybe if Google did start penalizing link sellers accross the board, we could get site owners to integrate incontent links easier instead of all these side bar links. Just thinking out loud.

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from Skitzzo 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Jeremy, there’s no doubt that this discussion should, if nothing else lead to more "stealthy" link sales and buys which is bad for Google (and makes me happy).@ Danny, I really think it’s two seperate issues but it’s your call and you’ve done a good job on this thread so far.As I said in a comment on the blog post, I think "outings" risk spiraling into gangster style retaliations. I mean say someone get’s pissed at rand for outing them. Then they out Rand and a bunch of his sites. Before long, everyone is being exposed and only Google wins. That’s (on of) my point(s). Rand basically just started that snowball rolling down the hill.

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from mpilatow 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"I’ve even seen some people refer to breaking Google TOS as illegal!"That kills me Nick. I spend quite a bit of time perusing the SEO and webmaster forums and I see crap like that all the time. People asking isn’t it illegal to cloak pages? Is it unethical to buy links?No, neither of those things are illegal or unethical. They violate Google guidelines but until Google is the moral majority or international police force they will never be illegal or unethical.

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from Skitzzo 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I find it interesting Rand hasn’t responded to this at all... two of the mozzers commented on my blog but nothing from Rand (and I’m fairly certain he’s seen it).

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from nsmseo 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 1

The only person I have to admire out of all of this is DazzlinDonna - not only did she tick Rand off in his own back-door but she did it with grace and style. Fair play that Rand listened to opinion and has since edited the post to omit those outed in the original.Its obvious that Google can’t control this and are expecting those that work in the industry to play the vigilante role. So, if you ever decide to play that part then the only question left is which vigilante will you be:  Charles Bronson, Jodie Foster or Rand Fishkin?

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from AndyBeard 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 2

It is easy to talk about "fear" in the SEO community, but then when you see a few sites that are known to write the occasional paid post downgraded in a very minor PageRank tweak, including my own, you start to realise than any site that is "visible" is a target for Google to give some kind of manual penalty to "send a message"Anyone who thinks this hit on my toolbar PageRank is anything other than a deterrant for Paid Reviews, just take a look at my index penetration and how often my pages are indexed. Content rankings haven’t changed, even for the paid reviews.I fully acknowledge I am dancing along the border between squeeky clean and slightly grey if Google’s bot’s can’t determine intent for a link in many ways, because Google isn’t party to email conversations.That being said, advertising on searchmarketingnow.com or the SEOmoz client list probably crosses the letter of the law as well, as might all corporate sponsorship of events.Google themselves cross that line so many times it is ridiculous.I don’t sell PageRank on any of my domains, I don’t take part in linking schemes that are intended to boost pagerank, but other people have been known to include my site in various lists that get floated around... but that isn’t meant to give a penalty

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from lucia 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 1

"Before long, everyone is being exposed and only Google wins."I don’t think this is true.  The problem for Google is that they do want to return relevant results.  If the New York Times, The  Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and every major paper in every major city decides to seel links, what’s Google going to do? Not return results to newspapers?The fundamental problems with  using hyperlinks as measures of quality are:Indication of quality is not what hyperlinks are at their core.  They  only reason they "work" as indicators of quality is that, in some circumstances, a high number of links is positively correlated with "quality".Hyperlinks tend to display a reasonably high correlation with "good quality" only when dropping links has little or no economic consequence for anyone.Using hyperlinks as an indicatoi of quality creates a monetary incentive to drop hyperlinks for profit.Obviously, Google would like to prohibit dropping links for economic reasons, or force everyone to disclose that a link is dropped for economic reasons, but that isn’t feasible. 

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from g1smd 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 0

*** I do think sites are getting penalised at the moment, just to set a public example. ***Sites are being targetted. Matt Cutts as good as confirms it over there: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/still-chugging/#comment-113815*** No, neither of those things are illegal or unethical. ***Not illegal in their own right, but should someone use those techniques and the client site later gets banned or penalised, the website owner may very well be able to seek legal redresss for the dubious practices that were used and sold to that client as "optimisation". Fraud would probably cover it.

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from NickWilsdon 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@g1smd***Not illegal in their own right, but should someone use those techniques and the client site later gets banned or penalised, the website owner may very well be able to seek legal redresss for the dubious practices that were used and sold to that client as "optimisation". Fraud would probably cover it.***No sorry, don’t agree here. Again you’re falling into the trap of assuming Google is the law. This is the problem when you have such a dominant search engine. To my knowledge,  MSN and Yahoo! have not been penalising  sites for this, or carrying out the number of hand jobs Google has. What if you were optimising a client for them?Or to take another example, in Russia paid links are not seen as a problem in Yandex. They hold 55% market share, Google only has 17%. Google stance is inconsitant with the other majority players. Personally I’d really like this to go to the FTC (and country equivilent bodies) for a ruling. As Michaal Martinez wrote here - it seems a lot of US Government sites don’t consider links endorsementshttp://seo-theory.com/wordpress/2007/09/16/the-united-states-government-says-links-are-not-endorsements 

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from iBrian 2517 Days ago #
Votes: 3

The endearing thing about Rand is that he comes across as having an honest passion for what he believes in. But because he expresses quite a detailed opinion, he’s bound to raise hackles.Most SEO’s never post any kind of detailed info, but keep the real stuff close to their chests while writing generic gunk for the unwashed masses to consume. Rand can rarely ever be accused of that. He details his whys.It doesn’t mean to say I have to agree with him every time, but it doesn’t mean to say I should disrespect him just because he publishes what he believes in.SEOmoz was built on the detailed analyses that Rand would post, that so many people found useful. It’s a rare resource indeed.Outing sites? Sure, it can be uncomfortable to read that, and frankly I have no interest in doing anything to continue the paid links deabte because I think there is no room for debate, just opposite entrenched positions, and everything else is wasted hot air.But the point of Rand’s article I read as in part the hypocrisy of Forbes publishing an article about a subject they are clearly engaged in. Links are a fundamental communication point of the net, hence their value to SEO’s, hence why Google seeks to limit their being influenced.Making personal issues out of that I think is utterly irrelevant. Disagreeing with Rand does not a bad person make him.2c.

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from nsmseo 2516 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Bad guys , good guys, who gives a sphinn.  Best thing about all this is some weeks back I remember some saying that rankings were in-fact "So nineteen nighties" and others saying it was "conversions" that mattered not where you ranked.According to all the hype that this blog post has caused some people have short-memories in my opinion. Yeah, rankings really don’t matter, no matter how you get them. Some people don’t know their sphinn from their elbow.

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from mvandemar 2516 Days ago #
Votes: 2

<blockquote>All I can say is that Dougie would be proud (of Rand outing the "bad" guys).</blockquote>Jill, I for the life of me cannot figure out if you are poking fun of someone or not, and if so, who...I’m never playing poker with you. :P

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from nsmseo 2516 Days ago #
Votes: 0

All this "sport" of outing companies who have paid links without the nofollow attribute attached is not for traffic purposes. C’mon Jill you know your stuff - you but a placement for a link > you specify your link text > you then inturn gain a one-way link to your site > to boost your rankings to boot.I can even quote you a phrase from Rands post if you want: "in their marketplace widget are direct and passing juice. And they’re ranking pretty well for those four phrases on Google right now."Your not trying one on me are you -- really are you?

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from nsmseo 2516 Days ago #
Votes: 1

No probs Jill - what gets me is the benifits of outing the majority of these particular sites. I mean they are privately owned small-fish on comparision to some of the more alleged better-known that are trading link-juice in the same manner.I still come across sites that are hiding text by means of css, the no-script tag, or just blatanly colouring text the same as their background and their still frickin’ ranking. I could and should report them by my background stops myself from doing that. If Google can’t catch sites that are are still exploting these old-fashioned techniques then what hope is there of them getting on top of sites earning a buck or two extra from paid links without the support of the community in general.Some posters have said that this whole scenario was an excercise in FUD. I totally agree with them.

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from Jonah 2516 Days ago #
Votes: 0

The whole debate about outing sites has a couple of fallacies.1.  Do date, Google’s penalty for selling links has been to cut off the value of those links.  If anyone has been "outed" it is the companies who bought the links, not the "innocent little guys" who are selling them.  Pardon me while I tune my Violin--especially since many (most) of us are OK with outing Spam.  While I have never actually done it, I see no reason not to file a spam report if I can knock off a site above my client.2.  That Rand "outed" someone.  All he did was choose random sites from Stumble Upon and demonstrate that a large number of them have paid links.  Does anyone really think it takes less time to read about these sites in SEOMoz than to find them in person.  Do you really believe that finding paid links is so difficult that Matt Cutts is going to email someone on his team and tell them that someone DISCOVERED A PAID LINK - or wrote about it?  We have all seen extreme abuses of Google TOS mentioned in very prominent blogs without any response, so why do we think that the Google handjob team is going to jump into action because Rand mentioned these sites.  Aaron Wall wrote a couple of months ago about Bankrate dominating the first page for "mortage calculator" and "mortage calculators" with mulitple domains and sub-domain spam.  If that kind of TOS violation doesn’t earn manual intervention, I would not worry too much about outing someone for selling global link, in the easiest of all ways to detect.  If these sites were passing link juice before the post (doubtful) than they are still passing it today.

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from mvandemar 2516 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@Jonah - Your starts with a major fallacy and goes down from there, I will just address the one point:1.  Do date, Google’s penalty for selling links has been to cut off the value of those links.  If anyone has been "outed" it is the companies who bought the links, not the "innocent little guys" who are selling them.No. To date, someone once said that if Google were to penalize sites for selling links, then what would make sense for Google to do is to just stop those links from passing juice, and not give any other kind of penalty. As happens often times in our community, that casual comment became repeated as fact, and now is assumed, mostly due to people posting as you did (without any kinds of facts to back them up), to be undeniably true.The actual truth is that no one has done any kind of thorough analysis on the subject, and there are in fact cases where it looks like the penalties that sites have incurred are in fact due to link selling. One that comes to mind would be John Chow’s recent ranking penalties, and there have been others.

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from g1smd 2516 Days ago #
Votes: 0

deleted

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from g1smd 2516 Days ago #
Votes: 0

***  Again you’re falling into the trap of assuming Google is the law.  ***Not at all.   However, if company A sells an optimisation service to company B, with a promise of better traffic, better rankings in Google, and the site then tanks, company B may well move to seek redress.  If it were to be shown that the "optimisation" had consisted of doing all the things that Google says "do not do this" on their webmaster guidelines, then there may very well be a legal case to answer for.

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from Harith 2516 Days ago #
Votes: -2

Jill"I’ve never believed in outing sites for any reason whatsoever. I don’t report sites to Google either."Then I assume you believe its acceptable to spam Google!

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from g1smd 2516 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Harith. See also: http://sphinn.com/story/8556#c11639

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from Harith 2516 Days ago #
Votes: 0

g1smdThanks for the reference.@Jill"Nothing wrong with Black Hats in my book."Did you write that?

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from demib 2516 Days ago #
Votes: 5

Dear Ladies, I am chocked!When I started in this industry many years ago there wasn’t that many women arond. Today, fortunately, there is. Many good ones indeed. And most (if not all) of them act like grown ups and are great SEOs.And now this. A bunch of, supposidle, grown up men acting like little girls - he did that, she said so, he should not say so, I don’t like her bla. bl.a bl.a. I would have expected this from a bunch of 13 year old girls in a school yard but not from a group of grown up people calling themselfs marketing professionals.So yes, I am chocked! But more about this on Strikepoint tomorrow. I welcome all the little girls too - but watch out, we may provoke you :)

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from Chatmaster 2515 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I have been reading these link bait posts by Michael and Skitzzo and thought for myself, what one earth?Rand definitely did the wrong thing to call these websites by name, why he doesn’t he just admit to it and get on with it, is above me. What makes me absolutely furious is the fact that both of you have done the exact same thing as he did. Rand I see as a youngster in the industry that made headway very quickly. He is becoming like an icon in the SEO world and in my opinion he has just learned another lesson in life. He surely must understand by now where the boundaries are.I just want to point out that Google is the real issue here. Google has clearly started an issue about paid links, which imo is completely stupid! HOW on earth can Google say beyond any reasonable doubt that a link is a paid link? How on earth can Rand say this as well? What is wrong here?Google first of all, you are the masters of selling links! So ban yourselves and get it over with. I have never sold any links in my life, but my websites are key to what I believe my visitors would get value from. I regularly change links on existing pages, if I feel that the pages I linked to, lowered their value in information or if I find a more valuable source. I do not rewrite an entire page about the exact same topic just to do that. I also will use the no follow sometimes when I reference a bad site and I will not use it if I feel the site I link to deserves full value. I am not stingy with giving links to others and feel that in this way I offer value to my visitors.My issue is this, instead of taking on Rand, who is no angel, but who has been a great contributor to our SEO family, just because he is high profile and definitely worth hitting on for link bait purposes, WHY not take on Google for their clear stupidity in starting this whole debacle in the first place.

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from mike.tekula 2514 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Just a quick point:  I find it laughable to think that Rand "outed" these sites and all of a sudden Matt Cutts and the Google webspam team said, "we got em!" and went to work penalizing.  Rand probably spent a half an hour or less finding those sites - what, did Google have no idea before he did some quick detective work?  Do any of you really think that on the Google webspam team’s daily checklist is "take a look over at SEOmoz.org and see if Detective Rand dug up any dirt for us last night?"These paid links are clear as day - give the webspam team some credit for being able to identify these things themselves.The fact is that Rand is going to write about what he thinks people are thinking/talking about - that’s why he’s been so successful.  To liken him to a "rat" is ridiculous.  These sites are out there plain as day for Google to find on their own.  They wouldn’t rely on Rand or any other blogger for that information, so to suggest his post will result in a penalty for those sites is absurd.  The problem lies in Google’s campaign against the legitimate practice of selling links - as long as they take the stance that "any paid link is a bad link" we’ll have this problem.  They need to find a better way of classifying spam in this regard, or they’ll keep penalizing perfectly good websites and diminish the quality of their search results.

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from g1smd 2514 Days ago #
Votes: 0

*** any paid link is a bad link *** One without rel="nofollow" is bad. One with it is fine. That’s what they say.

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from mike.tekula 2514 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Sorry g1smd - looks like your comment came through strange.  Was it NoFollow you were referring to?

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from janecopland 2514 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Mike,Thank you for the intelligent reply. I couldn’t agree more. I can only imagine that the spam teams at the major search engines are regarding these posts with raised eyebrows."Those SEOs. How little they know about us..."

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from mike.tekula 2514 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Jane - No problem - I’m just trying to be one voice of reason where I can.I think its important to remember that Google is a corporation.  When it comes to their search results they can do whatever they please, really.  However, if they’re going to start removing any site from the index that sells/buys a link they’re really going to suffer in the area of quality.  If I were strategizing for the webspam team I’d say taking the power to pass link juice away from these sites is one thing, but actually pushing them down in the results or removing them from the index is where I would draw the line.  Of course there will be some subjectivity - a spammy site might not deserve to be there in the first place.  I think they’ll draw the line where the quality starts to suffer.  If you’re running a legitimate and resourceful website that offers real benefit to the user I can’t image it is in Google’s best interest to toss you out with the bathwater.

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from Skitzzo 2514 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@ mike.tekula,Ok, first of all, you can call it linkbait if you wish (it wasn’t and isn’t) but how does that change my points at all?Also, what I find laughable is that you seem to think Google has a good way to progromatically find paid links! If they could find links as well as you seem to think they can, why would they ask webmasters to rat each other out? Why would they need to use the FUD tactics they have employed?Also, you seem to think that no one reads SEOmoz’s blog. How many times have we seen the top blogs in this industry bring up issues that are then quickly addressed by Google? It happens quite a bit. If you think for one minute that someone from Google reading Rand’s post didn’t think to themselves, "hey I better check to see if we know about these" then I’m not surprised you disagreed with my post.Finally, from your last comment I’m assuming you missed Danny’s report over the weekend that in fact Google will start penalizing the rankings of some sites that sell links?

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from Chatmaster 2514 Days ago #
Votes: 0

SkitzzoI think my point is that Rand did nothing out of the ordinary. Calling sites out is something we have done for a very long time. I remember the good old days on SEOChat where we did exactly that. Also I believe, this is just my opinion here, the real culprit is Google. There is absolutely no way for them to be sure that link is a paid link or not. Nor should this be important to them. Purchasing links on websites is an old advertising method that has been around before they even existed. They also can’t say, well if you want to be listed on Google, do as we say, because allot of great contributors to the web doesn’t care about what they say, because they are not SEO specialists. They also cannot just decide that they will rewrite the online marketing rules because the all powerful Google says so.Rand should agree that he stepped over the line sure, because it is clearly a sentiment shared by individuals within the community at this stage. Although these rules frequently changes, at this stage this is the rule. I honestly do not see any other reasons for yourself and Michel to continue these attacks on Rand, other than a great opportunity for link bait, and this is imo the ONLY reason you take the routes you do to point out what has happened here. When DD pointed out that he made a mistake he fixed it and used the alternative, he fixed his mistake. You decided to make this a huge issue, why? The only reason imo is linkbait, taking on the “golden boy” of SEO?

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from Skitzzo 2513 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@ Chatmaster, it would appear I failed in sufficiently explaining the issues I’ve seen. This post was not just about one single action. This was not just about Rand outing those sites. This was about Rand willfully harming the business of people and sites who had done nothing to provoke him or "deserve it" in any way. Yes, he removed the references but the damage had already been done by that point. In his comments in response to the Aviva criticism he admitted he didn’t do what he called "the best way to test" Aviva’s value. That’s simply irresponsible. What’s worse, Rand hasn’t updated his post on that issue nor has he commented publicly on it again. What I’m trying to say is that this appears to be an emerging trend and I hope my post brought enough attention to it that it stops.It seems a lot of the criticism of my post has centered on the fact that I cited Michael’s posts or that this is just for the purpose of linkbait. If you have an issue with Michael’s posts or Michael himself for that matter, take it up with him. You can certainly believe that it’s linkbait, I’ve stated many times it’s not but that’s not the point really. Even if this were linkbait, no one appears to be arguing with the points I have raised. Rand has responded to me privately and we’ll see where that goes but for heaven’s sake, debate the points I raised!If I’m wrong, tell me WHY and WHERE I am wrong. Chatmaster at least debated the point about Rand outing the sites. I believe his argument was wrong but at least he addressed the issue. However, no one has even mentioned the fact that Rand blasted Aviva, admitted he didn’t do the proper testing, and then never apologized, retracted his statements, or even updated us with his new evidence. I understand that a lot of people love Rand, by all accounts he’s a great guy, but don’t just sit there and tell me I’m wrong about his actions without addressing the issues I’ve raised.

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from bhawk988 2511 Days ago #
Votes: 0

This entire discussion troubles me because it seems like a lot of in-fighting.  I understand that some may have issues with the way Rand has handled things.  But in one of the previous posts it’s mentioned that he should have had contact with Matt Cutts and Google in private.  That he shouldn’t “out” specific sites in the public forum of a blog.   Shouldn’t the SEO community take the same advice?  I just think it’s a case of people disagreeing and not finding the right way to settle those disagreements.  I don’t think that Rand is right nor do I think everyone else is.  I think if he made a statement in a blog it should be taken with a grain of salt.  A blog is meant to allow a person to write an opinion.  If that opinion is controversial then it will create a discussion.      I think most discussions are positive.  Unfortunately this one seems to be dividing an industry that should be working together against common foes.

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from Chatmaster 2508 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@SkitzzoSorry for not replying sooner, but I had electricity issues to attend to. To get back to my original response. I have allot of respect for both you and Michael. You guys only write facts and if you write something it is usually worth a read. The issues I have here is that Google can in no way go and penalize a site because Rand pointed to them and said they are selling links. How on earth can Google do that to ANY site? I mean surely it is crazy for them to think that they can state that a site is selling or buying links beyond any doubt. Linking to each other has been the way of the Internet even before Google came along. It is the way of the Internet and will remain so for most, especially quality information sites. In my mind this is a logical assumption and that Google with all their talk about the subject just created confusion amongst our community.Michael’s first post a few months ago, was completely out of line and clearly a personal attack. Once again he made some strong points backed by facts, but it was filled with punches of venom that made the attack very personal. My thoughts at that stage was that he was clever from a link baiting point of view and I decided I would leave it as most respected SEO’s would probably see past the obvious. Then he made another post and yours came next! Well I had to give my opinion on the subject. I know DD and Egol (also 2 people I have the world of respect for) raised the issue and pointed out that Rand took it to far this time. But they did so on his blog and without smelly punch lines. Rand clearly reacted possitively to that.I just do not feel Rand did anything wrong but being young and inexperienced. I see Rand as a talented young guy, who has done allot for SEO since he arrived at SEOChat in 2004. He is impressive in that way as he has picked up the industry in a very short period of time and became one of the high trees relatively quickly. I hope he has learned from his post that the roots of the community do not trust Google to act sensible and that he will respect others in future, but a personal email or a similar post on his blog would have had a much better effect.

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