The topic: Selling links.
Jeremy: I’ve experimented with AdSense an YPN in various forms. I’ve tried paid job listings (never worked out, which is a story for another day). I’ve used Amazon.com’s affiliate program. I’ve even tried AdWords. And each time along the way it’s been a useful exercise. Sometimes it works well, other times not. My success rate has been rather mixed so far.
However, my latest test (sponsored links) seems to have stirred the pot a bit. …
I’m a little (but not completely) surprised by this.
Matt: Just to be clear: it’s Jeremy’s site. Of course he can try any experiment he wants (YPN, AdSense, BlogAds, AdBrite, Chitika, Amazon affiliate program, selling links with nofollow, selling links without nofollow, offering flying lessons to the 10,000th visitor, selling pixels, auctioning lemurs, etc.) to make money. Many such experiments cause no problems for search engines. But if a web site does use a technique that can potentially cause issues, it’s understandable that search engines will pursue algorithmic and manual approaches to keep our quality high.
Matt says selling PageRank is wrong. I agree. But arguably Google is penalizing folks who might *appear* to be selling links, as well as folks who might be selling links for perfectly good reasons. This I think is bad. In short, one could argue that Google is penalizing folks who don’t use Google for paid links. The debate rages on….