The very fact that we’re having this discussion points out 2 problems to me.
1. Are search algorighms so easy to manipulate that we really need to be careful with what we do on our websites, for fear of offending some search God? Don’t you think that google or yahoo has the ability to monitor the linking patterns of websites? If a site all of a sudden has a link from an authority site, and either doesn’t have other links or doesn’t continue to get links, don’t you think they know that one link was unnatural? Do we really need to use the “no-follow” thingy and do the search engines job for them? Isn’t that why you use a search engine in the first place? Because THEY find you the most relevant results?
2. Why is everyone so concerned with helping the search engines out? Do we really think that a site as well linked to as Jeremy Zawodny’s site is going to be affected by putting a few outbound links on the site? Is that in a search engines best interest? NO!
If google decides to punish Jeremy’s blog for putting some paid links, let them do it. Don’t you think that would degrade their search results? Both Matt and Jeremy and Greg understand this. Why do you think Jeremy decided to not use the no-follow with those links? I mean, don’t you think that if Jeremy put 50 links on the front page of his blog (as opposed to hiding them like he did), his site would still be just as authoritiative? Do you think just as many people would turn to him for answers? Isn’t it the same for other authority sites?
Seems to me like Google talking about punishing sites who sell links is a scare tactic.
The fact is that linking is natural. Buying links is natural. Advertising is natural.
Just because a site sells advertisements doesn’t mean they’ve done anything wrong, not in the eyes of the web, nor in the eyes of a search engine (IMHO).
As I’ve read the comments left on the blogs today about this, I think there’s a deeper problem developing as a result of this link war.
An anti-Google sentiment.
It seems to me that over the past year (basically since Google went public), there has been a lot of backlash towards google, their algorithm, their monopoly (brought on because of their great original algorithm), and some of their nazi policies. It’s the attitude that what they say is right, is right. It’s their completely closed book way of dealing with people. It’s the fact that they do things that totally change other peoples lives and don’t warn anyone about it.
I think that anti-google feeling is what’s at the bottom of this whole argument (or, at least, that’s what keeps it going). People have loved google for the past few years but because of their dominance they’ve created some markets that cause problems, and I’m not sure they can fix them anymore.