One of my employees was pushing a story we had done yesterday and decided to contact some parenting sites (the angle of this story was related to them) and see if they'd be interested in making their readers aware of it. He got back an interesting email, and forwarded it to me for a laugh. I definitely found it humorous, but after taking a 15 minute dig into the site, also realized that Google has no clue what the elusive face of “evil” really is.
Now, I've already bitched in the past about how stupid it is to penalize “paid links” since there is no way for Google to even truly tell what a *good* paid link is. The propoganda whore and I then took is a step further in regards to explaining why Google shouldn't tell you how to run your website. As a side note, if you aren't up to date on the FUD whore's opinion on paid links and why you should care even if you're not buying them, you need to check out his theory on paid links. Now, back to my story…
So, my employee receives the following in response to an email he sent to a popular parenting blog:
Sure! $500, and I'll give it a great review!
Girl's got to feed the family.
Now, personally, I don't give a shit that this chick is selling “great reviews”… she built her site and she has the right to monetize and market it the way she chooses. But, it did give me a chuckle, because this, Matt, is exactly the type of link seller you cannot and will never be able to catch. This, is the elusive supposed “evil” you are so in search of.
This parenting blog has double digit comments on every post, has won several of the big blogger world awards and has a feed subscribership in the tens of thousands. This parenting blog has over ten thousand links, from high quality sources. And a quick search revealed that she has reviewed tons of websites, products, articles and given out a lot of links. And you have no way of knowing which ones were used to feed her family and which ones were given because they were deserved.
She isn't offering a service like review me where you pay for a review in the open, the review is cited as paid (because you are essentially paying for the reviewer's time and not their opinion) and then gives her honest opinion. This is a popular, trusted blogger who has a picture of her and her kids plastered all over her blog… this is an innocent face… this is your evil.
And you have no way in hell of identifying it *correctly* a high percentage of the time any more than a random girl has of identifying which guy she dates are knights and which are wolves in sheep clothing. Sure, some are obvious, but you have no more chance of being correct on your judgements than that girl sitting at the bar this Saturday night.
And for the record, I didn't pay for the review. Partly because I wasn't going to pay someone to “review” an article that was an interview of a CEO of a national company who recently acquired millions in funding and partly because since she *is* a blogger simply trying to feed her family and not an Internet marketer, she apparently has no idea that her prices are sky fucking high in this instance. ;-)