Selling Links That Save Lives

in Google

I have a confession to make.  It could greatly affect my career and my livelihood, but I feel the need to come clean about some recent activities.  I’m having trouble getting to sleep at night and when I finally do get to sleep, I awaken shortly thereafter with a start and in a cold sweat.  Should I even bother to mention the nightmares?  In the morning, I can hardly look at myself in the mirror without a deep-seated sense of loathing.

You see, I am an internet marketer and I’ve been behaving badly.  I’m more than a little bit afraid that Google is on to me, so I’m going to come clean.  I’ve been selling links.  I’ve been selling a lot of links.  I have sold so many links that I could probably retire.  If I weren’t giving all of the revenue away to charity, that is.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I’ve been selling links that save lives.

A couple years ago, I got involved with Kiva.org.  It’s a wonderful service that has empowered thousands of individuals to rise up from from the depths of poverty and build a better future.  In essence, Kiva acts as a broker for individuals and organizations to provide microloans to entrepreneurs in third world countries.  From the Kiva website: “Kiva’s mission is  to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.”

They are doing very important work over at Kiva, and I wanted to do what I could to support them.  As I thought about it, I realized that it was well within my means to help.  At that point I decided to commit a portion of the revenue from all of my websites to helping other entrepreneurs.  In the beginning, all of the sites were monetized with Google Adsense and weren’t making much money.  I guess that’s why it’s called webmaster welfare.  I then decided to max out the earnings of my sites by selling links, and it made a world of difference.  They started earning considerably more than I expected, and it allowed me to help others in a truly meaningful way.  So why the confession, you might ask?

Over the last couple of years, Google has taken an extremely hard stance against paid links.  They’ve threatened to remove sites that buy or sell links from their index.  They have conducted a not-so-subtle public relations campaign to repurpose the rel=”nofollow” link attribute to act as a flag for paid links.  They have openly declared war on webmasters and publishers who violate these *guidelines*, all due to the weaknesses in their algorithm exposed by paid links.

You see, links are one of the main factors in Google’s ranking algorithm.  Good links from good sites with good anchor text help websites achieve good search engine rankings.  Paid links are an issue because there is commercial intent; because they are not editorially awarded.  Google cannot make the distinction between links that are bought and sold, and links that are editorially awarded.  This is the crux of the issue, and hence the repurposing of rel=”nofollow”.  So if you buy or sell links that lack “nofollow”, you will be penalized and/or banished from Google.  This is the reason I can’t sleep at night…

I have made a commitment to help people and my ability to continue helping them is in stark contrast to Google’s self-interest.  I’m fearful that I will wake up one morning to discover that all of my sites have been banished, along with it the hopes and dreams of a generation of budding entrepreneurs.  I have decided to go public with my activities, in the hope that Google will understand that I am not a dirty, rotten spammer.  I am just trying to do my bit to help out some people in need.  Sometimes the ends justify the means, right?  Will Google actually penalize me for what I have confessed above?  It’s too soon to tell, but I would be very surprised if a company with the motto of “Don’t be evil” would undermine the prosperous future of budding entrepreneurs in the third world just to make an example out of me.  What do you think?

*Disclaimer: This post is complete and utter fiction, and I sincerely hope that Matt Cutts has a sense of humour. Happy April Fool’s Day :)

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