YAPAPL: Yet Another Damn Post About Paid Links

“I do what I do best, I take scores. You do what you do best, try to stop guys like me.”

–Neil McCauley, Heat (1995)

Unless you were living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, you know Google’s been busy lately in its War Against Paid Links. According to Danny Sullivan, Google is now bitchslapping the “guilty high-rollers” to make an example out them and to put the fear of God into link sellers and link buyers.

While this move triggered a hailstorm of debates on ethics in the SEO community, the reality is this: Google will continue to tighten its security system. Whether Google’s stock price is $625 or $125, Google will continue to walk that path. Google will never be completely “hacker-proof.” Then again, it doesn’t need to be. Its goal isn’t to detect all paid links on the face of the Interweb.

See, the cops don’t work the streets expecting to catch every grocery-robber, rapist, and gangbanger in town (don’t get your SEO handbook in a twist because I’m comparing link sellers to criminals; its just a damn example, not a full-fledged analogy).

For example, according to ~1990 stats, only 16% of rapes are reported to the police. (Now I can see some people are gonna start asking, “but how do you define forced sex? If I tell my GF she can’t have my cream bagle unless she has sex with me, is that considered forced sex? Or what about if I rape someone but she ends up having 10 orgasms and begs me to marry her, steals my phone number and won’t stop calling me and says if I don’t marry her she’ll report me to the police for forced sex? What if she just felt a little uncomfortable for the first two minutes and then started really liking it? There’s so much gray area around the definition of forced sex maybe I’m a rapist and don’t even know it? I mean, some girls say no and then when I stop they say hey, why the hell did you stop? Keep going dammit! Do I really deserve to spend 7 years in jail and pay a $200,000 fine for using a cream bagle as a sex-bait tool? Isn’t that excessive? If my best friend rapes someone, why do I have to rat on him? Isn’t it unethical to snitch on a friend? He was drunk and he was horny. He couldn’t help himself. She was asking for it anyway, with that low cut dress exposing her boobs. She really shouldn’t dress like that. Yeah, its HER fault! Why do women make such a big deal about sex anyway? The government shouldn’t tell me what to do; it’s a free country. I should be able to do whatever I want!”)

In the United States, 1 out of every 5 women in college is raped (1995 National College Health Risk Behavior Survey). Less than half of those arrested for rape are convicted, 54% of all rape prosecutions end in either dismissal or acquittal, 21% of convicted rapists are never sentenced to jail or prison time, and 24% receive time in local jail which means that they spend an average of less than 11 months behind bars.

So in an ideal world, 649,733 rapes per year might lead to around 600,000 rapists sent to jail every year (give and take a few, considering cases where a group of men rapes the same woman or one man rapes more than one woman). In reality, only around 103,957 rapes are reported, and even if all of the perpetrators for those rapes are prosecuted, 56,136 rapists are dismissed/acquitted, and 10,042 convicted rapists don’t see jail time. In the end, we’re left with 37,779 rapists in jail out of ~600,000 - or a 6% success rate.

If you rape someone, you have a 94% chance of getting away with it.

A cop, unless he/she’s smoking crack, doesn’t expect to get from a 6% success rate (or 94% failure rate, however you want to look at it) to 100% success rate overnight. What he expects is to see that 6% inch up to something like 9%. A crackdown on rape will not stop rape from happening. Rape is simply not going anywhere. And if you rape under the radar, there’s a very low chance of ever spending time in prison. Police efforts may eventually fail. But just because the government cannot stop rape from ever happening doesn’t mean the government is going to just let it happen.

Google is a bank with a high-tech security system. Any security system, however, has its weaknesses. Matt Cutts and his Anti-Spam squad continue to plug holes in the system. They resort to scare tactics to lower the number of people trying to beat the system. They are trying to go from 6% to 9%.

An SEO professional’s job is to continue to find ways to bypass that system and “get the cheese”, as an open 9-ball hustler pal back in the Big Apple used to say.

But its not my job to whine about the system. It’s not my job to waste time questioning the legality of that system.

It’s my job to

: understand the system
: exploit any weaknesses of that system

Identify tactics, draw up a plan, execute, re-evaluate, and make another run. If you’re in this for profit, everything else is digital vapour.

“Got. Got. What do we got? *What do we got?* Bon voyage, motherfucker. You were good. I’m going to the hotel. I’m going to take a shower. I’m going to sleep, for a month. ”

–Vincent Hanna, Heat (1995)

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5 Responses to “YAPAPL: Yet Another Damn Post About Paid Links”

  1. I don’t worry about the hand checks they might do. I worry about the algorithmic changes that might squash the effectiveness of link buying.

    To date I haven’t seen a lot of changes.

    I have noticed a little bit of the weight and impact links have, however, has been lessened.

    Have you noticed anything yet?

  2. “Have you noticed anything yet?”

    I haven’t seen any changes whatsoever for several SERPs I’m keeping an eye on.

  3. Yea I am thinking its more of a grandfathered affect. Old link weight is still there holding things in place. However, new links are not producing the same results they used to.

  4. […] * On a similar subject, Halfdeck talks about paid links with some excellent analogies on paid links. He also quotes Heat a bunch so it’s cool. […]

  5. gotta love any blog that quotes my favorite movie. i know you meant it tounge-in-cheek, but i think trying to equate google to rape is a bit extreme. you definitely have a point though, google does what they do and we have to do what we do.

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