Google’s Head of Search Engine Spam, Matt Cutts, sent a tweet linking to a recent Gawker story which discussed the technique of SEOs contacting ‘news’ writers, and paying them directly to link back to their site. Cutts said that they are aware of this activity, and are “taking action o hundreds of buyers, dozens of sites, & dozens of spammy writers.”
The specific technique being discussed isn’t exactly new, but it hasn’t gotten much attention over the years. What happens is SEOs reach out to a writer (like me, for example) and pay me directly to write an article on this site, with a link back to the page they are hoping to promote. I take the payment, and write the article, without the actual owner of this site knowing that this occurred. The owner of the site believes I wrote the article only because of the merits of the story. (And no. I won’t do this, and if I got offers, I would report them immediately).
This may be particularly difficult to police, because of the fact that a site may have hundreds of articles posted for every one or two of these ‘bribed blogs.’ In addition, to punish the entire site because of the actions of one writer may be excessive. It can be assumed, however, that Google will take the position that the owner of the site is responsible for all content that is published there, and for policing their own writers.
Matt Cutts was not clear on whether or not they have already taken some sort of action against this type of link spam, or if it is something that is planned in the future. It could also be just a empty threat by Cutts, hoping that it will be enough to discourage this type of activity from taking place.
Regardless of what Google has or has not done up to this point, it is clear that they are at least aware of this practice. You can see Cutts’ tweet HERE. Also, comment below with your thoughts about this story, and whether or not Google will take any severe action to prevent this type of link spam.