Sponsored Links VS. Paid Links
by Les Romhanyi
The other day I was looking for good quality sites to get links from by doing the tried and true method of, “see who links to my competitors.” This resulted in the usual suspects, such as link directories like Yahoo.com and JoeAnt.com. I did, however, come up with a few surprises, like getting a link from the W3 Consortium. Curious’r and curious’r, naturally I took a deeper look.
One of the first things any decent link builder would examine would be whether the link carried any kind of link condom. I quickly saw that all of the external links did. This led me to see what it took to get a link from this high-authority site and I found that all it took was to give a donation to the W3 Consortium. Seems reasonable to me that to get a link from the W3 sponsor page, one should need to make a donation.
This led me to think however: does sponsoring something as relevant to the Internet as the W3 is, constitute a paid link? And seeing as the page details that they are all sponsored links, do they need to have a link condom applied? I mean, if Google can’t tell that all of these links are here because they sponsored the W3, well then, Google wouldn’t be all that reliable for filtering searches, eh?
Further, the W3 takes donations from these sites and these donations can be in the ten of thousands of dollars, why wouldn’t they be willing to give a little link juice back to them? I mean, if the sites are good enough to take money from, shouldn’t they be good enough to acknowledge as a “vouched-for” site?
If the W3 isn’t willing to spend the time to discern that a site is of a certain level of quality and that they represent themselves properly, what the hell is the W3 taking money from them for in the first place? Kind of reminds me of politicians taking donations from a criminal organization and then distancing themselves for receiving that donation once they get caught.
To me this whole “Paid Link” issue is getting way out of control when quality sites can’t even get “Link Credit” for doing good things that are beneficial to the web community in general. If the W3 Consortium was the only site that was doing this, that would be bad enough. But when you throw in sites like Wikipedia that rely upon user contributions and donations, well then we may have passed the point of no return – thanks Google.
About the Author
Les Romhanyi, Port Coquitlam, BC. Canada