Is Google Making An Example Out Of PayPerPost (… er, Izea)?

It seems like Google isn’t satisfied with not just “doing no evil”, but actively continuing to punish those it deems to *be* evil by pounding some blogs to a PageRank of zero. Just this past month, for example, Google went on the rampage against those who were selling links by lowering their PageRank (the BlogHerald included), and it looks like they’re not quite done.

While the scope if this most recent “correction” has still yet to be fully completed, it seems that the target of Google’s ire are those who are doing paid postings from PayPerPost Izea. Andy Beard, of course is keeping an active track of things, and Ted Murphy, CEO of PayPerPost Izea has gone on record on his own blog, by claiming Google is actually targeting small time bloggers who are using his service to make a humble income. Furthermore, he tries to make the case that larger players are no different, such as TechCrunch, as advertising usually brings a free in-post link at the end of every month.

Now, what’s interesting, of course, is that many bloggers (and blogs) have noticed that after their pagerank drop — indeed, after their pagerank went to zero — their hasn’t been much change, if any, in their traffic levels. In light of this, EatonWeb is recalibrating is algorithm so that it now takes PageRank out of the equation (indeed, it devalues it).

But if there’s been no change in traffic levels, one does wonder what the purpose of this recent action is?

I think that this kind of effort — human or algorithmic (or a combination thereof) — demonstrates that there is something *about* paid links that Google clearly believes are important. That is, I don’t think Google would ever do something unless it made a difference; my assumption is that it wouldn’t do anything that actively penalized anyone without any particular reason why (i.e. spite).

Perhaps its because they’ve shown internally that paid links *do* disrupt the “organic” nature of search results; and that, either now, or in the future (if they’ve done projections), that such a disruption, even if on a small scale, has, or will reach, a level they’ve demonstrated as intolerable.

We already know that since this past June, they’ve actively been on the hunt for paid links. You can see there’s a reporting station in every dashboard of the Google Webmaster web page.

My take on things is that Google wants to make an example out of PayPerPost Izea. Yes, Google knows that there’s full disclosure. Some blogs reviews even do the no-follow thing. Both are immaterial, however.

What Google wants to do is create the perception that doing paid reviews as a subtext to sell PageRank as a huge violation of its algorithm, as a means to subvert Google — even though most posties, I’m sure, do reviews with the intention of … well, doing a review.

Because by penalizing blogs to a pagerank of *zero* (not just lowering them), that is exactly what the perception of things will be; you can expect that many blogs will flee PayPerPost Izea and their ilk, as Google spreads FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) about how Google perceives paid postings in general.

And from Google’s position, it will be mission accomplished — even though PageRank looks like it has no obvious effects on traffic — as it will cool _everyone’s_ perception of paid links. And furthermore, it will cool a possibly-rising trajectory of how paid postings and paid links are having in the web-o-sphere.


  1. says

    This post nearly gave me a heart attack. Even though I have never intentionally sold or pumpled PR, I did get swept up in the first downgrade. However, as you said, it had no impact on traffic. Still, I’ve requrest re-evaluation.

    However, I was afraid that maybe I would get caught up in this one too though I’ve never even joined PPP. I checked a PR Checker and found my rank at zero. Fortunately, after checking a few other sites, I’m still at three, where I was after the first smackdown.

    I guess some of the tools are just overwhelmed right now as some are even reporting Digg at 0.

    Hopefully this will be sorted out soon enough.

  2. says

    Jonathan were you actually selling links, or did you lie on the reinclusion form where you have to plead guilty to submit it?

    I have attempted to extend the olive branch on this to Google in the past by asking them whether my reviews are thought of as spam, and they never got back to me, which is why I feel so strongly about them now issuing a penalty.

  3. says

    Jonathan — good luck on you and yours. As I wrote, I think its a combination of both hand picking and algorithmic changes, which is resulting in so much “collateral” damage.

    Ultimately, I think *because* PR these days is used as a metric to value sites *for* things like PayPerPost, ReviewMe, Text Link Ads and others — and is not an accurate surrogate for traffic — perhaps *that* is why Google doesn’t mind changing PR values rather indiscriminately.

  4. says

    I just noticed that my own PR=0 now after being devauled from PR=5 down to PR=3. I’ve never used any PPP or Paid reviews or the like. I do have TLA and my search engine traffic is about as crappy as it was before. I know I should care more but, I don’t. Life goes on. I did receive a comment from another person who is on the 2kblogger list thinking this was the reason for elimination to PR=0.

  5. says

    Hart — sorry to hear about your PageRank. Now, as for your comment, do you mean that being on the 2kBlogger List is a possible reason to devalue your PageRank to zero?

    That would be interesting.

  6. says

    I honestly think we shouldn’t worry so much about Google. We should just do what we do (blog) and forget about them. If they make bad decisions and use faulty algorithms to determine “good” and “bad” blogs then ultimately they’ll fail. So we should just do what’s profitable and enjoyable for us as bloggers and just stop worrying about Google.

  7. says

    Andy: I have never sold links. I was a member of TLA (part of my work is experimentation with ad networks to see any potential copyright/legal issues with them. However, I never actually had any TLA links on and it had been over a year since I left. Shockingly, I found that TLA wasn’t of much use to spammers due to its nature and that it require a good PR to make any revenue.

    Regardless, what I think got me was my blogroll. I had a healthy one and, if one follows Google policy it could be viewed as a link exchange “scheme”. Blogrolling, of course, predates even Google. I was doing something very similar in 1996. Still, it was a technical violation of their rules and I’ve removed the blogroll until I can find a way to ensure it won’t be a problem.

    I’ll probably just nofollow all of the blogroll links and be done with it.

    I don’t think I lied on their form, I think I just plead to something that is only a crime in Google’s eye.

  8. says

    My blog rank got slammed to zero too. Why? Beats me. As best I can guess it’s because I blog about PPP/ Izea etc. I don’t have the slightest notion what I would need to correct to be reincluded, and if Google isn’t going to tell us, I’m not going to guess!

  9. says

    Well, here are my responses:

    @ Andy Beard: Google never got back to you? Strange, when they asked me about it, they indicated they DID NOT like it.

    Although I did contact them before even considering it, so perhaps they gave you the “cold shoulder” because they thought you were a spammer.

    @ Jonathan Baily: I always thought TLA was weird. Having links about furniture appear on space/geek/etc. blogs looked “out of place,” at least to me.

    Either way, I am glad Google IS cracking down on this, although it is unfortunate that TLA is a casualty in the spam war.

    @ Lucia: Just by your link alone, Google could easily label you as a spam blog.

    I am not saying you are, but your link may have convinced the bot that you are (you may want to check with Google about this).

    @ Everyone else: Stop freaking out about this. It’s not the end of the world. Google has changed my Page rank countless times. It has affected traffic, but if you blog with quality posts, the traffic will return.

    Just my two cents.

  10. says

    @Tony– Sure. They name of the blog does identify it as being about making money. These are sometimes spam blogs… but, no my blog isn’t a spam blog. :)

    Presumably, if Google had thought it a spam blog, I would have never gotten any PR in the first place– though who knows.

    I write plugins; most are useful to people who do moetize. Example Kontera Control lets you keep Kontera ads out of recent posts or sponsored posts. No old Spam links nofollows links in sponsored posts after a set amount of time.

    I realize that the name of my blog may look like a blog that is targetted towards readers who want to make money blogging, but that’s because it is targetted towards that. :)

  11. says

    I don’t know if you have a recent post about this problem. Today I noticed that my PR went down from 3 to 0.
    I post for many “pay per post” sites. Do you think pay per post sites will understand that my PR went down because of them and will give me more jobs?
    It worries me that they could think PR is so relevant and just stop paying sites that went down.


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