A Simple Substitution

by ftcreadthis

Here was the question I posed to John Mueller of Google (via the forums) and the Google Quality Team (via the feedback channel in Google Help)…

Hi, thank you in advance for your help.

I am starting a new business and personal listing website where people and businesses can have profiles. My SEO guy says that we should have a feature where members can get “upgraded listings” with a thumbnail picture next to their listings if they link to their profile from their site.

I told him I think this would be against the Webmaster Guidelines. I don’t want to get in trouble with Google. Should these links be nofollowed? Or is this practice OK?

Thanks again. I appreciate everyone’s advice, but I would like to hear from a Google representative if possible as well. I really don’t want to get my site in trouble.

Parker

Now, with some simple substitution, it looks like this…

Hi, thank you in advance for your help.

I am starting a new business and personal listing website (Google+) where people and businesses can have profiles. My SEO guy says that we should have a feature where members can get “upgraded listings” (in Google Search) with a thumbnail picture next to their listings if they link to their profile from their site (Authorship Links).

I told him I think this would be against the Webmaster Guidelines. I don’t want to get in trouble with Google. Should these links be nofollowed? Or is this practice OK?

Thanks again. I appreciate everyone’s advice, but I would like to hear from a Google representative if possible as well. I really don’t want to get my site in trouble.

Parker

The Google Authorship program offers upgraded listings in Google in exchange for links pointing back to their Google+ Profile. Plain and Simple

So How Did the Google Reps Respond?

Exactly how you would expect. They said it was against Google’s quality guidelines.

John Mueller Stated:

Hi Parker

I’d strongly recommend not making PageRank-passing links to your site a requirement for any kind of interaction on your website. Links placed like that are generally not natural links, not the kind of links that our algorithms want to find. Past that, not all businesses or people have real websites, it seems like it would be a bit unfair to block them from being able to use your site to its fullest (and in turn, if they end up loving it, recommending it to their friends & business partners). By all means, make it easy for users to recommend and to link to your site, but don’t use that as a requirement.

Cheers
John

And the Google Quality Team Stated:

Google Search Quality Team
Jun 21
to me

Hi Parker,

Thank you for your email.

Links intended to manipulate search engine rankings are against Google’s
Quality Guidelines. These include link exchanges and paid links. For this
reason, we would discourage you from offering incentives on your site in
exchange for links.

For more information on link schemes, see this article:
http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356. Our
complete quality guidelines can be found here:

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769#3.

Sincerely,

The Google Search Quality Team

There You Have It

No questions about it, the Google Authorship campaign, as it is currently designed and implemented, is in direct violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

What Will Google Do?

Nothing. Even Matt Cutts isn’t strong enough to penalize Google+ for the largest link manipulation campaign in the history of the web. They essentially created an entire HTML standard in the process of building millions of links to their site.

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