Findlaw Violating Google Guidelines (and Scamming Customers?)
Via Oilman, Findlaw, the largest legal website and lawyer referrer around is attempting to sell links to other law sites for $1000/month. The offer is quite shameless in how it explains and outlines how these links will benefit your site and improve search engine rankings.
The problem is that this is a clear violation of Google’s policy against search engine spam, and these links will almost certainly be devalued when reported. (Google’s top cop, Matt Cutts has already taken note and commented in the thread at oilman’s site, so it appears to already be a done deal).
So now it’s just a question of whether Findlaw will stick with the deal and deceptively sell these links that will no longer have any search engine rankings enhancement value.
Why are Paid Links a Bad Thing?
Links themselves are a key element of how the search engine algorithms rank sites. Links are like votes, and the sites with the most authority, or PageRank, have the most value, especially when topically related. So it would make sense that links from Findlaw would be extremely valuable to any site in the legal space.
However, a link that is paid for is not considered an honest and unbiased vote. Therefore, when discovered, either by the algorithm or manually, paid links are discounted by google and other search engines, and given no weight in rankings.
It will be interested to see what results from this, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some big legal players do pay the monthly link fees, and never realize that they are getting nothing for their money.