Follow along with my little Twitter trip, if you don’t mind, so that we can all see the progression of how these little tidbits and factoids came to light.
On February 9th (2 days ago), I tweeted the following:
Google busted! Techcrunch reveals Google used pay per post. Um, ok. But Goog punishes others that do same. tsk tsk. http://cli.gs/BHdygD
Following that link takes us to a Techcrunch article that busts Google for using a service that pays bloggers to post about them. This is exactly the same kind of thing Google has punished others for in the past, starting with resetting PayPerPost bloggers toolbar PageRank to zero back in late 2007. It’s all just a part of the whole “Don’t buy or sell links” war campaign that Google has been waging for so long now.
Needless to say, it was definitely interesting to see Google’s hand caught in that very same cookie jar that they warned others to stay out of. (Yeah I’m mixing metaphors here between war and cookies, but stay with me anyway, ok?)
Ok, back to the Twitter stream.
Today, my buddy Skitzzo tweeted this:
Google apologizes for using Pay Per Post tactics in Japan – http://cli.gs/a86mSu – Of course, the posts are still up w/ live followed links
Google Japan is running several promotional activities to let people know more about our products.
It turns out that using blogs on the part of the promotional activities violates Google’s search guidelines, so we have ended the promotion. We would like to apologize to the people concerned and to our users, and are making an effort to make our communications more transparent in order to prevent the recurrence of such an incident.
My, oh my. Right from the horse’s mouth folks.
Now, here’s the important part. If you get nothing else out of this post, at least get this.
If Google is unable to remember its own rules, and follow them accordingly, how the HECK can they expect ordinary folks – most of whom have never even HEARD of Google’s quality guidelines – to follow them?
See, that’s what’s wrong with rules. People have to be freaking AWARE of them first, UNDERSTAND them second, and REMEMBER them finally. Otherwise, they will break rules they probably don’t even know exist and get punished for innocently doing what they think is best for their sites.
This is why we balk at Google trying to PUNISH “rule-breakers”. Google has every right to discount links that it believes are not natural. But discounting a link and punishing a site owner are two different things. I believe this incident in which Google managed to violate its very own guidelines is proof that its thinking is backwards and should be reconsidered.
Google, really, you just can’t expect everyone in the universe who owns a web site to follow your rules. You’ve just proven that by not following your own rules.