30 Jul 2008

How should Search Engines treat Paid Links?

Eric Enge did an excellent interview with Priyank Garge, the director of product management for Yahoo Search Technology (YST).

The interview was almost exlcusively centered around to topic of "links", and Eric did a great job of asking the right questions, and Priyank gave some great honest insights into his/Yahoo’s view on links.

Here’s what Priyank said about paid links:

There’s no black and white policy that makes sense in our mind for paid links. The principle remains value to the users. If a paid link is not valuable to the users, we will not want to give it value. Our algorithms are being organized for detecting value to users. We feel most of the time that paid links are less valuable to users than organic links.

If a paid link is not valuable to the users, we will not want to give it value. Our algorithms are being organized for detecting value to users. We feel most of the time that paid links are less valuable to users than organic links. But that’s not black and white, it is always a continuum. Yahoo continues to focus on the element of recognizing links that are valuable to users, building mechanisms in our algorithms that attenuate the signal and capture as much value from that link in context, rather than worrying about it being paid or unpaid.

Eric adds more of his thoughts and analysis on his SearchEngineWatch article called Google vs. Yahoo on Paid Links. It’s a must read.

Eric says there:

Yahoo appears to be taking a different route. As I read the comments by Garg, it seems that they focus more on the end user value of a link, whether it’s paid or not. To read between the lines a little bit, end user value is most likely being measured by the relevance and context of a link.

This saves Yahoo from fighting a difficult battle, a battle that has led some to say that there’s an arms race between Google and spammers. Certainly if this battle is inherently unwinnable, the Yahoo approach may be a pragmatic one.

It’s nice to see how Yahoo treats different types of links. The Yahoo method seems pretty reasonable.

Do you agree with how Yahoo acts towards links that may appear to be paid, or how Google acts towards links that might appear to be paid?