I believe it’s time for my first controversial blog post, because a topic has come up that I see so many people writing about, even here in comments, that it needs some exploration and conversation. There will be another controversial post after this one on a different topic; so much to talk about on a Sunday afternoon.

I wrote my post about blogrolls because I love looking at the blogrolls of other people, as well as having a few of my own. But it got integrated into another conversation about “dofollow”, “page rank”, et al. I don’t necessarily mind that, because it’s what’s on the minds of people, but it just seems like it deserves its own prominent spot on this blog, so here it is.

I love getting comments on my blog; who doesn’t? I’ve also wanted to grow the readership of my blog, for more than one reason. One, I’d like to make some money from my blog; I stated that, in my own way, with my very first post back last December. Two, I like to see that people enjoy my blog, or possibly hate the blog but just can’t stay away. I have always believed that we all should mainly write for ourselves, for the love of writing, but having people acknowledge your writing in some fashion is always pleasing. As a sidebar, I was at a health care conference last week, and at the registration desk I came upon a “fan”, who told me she’s been reading my blog, newsletter, and comments on a listserve that we’re both participants of for years, and once she knew I was coming she wanted to meet me to tell me how much she’s enjoyed my writings. There’s nothing better in the world than having someone not only recognize you in some fashion, but then tell you something nice like that; totally unexpected, and yet, lucky for me, it happens from time to time.

Anyway, I started getting a little bit of comment activity around April, but it was still fairly low. Then I was introduced to more WordPress plugins, and after adding the dofollow plugin and this became a dofollow blog, comments started to rise, especially after I also decided to add CommentLuv and joined Sire’s little F Group blogging community. That, plus expanding my own commenting on other people’s blogs, has really gotten things going for my blog.

However, the most controversial piece of this whole thing has been the dofollow/nofollow controversy. It basically encompasses two things. One, the conversation of page rank. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about this one, and ever since last year it’s been a hot topic, even on Matt Cutts blog, although he seems to always be right on the fringe of deciding how to answer the question everyone wants answered directly. Two, the conversation about paid links and Google penalties, and once again, Matt Cutts comes right to the edge without fully answering the specific question, but on this one he’s more the company man than on the other one. Let’s look at both issues in more depth.

All of us seem to scramble for Google page rank on one hand, then decry it on another. Let’s face this fact; ranks are ranks, and while none of them mean all that much in the long run, some seem more impressive than others, and can help us out in more ways than others. For instance, being a PR 0 or 7 doesn’t help me and this blog all that much because it’s a blog, with a wide range of topics, even if many are concentrated in a couple of areas. I’m much more impressed by page rank as it pertains to my business site because that’s the one I’ve worked on optimizing for specific keywords to generate offline business. I’m number one for quite a few search terms on that site, and yet it just dropped to a PR 3, after being PR 4 for at least 18 months. My traffic hasn’t dwindled, though, and my search terms are still at number one, with many others in the top 5, so what does that say about page rank overall?

Now, it’s possible that I’ve dropped page rank because at the same time I added dofollow to this blog, I added it to that blog, which is attached via subdomain, to my main site. However, I got slightly increased traffic for the site by adding the dofollow and CommentLuv plugins; do I want to give those up and possibly lose participation?

It’s actually the same question to ask for this blog. What’s the better “problem” to deal with; having more visitors and participation and worrying about page rank, or not having to worry about page rank and not having anyone reading my words? I checked my statistics on Google Analytics and the percentage of blog visitors that come here via Google is around 4.6%, which isn’t even half of the traffic I get from search engines, which is 9.6%. So, for this blog, my visitors are coming from other blogs most of the time; why worry about who’s finding me on Google searches at this time? If I can end up going the John Chow route, without directly attacking Google or flaunting any bad practices in their faces, and my traffic grows and I end up with more readers and purchasers, so much the better.

Which leads me to my second point, that being paid links. In reading Matt Cutts post on Selling Links That Pass Page Rank, the premise seems to be that it’s all on us individual bloggers or website owners to make sure that every advertisement that’s on our sites are set up as nofollow, as Google has a right to determine that paid links are there to help page rank only. I have some problems with this, as do others.

For one, having any paid links on one’s site is only for the purpose of making some money; we all know that having one way links doesn’t benefit us in any way except for either making some money or passing along information. Look at all the links in this post already; there’s more coming. Not a single one of these is a paid link, and not all of them link back into my blog; what algorithm is Google going to run to determine whether any of these links are paid or not? And no, I haven’t typed nofollow into any of these links, one because I don’t feel like it, but two, because Google themselves have acknowledged that it’s not that they don’t index nofollow links, just that if it’s there they won’t count them in their algorithms.

Therefore, Google’s expecting me to do their job for them; and that benefits me how? Oh yeah, that page rank thing again; well, I already talked about that. Now, am I selling space? I ask this question; is my having Text Links Ads any different than some blogs that have banner ads saying that people can pay to advertise there, or already have advertisers there? Matt Cutts said in one of his blog posts that Google doesn’t care about affiliate ads or whether they’re dofollow or nofollow; once again, how would they really know? Relevance is a red herring in this discussion.

For two (I’m never sure if one says “for two” or just “two”; does it matter?), just what is Adsense anyway? It’s paid text link ads that come from Google, and if you’ve ever checked (just right-click on a link, then go to Properties), you’ll see that every Adsense ad is a dofollow link; interesting. So, if Google is doing it for their advertisers, why are they so gung-ho to deny it to anyone else’s advertisers? Why? Because they can; just like the government, they’re the big dog, and big dogs don’t play by their own rules.

I wrote a comment a few days ago on someone else’s blog, I believe, that I also find it interesting that Google’s present ad partner, Yahoo, is allowing sidebar ads to run for this Text Link Ads company, and that company comes up number on if you use Yahoo search; seems these two big dog partners haven’t quite connected on a common philosophy as it regards paid links. And yes, Yahoo is also running Google’s Adsense these days, and of course it’s dofollow there also; what a dichotomy. Also, isn’t it troubling that Google can just erase a company from its search engines, which is supposed to be impartial? Try typing in Text Link Ads on Google; you’ll notice that the site itself doesn’t come up for even its name, but it’ll be listed as a topic of discussion on many other people’s sites. Hey, at one time in America, blacks weren’t considered as people either, but property; that’s a different conversation, though.

So, let’s ask some serious questions, and relate it to comments I’ve seen on this blog, other blogs, and many other articles I’ve read over the past couple of days. One, is Google really going to come after someone like me, who still has fewer than 2,000 physical visitors a month stopping by, just because: my blogroll, which is dofollow by default, shows up on every page, no matter how many links I put up; because I have a dofollow blog, which means every commenter who writes here gets some love from me; because I have two Text Link Ads that just started on my blog a couple of weeks ago, that’s going to net me less than $10 and is also “only” on my main page, but is also more than I’m going to earn from this blog from Adsense for the month?

Two, is my page rank going to overly suffer because of the same reasons I listed above? And, if it does, is that the end of my blog in the blogosphere?

Three, is fear really so rampant that people are afraid to try to do a few things here and there to improve their blogs, their monetary status, and their minds? Will fear suddenly make people scared to post here, or fearful of what they write and where they write? And, fear of Google, of all things? Does Google have a gun to your head? Sure, they’re the number one search engine, and I like Adsense just as much as many other people, but would that end my life on earth as I know it?

Four, have I done anything sneaky and below reproach? Have I done a single black hat SEO thing? Have a link farmed this site?

Five, and what about Naomi? Okay, just threw that in to lighten the mood a little bit and to see how many people actually remember it.

I know where many of you are going to stand on this issue, so I’ll ask the question this way, though you can still comment as you will. Realistically, just what is your main fear, and if it came to fruition, would it be the end of how you run your blog, or would you find another way? That’s all; I’m out!

State Line Tack

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