Last month, Jim Boykin wrote a great post about where he tries to determine where Google draws the paid links line. In the discussion at Sphinn, even Matt Cutts joined in to leave a comment, but he also wasn’t able to make the line clear. Well, after seeing something like this, it’s getting more and more clear to me that it’s not possible for Google to draw a line anywhere.
The paid link line (what’s a paid link and what isn’t) is so thin, that one single sentence could be enough to cross it. Notice that last line in the post at ProBlogger (“We’d love for comments to be as constructive, helpful and practical as possible. May the best comment win“)? This sentence could be interpreted as “write about this site at your blog and share your comments”, or as (what I think was intended) “leave a comment below in the comment section”. See the line here? Neither do I… Would that be paying for a review or is it just encouraging comments? On the other hand, if someone reviewed the website on his or her blog, but didn’t win the 5,000 visitors, would the link in the review still be a paid link? And what if Skellie offered 500 SU-visitors for the first ten people who drop a comment?
Although I think that it was Skellie’s intention to just simply request feedback, I’m sure that not everybody (like the first commenter) will see it this way. If even trained readers (yes, I consider online money making bloggers to be pretty Google-trained) can’t see the difference, how the heck is Google’s algorithm going to do this? Like others have said before, the paid links aren’t the problem, but it’s the algorithm that relies on them.