Does Google hate PayPerPost?

Ted Murphy of PayPerPost has a post up about what appears to be another Google PageRank restructuring, which Ted says is specifically directed at PayPerPost — and posts from Andy Beard at WebProNews and PPP-using sites like Big Foot Marketing and (whose somewhat unsubtle real name is Make$ Money$) seem to confirm that PayPerPost users have seen their PageRank not just fall but drop to zero.

Is that fair? Ted and a small legion of PPP users clearly would argue that it isn’t. In fact, as TechCrunch’s Duncan Riley notes, Ted wants supporters to write to their Congressman to complain, and tries to make the case in his post that Google is just “defending their monopolistic stranglehold on search and online advertising,” and wants to put PayPerPost out of business because it’s an alternative to AdSense.

I wrote about this a little while ago, when Google used its PageRank hammer against a bunch of sites — including mine, which dropped a couple of ranks — for using paid links such as TextLinkAds. Some sites, such as the above-mentioned, have decided to bend to Google’s will and get rid of their paid posts and links. Others, such as John Chow’s money-making site, have decided that it’s worth more to them to sell ads than it is to be in Google’s index, which is an interesting choice.

The question remains: is Google just trying to maintain the purity of the search experience, so that people don’t get misled by paid posts? If so, that’s a fairly noble goal (PPP’s disclosure policy requires bloggers to say somewhere on their site that they use PayPerPost, but not on the individual post). Or is the search giant just concerned with others selling paid links because that’s competition for AdSense? If so, that’s not such a noble goal. And how do we tell the difference?

Terry “PoMo” Heaton says that he has no problem with Google stamping out the “evil” that is PayPerPost, and that he would rather have Google policing such behaviour than any government. I’m not sure I would go that far. And Tony Hung at Deep Jive Interests thinks that Google may actually be trying to send the webosphere a message that PageRank isn’t really that important.

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