Long ago Google said they wanted a democratic search model, one that could not be corrupted by money. And we all applauded a noble goal.
But Google committed to a ranking model that considers links to be valuable. And in our free market culture, value creates commerce, and a very strong marketplace for rank pushing links has grown up, much to the dismay of Google, whose algorithm can't distinguish between paid and natural links.
So, given that for years links have been bought and sold, and that every competitive market is 'polluted' with paid links, here are some questions regarding the pathway forward for Google.
How do you slow the impact of a head on collision between your democratic search philosophy and the market reality in which money talks?
How do your protect your core business from the ongoing technological failure?
How can you enlist the user base to do your dirty work (the stuff your algorithm was supposed to do automatically)?
How do you keep people from discovering the extent to which ranks are manually groomed?
Declare paid links black hat, and ask everyone to report anyone they find buying or selling links.
Google just did this to slow down the train wreck, protect their core ad business from a technological failure, scare us into doing their dirty work, and divert attention from their bandaid laden ranking catastrophe. All in the name of improving the search results.