Google Paid Links Debate Over Android Ion Phone Giveaway

Michael Gray of GrayWolf has postulated that by Google providing free Android Ion phones at Google I/O is actually a breach of their own paid links guideline.

Michael’s logic is that the phone (valued at approximately $400 – although sold on EBay for nearly $800) is a way of Google “paying” people to generate buzz and thus link to them.

google ion

Michael Gray: @dannysullivan seems like a double standard to me google gives free stuff & links are fine but on viralconversations.com I have to nofollow

Michael Gray: @dannysullivan I jumped thru all sorts of hoops getting Viralconversations.com google complaint and google breaks all those rules today

Michael Gray: @dannysullivan I specifically have to tell ppl to nofollow any links but google nope they dont have to follow those same rules

Michael Gray: @dannysullivan how hard would it have been to put a note with the phone enjoy the phone but please if you link to us use the nofollow tag

Then Michael redirected his wrath to Matt Cutts

Michael Gray: @mattcutts oh so google is judging paid links on intent now … google gonna borrow the term mind meld too to figure that out?

Michael Gray: @mattcutts srsly you cant have everybody else operate under one set of rules with gifts for links and not google #arrogance #aristocracy

Michael Gray: @mattcutts I thought google would have learned from buying links in japan guess not #googlebuyslinksbutyoucant

Matt Cutts: @graywolf google.com is the most-linked-to domain on the web. We don’t need links & aren’t looking for them. We’re looking for developers.

Michael Gray: @mattcutts and just because you dont need links doesnt mean you didnt give away cash in kind gifts to get them

Michael Gray: @mattcutts just remember when celebrities get caught shoplifting its still a crime #googlepaidlinksdoublestandard

Michael Gray: @mattcutts so when are you going to punish google.com for selling links the way you did google.jp or do they get a “bye”

Michael Gray: @mattcutts how hard would it have been to put a note here the phone for free if you link to us please use a nofollow tag #leadbyexample

Michael Gray: @mattcutts the ebay link is proof the gift has cash value or is a cash in kind gift #paysattentioninclass

Michael Gray: hey @mattcutts how those paid links for android.com working out how many of the 57K came from the free phones http://tinyurl.com/mk7mdx

Michael Gray: looks like those phones google gave away and turned into links to android.com have a cash in kind value of $760 http://tinyurl.com/kmy29u

This all started when Michael was recently arguing that TechCrunch should NoFollow the Sponsor links using http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/13/contenture-wants-to-fail-whale-your-ad-network/ as an example.

I was eating lunch with Matt Cutts & MG Siegler of TechCrunch along with Danny Sullivan so it presented the perfect opportunity to get to the bottom of Michael Gray’s concern.

matt cutts michael martin mg siegler

Michael Gray: @googleandblog good I hope @mattcutts mentioned this post too http://tinyurl.com/opkmun #sponsoredposts

MG stated he wasn’t aware of it and when Matt looked at the offending page he said he didn’t have an issue with it since it wasn’t within MG’s control.

Michael Gray: @googleandblog sorry I call BS its an advertorial

This whole time Danny was fighting back to stay out of the fray.

Andy Beard even chimed in with this post.

Do you think Michael Gray is getting carried away or does he have a point in either or both paid link concerns?

I was going to ask Sergey Brin about this but instead asked about his thoughts on Microsoft constantly changing search engine names as it relaunches officially at SMX Advanced in Seattle next week.

Danny Sullivan: @googleandblog asks sergey what he thinks, bing or kumo? sergey doesn’t answer but says “we been happy with google”

There was laughter throughout the room when Sergey responded that he is happy with the name Google which was picked up on several sites including TechCrunch.

sergey brin michael martin

I was invited to cover Google I/O since I run a popular Android site as Google’s Android platform for mobile devices was front and center at this Google Developer Conference.

At the conclusion I got on my flight home to San Diego with my Ion phone ready to present at SMX Advanced on Tuesday June 2nd, 2009 in Seattle representing Internet Marketing Inc – please come say hi if you are attending.

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