What do you do if Google warns you about a violation of its paid links policy and you can’t find any such links on your web site? If you’re a small webmaster you might go to Google’s Webmaster Help forums and ask for help. But if you’re part of the website team at a major international publication, you might keep things in-house and deal with the problem quietly.
Unless you’re part of the Forbes.com website team, that is.
As Barry Schwartz first posted on Search Engine Roundtable, Forbes.com’s Denis Pinsky went to Google’s Webmaster Help forum to share the letter that Google sent after finding paid links on the magazine’s website. Pinsky asked readers,
Can someone help figure out what Links are in violation?
Well, yes, as it turns out, someone can. TechCrunch showed Pinsky that the “Resources” section of a page about E-business had several links that appear to be the subject of Google’s letter. Those links are followed and appear to be paid ads. TechCrunch also points out that it noticed Forbes removing these kinds of links across Forbes.com earlier this week … but apparently missing this page, if not others.
But what about Google? Is this the first time Google ever bothered to send Forbes such a warning? If so, what took so long? Forbes.com was one of the sites that lost toolbar PageRank in 2007 due to selling links, something that was still ongoing when Danny Sullivan wrote about it again in 2009. Maybe the better question is, What took Forbes so long to try removing all those links? And how soon will that list of … cough … “Resources” be removed from the E-business page?