This is the story of A Quandary. And it’s all Google’s fault.
You need links. You already buy as many links as you can from Google, but you are tired of paying that middleman so you look out onto the web to buy direct from web publishers. An attempt to disintermediate Google, if you will. Of course, since Google is THE search engine and the defacto source of referral traffic these days, it isn’t easy to eliminate the Google middleman. It can be dangerous. Piss off Google and, well, the links might not matter any more no matter what price you paid.
So you proxy your link buying, just as you proxy your domain registration. It’s nothing unusual. Lawyers (registered agents) and corporations (legal entities) have been serving as proxies for business people for as along as we have had business people. “Poyfickly leegull“, as my distant Uncle Vinnie used to say.
So now your proxied link buyer discovers a perfect place for a back link, and notices the web publisher is also behind a proxy. What to do?
Well, you could have your agent contact their agent, and negotiate a deal, whereby the destination website is revealed to the linking web site’s publisher. Eventually link seller knows only that someone has commissioned a link buy to a web property. It could have been the web publisher, but it could have really been anybody (even a competitor might want to encourage certain linking to take place). As for the link seller, all we really know is somehow someone somewhere encouraged the publisher to place a link to a site. It could have been outright payment for linking, or there could have been some lobbying behind the scenes. No one really knows unless they follow the money. And, of course, proxies make it difficult (expensive) to follow that money. I don’t know who Google’s premium partners are, because Google won’t tell me. It would be silly for them to share that info.
This link buying all works swimmingly except when the anonymous web publisher doesn’t answer the emails sent to the proxied whois address, and doesn’t provide a “contact us” form. It seems silly to me that a publisher would settle for $4/day in AdSense earnings for a ranking web page, when she could earn far more with a few back links. It also seems wrong that a web publisher would have incentives to “hide” behind unresponsive anonymous proxies, but clearly it is necessary given the unilateral, economically all-mighty power held by Google. But what about that follow the money aspect?
What if the money you pay to anonymous publishers for links is actually supporting child pornographers or terrorists or, perhaps even worse, liberals!? Come to think of it, how much Google AdSense revenue is flowing to child pornographers and terrorists and (gasp!) liberals?
Seriously. This is all so silly, and it is all a consequence of the largest and most successful web company in the world refusing to yield to innovation and the emerging competitive marketplace we call the Internet. Come on Google, you’ve made a fortune selling links and controlling referral traffic on the web. Web publishers have had enough. We need to move forward. If you say we need links, we have to be able to use our currency to get them. Markets set the relative values of the various currencies, not Google. The days when Google could claim “good will” as the Internet currency are long past. They were flooded out by all those millions in stock option redemptions. You took the cash — why can’t anyone else?