You’d have to be pretty much living under a rock to not be aware of the latest Google update of the Link Schemes/Unnatural Links document.
Eric Ward, the Link Moses posted a thoughtful piece over at Search Engine Land, Understanding Google’s Latest Assault On Unnatural Links.
While there were many interesting elements to his post, Eric brought up a point that is a big point of frustration for me: MANY, I would even go as far as MOST companies, website owners, etc. are innocently clueless about these guidelines (e.g. implementing nofollow).
For those companies/websites who really have no clue and are simply posting an "earned placement" link - based on an established relationship (e.g. a sponsorship) - could potentially harm their company's Google standing from the cluelessness of not placing nofollows on certain links.
I can cite countless examples of site's innocently omitting nofollows...e.g. a local public radio station placing a sponsor image link on their site (that do not have nofollows)... so now all those sponsoring companies are going to get dinged? The public radio station site will be dinged? In MANY cases, the lack of nofollow is innocent. And in my opinion, why aren't some "paid" linking situations considered a deserved earned placement? Just because Google has defined this as a "paid link"? Not all paid links are equal.
Frustration #1: I think this Google ambiguous "wiggle room" leaves too many unsuspecting innocents open for penalties or punishment they didn't even do intentionally.
Frustration #2: Not every paid link should be treated equally. Some should be considered real "earned placements"... earned placement has been a historical foundation of holistic link building.
Frustration #3: Making these blanket guidelines to punish the offenders always causes an undeserved ripple affect to those executing best practice.
While I, too, applaud Google for trying to limit and/or stop the offenders, it makes me start to question why they continue to make organic placement more and more difficult. Maybe because Google is not just a search engine anymore.