Google introduced the Autolink feature in its new toolbar, which for now is being used to automatically link an address on a site to Google's map product, as well as linking package tracking numbers to delivery status, VIN numbers (US) to vehicle history, and publication ISBN numbers to Amazon.com listings.
Ok, from a user standpoint, those are all useful. But from a webmaster standpoint, that is tantamount to allowing Google to take over my site. Just like adware is usually installed on a user's system without the user's knowledge or permission, Google is essentially installing its links onto my site without my knowledge or permission. I spend a fair amount of time making sure that the outgoing links on my site are carefully placed where I want them to be. I know that visitors to my site will eventually leave my site, but my site is my site, and the control of what outgoing links are on my site should be mine and mine alone. I do not want a user to visit my site and see 10 links on a page that I never placed there. If the user is using Google's new toolbar, he or she may see any number of links on my page that I did not put there. (Caveat: I believe the links only appear when the user either hovers over a word on the page, or presses a button on the toolbar, or something like that. Still, the control of links on my page is in Google's hands, and not mine).
The old SEO line "Google owes webmasters nothing, and Google can do anything it wants with its search engine" comes to mind here. That is true, but when Google crosses the line and starts to mess with my sites, then that is another game. I say, if Google wants to place links on my site via its toolbar, then it should compensate me for using my valuable web space for its advertising. Who wants to bet that the big G won't be willing to do that?
If someone develops a way to block these Glinks (as I call them) from appearing on my site, I will instantly apply that blocking code to all my sites. And I will cry *foul* loudly and often about this topic.
Note: The combination of dental pain, painkillers, and Google adware prompted this rant. 🙂