Don’t let the title fool you – I’m not against buying links. In fact I buy them quite often for clients. However I am frustrated time and time again when searching for good links. I find a great site in which there is an opportunity to buy a paid link but am scared off for one reason or another. Here is a rant of sorts as I list several things that bug me regarding those who sell links.
1. Identifying Them As “Advertisements”
We all know that Google has waged war against paid links – those who buy them and those who sell them. So why make it easy for them to find them? If you sell links, you should identify them to your visitors as paid links. I’m certainly not promoting that you should be deceptive about that fact. However, you do not have to make it so easy for Google and other search engines to recognize them. Using the word “sponsors,” “paid links,” “advertisements,” and even, “text link ads” in html text is not the wisest way to go about it. How easy do you think it is for Google’s algorithm to detect these kinds of identifiers next to paid links? I would venture to say that it is probably one of the easiest giveaways.
What can be done to make sure you are identifying paid links to your visitors but not search engines? A very simple solution is to use a graphic in place of html text. Keep in mind however that even graphics can give away the fact that you are selling links. Make sure not to name the graphic file itself anything that would give away the fact that it is identifying a paid link and furthermore, don’t give it away in the alt attribute.
You would think that something so elementary would be a common practice but it is not. There are tons of great sites out there selling links but making it way too easy for Google to recognize that they are doing so. In fact, many of them go beyond this in identifying themselves as selling paid links which leads me into the second item that bugs me.
2. Placing Affiliate Advertisements for Text Link Brokers
The most common scenario where I see this occurring is with those who sell Text Link Ads. In order to attempt to earn some referral money, they place some kind of banner or button or even another text ad clearly identifying themselves as sellers of Text Link Ads. What they don’t understand is that this action will scare off many potential advertisers, myself included.
Just as it is easy for Google to detect sites that are selling links when they are clearly identifying them with html text, it is even easier for them to discover all of the sites that link back to Text Link Ads and question why. Is it really worth the referrals you might make when you are scaring away potential advertisers? Due to the fact that many of us believe that Google will diminish the value a site has in its ability to pass “link love” or “link juice” when they think the site is selling paid links, why make it so easy for them to identify you?
3. Selling Site Wide Links
It used to be that site-wide links were beneficial. However, that is no longer the case. You may get some benefit from the first, maybe even the second link but it is my belief that they will diminish after the initial link, especially when they exist in the same place on several pages of the site (i.e footer, navigation, etc.).
I can understand why selling site-wides is attractive to publishers. They are easy to implement – just place the links in an include file that every page calls for. The publisher may also believe they are able to get a higher price for site-wide links. However that is not always the case. Sites that have high PageRank and carry a lot of authority can actually make more money if they sell links one page at a time. There are also a number of link buyers that no longer see the value of buying site-wide links. They pass up these types of link buys in search for single page opportunities.
4. Putting Monetary Gain Over Relevancy
What does a link that points to an Online Poker site have in common with a blog dealing with computer technology? The answer is nothing and yet all too often I run across what would be a good link buy to find irrelevant links. It is up to the publisher to control the types of links they sell. Not only will the link be less effective, having links to sites that are completely irrelevant to yours may diminish the value of your site.
This is very likely another clue that makes it easy for Google to detect paid links. In a natural environment, a tech related site for example would not typically link to a Viagra site. When those selling links point to sites that have nothing in common with them, it is pretty much a dead giveaway that it is a paid link.
5. Not Implementing the Very Basic SEO Fundamentals
One of the easiest things anyone can do to help their sites rank better in the organic search results is to optimize title tags. If you run a software related blog, make sure the keyword “software” is included in the title tag. If your site deals with the latest in women’s fashion, make sure the phrase “women’s fashions” or even something like “latest women’s fashion trends” appears in the title tag. Sure there are other components of a web site that can be optimized but this one is so simple. And yet I can’t even tell you how many times I see it neglected when looking for good sites to buy links on.
Some of us that buy links wouldn’t mind getting some traffic out of them as well. When you have a great site that is optimized well, it will likely rank well and attract a lot of traffic. That traffic may click on the links people like me are buying. So we get the benefit of increasing our site’s link popularity as well as some traffic to boot.
Well there you have it – my short rant on things that bug me everytime I go searching for new links. I’ll leave you with one more but it is not necessarily related to publishers that sell links but rather blabber-mouths who tell the whole world about juicy link opportunities. Someone finds a great link opportunity such as on a high PageRank site or maybe even a .edu or .gov and instead of keeping it to themselves or even sharing it with a few friends, they publish it to the whole blogosphere so everyone can discover it, including Google engineers. Google has decided to wage war on those who buy and sell links. Therefore let’s not reveal our battle plan to the entire world. Let’s be a little craftier, a little wiser and whole lot quieter with regards to how we buy and sell links.
How about you the reader? Do you still see value in buying links? Do the same things I mentioned in this post scare you away? How about additional items which I did not touch on?