With the “Are paid links evil” session at the San Jose SES in sight, it seems like the buying-links-discussion has started all over again during the past few weeks. Rand and Aaron both published great articles about buying links and the discussion seams to get hot again in other places -and in other languages- as well.
Last week’s SESSJ session has already been covered in a few places (thanks for that, those recaps are really useful for us home stayers), which should get this thing heated up again. I guess that, because buying links as a link building strategy still works, this discussion will remain to go on for a while. Great, I love this discussion, so there will be a lot of new blog posts about paid links during the next few weeks :)
Here’s something about paid links to think about:
- If link purchases have a positive ROI for a company, they’ll continue to make them. If they have a positive ROI, chances are good that they must also be serving the searcher effectively and thus, be good results for the engines. (Todd Friesen)
- Link Baiting, what Google’s suggest as link building strategy, is as egregious if not worse for relevancy than paid links – viral content of such an off-topic nature should not help your rankings and is more “polluting” than relevant paid links. (Greg Boser)
- Google often uses the example of the Yahoo! Directory as a place where paid links are acceptable, because these links get an ‘editorial review’. However, not only is Yahoo!’s directory filled with spammy sites, but the $299 reviewing fee is a recurring fee. What kind of editor needs an annual fee of almost 300 bucks to review a website?
- Matt Cutts states that the FTC has said that word of mouth marketing is like any other kind of marketing, and if you’re being paid to say something, you should disclose this to both people and machines. Do regular ads have hidden disclosure messages for the Yellow Pages? Should I disclose that the link has been disclosed to search engines as well?
- Both commercial and non-commercial queries exist on the web;
Commercial websites are NOT generally linked-to naturally;
Non-commercial websites are much more likely to entice natural links;
By eliminating paid links, Google will fill the top results for commercial queries with primarily non-commercial results;
Thus, when a searcher wishes to take a commercial action, the only relevant results will be the paid listings;
And, thus, searchers will be more likely to click on AdWords links, which earns Google money.
Not that I think that this theory is the truth, but it is a nice point of view.