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Paid Links – The Solution

December 29th, 2007 · 22 Comments

Google Spam Cop Badge - Licence To Slap

The season of goodwill is officially over. It’s all kicked off again about that thorny subject for web publishers – paid links.

Just in case you’ve missed it, it started with Ted Murphy revealing that Google Spam Cop, Matt Cutts, had insisted that ALL links within a sponsored post should be no-followedregardless of whether they are required, not required or even link to the advertiser paying for the post“. Andy Beard picked up on this and wrote one of the best articles about the subject that I’ve read and Rob over at Yack Yack has weighed in with some interesting views on the subject.

So how can you spread a little link love without getting your rump slapped by Mr Cutts and still make a few dollars on the side?

  1. Write your sponsored post with all links within the body content no-followed. Clearly mark your post as being sponsored so that nobody is in any doubt that you received a financial reward for writing the post.
  2. Compose a follow up post that references post #1 and that includes links to your sponsor and everyone else mentioned in the original post but this time without a link condom. After all, you’re not being paid to write post #2 are you so there’s no reason to no-follow your links, is there?

Correct me if I’m wrong but that still keeps within the Google guidelines doesn’t it?

Tags: Search Marketing

22 responses so far ↓

  • rob // Dec 29, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Hehe isn’t that similar to what techcrunch etc were doing up until recently?

    I liken links and their acquisition to that favourite Jam track of mine…’going underground’

    Dear Mr blogger, I saw your excellent post on widgets, I was wondering whether you’d be interested in putting a link to my site on the words kw kw in your closing paragraph. I’ll pay you $20 and $10 dollars for a few more on your other posts if you are interested. Of course, if you took up the offer I’d expect you to keep quiet about it. Cheers – Evelyn Kinsella

  • Mike // Dec 29, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    I see you’re in on a Saturday night too, Rob :( We need to get out a bit more! I wonder if Evelyn is free? Mind you she’ll probably be skint buying all those widget links 😉

  • Andy Beard // Dec 29, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    “This is a sponsored post

    In my next post I am going to talk about this company [nofollow link] and will write a full review, but if you feel like just clicking through before reading a full editorial review, please be my guest.
    Obviously all links in the followup review will be without nofollow”

    Seems like that is a good 50 words

  • rob // Dec 29, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    Haha yeah ur right I should be out and about, although a hard day at my dads with the kids and their cousins and nephews and whatnot dictates otherwise,a rest with a glass of martell and an seo blog or two is more than welcome (christ how sad!!!) 😉

    Evelyn..I have her number, I’ll pm it across 😉

  • Mike // Dec 29, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Magic. You see? There’s a way around everything 😉

    Mind you, the whole thing, and your article in particular, has left me thinking about whether we going to regress back to where we were a few years ago where nobody linked out at all because they wanted to horde rank…

  • Mike // Dec 29, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    Rob – I’m onto the Kronenbourgs and finishing off the evening with my Jack Daniels chocolates I got for Christmas….Think I might need Evelyns number after all!

    Glad to see you back writing again, by the way.

  • SlightlyShadySEO // Dec 29, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Heh I like the 2nd idea, but I think even a condom there might be a “thin” (uhh..forgive the pun) defense.
    Google has a history of rather broadly interpreting their own TOS, and would probably say it violates the “spirit” of the rule.
    But hey, I’m hoping I’m wrong!

  • Andy Beard // Dec 29, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Well Google thinks people are buying links from me, whereas I feel they are paying almost entirely for my time (and getting it cheap)

  • Mike // Dec 29, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Shady – Nice to see you at Twenty Steps :) Yeah the problem is that the Google guidelines/TOS have more gaping holes than a naked handstand contest in a brothel. I guess it’s down to us to find ways around them 😉

    Andy – As I said in my rant..ahem..comment on your blog, there has been some friendly fire in this whole episode. Sadly there doesn’t seem to be any kind of common sense being applied here.

  • Chris Lodge // Dec 29, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    By Jove I think you’ve got it!!

    If people had told Google to go whistle the first time around, none of this would have happened. The more people do what they’re told, the worse it’s going to get.

  • Clickfire // Dec 30, 2007 at 12:12 am

    “All units! All Units! We have a sponsored post in progress…”

  • SlightlyShadySEO // Dec 30, 2007 at 1:20 am

    @Mike: I couldnt agree more. It’s just hard, because if they WANT to penalize, they will, using the “spirit of the rule” argument.
    So we need to find ways to do this in a way they can’t detect via their algo. And it’s damn hard to be one step ahead of their algorithm. Not impossible though. Just hard.

  • SEO Image // Dec 30, 2007 at 1:47 am

    The simple fact of the matter is that Link Popularity does NOT equal relevance! Hence the solution…

  • Chris Estes // Dec 30, 2007 at 2:52 am

    Interesting solution. I imagine that sponsored post is just a fad that is being squashed. One thing about fads is that they go on. Just imagine that suit that gets worn for 20 years and then comes back into style. If you keep doing sponsored post it will eventually make you look bad. I myself am a fan of the post by Gary Conn about sponsored post

    Granted I don’t necessarily agree with the way he put most of the article. It is an interesting post.

  • RT Cunningham // Dec 30, 2007 at 3:04 am

    There’s an even simpler solution. Don’t write a sponsored post like a sponsored post and don’t identify it as such. A sitewide disclosure covers it and if it looks like the rest of your posts, then Google can’t be any wiser about it.

  • Ted Murphy // Dec 30, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    My repsonse to Matt Cutts here:

  • Mike // Dec 30, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Chris Lodge – By Jove? Not heard that in a while. How terribly, terribly British 😀 Oh and thanks for the Stumble too.

    Clickfire – I wonder if that alarm sounds in the Plex every time someone writes the words “PayPerPost”…

    Shady – And then it all starts to get messy. That’s the problem. I don’t want to have to find ways around anything just to make a few dollars on my sites. I want to keep within the guidelines but it just feels that this one is not, as is repeatedly suggested, about the quality of the SERPs…

    SEO Image – And this is where it all gets a bit grey with Google as to what is a sponsored post and what is a link designed to manipulate the SERPs.

    Chris Estes – Thanks for the link to the post. I’d not read that before. Like you, I’m not sure I necessarily agree with everything Gary has written but I can see the angle he’s taking. One thing I certainly disagree with is that he seems to suggest AdSense is the way to go.

    RT – Yeah I think in a lot of ways that’s how things are going to evolve. Longer term I feel that G will change their algo and place less relevance on inbound links or at least change their scoring mechanism using different factors.

    Ted – Thanks for posting the link to the latest response. Matt’s replies in the comments section didn’t really do a lot for me, to be honest. You?

  • Mike // Dec 30, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    Just in case anyone has missed it, Graywolf covers the subject over at his place and, as ever, has some pretty forthright opinions. Gotta love him 😀

  • Ted Murphy // Dec 31, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    Matt didn’t really seem to address any of the issues raised.

  • Mike // Dec 31, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Which is pretty much par for the course, I’m afraid…


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