Tobold's Blog
Thursday, October 15, 2009
 
Search engine optimization via blogs

If you were wondering whether the recent FTC ruling on bloggers having to disclose material relationships wasn't unnecessary, I just received an offer making me think that maybe they are onto something. I received an invitation to make money for writing reviews of other websites who want to do something called SEO, search engine optimization. For the blogger the process is explained in a helpful little graph:


For the buyer the advantages are listed on the website:
Blog Reviews are the most effective way to increase your SEO rankings:

  • They look very natural to Google
  • You get a FULL PAGE with a FULL ARTICLE about the topic of your site
  • You get 3 links to your site with the keywords you want to your site
We understand you want those reviews for SEO - we don't talk about "honest reviews", we don't force bloggers to mention it's sponsored, etc... It's 100% clear to us you want those reviews for SEO
Apparently there is no such thing as bad publicity, businesses are willing to pay bloggers just for "natural looking" links to their website to increase Google page rank, regardless what the actual review says. So maybe it is good that the "we don't force bloggers to mention it's sponsored" part will become illegal December 1st.

P.S.: I hope you noticed my own little "search engine optimization" in this post: While you can see the name of the service on the image, I do not actually mention or link to it in the text, producing absolutely zero Google page rank for the site in question.
Comments:
You can also assume that even though they try and say that it doesn't really matter what the reviewer says, what the reviewer says will indeed matter. (I know confusing sentence)

Say you take this offer up and a website pays you to write a review. You then proceed to write a negative review. That website will never pay you again, because you wrote a negative review.

You as a blogger want more money so you begin to write good reviews to any websites that pay you. Seeing that you write good reviews more websites flock to you and pay you for your reviews because they know you'll give them a positive review.

So using this system it's in both the bloggers and buyers best interest to write positive reviews.
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Anyways this is yet another reason why disclosure is needed and should be required, not just encouraged.
 
"producing absolutely zero Google page rank for the site in question"
That little line made my day :)
 
But you did post text from their website that does help with search engine optimization advertising for their site.
 
Money, money, money. Am I the last true amateur in the Blogosphere?

I tell you it feels good to be clean!
 
Not that there's a good reason to include the link in this case, but... if you include the rel=nofollow parameter in your <A> tag, Google will not count your link in calculating the target's PageRank.
 
The first anonymous comment was made by me...Not sure why it didn't include my name. I did type it into the Name/URL box but whatever.
 
Very intresting - and very sneaky :o!

I guess its a good thing, its not really natural to go around doing that, but the tempation will always be there at the moment so maybe the illegal thing is the little authority check it needs.
 
Paying for links and references is actually forbidden by Google, so I'd imagine at some point they would catch on, and throw out sites that participate in this from their index. Banning by Google is pretty much like not existing online. Any business that actually pays for this crap service is jeopardizing their site, and any blogger that does this is selling out.
 
Eww that's slimy.

I'm pretty sure there are better, more effective, less slimy ways to SEO your blog if you so desire anyway.

I don't have a problem with the idea of optimizing... everyone likes readers... it's just that that's a sneaky, underhanded sort of way to do it.
 
"Paying for links and references is actually forbidden by Google, so I'd imagine at some point they would catch on, and throw out sites that participate in this from their index. Banning by Google is pretty much like not existing online. Any business that actually pays for this crap service is jeopardizing their site, and any blogger that does this is selling out."

But they got to keep that Super Swiffer Wetjet with articulated hoses and nozzle attachment. That's worth not existing.
 
You can also use the NOFOLLOW tag in the link when talking about another site but you don't want to give them any pagerank or SEO link juice.

I do this if I have to link to a site which is unrelated to gaming or World of Warcraft but still worth a mention as you can sometimes take a hit in your own ranking when you link out to non-relevant sites.
 
I had a look at their site. Part of their TOS includes:

"3. In the event of any legal dispute arising from the use of this Web Site, irrespective of the country of origin of any third party, all such disputes will be resolved within the jurisdiction of the country of incorporation of the Web Site's owner(s) and not the country in which the Web Site is hosted unless otherwise stated."

Their contact details and About Us don't give their country of origin so it's very likely they are not in a country where this activity will become illegal shortly and further that anyone signing up agrees that disputes should be resolved in their as-yet-undisclosed country.
 
I'm pretty sure that as long as the "endorsement" is visible to US consumers, and is for a product or service sold in the US, the FTC rules apply, regardless what any TOS say, or where the company is located.

Example: If you want to sell a car in California, it will need to comply with Californian emission standards, even if that car was built in Mexico by a Mexican company.
 
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