We Will Pay For Links

Increasingly our clients are receiving emails asking if they would mind publishing a few “articles” or pages on their web site on behalf of a third party. The email usually starts:

“I’m interested in publishing some bespoke related content on yourwebsite.com on behalf of one of our clients. We’d pay up to £95 per month for up to three articles linked to from your homepage.”

So, what they want is a page/article which would be written by them, hosted as part of your site. The pages would be linked from your homepage, would be about insurance/finance or whatever and would usually carry a link or two outbound to some big company.

It would seem, on the face of it, to be a win-win situation, you get a bit of extra content and a monthly income and they get their links. So what’s it all about? Let’s look a little closer at this bizarre request.

To understand why they would request it you have to understand a little about how Google works. To try and put it simply, links “in” to a web site are treated as “votes” for that site. The more popular the site (i.e. higher ranked) that does the linking the more value the vote has. Google call this PageRank (See our PageRank article https://ziontech.wordpress.com/2009/10/05/pagerank-in-a-nutshell).

But… why these weird (unrelated) articles? Simple really, Google treats the vote as REALLY important if the page that has the link contextually matches the page it links to, if you follow me. So a link on a page about medals to a page about insurance is not worth as much as a link on a page about insurance linking to an insurance company site.

So, what do you care… if they are willing to pay cash for it? Well there are only two main concerns that you should have. Firstly by adding unrelated content to your site you are diluting your own content. This has two potential consequences 1) confusing your own visitors and 2) reducing the value of your own content to the search engines.

The other problem is potentially far more dangerous – Google explicitly outlaws the practice! To quote them:

“Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.”

See their guidelines here: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66736

There is a way round it though – we add a “Nofollow” attribute to the links which will block the search engines from passing page rank and protect you from any penalties. However I am almost certain that if you tell these guys that you will add a nofollow attribute to the links they won’t be interested anymore.

Bottom line is it’s your call – but is No.1 spot on Google for terms like “my great google result here” really worth risking for £95 a month?

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