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Paying For Links


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#31 charity_guy

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 10:35 AM

Why I like paid links.

I have helped a couple of charities lately, they have been late getting into on-line fundraising for there cause or work they do. In an attempt to reduce the costs of fundraising, they stayed with other channels.

Paid links have allowed these worth while charities to increase there ranking in search engines to promote the work they do, and to solicit funds in an efficient way.

I have also encouraged adwords (overture or Yahoo Search marketing is not nearly as effecitve for the Canadian marketplace). But , charities dislike spending advertising dollars.

Paid links allowed these charities to increase their awareness to a similar level of the consumer "prompted awareness" outside of the internet. This is when you test with the marketplace for brand awareness. Search engine results should be similar to the full marketplace results.

When organisations are late to the game, paid links help achieve an equilibrium to the full marketplace. Why? If donors (users) do not click on the search results the search rank will diminish.

I have noticed that 2 unknown charities that achieved high ranks previously are pretty much gone now. In 6 months time, despite that they are still using paid links. The charities I have been helping are reducing the paid links and the search results are improving or at least staying the same.

I do suggest that if you have a favorite charity, that you create a link to their site from your site, that will help. That means develop the context and the appropriate link.

My thoughts today

#32 SearchRank

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 10:40 AM

Matt Cutts speaks his mind on text links and PageRank.

A few excerpts:

QUOTE
"Selling links muddies the quality of link-based reputation and makes it harder for many search engines (not just Google) to return relevant results. When the Berkeley college newspaper has six online gambling links (three casinos, two for poker, and one bingo) on its front page, it’s harder for search engines to know which links can be trusted."

"Google has a variety of algorithmic methods of detecting such links, and they work pretty well. But these links make it harder for Google (and other search engines) to determine how much to trust each link. A lot of effort is expended that could be otherwise be spent on improving core quality (relevance, coverage, freshness, etc.)."

"Reputable sites that sell links won’t have their search engine rankings or PageRank penalized–a search for [daily cal] would still return dailycal.org. However, link-selling sites can lose their ability to give reputation (e.g. PageRank and anchortext)."

"What if a site wants to buy links purely for visitor click traffic, to build buzz, or to support another site? In that situation, I would use the rel=”nofollow” attribute. The nofollow tag allows a site to add a link that abstains from being an editorial vote."


#33 Jill

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 10:42 AM

Here's a repost of what I posted at Threadwatch on this subject:

It's certainly understandable that Google would want to not count paid links in their link popularity formulas. Makes all the sense in the world, and I think it's important for them to try to do this.

BUT...

To expect the people buying them and the sites that are selling them to use the nofollow attribute, is utterly ridiculous.

I don't believe for one moment that Google or any engine is going to penalize Bob's Shoe Store because he allows Joe's Sock Store a small text link on his site for $35 a month.

If Google notices it and decides it shouldn't be counted toward link pop. then so be it, that's always a chance. But if Google actually decided to downgrade Bob's site itself, then Google would be sinking to a new low. (I really don't think this is their plan.)

Of course, sites that are buying and selling these things as a business model are fair game. That's a totally different story and I can see Google having to do what it has to do in that respect.

#34 SearchRank

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 10:57 AM

I think Google has to get better at determining where paid links diminish the quality of their results. In Matt's example of the Berkeley College newspaper that has six online gambling links, it is easy to see that these links are only there for the PR benefit (who knows though - college kids like to gamble).

It is a difficult task for sure because then there are the cross marketing links. For example - "disposable underwear on a travel related site". The clothing is not exactly related to travel itself but then again is is because if you travel, you might want to buy some of these disposable briefs to take on your trip.

This is the route they should take. Don't know if they will but IMO, Google has no right to tell us not to buy or sell text ads or how we go about doing that. As referenced earlier in this thread, Google started this game and now they want to take their ball and go home. That isn't right. Rather they need to learn how to play the game better so that text link ads can continue to be bought and sold without degrading the quality of Google's SERPs.

#35 mcanerin

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 03:53 PM

re:Self correction.

Let's say you are a search engine, and are looking at 2 pages. Each has content about skiing on it.

Each also has 30 links, with 10 of them external.

Page 1 has 8 of the 10 external links with anchor text related to terms and concepts that show up in similar pages about skiing (vacations, rentals, hotels, etc)

Page 2 has no external links with terms in them that match what is normally on pages about skiing. These terms could be porn, mortgages, and viagra, but could also be totally random or foriegn words.

Which page is more likely to be relevent? Do you care if the links are paid or not? Or do you just discount the external links on the page that seems to not be on-target?

From a computer program viewpoint, this is far more practical than trying to teach a computer every language in the world, along with all possible cultural references, and cross-linking it with standard marketing models. Just not gonna happen.

Just look at the words and links that normally occur on pages that are about a specific subject or keyword, and look for off-topic links that way.

Yes, that's the basics of term vector analysis, and what I'm getting at is that I suspect it's the way that Google is/will be dealing with this.

No proof, but it's easy to do, relatively accurate, and builds off their current algos.

Then all that would happen is that you don't count the words in a nofollow link towards the analysis. Simple and effective.

The end result would be that on-topic links would be counted and pass on PR, and off-topic links would not - it doesn't matter if they are paid, traded or free.

The only problem would be if the terms were related but not common - then you would not get PR from those links. But that's not a penalty, so I could probably live with it.

Just a theory - it's how *I* would consider doing it.

Ian

#36 clueless

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 06:18 PM

I think this is a pretty damaging road. I am certainly not in the camp that believes that SE's owe people anything. But the reality is that real and legitimate people necessarily depend upon them to a large extent. The paid links idea seems really to have come full circle. And it threatens to pervert the idea. I hate to keep belaboring this point - but flip through any reputable print publication and apply the same standard of relevance to those ads. The New Yorker advertising handmade wooden hottubs. The Wall Street Journal advertising fur coats. People are buying the "print pagerank" of publications like WSJ, National Geographic, Harpers or Playboy for that matter. It might be said that you shouldn't sacrifice your site to Google - but, for the sake of their algorithm, they seem (or at least Matt Cutts' post would suggest) they are taking on some pretty fundamental ideas here in an effort to preserve relevance. Apply that same idea to print. It doesn't work. It seems to come dangerously close to penalizing people for creating something appealing to the market. It is not the SE's job to mediate and regulate that. I think they need to do better - not make it strictly about people deceiving and scamming. Users will determine garbage sites and garbage linking.

#37 nedguy

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 02:06 AM

If as Mcanerin suggests, the holy grail is link relevancy (no relevancy, no value) presumably it'll drive everybody back to deep-linking.

EG.

QUOTE
Page 1 has 8 of the 10 external links with anchor text related to terms and concepts that show up in similar pages about skiing (vacations, rentals, hotels, etc)

Page 2 has no external links with terms in them that match what is normally on pages about skiing. 


GiantMassMarketTourOperator.com receives little relevancy from page No 1 because it links to their front page, which is littered with late offers for beach holidays right now. They would prefer it if page No 1 had linked to GiantMassMarket Tour Operator.com/Winter/chalets/Switzerland/Gstaad.html

NG

#38 tempy

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 05:12 AM

QUOTE(Jill @ Sep 1 2005, 12:44 PM)
Well, I don't think it's tacky or smelly!  It's good business, good marketing and good link building when done correctly. smile.gif
View Post



Well, I suppose it's the 'done correctly' bit that's the important bit. I think that they smell funny when they run across the bottom of the home page of a web site with no apparent reason.

I suppose buying links, in itself, is no better or worse than any other form of advertising. Albeit in the current interactive paradigm, there is the whole link popularity aspect.

I think that the main reason for my ambivelenace is that traditionall a link from one web site to another, is the sign of a recommendation a resource to be followed and researched. I suspect that the part of Google that still sees itself as a 'do no harm' project, also sees it in a similar fashion. Which is why their advertising is clearly labelled as such.

My objection is more personal than business related. I don't like newspaper or commercial advertising very much either, as it generally gets in the way of the user experience. But back in the real world... well everything goes. I use adwords, adsense and all sorts of other promotional techniques, as much as anyone else. It's not all about good content.

#39 Jill

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 08:57 AM

Tempy, your post made me think of something else...

In the real world, all advertising has to be labeled as such...in newspapers, magazines, etc. Even in search engines, the FTC has stated that paid results need to be clearly labeled.

I imagine that some day in the future, any link that is paid for on a site, as opposed to a real vote, will need to be labeled as such or be subject to whatever laws there are about that. Once they're labeled, the search engines will be able to distinguish them as well.

Seems like it will be really hard to enforce something like that though. Because what will be the distinguishing criteria of something that needs to be labeled. Will it be just an exchange of money? Is an exchange of links also considered advertising?

Should be interesting times as our little Internet starts to grow up!

#40 Scottie

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 09:28 AM

Personally, there are times when I find advertising to be more relevant and interesting than the content, regardless of whether it's online, print, or broadcast.

There is a local paper here that is low on content but long on ads, and I enjoy it. I like seeing what's on sale here and there and other tidbits of information from businesses.

I have a resource site that I refused to sell advertising on for a long time. I felt it was selling out. To my surprise, there were many people who thanked me for the ads when we added them... they thought they were interesting!

#41 tempy

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 10:32 AM

Indeed. I only buy computer magazines for the adverts. And local papers only exist for the advertising.

#42 Robert813

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Posted 03 October 2005 - 09:50 AM

I have been seeing some links for sale where the word "sponsors" or "Paid Advertising" on the page is a gif image linked to from another URL where as Google cannot identify it as a paid link. Obviously people are beginning to take precautions. Pretty clever!

#43 Jill

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Posted 03 October 2005 - 10:00 AM

Why would they care if Google saw it? I would think they just wouldn't use the word "sponsor" at all.

#44 Robert813

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Posted 03 October 2005 - 10:26 AM

As I am sure that you're aware Jill, rightly or wrongly, some people believe that Google identifies, or will soon be indentfying any links surrounding the word "sponsors" as bought links thus discrediting the links for any popularity or PR.

But they want their visitors to be able to identify them as "sponsors" of the site so they do not omitt the words completely. Just seemed pretty clever to me.

#45 Sleeve

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Posted 03 October 2005 - 04:33 PM

This post is huge and I don't have a lot of time to read all of it so I apologize if this is way of topic.

Our company website has a PR3 and shows a little over 1000 inbound links on yahoo! Most of them are from Link farms that have no real purpose other than to run ads for adsense. Very few are quality directory or related industry links.

Just last week I decided to take a $1000.00 budget and spread it around buying links at what others said were good quality paid directories. I was surprised to see how far $1000.00 went. I got links in 25 paid directories and several hundred free directories. (I guess this is good since the only other direcory I had experience with was Yahoo which is $299 to get in)

To know if its worth while to pay for links, this might be a great case study for you to follow. As I understand, google reindexes quarterly and the next fiscal quarter is getting close. What are the main things (beyond the obvious) that I should look for to determine if this has all been worthwhile?

Sleeve




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