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Just got accused of Breach of Contract!
for using nofollow tags on links
microcars




msg:3446806
 10:59 pm on Sep 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Several months ago I was approached by, a rather reputable name brand group related thematically to one of my sites and agreed to a few paid links on the main page.

This particular site is not monetized, it exists for other reasons, but I figured I would try an experiment.

So back in January, they send me a Word doc contract that I have to "sign" and I send it back and they pay me.

so all is good.

Then I started reading discussions about using the "nofollow" tag here (I forget when) and decide to use it on a huge page of links that are there for reference, not for advertising.

so all is good.

Then I decide to add the nofollow tags to these paid links that are on the main page.
Contract says links can't be in Frames or encased in Javascript.
Contract says nothing about tags on links. (that includes color, font etc....)

So I JUST got an email from the once a quarter person that I contact about payment saying that these nofollow tags need to be removed!
"This needs to be removed as per our initial agreement"

but the initial agreement says nothing about this.

"you are the first to place a nofollow tag"

am I the first? Does no one else use a nofollow tag on paid links (unless contractual obligations say otherwise...)

Did I cross a line by including the nofollow tags?
Can't I do what I want with my source code? (within contractual obligations....)

I did tell them that if they included that in the next renewal contract I would probably agree to renew, but that currently I am bound by our existing contract.

am I just being a PITA for no reason?

 

buckworks




msg:3446814
 11:05 pm on Sep 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

PITA

Yes.

If you add a nofollow that was never discussed before, that is a substantive change that would significantly reduce the benefit they'd receive from that link.

Have you reduced your price accordingly?

D_Blackwell




msg:3446823
 11:17 pm on Sep 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

"you are the first to place a nofollow tag"

LOL - You probably are, and they'll surely be adding a line to the contract. But nofollow is a bad deal for them. An honest mistake on your part, but look at it from their view and it's pretty obvious.

reprint




msg:3446919
 1:20 am on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Breach of contract might be a little strong but I would remove the nofollow tags. You want to preserve your relationship with them, right? It would be good business to notify them in advance of any changes like that.

As an aside, wouldn't google want those links to be nofollow? Not that google runs everyones website but I seem to remember that was their preference.

jomaxx




msg:3447004
 4:44 am on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Does the contract explicitly say you CAN use "rel=nofollow"? That does change the nature of the links quite significantly (obviously), so if the contract is silent on the matter, I would either settle it amicably or offer them the balance of their money back.

PoohBear88




msg:3447005
 4:47 am on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Clearly not a breach in contract. They're probably just demanding it be removed because, yes, you're different for doing that. Paid link's main purpose is so that search engines can follow it to their site from yours.

I would just remove the nofollow and tell them sorry.

amznVibe




msg:3447009
 4:56 am on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

This story sounds very familiar to a big blogger that had the same problem with a similar ad service. He refused to remove the nofollow since it didn't appear in the original clauses and they terminated his account (though finally paying for the last month).

[edited by: amznVibe at 4:57 am (utc) on Sep. 11, 2007]

vincevincevince




msg:3447028
 5:15 am on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Remind your client that if you forward their correspondance to Google it won't be only the power of your link which is lost, but the inbound power of all their other purchased links once the site gets a manual review.

I've been nofollow'ing paid links for some time, although in my case I cloak to only serve nofollow to GoogleBot. Unless someone has purchased a link explicitly for SEO benefit then they cannot expect to get it.

buckworks




msg:3447032
 5:26 am on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

cloak to only serve nofollow to GoogleBot

In other words, you're deceiving the link buyers about the nature of the link you're providing for them.

vincevincevince




msg:3447040
 5:55 am on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

In other words, you're deceiving the link buyers about the nature of the link you're providing for them.

Not at all. A link is a link, nofollow or not. Request a link, get a link. If you want me to fly in the face of recommended practice and risk penalising my site, you'd best request it and pay much more accordingly.

simey




msg:3447053
 6:30 am on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Not at all. A link is a link, nofollow or not.

If that's so, why cloak at all? (rhetorical question)

If you are using cloaking to deceive google, or to deceive a client, still deceit in my book..

vincevincevince




msg:3447067
 6:44 am on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Honestly, I don't want to be discriminated against for the use of nofollow by unethical link purchasers who are relying upon webmasters being uneducated about the need to add nofollow. That, and I don't hang out my search engine instructions to anyone but search engines.

To me, if you request to purchase a link because "you believe my visitors will find your site interesting" then that's all you're going to get exposure to - my visitors... not my Page Rank. Not a single paid link I've been involved with has been requested "to benefit from your Page Rank and improve my search engine rankings", and not a single paid link I've been involved with has paid nearly enough to compensate me for risking having my site penalised.

Tastatura




msg:3447073
 6:49 am on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)


Have you reduced your price accordingly?

...and risk penalising my site, you'd best request it and pay much more accordingly.

emphasis by me

:)))) Interesting difference in view points on same "situation". I guess it really matters how prospective changes if you look at it as link buyer versus link seller. By the way I think both are valid points, but this discussion really brings to light that both link buyers and sellers have to work thinks out in advance.

For the record, I don't have no follow on any of my outbound links, however I value inbound links even if they have no follow on them - what I mean is that I value traffic they bring. There is a reference to my site from wikipedia, and although it has no follow on the link, it brings a lot of traffic and I sure like it (once traffic is there it's on me to covert it ;) ...)

Also for the record ( :) ) , I don't think we as webmasters should be doing 'link type discovery' for the SEs.
However, current 'rules' being as they are, and since we can't change them, we should adapt - hey we can charge more for the same link ;)

simey




msg:3447077
 6:54 am on Sep 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

and not a single paid link I've been involved with has paid nearly enough to compensate me for risking having my site penalised

Well, you're the one who sets the price of the link.

I agree that you have the right to link however you want.
I would say there are only 2 possible benefits of buying a link:

1)increase of traffic
2)increase in SERPS (along with a possible risk to SERPS as well!)

So if one of these is not possible? Maybe explain that to your customers?

jomaxx




msg:3448062
 1:25 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Congratulations on putting one over on your paying customers there Vince. You should be proud.

Marcia




msg:3448079
 1:47 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>putting one over on your paying customers there Vince

Vince put nothing over on anyone. A contract has two parts

1)An offer, and
2)An acceptance.

The offer:

1) The offer: they offered to pay for a link for traffic because visitors would be interested
2) The acceptance: that's exactly what Vince agreed to - a link for traffic.

They didn't offer to pay for PR or ranking benefits, and neither was that agreed to - since that wasn't the offer. Assuming an implied, unmentioned condition isn't part of any agreement.

digitalghost




msg:3448090
 2:01 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>A link is a link, nofollow or not

Really?

What if I ran the font size down? Changed the color? Moved the paid links to the footer? Instead of the sidebar? Gave the other links gold stars?

C'mon. Sorry, sounds like you look for ways to break contracts rather than honor them. Visit a site, see links, offer to pay for a link and find the link you payed for different than the other links on the site?

Yep. That's why lawyers get rich writing contracts. To keep petty #*$! like that from happening.

jomaxx




msg:3448138
 3:39 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Marcia, the fact that it requires such a legalistic interpretation of the contract wording in order to support Vince's position is exactly why he's in the wrong.

Customers should understand what they're getting, and they should get it. If you're in business, it's your job to make sure both of these things happen. Smirking over the fact that you're conning your customers and they don't even know it is not very professional.

vincevincevince




msg:3448168
 4:18 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

jomaxx, whilst I appreciate your viewpoint, it is the link buyers who are relying upon webmasters not knowing that they need to add nofollow who are doing the conning. If nofollow makes such a major difference to the value of a link, isn't it one of the first things that a buyer should specify?

Why don't link buyers request that links don't have a nofollow added? I suggest it is because it would risk uninformed webmasters finding out about nofollow and realising that it is actually something they need to have on paid links; that is, trading upon ignorance and risking the future income and/or rankings of someone else by allowing him to enter into this kind of dangerous arrangement whilst ill-informed.

Perhaps those who purchase links and who don't specify whether it may have a 'nofollow' tag applied can explain why they don't specify such an important thing?

Marcia




msg:3448176
 4:43 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>such a legalistic interpretation

That isn't a legalistic interpretation at all, it's the very barebones basic of what a contract is.

Vince is 100% right, there's a whole link buyers' market out there preying on the ignorance of vulnerable people who just don't know any better. They're the deceivers: if they want to buy links for rankings & PR, why don't they say so up front instead of claiming to want the links for "traffic" from interested visitors.

Bottom line: when you want to call the dog over, don't say, "Come here, cat!"

andyll




msg:3448189
 4:51 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Marcia, the fact that it requires such a legalistic interpretation of the contract wording in order to support Vince's position is exactly why he's in the wrong.

Actually the fact that he feels he has to hide it tells the story.

digitalghost




msg:3448207
 5:09 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just a thought, oh I don't know, maybe it's too on the up and up for people that use nofollow, but here it is:

If you don't want to give them a straight link, don't take their goddamn money!

I know if it were my algo and I wanted to get rid of a bunch of silly SEO'd sites the first thing I'd do is drop every page that had nofollow in it from the index.

Nope, I don't like your site, but since you paid me I'll link to it? What kind of twisted, shortsighted BS is that? How will that help search quality? How does nofollow do anything other than flag SEO'd sites?

Marcia




msg:3448210
 5:23 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>Actually the fact that he feels he has to hide it tells the story.

The "nofollow" and the fact that the pages are being cloaked for Google are two different things. However, if the buyer wanted to buy linkpop & PR, why did they "cloak" their request in the guise of wanting traffic? Is "targeted visitors" some kind of a secret password in the link biz?

I know someone must be asking themselves at this point, "Is there really honor to be found within a den of thieves?"

[edited by: Marcia at 5:25 am (utc) on Sep. 12, 2007]

eljefe3




msg:3448218
 5:38 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Vince,

Do you specifically state that your links will be nofollow? I bet you don't since you cloak for your paying link buyers. Seems pretty unethical to me. Why don't you not cloak for the link buyers and see how many still want to buy links from you?

jomaxx




msg:3448219
 5:42 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure I agree with the characterization of who's trying to con who, but without more detailed information there's no point trying to pursue that.

But I wonder, aren't you putting yourself at even greater risk? What happens if Google finds out you're cloaking in this way? Even though you're not actually changing the content the end user would see, it's not an area I'd personally care to toy with.

willybfriendly




msg:3448225
 5:51 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, this is about the most brutal thread I have ever witnessed on WebmasterWorld! And almost all senior members or moderators to boot.

This - "they need to add nofollow" - is a crock.

it represents G's redefining of the original purpose of the nofollow tag.

Remember back when we were so happy that the SE's had come together to create a proprietary tag that would help control blog spam?

My, my, how things change.

G talks about abuse of paid links. What about abuse of proprietary tags? (I hear EFV coming to post in G's defense right about now.)

G gave links value beyond simple traffic. The law of unintended consequences. The resulting game of cat and mouse is not going to be controlled through bullying or snitching. That will simply create a new set of unintended consequences - and collateral damage.

Vince, is it really necessary to worship at the alter of G's mandates? What G says becomes what we "need" to do?

Let's see a standards body adopt the nofollow tag and define its proper use. Not G, but a neutral body with no dog in the race.

jeffposaka




msg:3448231
 6:05 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

If I bought a link and then saw it no follow'ed, I would be pretty pissed. Does anyone buy text links not having an expectation that it will help them in the serps?

simey




msg:3448232
 6:05 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I kind of think it's funny people are portraying link sellers as being vulnerable or taken advantage of.

If someone offers me $1000 for my house, and I accept, I wasn't 'conned', just stupid.

As for experience, the times I've received a unsolicited request asking me to sell them a link, they've just asked to buy a link, not specifying 'for traffic' 'for PR', for whatever'. And I would'nt care if they did.

Besides, there is a wide difference of opinion on what penalties (if any) are applied to those that sell no-nofollow links.

[edited by: simey at 6:20 am (utc) on Sep. 12, 2007]

vincevincevince




msg:3448247
 6:19 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, this is about the most brutal thread I have ever witnessed on WebmasterWorld!

I'd not normally keep participating in such a thread, but it seems to be an important issue which should be discussed.

If someone offers me $1000 for my house, and I accept, I wasn't 'conned', just stupid.

If someone offers me $10 for parking in my drive, and I accept only to find that he's parking a sewerage tanker, I was 'conned'. The negative implications of selling links can be very much greater than what an uninformed webmaster might expect.

The issue goes both ways. I might be misleading a link buyer, but in as much as I am, the link buyer who is purchasing for SEO benefit is well informed about the effect of rel="nofollow" and is deciding not to specify its absence with his eyes wide open.

I'll ask again: Can any link purchaser who doesn't specify, up front, that rel="nofollow" isn't present explain, honestly, why they miss out such an important point?

andyll




msg:3448249
 6:35 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

The "nofollow" and the fact that the pages are being cloaked for Google are two different things. However, if the buyer wanted to buy linkpop & PR, why did they "cloak" their request in the guise of wanting traffic? Is "targeted visitors" some kind of a secret password in the link biz?

1st) How do you know the buyer 'cloaked' their request. Maybe it was like the OPs link buyer (they requested no JS links so their intention was to get PR) Maybe the main goal was not PR passing but they reviewed previous or current external links on VVVs site and saw an added benefit in VVVs site because he didn't nofollow his links.

2nd) Whether or not it was their intention from the beginning... when it comes renewal time the decision will partly be made on what they 'think' or see that they are getting now.

3rd) If Google sees the cloaking they will likely take a closer look at the site being looked at.

I have no problem with nofollows. I plan sell advertising on my site next year and the agreement will specify that any advertising on my site is nofollow.

I have no intention of deceiving the people that pay me

I sell books & DVDs now. When I sell something I describe what I am selling, warts and all. I don't sell knockoff China DVD imports and then tell the buyer that they didn't specify originals when they complain.

Andy

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