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Paid Links Reap Big Dividends - annoy those on the straight and narrow



3:59 pm on May 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I google searched a phrase that is of interest to me.

Number one site has ten or so pages of relevant content but they are a bit player that isn't even in the business, and they own a bunch of other similar sites for other phrases. (Probably one of you guys, actually. No worries. I won't narc on you specifically, but I'm narcing on the general approach).

Hmmmm. Why is this site #1 in the industry?, I wondered.

It turns out they have 40,000 inbound links, way more than the companies in the industry who live and breath the keyphrase everyday.

So I check out the backlinks, and, lo and behold, every back link comes from their having sponsored wordpress, blogger, etc. templates and inserted "Sponsored by [Keyphrase with link to site]" in the sponsored templates.

Anybody who uses these templates implicitly creates a link to the site using the keyphrase.

Even a blog about cooking or pet gophers is linking to the site just because they use that template. And, the keyphrase is a financial term.

So, obviously, this is a paid links strategy, one I've heard about before.

But it's very disappointing to see how effective it is.

I try to steer clear of buying links and I just keep seeing it pay off big time for others.

It can't be too tough for Google to ignore or greatly discount a "Sponsored by [Keyphrase] link at the bottom of a footer in a template.

By not addressing this issue, by letting the link buyers win, Google sends the wrong signal to everybody else.

I know this has been covered time and time again in these forums, but I wanted to throw my two cents in to Google that you have to NOT let these schemes work, or else you NOT ONLY compromise your search results but you ALSO will be enticing tens of thousands of otherwise-legit webmasters over to the dark side.

I realize that many people on this site make good money from buying links and that some paid links are reasonably legitimate.

In fact, this particular site that I reverse engineered has some decent content -- they deserve to be in the Top Ten or Top Twenty. But #1? That's shameful. I realize it's a tough issue to solve, but there has to be some better way.


11:34 pm on May 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Getting our butt kicked are we? :)

There's nothing stopping the competitors from out white-hatting them. It can be done, it's just a pile of work. Paid links are tough to beat, but not like it's impossible. If the competitors aren't able to develop better and larger volumes of links or (more likely) is unwilling to pay the money for a good SEO who can do it for them, well, tough; that's free enterprise.

Google's algorithm produces pretty darn good results, despite the complaints of people that review the serps by hand then want the #1 out of 30 million results moved to number 12, and the number 3 site moved to #1.


2:16 am on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

dude, look at me, I white hat my sites, spend all my waking hours working on my sites, building quality useful content, getting links in a fair way not buying them...trying to do everything to guidlines and correct...

what did i get/ A Google penalty that knoked out 90% of my traffic and close to 1.5 years of hard work...

you know who is in the top ten for every competive keyword in my industry, people who all have the same exact checkouts and merchant accounts for all the same products, no content at all....

Google simply does not make sence sometimes, I do everything right and get a hardcore career ending penatly that just doesnt even make sence to me, meanwhile the sites that are all the same with no content and only bought links are on top...

Content and quality and good link stratagies vs, no content , duplicate same pages for all top 10 results and bought links

Guess who the loser in that war is....

HINT (it is me)


2:26 am on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

You may not be as "white hat" as you thought. As far as template links go, those are very "dry" links and not the best. Its not uncommon to see these, most forums in the world like back to their developers and many open source scripts do this and google doesn't look at it as "paid links". If someone found a way to pay someone to develop a commonly used template and got a link from it then more power to them - its not a paid link per say, just creative link baiting that works.

I wouldn't put so much faith in those links either. The serps are changing daily and there may be other reasons for shifts in traffic. Sometimes changing too much one way or another is all google needs to change your site or sometimes new competition comes in and dominates.

The best advice i can give is to remember that you're in business for yourself, not for google so don't rely upon google as your only means of achieving success. Be creative, think locally, define yourself and your products and then google will follow.


3:17 am on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Here's a previous thread on "sponsored links"


There's also an issue of links being hidden, so the end user won't know they're there. Plus, it takes being able to dig in and modify the templates to get rid of them if they are discovered.


3:54 am on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I agree with don't rely on Google, The problem is that the serps are really the only way to stay alive and Google supplies sites with like 75% of targetted traffic which in turn can me success or complete failure as an SEO....

But honestly, the less I care about G the better I feel,

and to be honest I feel 100% the best way to build a site nowadays is to simply create some great unique content for a niche and do a clever PR now and then and article distribution and give up on the hunt for links, let it happen on it's own...

Thats wat the SE's want and is the safest way to go...it will take much more time to move up in SERPS but it will also be the safest and best for long term security...HOWEVER even that I feel offers no reall security and to build upon security you need many other sites doing the same thing so if one drops it is not the end of the world...

and that requires perhaps more time, patience, stress and work than I think I have...

But my new plan in SEO is not to even look, think or dream of links anymore and just write and post to my sites and see where that gets me....

If i can get 10 sites pulling a grand a week this way, life is pretty good doing what I love with much less stress...

where I will find the time is another story...

I really feel my dream of doing SEO affiliate sales full time from home are slipping away though....


12:42 pm on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Affiliate sales? Oh. If you're doing affiliate sales (i.e. selling someone else's brand) then you have no need to build your brand - you only need to rank or otherwise bring in traffic. If a site gets burned, you should have 3 more waiting in the wings and move on. Affiliate stuff is about bringing in traffic and converting it, not clinging to 'your baby' of one site. I would think that you should be tied in to your domain for about $8 - the registration cost. Mind you, I'm not much of an affiliate.

You're playing by the wrong rules for the game you're in.

This isn't that difficult of a decision. Everyone knows it's about link building. And everyone knows paid links are working great now. You can either buy paid links and join the crowd, you can out white-hat them (it can be done, I do it in a competitive industry), or you can prove Darwin's theory and watch your business get eaten by people doing what it takes to rank.

For me I do white hat because I'm building a brand and want to lower the risk of getting nailed. Yes, that means more work but I get stability in exchange for that.


12:46 pm on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Affiliate sales is just like retailing, you have to ride the wave - both from consumer demand and the pittance search engines give you.

SEO is sometimes not even worth it for retailing in the sense that its all about getting the product out to the right people and if you have time to SEO that product you're probably missing the profitable "Wave" of first buyers.

The "slow getters" will be the value people shopping on absolute bargain basement prices and will break you :)

Luckily as an affiliate you're not eating the losses but i guess my point is you have to find those peaks on their way up and remember that google is probably ranking your product based upon those peaks as the search demand comes up.

Join a forum where you can discuss you products and build up a community - do squidoo lenses, write about them, build content - but not necessarily seo'd on your site but linking to it. Bait google back to you.

As an affiliate though google will always have creative ways of knowing that. Just keep that in the back of your mind when valuating where to put your money for the best ROI


1:04 pm on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I find it interesting how some site owners get personally solicited links using false pretenses to rank well.

However, I can also see why so many play black hat linking games because often your competitor does it and moves ahead of you in the serps in spite of your site being much better overall. I have seen some websites (monetized by ads or affiliates) rank well ahead of sites actually living and breathing the product and doing the product sales.

[edited by: trader at 1:36 pm (utc) on May 8, 2008]


1:34 pm on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

But honestly, the less I care about G the better I feel

Well said -- I too came to this conclusion several months back, and it was like getting a monkey off my back. I am completely convinced that Google purposely re-shuffles the deck periodically just to confuse everyone who believes that they have finally figured it out. That is to say, as soon as we THINK that we grasp what they are doing, they remind us that we don't know jacks**t. So many (if not most) siteowners remain in an almost constant state of frustration, at least in regards to Google (if not life in general!).

Google gives us the best advice -- build good unique content, use clean coding, and attract decent links. They need to add one other thing to that list -- forget about them.



4:41 pm on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

yeah, true that,

But I strongly disagree with affialte sites needing to be quick throw away sites...I beleive to make it as an affialte you must provide strong fat sites that will stand up the long term...I do agree that you need many to keep the boat afloat if one runs into problems...

But making fat trusted sites simply takes alot of work and alot of time to get them to make money and get traffic and pass the long term tests of the SERPS...

affialte sales for me are not as easy as just buying 10 domains and getting them up and making money... It takes me a year just to get a page of content up every day some articles for the pages distributed and the back links to start getting sales that at least pay for the site itself....

then another year or two to get the site to be trusted and set up for the long term...I wish it was as easy as buying some 8 dollar domains and making money...

also, as an affialte I try to brand my web resouce all the time...

Branding is still part of the affilate game...you wantt to be the information resource people go to when they are ready to purchase the product again and again...something that the merchants do not do...


8:27 pm on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Marcia, thanks for pointing out that thread. I agree with your comments in the thread.

Wheel, re getting butt kicked, this is a new domain for me. I'm doing fine in other places. Yeah, I will probably get my butt kicked in this new domain. It's the wild west and people are up to all sorts of stuff to rank. We'll see how I do by sticking to the basics.

I do think getting inbound links via white hat is the toughest part of SEO. I have to say I know a lot about SEO but white hat inbound links is something that is always a struggle.

As for ignoring Google and just focusing on your business, that seems pretty insane to me. Google is a channel like any other, and you have to master it as best you can. SEO simply broadens the world's view of what you have to offer. Unless you want to be invisible (or close to invisible) or don't need access to online customers, you have to do it. That's why everybody is here, after all.


9:10 pm on May 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Google advises us to build unique content, so I do that;
They say to validate our code, so I do that;
They want us to naturally attract links from like-minded sites, so I try to do that;
They ask that we use nofollow where appropriate, so I went through all my pages and did that;
They said a sitemap.xml would be useful to the googlebot, so I added one for each website;
They said that blackhat SEO techniques were unacceptable, so I avoid those kind of manipulations.

Beyond that, I don't obsess anymore, and if it's insane to not obsess, then so be it. Having faithfully followed their advice, if that does not get me the kind of ranking with them that I'd like, then it's out of my hands.



1:29 am on May 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I never said Ignore Google, I said not paying attention to them more or less is better for my SEO mindset and game plan...

The more you focus on your Google positions the more stake you take in it all, the more it stresses you and the more when you lose a position the more you hurt over it....

I think the best mindset is just to do things the right way for the long term and what you get from it is what you get from it...you should get solid Google targeted traffic and it should build monthly even if you do not have the top keyword in the first page, and with time it may natuarly get there and stay there cause things were done right, and it will get there without worring or constant stress over it....

I did good in Google without top rankings, just from natural traffic Google sent my way...and I am trying to go back to that way of thinking...Not saying screw you Google and taking my site out of it, just working on my site and not stressing over Google and getting what I get....

It seems a better way for my sanity....at the same time I am competive by nature and now that I had a taste I think I am really screwed into this new mindset....

and with the new minset perhaps any money I make in Google will be spent on a therapist as my rankings plumit like my newest site did :)


1:52 am on May 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

white hat inbound links is something that is always a struggle

What would those be? If I pay for a link from a website which provides me great convert-able traffic, and it also happens to benefit my website in the SERP's, is this white hat?

The problem with link assessment is that it, like everything else, is based on opinion. So what if one website decides to contact a webmaster to get a one way link, and another simply pays for it? It doesn't make any one tactic IMHO and more noble; it simply makes one business more business savvy, if they know where to buy their links and get a benefit from it.

However, it does confirm a few things - one of which is that Google is, and has always been, subject to skewed results because of its own algorithm.


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