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Outing Paid Links Now a Regular Feature in New York Times

     
9:35 am on May 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Internet marketing experts say Teleflora, FTD, 1800Flowers.com and ProFlowers are trying to elevate their Web sites in search results with a strategy that violates Google’s guidelines.

The flower companies deny it. But all four have links on Web sites that are riddled with paid links, many of which include phrases like “mothers day flowers,” “mothers day arrangements” and “cheap mothers day flowers.”


[nytimes.com...]

[edited by: tedster at 3:23 pm (utc) on May 7, 2011]
[edit reason] I added the link [/edit]

2:59 pm on May 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I hate to say it, but if you have alot of money to spend on adwords, you probably have alot of employees to pay and your company's business model is working (Hence you are spending alot while making alot).
3:06 pm on May 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@Tedster

"in some cases other factors seem to be carrying the ranking almost completely."

What are these 'other factors'?
3:12 pm on May 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Well there was the recent Techcrunch artile with the Due Diligence guys again outing Milanoo.com...veddy interesting!
4:48 pm on May 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Yeah linkbuildr, I think the current Times article was simply suggested by a Digital Due Diligence PR flack to the author. I expect to see more along the same lines as DDD tries to get exposure.

Edited 'cause I apparrently used a word the system doesn't like.
6:48 pm on May 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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in some cases other factors seem to be carrying the ranking almost completely.


What are these 'other factors'?

If I knew for sure I would post about them. All I was trying to say there is that it seems clear that links are not nearly the major ranking component that they used to be, and that many people still assume.

It seems that pages with really strong on-page relevance signals for the query can outrank high backlinks, for instance - even high direct backlinks to that URL.
6:34 pm on May 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if this new story has any relationship to our discussion:

Facebook Busted in Clumsy Smear on Google

The social network secretly hired a PR firm to plant negative stories about the search giant, The Daily Beast's Dan Lyons reveals—a caper that is blowing up in their face, and escalating their war.

[thedailybeast.com...]
6:46 pm on May 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The whodonit for links is a much, much, much larger pool. Even About.com was hit so NYT has a vested interest
4:18 am on May 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I think that their branding clout is helping these leading florists in the algo and we have heard for a while that branding is important. Haven't these brands been on page 1 for most of the past 10 years? And how old are these low-quality links?

Unless their in-house SEOs have lost the plot or have outsourced linking to someone who outsourced it ad infinitum (it happens), I am more likely to suspect a competitor trying to harm them. For $700-1000 a month I can hire a full-time person in India (I get such spam).
6:57 am on May 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I laugh at this crap.

Would it not be funny if a flower company spent a few grand to buy all those links, and then send NYT a little tip on "paid" links LOL?

Who gives a toot if someone has paid links. GET OVER IT:

It could be a competitor trying to knock you down, or it could be the site owner trying to get better rankings. Either way, cry me a river, build a bridge, and get over it.

It's sad when a company as big as NYT becomes a whistle blower for 'paid' links and manipulation for search engine rankings. If you ask me, they are taking advantage and using this as a tactic to gain links themselves and rank for keywords!

My last words: Stop caring about rules search engines have. It is your website. If you give in to rules of a search engine, you have no balls, and you fail.
7:48 pm on May 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If you ask me, they are taking advantage and using this as a tactic to gain links themselves and rank for keywords!


Then you should commend them, no?

After all, they aren't doing it to make the world a better place. They are doing it to sell advertising space and get more subscribers, which is part of their business plan.

Who gives a toot if someone has paid links... Stop caring about rules search engines have.


Why?

If the people above you rank well because of paid links, and you DON'T have the funds to purchase links to improve your rankings, why shouldn't you report them?

It's not a moral issue. It's a business issue. It would be foolish financially NOT to report them.
2:27 am on May 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Yeah I'd be all for this article if I didn't believe that the NYT is just using this to knock down their competition and nothing more. They've been using very aggressive, litigious, shady practices just like this to increase their market share on the web as they get more desperate.

Some even believe old media like them were behind pushing Google towards Panda. After all, they benefitted the most.
3:36 am on May 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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They've been using very aggressive, litigious, shady practices just like this to increase their market share on the web as they get more desperate.


Well, good for them, I say. It IS a capitalist nation after all, and just like the rest of us, they are trying to make a buck off this whole internet thingy...
5:23 am on May 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Aren't all of those owned by United Online? I know at least FTD is, and I'm pretty sure teleflora is theirs too.

United Online has a history of deceptive advertising as far back as 2001 (with Juno), including federal charges which they settled. In 2007, 2008 and 2009 they were again federally investigated for misleading advertising among other things.

My point is that it should surprise nobody that a company with this type of track record is buying links. I'm not sure why the NY Times feels that's newsworthy imo.
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