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Normally, It’s a Good Thing to Get Featured on Techcrunch

SEO digest

Well, not this time.

New York-based advertising firm MediaWhiz, never one to worry about gray areas when it comes to advertising, has launched a new product today called InLinks.

It’s fairly straightforward - advertisers who want their sites associated with specific keywords simply buy ads. Links to those sites are then added to publishers' sites whenever those words pop up in content. These aren’t ghost links like Kontera and others include in content - they’re full blown links without any notation (like a nofollow) that they are advertisements, meant primarily for SEO juice.

I'm reminded, at times like these, of Brent Csutoras' crude, yet masterfully prescient words of wisdom on the subject of manipulative SEO & Social Media - Shut the @#$%! Up. If you're selling links, you want to be:

  • Known to only a few, high-paying customers (and their networks) who can effectively monetize the links you control
  • Advertising services or products publicly that are very different from what you actually offer
  • Invisible to Matt Cutts, whose personal focus on this topic is exceptional

I suspect that Google will be watching the program extremely carefully and the effectiveness of these links will be limited. The value in thinking about a story like this is to realize that had they stayed "under the radar" to a reasonable degree, they wouldn't be "outed" on TechCrunch. There are plenty of link sellers who do just that, and earn a lot of money staying off the grid. If your product directly conflicts with the goals of an organization like Google, it's probably wise to expect that (in typical New Jersey analogy fashion) their guys are gonna make sure you don't walk no more.

BTW - I could be wrong, but I think that the quote Arrington used by Cutts from the FTC and the UK Office of Public Sector Information only works if those organizations consider a link to necessarily be an endorsement, akin to an advertisement. I'm not sure, but I don't believe that's been upheld in a US court to date (will have to check with Sarah).

published @ December 3, 2008

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