Want High Quality Editorial Links?

Dec 8th

Editorial links are...well, editorial links. Rand recently posted about how all the major search engines were in agreement that they would count links as votes from blog reviews bought through sites like ReviewMe:

Tim [Converse] answered first and said that Yahoo! wouldn't try to pick one post out of twenty or fifty on every blog that might be running advertorials or paid reviews just to stop link value from that particular post. If the engine looked at the site and saw that in general, the outgoing links were of high quality, there would be no discount of link value for paid blog material. Adam from Google agreed, but said little in particular. Vivek from Ask was quick to note that if the link were off-topic, Ask would be likely not to give that link much weight, but I pointed out that most advertisers would buy links from highly relevant blogs, not just for the search engine value, but because they wanted the qualified, relevant traffic from click-throughs as well as branding. Eytan from MSN agreed but didn't expand and when Tim Converse from Yahoo! jumped back in to say that it really wasn't worth an engine's time to going picking out paid links with that granularity, all the other panelists were vigorously head-nodding and verbally agreeing.

And when you think about it, some of the major search engines run automated ad networks and teach publishers to blend ads into the content. Is a blended ad more valuable to readers than an honest editorial review? Doubtful. And even Google tells you to submit your site to the Yahoo! Directory. Is a Yahoo! Directory editor going to do as much of an in depth review of a site as a blogger writing a whole page about it? Doubtful.

A blog which offers honest reviews isn't selling its authority / linkability / credibility any more than a blog which blends ads does. And if the editorial reviews are honest, I think they can be viewed as interactive ads...a type of advertising which adds value to the ads in more ways than you can count (conversation, buzz, branding, and feedback off the top of my head). And, to me, having one ad every few dozen posts looks much nicer than having ads front and center above the content on every page does.

And the review system is self correcting as well. If bloggers make bogus reviews they sell their credibility wholesale, and will lose readers and get flamed in their comments. If they make honest reviews then that is just another source of unique content.

Published: December 8, 2006

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Comments

Aaron
January 20, 2007 - 3:08am

Do these links actually work. I think links increase pr but at the end of the day all that matters is weather yr site ranks for selected keywords or not...Not its Pr

January 20, 2007 - 8:33am

Depends on what you mean by actually work... I have seen them bring in good feedback, drive sales, traffic, subscribers, and boost rankings, if that is what you mean.

December 8, 2006 - 11:23pm

What I have wondered is if the links from blogs could pay for themselves by increasing sales - not just for the search benefit.

I have a friend who makes ipod stuff and he sees big upticks in bottomline sales after a popular blog reviews his products. I imagine is would be the same even if the review is paid for...

Has reviewme ads resulted in more direct sales?

December 8, 2006 - 11:58pm

Right on, Aaron - it's nice to see a high-profile SEO talk honestly about the paid review industry instead of just trashing it...

December 9, 2006 - 12:03am

Hi Tim
The idea of ReviewMe (I was the one who came up with it) was for the ad to be able to pay for itself many different ways, and that if there was an SEO benefit that would be gravy.

Hi Preston
Since I have equity in a leading brand in that space it makes sense that I would not want to trash that business model. ;)

reesh
December 9, 2006 - 2:36am

I think ReviewMe.com is a brilliant business model that brings a lot of value to publishers and advertisers. I look forward to using it as an advertiser.

With regard to Tim's comments: posts by bloggers can most certainly do more than offer search engine benefits. I've had high-profile bloggers drop links to my sites that translated into a flood of traffic (and subsequent increase in sales). It all depends on the quality of the blog, and how well it's readers match an advertisers target demographic. One must choose their sponsored blog posts wisely.

December 9, 2006 - 3:44am

I was at the conference and heard those comments being made. I do think it needs to be clear that the density of paid posts versus non-paid was the key factor.

I don't have the exact quote in front of me, but Adam also said that sites that pay for links are probably getting less than their money's worth. In other words if they identify the link as paid -- it's value is being hammered by the search engines.

December 9, 2006 - 11:23am

The real key point in the session was that search engines cannot yet detect whether or not a post is being paid for. They don't scan blogs for those "key words" that suggest the post is paid. If you get a review on a high-quality & well-read blog, then those editorial links are going to count.

I hate it when I overestimate the search engines' abilities. But then again, I hate underestimating their abilities as well.

As for paid links not bringing an ROI, Adam was really referring to high-PR sites with a ton of "sponsored links" either in the footer or in the sidebar somewhere. When an advertiser pays some coin for that link on the high PR site that won't bring any traffic, "let's just say they're not getting their money worth." (and for the record, he said "money worth", not "money's worth", which i thought was also pretty amusing ;)

December 10, 2006 - 2:03pm

"And when you think about it, some of the major search engines run automated ad networks and teach publishers to blend ads into the content."

That really cemented the whole concept for me.

After all, for the SEs not value editorial would then be hypocritical.

And the whole process of paid-for reviews is self-correcting -- too gushing and fawning in your praise and get flamed. Be balanced and critical when appropriate and your authority will rise...

December 11, 2006 - 8:23am

Tim (and Aaron), you may notice that getting ReviewMe links is a good way to get the first links for a website. They'll be from an established, relevant website, from within the context and, hopefully, with the relevant anchor text.

Pretty much the same as general SEO and marketing benefit, but even better.

December 11, 2006 - 3:59pm

I don't think the search engines (or anyone else) would dismiss the concept of ReviewMe off hand.

Like so many other marketing techniques however, I think what makes people (and SEs) leery is the potential for abuse. The internet is the undisputed king of taking a good concept and exploiting it to the point of absurdity.

David
June 20, 2007 - 6:11pm

Been using ReviewMe and have been happy with the results! Recommend them as a scalable way to do linkbuilding (compare that to reaching out). And its easier to do than Diggbaits.

However, I think a disclosure is needed here: Aaron, aren't you an investor?

June 20, 2007 - 7:28pm

Hi David
I sold my stake a while back. On most of the posts I made about ReviewMe I put a disclaimer in them. I may have forgot on this post, but no longer have any equity in it.

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