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.
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