How to: Out Yourself for Buying Links

Effective marketers leverage marketing channels.

Scammers & spammers ruin them for everyone else.

There is a long line of this on the web...

  • Email was personal, then it was easy to automate & done in bulk.
  • Guest books and blog comments were a way to add value, then they were sources of free links.
  • Links were a signal of relevancy, then they were bought and sold in bulk.

As people get burned the web as a whole gets more cynical. The scammers steal from the plates of honest folks as the web adjusts to a new level of cynicism...each round more cynical than the last. This is why you have to prove to people that they are going to get a 20x return when they buy from you, because a half-dozen scammers already ripped them off, and by the time they find you they simply have no trust in internet marketers (and perhaps none for humanity).

This is why people view SEO as a scam like anything else in marketing...most people who jump online get hosed.

Sometimes cost protects a channel. For instance, since people have to pay to be a member of our forums we don't really have to deal with spam in there. But as far as media formats go, things that start off as expensive can often be made cheaper through systemization & outsourcing ... so any given format that was once too expensive to do poorly eventually becomes accessible to do in bulk with marginal quality (blogs can be autogenerated, so can books, video is getting cheaper, and infographics can be done cheaply if you are not concerned with quality).

The thing about infographic promotions is that they are easy to like...part of what makes the media so appealing is the great lengths they go to in order to find new, innovative, and interesting ways to format content. Years of learning go into creating a graphic like this - which can be consumed in 5 minutes. But any interesting format gets used then abused.

Are most infographics created by independent webmasters designed for promotional purposes? Absolutely. They cost thousands of dollars to create (in terms of research, editing, formating & promotion) especially if you do good ones.

The big issue with any format is not the format itself, but pollution in the marketplace. Pollution leads to cynicism, which destroys the market for EVERYBODY who is not the bulk spammer churning out trash.

Not too long ago there was an IamA thread on Reddit highlighting how infographic promotions work & making them seem seedy. That led to an infographic being created about how off-topic infographics are being used to promote sites of marginal quality.

What did the guilty parties do in response? They not only didn't stop or change strategy, but they increased their volume and started offering to pay people to syndicate their infographics.

I know you’re really busy, so I will try to make this quick and painless. My name is Sarah and I work with a company that creates and distributes infographics. I was wondering if you’d like to be part of our infographic distribution list. We are willing to pay you for every infographic you post.

Here are a couple examples of the work we do:

We would love to provide you with content while paying you for it. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions. I hope to hear from you soon!


What does Super Mario Bros. have to do with Home Owners Insurance? It's an easy way to buy links. But likely one that won't last long given that these people are killing the medium with irrelevant trash.

Published: September 27, 2010 by Aaron Wall in marketing


September 27, 2010 - 5:06pm

That is an awesome video! I'm a bit surprised to see you outing sketchy links though ...

September 27, 2010 - 5:15pm

They outed themselves. I am simply highlighting how stupid, shortsighted, and harmful their greed is.

September 27, 2010 - 6:35pm

I missed the earlier outing by the other person writing on infographics.

Zach Wyrick
September 27, 2010 - 6:21pm

First -

I doubt there is such a thing as an uncynical (decynical? noncycnical?) SEO. I challenge anyone to find me a knowledgeable SEO who won't, over a few beers, break down and despair at the direction Internet marketing is unavoidably headed. My own brief time in this occupation has left me constantly lamenting all that I've seen (but not done). Places such as have become like that friggin' island Kevin Costner was searching for in Waterworld! Sometimes I wonder if it even exists...

And soon, there will be no such thing as an uncynical (precynical? cynicalless?) Internet user. Even kids and grandmas will adopt the jaded, bleak attitude of hardened ex-cons who have been burned by the system they are encouraged by society to be a part of one (hundred) too many times.

Second -

Good God is there a more depressing video on the Internet than the one linked to above with the anchor text "so can books"?!?

October 1, 2010 - 4:37am

Love the post. the way I look at, if you're dumb enough to offer to pay for a link via email without knowing the person, then getting called out is what you should expect to get.

as a side note, I actually enjoy reading all my comment spam as of late. it's so badly generated it makes me laugh.

October 3, 2010 - 2:17pm

Great post Aaron,

it's very cunning how making the image so large is effective on getting desired anchor text, as just using the link box code is easier.

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