Link = Vote? Want Some Personalized Free Professional Help?

Last week I got this via email

How would you like getting a logo’s (or) icon’s (or) seo report (or)template (or) Banner (or) Article (or) Header designed free of cost for your website. We are giving away these services as a promotional measure for free of cost. In return we need a link at your site for each services at home or internal page(Except link,resources,directory pages).

So to get a new services all you got to do is mail us back with the confirmation of link and the page where the link added for our site. If not interested in any of these offer,and interested to do three-way link exchange,please feel free to mail me back.

Awaiting for your reply,

Notice they were willing to trade just about any web based service imaginable for a link. A shotgun approach, but good for a few links I suppose. ;)

And today I got this, which is a bit of a higher touch and more focused approach.

I recently started writing work for ______ as a content writer. I would like to write a guest post related to education/college/online education etc. on your site if you're interested in accepting such a post. If you are interested, please let me know and I can send you an article for you to look over.

The Deal:
I will write a good, useful posts/articles on education/college/online education etc. specifically for your website/blog, free of cost. But I will need a by-line to build up my writing career. In addition, there will be a link to the ______ site in the by-line. So, it will help all parties concerned.

Sample posts written by me:

  • linkbait A
  • linkbait B

Both articles were widely read and received numerous links from other bloggers. Thanks for your time and I am looking forward to your reply.
Susan Jacobs

The nice thing about receiving such emails is that if they reference their site and you compete with them you can simply set up a couple link searches from blogs to track down everyone that accepted their offer and then get links from the same sources, replicating their strategies while hoarding your own unique link sources. As a Technorati top 100 blogger or an SEO service provider you also get requests like these from people who do not know you own competing sites. This is yet another advantage of being well embedded into the web: you see new marketing strategies within days or weeks of them emerging.

This is also scary for businesses succeeding based on a low price-point strategy. Eventually a similar product or service will be available free (or with a hidden cost that only reveals itself down the road). You are better off charging twice as much and having half as many customers, as mentioned here:

On the drive to lunch I’d ask Ralph why he wouldn’t fill the order when we were making 20 or 30 percent margins on that ton of glass.. “Because they can easily afford to pay more” he’d say.. “and once I sell that crate it’s gone, it will take 3 months before I get another crate.. somebody else will buy it because it’s a specialty size with low cut-loss”, and if I sell it at that price, next time he’ll ask for another nickel discount.. “

The fact that people are trying so many different strategies to get free links show how powerful Google's fearmongering campaign against paid links is, and just how detached from reality the idea of link = vote is in a marketplace where everyone either knows that link = vote OR is gamed by someone who knows that link = vote.

Published: March 25, 2008 by Aaron Wall in marketing


March 25, 2008 - 9:06am

I got one from Susan Jacobs as well "Susan Jacobs is a regular contributor for NOEDb, a site for learning about and selecting an online nursing degree program".

I didn't post her article, however.

...It can't be long until Google starts detecting these types of strategies.

March 25, 2008 - 9:59am

I don't think it's worth the while of any search engine to worry about this, because the market for such freebies is crowded. This approach to link-building has been around for ages, and I don't think it's all that valuable unless you have something truly marvellous to give away for free, or you can do a deal with a high traffic website.

Even when people do take up offers of free graphics, templates, and so on, they usually put them up on pages which don't get many visitors. And a month or two later the website gets forgotten about or the webmaster upgrades it to a newer template or a custom one. Not to mention all of the people who download freebies and then remove the embedded links.

Jeremy Luebke
March 25, 2008 - 10:20am

...It can't be long until Google starts detecting these types of strategies.

Never going to happen. What is there to detect? Good content written by an author who writes about the field?

Sorry, writing guest posts/content is as legitimate as it gets.

March 25, 2008 - 1:13pm

Umm, what's next, people getting laid for a couple of links? I wonder for how long yet will links be the most important part of SEO. And what can be more valuable for evaluating quality from the machines, if not links.

SEO Junkie
March 25, 2008 - 1:40pm

Sorry, writing guest posts/content is as legitimate as it gets.

I don't think it's about whether legit or not. It's all about whether a certain strategy can help webmasters to manipulate their results ANYWAY which this will surely do. So, at the end of the day, it is going to be hit by the people at the Gplex. IMO.

March 25, 2008 - 2:01pm


That joke will be resurrected as a a prediction. Actually, I imagine it has already come to pass as a barter medium for more than one industry. :)

Might as well get to work on that April Fools post now...

Meanwhile, the answer to the question about the replacement for link analysis is most likely "social search", a mixture of user behavior data (which I think Aaron started writing about first) along with personalization and based on demographics, user history and the "social graph".

Danny Sullivan calls it Search 4.0 and he is probably pretty close to the mark.

Link analysis was ultimately the first form of social search.

March 25, 2008 - 4:30pm

"That joke will be resurrected as a a prediction. Actually, I imagine it has already come to pass as a barter medium for more than one industry. :)"

That's one more reason to work harder on our sites ;)

March 25, 2008 - 4:36pm

On this issue of offering just about any web based service for links, I think it makes sense for a couple of reasons: (1) you get your foot in the door to perform quality service for somebody who may end up contacting you later for future services and (2) you end up spreading your links to places where only your type of professional service can acquire links from, not like a directory link which now have little value.

March 25, 2008 - 4:45pm

Wasn't there some talk a while back about Google recognizing speech patterns? In terms of links exchanged for content, maybe their activities around analyzing speech patterns will help them identify patterns in word usage, same grammar errors, etc. For example, if they recognize that content written by Susan Jacobs typically has particular grammar errors (i.e. like the one she made in, "I will write a good, useful posts/articles on...") and somehow can find a pattern in the links contained in her content, then I don't see it being impossible for Google to deal with this in at least a minor capacity.

March 25, 2008 - 6:00pm

Well communities tend to share some language patterns, so not sure how they would ever try to penalize for that. And I can't imagine them wanting to kill any and all attempts at self promotion / guest posts / interviews...what is left of the web when we pull out circle-jerking and self promo?

March 25, 2008 - 7:42pm

what is left of the web when we pull out circle-jerking and self promo?

One million website directories with PR 0 to PR 2. :|

March 25, 2008 - 9:46pm

Thoughts? Links DONT = votes. Votes = Genius Google Public Relations scheme.
Links = navigational tool, proxy for traffic estimation (per PageRank paper, at least). If google ranked sites by their GA data, I'm willing to bet that the SERPs would be pretty damn good.

March 25, 2008 - 10:44pm

i like to look at such problems with an eye of esteem. Where is esteem? Are all these people only thinking of their advantage?

Igor The Troll
March 26, 2008 - 4:36am

Aaron, as long as you do not get free Sex offers for a link, you will be alright..:) If it starts going that way, then it is definitely something wrong with Google!

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