Presumed Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Jun 9th

A few years back when I came up with the idea of ReviewMe (prior to Pay Per Post launching, but we were slow to market) I felt there was a need for bloggers and advertisers to be able to interact. Largely because I was getting more email than I could handle, and largely because I kept seeing blogs gain momentum in the marketplace.

Recently Patrick Altoft from Blogstorm announced an email group for buying blog placements, and a service which allows you to buy Blogroll links named Blogrolled quietly launched.

But the paying for reviews idea has been a harder sell than I appreciated. Even social scientists 10 times smarter than I am have struggled with making ads go viral. When you directly pay for exposure it is seen as inauthentic. Take the same concepts and run them through a public relations campaign and you are a genius.

The downside of paying for direct exposure & editorial got a bit more exposure this week. A lead generation company named EPerks bought a review on Vlad Zablotskyy's blog through Sponsored Reviews, and generally got a good review. But then people commented on that review, which lead to a follow up post called ePerks - a scam or a gem?. That post got 163 comments, ranks #2 in Google for eperks, and lead to a lawsuit.

Mob mentality is never nice, but when you sue people (especially bloggers) it is easy to create more than enough collateral damage to offset any potential gains. The message being spread (complete with logo, donation buttons, and viral components) is defend free speech online. That is a hard meme to stop.

Lots of links will flow, but unfortunately their brand is destroyed. Perhaps they can later 301 redirect their site, but the PageRank is probably going to be worth less than the negative karma associated with the conflict.

Compare the above scenario with having a blog in the marketplace and building fans one at a time. Sure connecting with people one at a time is slower, but it is much less risky too.

Published: June 9, 2008

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Comments

June 9, 2008 - 2:35pm

Hey Aaron, can't dig up an e-mail for you. Can you pop me a mail if you have time please?

June 9, 2008 - 3:07pm

Reputation. Takes months to earn it and seconds to lose it.

Good post Aaron.

Didn't this technique work in reverse for you once when someone tried to sue you and you get lost of links defending you.

June 9, 2008 - 3:21pm

Hi Mike
Yes it did! Traffic Power helped build thousands of links for my site. They did a better job than I ever could have!

June 9, 2008 - 3:49pm

The difference with my email group is that it is designed for people with something that is really cool and would have got links anyway. The group just provides an easy way to pitch to interested bloggers.

The calibre of blogs we have means they won't link to low quality content no matter how much the fee.

June 9, 2008 - 5:27pm

I never understood why Bloggers leave comments 'on' for paid review posts... You're just asking for it.

June 9, 2008 - 10:29pm

@ Mike

Reputation. Takes months to earn it and seconds to lose it.

Popularity can be earned very fast, but building a good reputation and trust takes YEARS to earn--a truly monumental task.

June 10, 2008 - 5:08am

Aaron I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on the lifespan of Blogrolled?

Maybe I'm paranoid but surely It's on the radar now (partly due to this post) and that the clock is now ticking in terms of longevity.

June 10, 2008 - 10:17am

I know some of the people behind it and I would not have mentioned it if I thought it was going to kill their business. Having said that it is hard to say how long it will last. But the fact that I only off handedly mentioned it in a post about another topic gives it greater chances of lasting a while than if I would have made a post just focused on it.

June 10, 2008 - 5:00pm

It seems that many of our competitors are reaping the benefits of purchasing links from pay per post companies. I would like to know how risky this is and should I include it in with my link building campaigns? Or should I avoid this type of link building?

June 10, 2008 - 5:11pm

It can work for some merchants. The risk & reward are dependant on

  • what network you use (some are better than others)
  • how you use it
  • what website you are promoting it with
June 10, 2008 - 5:17pm

I firmly believe on strong traditional SEO marketing and feel like paying bloggers is more gimmick than technique. If I use the best in blog postings for link building is there a chance that I could do more damage in the future than good.

June 10, 2008 - 5:28pm

Possibly.

June 10, 2008 - 6:24pm

< When you directly pay for exposure it is seen as inauthentic. Take the same concepts and run them through a public relations campaign and you are a genius. >

Aaron, that comment is Priceless.

I am very happy to see Vlad's story on SEOBook. This type of lawsuit could hit any blogger, so I would like to encourage everyone to click the "defend free speech online" link above and really read through Greg Swann's post and the links provided there.

Don't hesitate to make a donation that will help in his defense. If you take the time to read through there I think you will feel like donating. :)

June 14, 2008 - 11:11am

Aaron, great to see you Unite with Bloggers in support for Vlad against ePerks.

United we stand divided we fall.

Aaron, you are a good man.

June 14, 2008 - 9:42pm

@ Aaron Did you know the CEO of Traffic Power went to jail for fraud? Not because of Traffic Power, but for scamming people that were losing their homes.

I'm also glad to see others taking notice. I think this case is going to be watched by an awful lot of people.

June 14, 2008 - 11:02pm

Yes I knew about that. After they sued me they guaranteed like 10,000 bloggers would watch out for news like that and ping me with it!

July 25, 2008 - 6:22pm

Hi Aaron,

I appreciate you picking up on the story. While I can't comment on the status of the case, I hope your post will serve as a warning to others on how not to treat bloggers. Although I would think any smart business owner would learn from your case with Power Traffic.

Sorry it took me this long to make a comment. I have been following comments but hesitated to comment myself for the obvious reasons.

Thanks again for picking up on the story. I will try to update you on the case as soon as I am free to do so.

July 25, 2008 - 7:01pm

Wish you the best of luck with the case Vlad!

July 28, 2008 - 3:55pm

Thanks Aaron.

I did not realize you responded to my comment. Although I remember checking off the check box for e-mail notifications. You might want to check that.

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