Text links, SEO and stupid human tricks
Last month, retail behemoth J.C. Penney got nailed by Google for using black hat SEO tactics and was subsequently penalized for the under-handed methods in search. In other words, they were seriously busted.
But J.C. Penney is hardly alone in their foray into attempting to cheat the web.
The latest comes in the form of CSN Stores, an online conglomerate of 250 different shopping sites with individual names, and they are up to the same type of practice, only they are involving bloggers.
Last May, a member of the promotions team at CSN Stores contacted me to determine my interest in working with them to generate awareness for their stores. At the time, they were offering a $50 gift card to use on any of their hundreds of webstores in exchange for a blog review. I was swamped, and couldn’t find time to work the opportunity into my calendar.
Things eased up for me, oh, about a month ago and I returned to the CSN Stores team to find out what they were working on and how I could help. I was also curious to find out about their blogger outreach program since I kept seeing reviews and giveaways sprouting up on blogs everywhere (though no one I know well had worked with them).
The response I received was prompt and disheartening. First, they were asking for a pre-post (what’s a pre-post??) announcing my impending post. Ridiculous.
“When you are ready to do the initial post, please link the term 'office furniture' to www. csnofficefurniture. com as the FIRST and ONLY link in your post. I would just ask that you have it flow as naturally as possible within the context of the post. I am currently responsible for improving traffic to that site, so it would be greatly appreciated if you could do that…”
I was provided examples of what this would look like and left with my thoughts.
I responded by letting the team member know that not only was I not interested in weird text link baiting within my post, but that I couldn’t imagine any self-respecting blogger actually engaging in this type of
scheme campaign. I would buy my toaster elsewhere, thankyouverymuch.
So what does this mean for us bloggers? Well, it doesn’t mean that ALL text links are bad. Text links, in the form of an ad on a sidebar, carefully placed so as not to detract from your fantastic content, is fair game. Be sure to ask good money for a text link though, since their value to the brand is sky high.
Secondly, I would urge you not to engage in campaigns like this. While they’re not illegal, they could be considered cheating by Google. Do you really want to be an accessory to this bad behavior? For $50, I’ll keep my integrity and save myself available for real, solid opportunities. And who knows what gem the next email will hold?