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Times are tough for traditional publishers, particularly print publishers. Thanks to the internet, print revenue is down and content is, in many markets, increasingly little more than an abundant commodity.

But that doesn't mean publishers aren't trying. Companies like MediaNews Group, for instance, which is the second largest newspaper company in the U.S. as measured by circulation, are trying to capitalize on the digital opportunity by experimenting with new models and investing in new ideas. Underneath the surface, however, things don't look so good.

Case in point: a tipster alerted me to the fact that a number of the newspapers owned by MediaNews Group appear to be blatantly selling links.

Look at, for instance, the footers of the websites of the San Jose Mercury News, the Marin Independent Journal and the Oakland Tribune -- all newspapers owned by MediaNews Group -- and you'll notice something sketchy:

It doesn't take a veteran SEO to recognize what these are: links, presumably paid for by advertisers, in the hope that the PageRank generally thought to be associated with reputable, quality websites (like those operated by newspapers) will provide some powerful SEO juice for their online properties. 

Caught. Red handed. What other explanation could there be? 

This, of course, is not the first time a major publisher has been caught selling links, a violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines. Here in the UK, the Express Group was caught last year selling advertorials designed to help advertisers with their SEO, but in that instance, a devil's advocate could make the argument there was actual content which might be relevant to someone. In the case of MediaNews Group, there's little more than a shameless 'stick-a-bunch-of-links-in-the-footer' approach, which in my opinion, reflects a total lack of respect for readers.

Stuffing a bunch of links in the footer of every page of a newspaper websites to websites peddling everything from psychic readings to payday loans says a lot about how much MediaNews Group values its readers. It also looks desperate. After all, why would a newspaper with a large, valuable audience resort to hawking ads for the most questionable of websites? 

Consider the paid link on the San Jose Mercury News website promoting "Charity Shopping." The site it links to -- dogoodtoolbar.com -- encourages users to install a toolbar that will supposedly generate revenue for charities. According to the website, "at least 50% [of profits] will go to charity." But no specifics are provided, and there's no contact information for the people behind the toolbar. The domain registration information is hidden, and even though one can't always judge a book by its cover, the website hardly inspires confidence. The link on the San Jose Mercury News website, of course, is there for search engines, not real people, but the mere fact that a reputable newspaper would place a link in the footer of every single page of its site to another website that that screams "RED FLAG!" is just mind-boggling.

There has been a lot of talk about paid links and questionable SEO strategies in light of Google's recent crackdowns on major retailers and content farms. But for traditional publishers struggling to survive and thrive in the digital age -- particularly newspapers -- a Google penalty is not the top concern. The bigger concern: finding legitimate long-term business models that are sustainable. If the MediaNews Group's links are any indication, some of the largest traditional publishers have a long way to go.

Patricio Robles

Published 9 March, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2378 more posts from this author

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Jonathan Wilkins

Jonathan Wilkins, Head of Marketing at European Automation

over 5 years ago

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Ton van Houten

Thanks for sharing!

over 5 years ago

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Gaddafi

Thousands if not millions of sites are involved in the blatant selling of links. The search engines need a better algorithm for looking at the relevancy of links, otherwise the only sites who are going to get caught out and penalised are major/popular sites constantly in the public spotlight.

I'm pretty sure these paid links in question though will be unaffected, otherwise surely the "psychic reading" ads wouldn't have been bought in the first place.

over 5 years ago

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Shame

Tipster? SEO with competitor involved with these papers more likely. One publisher outting another for linkbait is disgusting. Shame on eConsultancy.

over 5 years ago

Angus Phillipson

Angus Phillipson, Director at Byte9

And the basis of Google's business?

Oh yes, That'll be selling links...

There is a certain irony in this somewhere.

angus

over 5 years ago

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Ben Bale, SEO Manager at MediaCom

I find it interesting that you've got quite a harsh response to this post on twitter.
As someone that works in SEO, I'm not surprised. You kicked the hornet's nest! However I hope you do it again and again.

If bad practice (which buying/selling links clearly is) is ignored, if the media don't "out" companies doing it then the practice will continue.

The logic for not outing people seems to be some kind of brotherhood of silence. As if there's a gentlemen's agreement that 'we all do it'.
Pardon my French, but f**k looking after our own - you break the rules, you go down in flames.

Econsultancy, please continue to point out people that buy links and celebrate those that created great link friendly content.

Angus, regarding your comment - there's no issue with selling links when they are identified as such and tagged correctly with a <nofollow>. Google's paid links don't impact natural rankings.

over 5 years ago

Omar Kattan - New Age AdMan

Omar Kattan - New Age AdMan, Head of Natural Search at GroupM

@Shame I'm glad eConsultancy brought this to the surface. Link buying is plague that needs to be eradicated, one way or another! Thank you Patricio.

over 5 years ago

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Ben Bale, SEO Manager at MediaCom

apologies, my previous comment should end "...tagged correctly with a 'nofollow' tag"

over 5 years ago

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Jordan

Seriously? Why do all of you people enjoy outing other people? Is it to gain notoriety? To become on Google's "good side"? What I have found is that the majority of people that out people like this are the biggest link gamers out there. Please get a life.

over 5 years ago

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Ben Bale, SEO Manager at MediaCom

Jordan - here is a totally open and honest answer for you on why I dislike link buying.

Any network is defined by it's relationships. The internet is defined by it's links. By putting a monetary value on links, Google have created a huge and unnatural bias on the organic growth of the internet.

For example, there are now a number of publications that wont ever link out - for fear of Google. Similarly there are a number of sites that buy and sell links.

I care about this because I use the internet, not because I work on SEO. An unnatural link profile within the network, destroys (imho) the very thing that makes the internet wonderful.

As for hypocrisy and getting on Google's good side, I think you're probably right - a number of people do suck up to Google policy in the hope they'll see a benefit from it. Demand Media's PR around the farmer update is a good example of this.
When it comes to me and my comment on this blog however, I would be amazed if anyone at Google sees this, let alone acts on them.

While some people I work with may beg to differ, my ego isn't big enough to think otherwise!

I care about link building as a user, not as an SEO. In the same way that fishermen should care about overfished oceans, SEO's should care about link buying.

over 5 years ago

Omar Kattan - New Age AdMan

Omar Kattan - New Age AdMan, Head of Natural Search at GroupM

@Jordan, we do not "enjoy outing other people".

We have a responsibility towards our clients and cannot take risks with their business by buying links. We play by the rules and expect our competitors to do the same.

So called SEOs who game the system because they're either a) too lazy to do the work or b) simply not good enough to achieve results with legitimate SEO techniques give our industry a bad name. In my book you either play by the rules or don't play at all.

over 5 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

I've been tuned into the debate and have a bunch of views on this...

1. We're not particularly fond of being seen as the class snitch, but our role is to try to foster discussion, and we always try to say what we see.

2. We don't usually 'out' sites for selling links, but we constantly review good and bad practice, in whatever form it takes. Sometimes it's hard to decide exactly where the line is. Sometimes good practice becomes bad practice virtually overnight. It is impossible to identify good unless you know what bad looks like. Many things are subject to opinion.

3. Everything we write can be considered linkbait. That word doesn't have negative connotations as far as I'm concerned.

4. The headline we used is harsh, and while there are various caveats in the article I think we should have toned it down. But if something looks and smells like a paid link then it almost certainly is. Publishers are not in the business of allowing advertisers to advertise for free. Anyway, if these types of links exist, there for all to see, then what's the big deal in Patricio writing about it?

5. We don't allow guest bloggers to write about this sort of thing, or to talk about their competitors. Patricio is a staffer, and we encourage staffers to never apologise for having an opinion, and to try to tell it like it is.

6. We have deep respect for the SEO community. We encourage transparency and have spent years trying to educate the client-side about how best to work with SEOs. To do that we try to listen and need to talk openly about tactics, using real world examples, and need to see how things pan out. This article is an extension of that, unpopular as it might be among SEOs.

7. We care about the publishing industry. We're sick to death of seeing it repeatedly shoot itself in the foot. We want publishers to adopt long-term revenue-generating strategies. I personally think that selling links is myopic and, for most, isn't worth the risks. Just my opinion.

8. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with selling links. Nothing whatsoever. Certain search engines may disagree with that statement, but whoever owns a website is free to do whatever they want with it.

9. Buying links on behalf of clients is only ever ok if the client knows about it. Surely?

10. Publishers have a duty of care towards their readers. They need to be careful about what they link to, regardless of whether links are paid for or not.

over 5 years ago

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Ben Bale, SEO Manager at MediaCom

Chris -

"There is nothing fundamentally wrong with selling links. Nothing whatsoever. Certain search engines may disagree with that statement, but whoever owns a website is free to do whatever they want with it"

A website is free to sell links, of course they are. However the ASA might take issue with them not acknowledging the "paid" element of a paid link.

Google agrees - webmasters can sell all the links they want provided they acknowledge them as advertising (using a nofollow).

If you want to do things differently and not use that tag, again webmasters are welcome to do so, but there are Google-related dangers and for better or worse, Google's opinion can't be ignored.

over 5 years ago

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simon richardson

Blast.. I was half way through typing a long comment on this and then I saw the comment from Chris above.

Have to say I agree with him on pretty much all of this.

"There is nothing fundamentally wrong with selling links. Nothing whatsoever. Certain search engines may disagree with that statement, but whoever owns a website is free to do whatever they want with it."

Absolutely, 100% bang on. If everyone starts considering the opinion of [a search engine] before taking a commercial decision then I despair.

Publishers are taking a bashing and they are entitled to do what the hell they like without worrying about what others think.

over 5 years ago

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Dave

OMG! ….Selling links?
Trying to make money on the internet?
What's this web world coming to?

Next thing you know they'll be putting ads on the web pages!

Now I'm sure that most of you are convinced that's not what Al Gore had in mind when he invented the Internet. He intended it to be totally free and that government would spend billions to make sure that even the folks in Appalachia would have high speed broadband access, even if they can't afford a computer.

Come on folks...get real!

Selling links and search rankings is the heart and soul of Google, Yahoo!, and many others. Other companies (such as the one you're reading now) build their financial viability on the number or persons they get to look at their sites.

It's a traffic game. That's what site owners want and that's what MediaNews and the search companies are delivering. And that's free enterprise at its best!

over 5 years ago

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Brian

@Ben @Omar Don't come up with this BS. I actually placed links for your agency's client and trust me....I dont work for free. Poor move guys.

over 5 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Shame, Jordan,

As Chris stated above, "Publishers have a duty of care towards their readers. They need to be careful about what they link to, regardless of whether links are paid for or not."

I've come across plenty of paid links before, and I've had friends and professional acquaintances point out shady SEO practices they've uncovered. The MediaNews Group links, however, are worth noting because this is the second largest newspaper group in the United States engaging in a blatant, low-quality paid linking scheme. As I noted in my post, at least the Express Group tried to make its link scheme look good.

Here, MediaNews Group appears to be selling links to just about anyone. It's hard for me to fathom why a major publisher that cares about its readership would, for instance, help payday lenders or link to a site like dogoodtoolbar.com, which frankly *looks* like it may be a scam.

over 5 years ago

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Jordan

@Patricio - so is it your job to police the internet? To out people/companies to make them look bad? Sorry, I think that puts you in the same boat by outing them. It is just a low blow and seems like econsultancy is just looking for some traffic.

Thanks @Brian....just what I suspected and is always the case.

over 5 years ago

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Anthony

"Absolutely, 100% bang on. If everyone starts considering the opinion of [a search engine] before taking a commercial decision then I despair.
Publishers are taking a bashing and they are entitled to do what the hell they like without worrying about what others think."

Not exactly Google's perspective though is it?

over 5 years ago

Omar Kattan - New Age AdMan

Omar Kattan - New Age AdMan, Head of Natural Search at GroupM

@Brian In the four years I've worked at MediaCom I've never knowingly sanctioned any link buying activity for any of our SEO clients.

Please note that not all MediaCom clients are SEO clients, many work with other SEO agencies.

I would be interested to discuss this with you further, please email me with further details (omar dot kattan at mediacom dot com).

Thank you.

over 5 years ago

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Ben Bale, SEO Manager at MediaCom

"Absolutely, 100% bang on. If everyone starts considering the opinion of [a search engine] before taking a commercial decision then I despair"

What if that search engine is so big that it you'd be a fool to make a commercial decision without checking?

If you made a decision in social media without checking Facebook's rules you'd be in the same boat. We might not like it, but when it comes to search, Google can and does impact commercial decisions.

over 5 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Ben - Quite right, though as ever it's a case of horses for courses. Most publishers are in some way reliant on Google traffic, but in theory 100% of visits could be direct, or driven by email, or social media, or whatever. As such it might not be such a big deal (this is obviously a theoretical idea!). To the buyer the PageRank might become an issue of the host site is penalised, but presumably that wouldn't be in play at the time of buying, and those are the risks associated with buying links in any case.

Of course the ASA thing is a whole other matter...

over 5 years ago

Angus Phillipson

Angus Phillipson, Director at Byte9

@Ben Bale (et al)

You mean like the no follow links that don't exist in Google's own content network? (Which is frankly a red herring).

I'm not sure I agree with your line of argument on this, which seems to be that publishers (other than Google) are in some way wrong to endeavour to monetise web traffic by selling space for text links. NB I am making no value judgment on the quality of the links here.

As a developer your decision about using the Facebook platform is one that is based on using their infrastructure (developer API / platform etc), then they are entitled to restrict the conditions of your use. It is after all their own infrastructure.

Google do not own the infrastructure of the internet. Google also sell links across their content network. I find it very hypocritical, and an abuse of their position to place any kind of restriction on someone engaging in the same type of commercial activity. It seems anti-competitive and an abuse of their monopoly position.

I think their moral position would be significantly enhanced if they concentrated on updating their search algorithm to remove links to low quality content rather than trying to act as some kind of one-eyed content monetisation police.

That would benefit everyone, and might serve our mutual desire of increasing the quality of links and content at large.

Publisher's commercial decisions about the merits or otherwise of selling links given the current commercial status quo is really a different discussion entirely.

regards

angus

over 5 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Jordan,

You're entitled to your opinion. If you think I'm trying to police the internet, you must believe that a person who reports smoke is trying to be a firefighter.

Frankly, when the second largest newspaper group in the United States is stuffing pages with links to payday lenders, psychic services and questionable-looking websites that claim to be helping charities, I think it's entirely legitimate to expose it. Now, I don't necessarily have anything against payday lenders or psychics, but somehow I suspect these aren't exactly the kind of advertisers MediaNews Group wants to be associated with either.

Given your apparent interest in arguing that this post is an atrocity in its own right, let me ask a simple question: would *you* accept money to promote a website like dogoodtoolbar.com?

Angus,

You write:

"I find it very hypocritical, and an abuse of their position to place any kind of restriction on someone engaging in the same type of commercial activity. It seems anti-competitive and an abuse of their monopoly position."

"I think their moral position would be significantly enhanced if they concentrated on updating their search algorithm to remove links to low quality content rather than trying to act as some kind of one-eyed content monetisation police."

Anti-competitive and monopoly are big words. Google is not restricting commercial activity. You can buy and sell links all you want, and if you're buying and selling links because they're incredibly beneficial beyond SEO, Google's rules shouldn't be of concern. After all, if these links are so great on their own, ostensibly those links would still be working their magic even if Google boots you. This is a simple cost-benefits-risk analysis.

On the other hand, telling Google that it can't remove a site from its index for engaging in activity that it believes degrades the quality of its search results would be a precisely the kind of restriction on commercial activity that you seem to loathe.

over 5 years ago

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Frank

@Patricio
Your are comparing apples and oranges: Smoke from a fire is not the same as a paid link. One might be life threatening while the other is just a link.

You also don't get that the average(!) visitor doesn't understand the difference between a paid link and an affiliate link or any other kind of link. If the newspaper group monetizes their network outside the Google Adsense (monopoly) it is totally legit and good for the webs advertising economy.

Last...you don't seem to understand that a paid link could be as irrelevant to the website as a Google Adsense ad. I personally prefer a paid link more then some intrusive re-target ad that Google pulled through my browsing history or clickstream.

Long story short: It is a low blow and a nice linkbait for the costs of others (someone might get fired from your post!). I wouldn't be surprised if you are also one of those people who report their neighbors to the city, b/c they didn't mow the lawn before Sunday church.

over 5 years ago

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Andrew Nicholson

Simply look at traditional print media and you'll see that best practise (and legal enforcement) has been in place for decades now when it comes to content providers trying to fob off advertising as legitimate content. In every "Rich dad, poor dad" advert trying to look like a journalistic article there will be clear visual indicator that it is an advert. Offline should be no different - even ignoring the SEO considerations, it's plain misleading, and that is a direct conflict of jouranlistic ethics.

over 5 years ago

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Electric Car

Google must be laughing its arse off at its success in demonising paid links. Read a basic economics textbook, or Google "artificial scarcity" to understand its motivation. A major side effect of effectively banning the majority of paid links is to push up the profitability of Google's own paid-link scheme, AdWords.

Bravo to those firms who ignore Google's self-serving rules.

over 5 years ago

Angus Phillipson

Angus Phillipson, Director at Byte9

@Patricio (et al)

You are of course entitled to take a moral stance on the quality of the links, and I would agree with you. But it is irrelevant to the discussion.

However, I do not agree with your moral standpoint on whether a publisher should be entitled to monetise their screen real estate using paid links (like Google)

To be clear I do not 'loath' anything about the commerciality of it, and can understand that financially it makes sense for Google to do this. I am just drawing attention to Google’s compromised moral position and the ethics of removing any site that uses paid links to monetise its content, when it engages in the same commercial practice itself.

Whether anti-competitive and monopoly are big words or not that is how it appears.

regards

angus

over 5 years ago

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Ben Bale, SEO Manager at MediaCom

@Patricio

Good comment, I agree with everything you've said. It's Google's algo, they can do what they want with it. You're welcome to break every rule they have, just don't expect to rank :-)

Keep up the good work!

over 5 years ago

John Courtney

John Courtney, CEO and Executive Chairman at Pay on Results SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media, Digital PR, PPC & CRO from Strategy Digital

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

When will people learn that Google is pretty clever, has rules, and will enforce them?!

Link building is seriously important. But it has to be done in the right way. Buying links, 2 way links, 3 way links, link farms... all of these either don't work or are banned.

Serious one way inbound deep link building using anchor text links done by hand is the only way, except for viral link baiting which can be seriously effective but expensive.

over 5 years ago

Angus Phillipson

Angus Phillipson, Director at Byte9

@Ben Bale

>> It's Google's algo, they can do what they want with it

Apart from breach competition law, of course.

(amongst other things)

regards

angus

over 5 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Frank,

While it's clear these links aren't here for real people, let's assume you're correct that the average visitor isn't capable of understanding the nature of the links they're provided. Do you believe that a large, legitimate publisher wants to promote payday lenders, psychics and a shady-looking toolbar that *claims* to donate "up to" 50% of its "profit" to charity? After all, newspapers are looked at by many people as having significant credibility and someone might believe these links were vetted or endorsed by the newspaper, right? If anything, your assumption would strengthen the argument that publishers should be even more careful about the sites they link to.

Finally, I have to ask: if these links are all above board and I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill for pointing them out, why in the world would anybody lose a job over this? Clearly, the fact that you think somebody could be fired over these apparently innocuous links hints that you know just how egregious they are (particularly the dogoodtoolbar.com one).

over 5 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Angus,

You write:

"I am just drawing attention to Google’s compromised moral position and the ethics of removing any site that uses paid links to monetise its content, when it engages in the same commercial practice itself."

There are two key differences:

1. The target for AdWords ads is real people who might click on an ad because it's of interest to them. The target for paid links is search engines.

2. AdWords ads do not improve the ranking of an advertiser's organic listings. Paid links attempt to.

In other words, Google is selling a legitimate form of advertising; publishers selling paid links are offering a service to entities that want to "game" a search engine. The argument that there's some moral equivalency here is simply not credible.

over 5 years ago

Angus Phillipson

Angus Phillipson, Director at Byte9

@patricio

Are you trying to assert that anyone who sells a link is just doing so to game search engines?

To narrow it down a little and get away from the wild, sweeping assertions you have made. Why should a publisher not sell a contextually relevant link too?

I should probably draw your attention Econsultancy's own subscription sales technique of promoting the SEO benefit of their press release service.

http://econsultancy.com/uk/press-releases/why_post

Does that make you as guilty of gaming links as the subject of your article? Does that make you morally equivalent? Do you need to out yourself?!

Food for thought...

regards

angus

PS I feel a bit sorry for the team at skimlinks. Would you have them tarred and feathered?!

over 5 years ago

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Frank

@Patricio

You are twisting the post now: Your story and title is about paid links. Now you are arguing solely about the relevancy of the ads (which is something every ad network is fighting with)!
In your answer above you are also exaggerating the importance of these links (esp. the toolbar link). These links are footer(!) links and as you know, they maybe get a handful if any clicks per month.
I also stand by the argument that you might have cost a person's job. Based on the tone of your post a head could easily role. Especially when some good amount of revenue will be lost.
Last...and I say this again...it's a weak move of you. There was absolutely no need to mention name, but can understand your motive if you are paid by pageviews of your posts.

over 5 years ago

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Joel Chudleigh

I have been following this blog for a few months now and this post is probably the one that has inspired the most interesting debate so hats off to Patricio for that. I think that as all commenters here are SEO professionals it has not been considered that there is someone responsible for the advertising at Medianews Group that doesn't understand SEO and/or is just focused on hitting their media sales target so is selling ad space to anyone other than pornographers and pirates. If this is the case then it is sloppy and lazy organisational processes which is no good for their brand so Patricio has done them a favor in the long run of highlighting this now.

over 5 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Angus,

I think you're running in circles here trying to make a point that doesn't exist.

"Are you trying to assert that anyone who sells a link is just doing so to game search engines?"

I have never asserted such a thing. That would be a preposterous argument to make.

"Why should a publisher not sell a contextually relevant link too?"

There's nothing stopping a publisher from selling a contextually relevant link. Obviously, such a link might still problematic depending on the circumstances (there may be FTC and ASA considerations, for example, in the US and UK). But the point here is that the links on the MediaNews Group websites are *not* contextually relevant. As noted, there seems to be little other explanation other than that they are designed to manipulate Google rankings, not to appeal to real readers.

As for Econsultancy's press release service, you're being inaccurate when you say that an "SEO benefit" is being pitched. First, the value of a press release is clearly stated: *visibility* on the Econsultancy site, and the *distribution* of the press release to search engines and aggregators. There's nothing promising better search engine rankings for a customer's site, for instance, which is the value proposition for paid links. Second, our press release service is available to paying members -- members who generally subscribe to Econsultancy for access to our reports, events and services.

I appreciate that you're trying to make an argument, but insinuating that individuals and companies are being encouraged to join Econsultancy so that they can participate in a paid link scheme is frankly disingenuous. If you're going to try compare stuffing paid links to payday lenders, psychics and scammy-looking websites into the footer of a website with offering a legitimate online press release distribution service, it speaks volumes about the strength of your argument.

Frank,

*You* brought up relevancy. In response to your comment about users not being able to determine the nature of links, I responded "While it's clear these links aren't here for real people..." Again, these links clearly aren't designed for real people, so 'relevancy' is a red herring discussion.

I still don't understand why heads would roll here. The links discussed in my post are available for the public to see, and they're still there as I write this. If you're going to do something publicly online, why should anyone have a problem with it being talked about openly?

Finally, since you'd like to make assumptions about my motives, I will state for the record that I am *not* paid according to page views or any other traffic metric. Paid links are a hot subject right now, as are online business models for print publishers. If you can't believe that a post about a major newspaper group apparently engaging in one of the lowliest kinds of paid linking schemes (the 'stuff-links-in-the-footer' variety) is relevant to those subjects and worth discussing, c'est la vie.

over 5 years ago

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jack

@Angus
"Why should a publisher not sell a contextually relevant link too?"

They can if they wish but should add a nofollow so as not to manipulate the google search rankings of the link buyer.

If they do not add nofollow (according to Google's rules then they should accept the penalty.

great post econsultancy, keep it up!

over 5 years ago

Angus Phillipson

Angus Phillipson, Director at Byte9

@jack

Why should a search engine spider not be encouraged to follow a contextually relevant link to another web page?

Aren't contextually relevant hypertext links what the internet is for? And are they not consequently the basis of crawler based search technology and the relevance they derive?

Surely if they were contextually relevant then they are advantageous?

regards

angus

over 5 years ago

Ben Aronsten

Ben Aronsten, Managing Director at SED

Blatant paid links aren't anything new i think we can all agree on that. San Jose Mercury News website example is a classic though, you would think by now major publishers would have adopted more subtle methods.

Clients weight up the risk/reward ratio in regards to Google penalties and clearly they are still willing to take the risk.

I can see both sides of the discussions above but bottom line is, right or wrong it's all business. Everyone is trying to make money, including Google.

Thanks for the great read...and I'm talking about the discussion that pursued the post.

over 5 years ago

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