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Published on January 23rd, 2012 | by 011100110110010

19

SEO Scenario – Paid Links

Scenario

Page x is the most relevant result for the search query y but it doesn’t rank because it is on a brand new website which has a small amount of content and no links pointing to it.

Morally is it wrong to pay for links to improve page x’s ranking results if you are  improving the search results for any relevant users?

*EDIT* – Lets making this very fucking clear. This is a question/scenario and not an opinion.

I will appreciate moans about the following (and maybe others if I find it amusing) below:

  1. I am just doing what I need to get the job done
  2. Fuck Google they get the search results they deserve
  3. There are no morals in war
  4. Fuck Google I will game their shitty search engine if I want
  5. Here we go yo, here we go yo. So what so what so what’s the scenario
  6. Your content is getting gradually worse
  7. I know, I’m very aware of this
  8. “The Morality of SEO” would have been a better title
  9. I prefer “Are Paid Links Morally Right To Use If The Content Deserves To Rank?”
  10. It’s a bit long isn’t it?
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About the Author

One day I will make a living out of this industry, until then I'll carry on writing here.



19 Responses to SEO Scenario – Paid Links

  1. Barry Adams says:

    I do believe there are morals and ethics that should be part of what we do – my recent rant against TopSEOs shows my stance on that.

    When it comes to paid links, however, ethics has nothing to do with it. Going against Google’s guidelines has absolutely nothing – nothing! – to do with ethics. Google is not a moral authority on anything, they’re just another publicly traded profit-seeking corporation.

    If you’ve done your keyword research right, the keywords you want your client site to rank for should be relevant to the client’s business. Therefore getting the client site to rank high for those chosen keywords is not a bad thing (if it is, go back and do your kw-research). So buying links to achieve those rankings is perfectly fine.

    Anyone who says otherwise needs to wake the fuck up.

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    • Nice answer Barry, the type that I was looking for :-)

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    • Ian says:

      This.

      You won’t be able to sustain a ranking for an off topic keyword – and if you can it won’t convert. Given that, no one that I know personally (or have seen in action) is buying links to an irrelevant page.

      Being relevant is a bare-bones given, not an advanced SEO tactic.

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  2. Julie Joyce says:

    Sad to agree with Barry (haha! whoop) but I totally do. If Google revised its stance against paid links, I wonder how many people would change their opinions about them. I don’t see much of a difference in buying links to do better in the SERPs and paying an SEO to optimize your site to do better in the SERPs.

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    • Barry Adams says:

      “Sad to agree with Barry” – ouch. Thou hurteth me, Julie. ;)

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      • Julie Joyce says:

        ha! Actually I usually agree with you but it seems amusing (to me) to think I don’t.

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        • Barry Adams says:

          Since I cast myself as a contrarian, that would make you a self-professed contra-contrarian. :P

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    • “I don’t see much of a difference in buying links to do better in the SERPs and paying an SEO to optimize your site to do better in the SERPs.”

      Does this mean I have to agree with Barry too… ;)

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  3. It depends even on what business you are in. For e-commerce, I find quite normal to give a product to bloggers to have a review (with link) back. Many people are saying you’re still paying for a link. yes, and so what? I mean, paying a lot of money for a link just because you have money maybe it’s wrong if the link is not adding useful for the user. But when I read a post by a fashion blogger (don’t worry, not reading them too often) I think it’s great she/he can talk because she/he experienced something. So paying the link with a product in this case is adding value to the user.

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    • “don’t worry, not reading them too often” You better not Alessio! ;)

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  4. Russ Jones says:

    I actually created a post a few years back that guided these kinds of decisions through “consent” model of ethics for SEO. I linked to it above. Long story short, it is ethical to do this as long as you allow your competitors to do so without reporting them. You have an ethical obligation to assume that others are allowed to play by the same rules you are, which would indicate that it is unethical to report a competitor for doing what you do. Aside from that, as long as the link placement is consensual (ie: not comment spam), you are good to go.

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  5. I agree that ethics doesn’t really come into this one.

    It’s a slightly different topic, but it’s also important to look at what a ‘paid link’ actually is, as it’s a very gray area. For example if you paid for a link on a directory you would assume this to be a ‘paid link’. However if you paid for a listing in the directory, and there happened to be a link included in the listing, is that not a paid link? Maybe not the best of examples, but the point I’m trying to make is: be clever about it.

    Money goes in one end, and a link comes out the other. The bit in the middle has infinite possibilities.

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  6. So, pretty much fuck Google, we are all trying to make a buck here?

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  7. Chris says:

    Sean and I’ve debated this on Twitter before, but the moral obligations of an SEO are to the client and to keeping the SERP’s relevant.

    If buying a link or 3 to help boost an ultra relevant piece of content from obscurity to somewhere on page 1 to outrank a bunch of irrelevant results have we hurt anyone & are we morally bankrupt by doing so?

    Buy buying the links was it cheaper for the client than an outreach campaign or offering free samples for review?

    Even Google doesn’t have a problem with paid links its just they would like them to be “No-Follow” so that they don’t pass Pagerank/Link Juice.

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  8. Johnny Potato says:

    I tend to think of it along the same lines as email spam. Instead of chucking unsolicited emails in their inbox, you are putting undeserving websites in their SERPs. Basically, taking a short cut and spoiling someone else’s search results for your own gain. Ethical or not, dress it up however you want, it’s not right.

    However, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big a deal. People will always take shortcuts, let them get on with it. I’m not sure why they get so upset when people call them on it though.

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