Beware Paid Links and use the "no follow" attribute

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I have started receiving the following type of emails recently, which offer to pay me between $10 and $50 to embed a link to specified external websites.

Hi Andy,

I was looking at your page on credit scores – 10 things to know about your credit – , and I’m interested in paying you $30 to place a text ad on with the possibility of a multi-ad deal for more money upon further review of your website and your interest. The ad will link to a site offering credit repair services.

I can pay you immediately via paypal or check once the ad has been posted. Please let me know if you are interested and I will send you the ad. Thanks!! :)

Best,
Judy

Generally the emails are for paid links to credit repair, loans or debt management type websites. When I first started blogging (on my other site), I used to jump at these opportunities for the easy money and they actually paid on time. However, I soon learnt the hard way what the real cost of these paid links were – a drop in your page rank and potentially in Google referrals to your site. This means less visitors and in the long term less revenue from my other sources. This far outweighed the few dollars I could get from the paid links.

I did some research on this topic and found that Google frowns on these “embedded” paid links, especially to blacklisted sites that use this method to inflate their page ranks. Page rank is mostly based on the number of unique links you have coming into your site. You can see more background and technical details for this in Wikipedia (link below). To keep Google happy (which generates the majority of most websites organic traffic) they suggest adding the “no follow” attribute to all outbound paid/ad links. All the search engines (Yahoo, MSN) also encourage use of this attribute. Here’s how you easily implement this attribute in a standard HTML link : (I have changed the <> to [] brackets to prevent the example link becoming a real link when I publish the post)

[a href = “dummy_url.com” rel = “nofollow”] Dummy text [/a]

So, when I responded to these ad solicitation emails with the comment that I would be willing to put the text link into a relevant post, but with the “no follow” attribute – they were suddenly were no longer interested. No surprise there. Obviously they were not looking to leverage my site for real advertising, just looking to build their page rank. Also as this blog is still relatively new, I don’t expect to be in a position to attract “real” advertisers yet. On the flip side, I have used this situation to add to my blog goals (I do have them – but that is the topic of another post) an item that I will get an advertiser on my site, by year end, who wants to advertise due to the number of visitors I get and not just to build their page rank. Direct advertising is the most lucrative source of revenue, but you need to go about getting it in the right way.

Note : You don’t need to use the “no-follow” attribute for links in valid comments, which if made by another blogger includes a link to their site. The blogging community should in fact encourage use of the “follow” attribute of links so that everyone benefits.

See more about this topic in Wikipedia

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