On July 10, Rose DesRochers wrote on her personal blog “World Outside my Window” about a new service that offers blog comments for sale. She evidently doesn’t like the idea.
She quotes a piece from the website’s copy and comments:
The new service ‘Buy Blog Comments’ offers to leave spam comments at a rate of 100 comments for $19.99, 500 comments for $99.99 and 1000 comments for $199.99.
Aside from getting the price wrong – it’s $24.99 (although, in fairness to Rose, it is possible that Buyblogcomments has changed its price since Rose’s post) – Rose makes an interesting observation. She calls the comment ghostwriting service a peddler of spam, following the footsteps of Darren Rowse at >ProBlogger. Darren goes so far as to challenge bloggers to take a hard stand against the practice and asks those of the legal community to offer opinions on the practice.
Well, I’d like to play to devil’s advocate just for a second. I haven’t used the service and may likely never use it, but that doesn’t mean other can’s use it. Of course, I’m not encouraging anyone to do so. I’m simply advancing a rhetorical argument. Bear me out, please.
Ghostwriting has been around for a long time. They write marketing brochures, sales letters, personal letters even, novels, autobiographies and memoirs, scientific manuals, and marketing articles as well as other content on a per-client basis. Heck, some services even offer to ghostwrite blogs. So why shouldn’t blog comments and forum posts be included in the ghostwriting category?
Those of us who have been online for awhile know that there is SEO benefit to forum posts and blog comments. We’ve seen it and continue to see it. Leave a comment and you get a back link. I usually don’t leave comments just to get a back link, nor would I encourage anyone else to do so. But it is a benefit, albeit a side one.
Jon Waraas at least understands that there is an SEO benefit to blog comments. Hence, the value of his service. The problem with the blog-comments-for-SEO philosophy is that you may shell out your money for benefits that are benefits today, but may not be benefits tomorrow. In other words, the search engines could change their algorithms to not count those types of comments for link popularity and ranking purposes. If they do then you’ve paid money for nothing. However, if you want more traffic to your blog or website then leaving comments on other people’s blogs is a good way to get more traffic, SEO benefits or not. Why couldn’t you pay someone to go in and place these comments for you if you don’t have the time to do it yourself? You’re just engaging in smart marketing. Aren’t you? And while you’re doing that, why not do it the right way and include some anchor text so that you get the SEO benefits that the current algorithms provide?
There seems to be a prejudice these days against anything that smacks of “I’m doing this for SEO purposes.” That prejudice may be justified. There are some truly greasy people out there doing unquestionable things. But should we discount a practice simply because someone does so for the purpose of a benefit that potentially works in their favor and works against others – as opposed to pursuing the same practice for the purpose of a benefit that benefits themselves and doesn’t hurt anyone else? Is there really that big a difference? Businesses have been competing on such terms for centuries. Why change now?
OK, I’m in my angel suit now. Go ahead and slam me.
(NOTE: I’m purposefully not linking to Jon Warass’s websites because I haven’t had a chance to evaluate his services and cannot vouch that they aren’t spammy in nature.)