Darren Rowse at Problogger wrote about an offer he received from someone wanting to buy text links on his website. The conversation is very interesting. Even after being told “No” umpteen gazillion times, the link buyer was persistent and kept upping his offer, going from an initial offer of $150 to $400 per paragraph.
Keep in mind that this offer was for a permanent placement, not a monthly recurring fee, and that each paragraph would consist of 4 or 5 text links. At $400 one-time payment, that would come to $100 total per link for a PR 5 website to help with the link building part of Search Engine Optimization. What a rip off. Darren breaks down his decision to refuse the offer this way:
- For starters it’s too risky. The examples that he gave of what he’d done show ‘paragraphs’ that to me obviously didn’t ‘fit’ on the pages. They stuck out like a sore thumb to anyone looking at them.
- Secondly it’s too cheap. $400 for a paragraph with 4-5 links in it makes it $80-$100 a link. This isn’t a monthly payment – it’s a one off for an indefinite period. Text links on pages with page ranks as high as the ones he’s targeting go for a lot more than this kind of rate when you consider that they often pay per month. Over time his $80-$100 a link is nothing at all.
- Thirdly it compromises the quality of my content. Even with the offer to write the paragraphs myself I’m not willing to link to sites that could have a dubious quality. This kind of thing can impact you on numerous fronts – Search Engine Optimization for one and reader experience for another. The sites you link to impact not only your bank balance but potentially your reputation.
I’ll have to agree with Darren on all three points. If you get offers like this to sell links on your website, your best bet is just to walk away. These aren’t real offers.
Imagine someone walking up to you on the street in your hometown and offering to buy your automobile – let’s say it’s a five-year-old family sedan with a luxury interior and only 20,000 miles on the engine – for $500 total. Would you accept it? That’s about what these offers are – ridiculous for any Search Engine Optimization efforts.
First, they undervalue your links. Secondly, they provide you crappy content that doesn’t match the content on your website. And, thirdly, if you accept the offer then you will likely see declines in your PageRank. Why do that to yourself?
If you are a relatively new webmaster, it might seem as if you are just spinning your wheels because you aren’t making any money, but you should think about your monetization plans before you build your site. Know how you are going to make your money before you build it. And stick to your plan. Don’t accept crappy offers from link sellers out to distract you. Here are a few tips for those of you who do want to sell text links on your website:
- Only sell on a recurring payment basis – never permanent placement.
- Learn the value of your links before you accept any offers and don’t sell any links for less than they are worth.
- Sell links for traffic value, not PR; then be sure to include a nofollow attribute in every link.
- Offer to write the content yourself so that you can maintain consistence of voice on your website content – if link buyers tell you that you can’t change their wording then walk away.
- Make sure the content matches the content on you website; if it doesn’t then refuse the offer.
- Examine the page to which you are linking; is it spammy? Does it link to other sites that are spammy? Are there other issues like potential warez downloads or malware issues? (Remember, you are sending your site visitors to that site and they trust you to make a good recommendation – if they get a virus because of your recommendation then they will likely never visit your site again).
Selling text links is risky business in a number of ways. Think long and hard before you accept any offers – even if the price looks attractive. Instead of making money you could loose with your long term Search Engine Optimization efforts.