The defining mantra of OG SEOs, which I’ve read time and again when it comes to paid links: “Do what it takes to rank.” Keep that in mind.
I wrote about finding competitors’ links and getting site owners to slap nofollows on them. That got a very positive response from the SEO community.
Yet ironically, outing them – and thus being more efficient, which most SEOs claim to respect – is problematic.
Personally, I used to think outing was bad, but now I’m not so sure.
I’ve achieved sweet-ass rankings on mid-tier and even high-competition keywords by remaining 100% whitehat w/ my links, techniques, etc. Why should I accept to give others a shortcut and choose the hard-working path myself? Why not do whatever it takes – out my competitors, for example – and get the rankings myself?
The flip side is that I don’t want to make the Borgle’s work easier, as a rule. The exception is where it’s a consumer protection issue, eg government grants or searching for blues clues and getting b33$t1alitee pr0n, to quote Todd.
The question is: if someone justifies paid links by saying “do what it takes to rank” (eg no knife @ a gunfight argument) why can’t “what it takes” include outing? Are bazookas at the gunfight “cheating”? Why are only pistols allowed? Pfft, wimps. I like a heavy dose of ordinance myself :D.
The argument about shooting yourself in the foot by outing paid links doesn’t make sense to me, at least not 100%. Because “what it takes to rank” includes not shooting yourself in the foot with badly implemented paid links. And “what it takes to rank” can mean not taking risks that competitors can capitalize on by making Google look stupid.
Besides, anyone buying links is hard-pressed to say they didn’t know the risks inherent to it, which include outing.
Therefore, people complaining about outings are arguably not doing “what it takes to rank” and just whining about others competing with them when they could work harder and smarter, right? Who’s really whining there?
I guess the middle road is attacking competitors’ paid links by notifying the link sellers of the search engine penalty risks the link buyers probably didn’t mention. You attack competitors links, without helping Google. It’s largely about how you out the paid links, and to whom.
If you liked this post on paid links, here’s what my thoughts were on the ethical problems with buying links, and you should also add my RSS feed to your reader! And now, for a beautiful baseball tune. “… Oh, buy me some peanuts and craaaaacker jacks!”