I recently spent $200+ testing out a text link ad broker who promised a big network of blogs, without footprints. This link broker sells on a monthly membership basis that ended up auto-renewing for a few months, partly because I was too busy to test immediately when I bought it. Lesson #1: Avoid buying on impulse.
This text link advertising network has a 3 step process.
1) Upload an article, and pick categories it fits under.
2) Add your text link in along with other innocent links.
3) Finally, the text link broker sends the article out to some blog they run.
When I finally got around to publishing some articles, I was in such a rush to see results already that I clean forgot step 2.
To keep itself discrete, this link broker doesn’t tell you what blogs the links are published on. So I couldn’t do a backlink lookup with a backlink research tool, nor could I get any reporting from this broker. (Except that the pieces were published, if memory serves.)
Forgetting to add in the links turned out to be a good thing, I saw later, because my article got posted on a wholly irrelevant blog. And not even an impressive one, that’s well maintained by humans etc. This was an obviously generic creation with no soul. “Take me to the Wizard for a new heart,” it whimpered tinnily.
(Lesson #2: If they sell text links based on automated distribution of articles, and you can’t see the broker’s inventory (to avoid Google smacking it all down), publish some articles with unique phrases in them.
Then Google it and see where it ended up.
Depending how relevant the resultant sites / pages are, you can decide whether to include your links in future articles.
[This is really just the grayhat parallel to the blackhat SEO's comment spam swing dance].)
Now, I know that my point about offtopic sites sounds contradictory to other advice I gave recently, about how it’s the page that matters. Isn’t it irrelevant what the site is about, and only the page relevance matters in determining the link’s value/relevance ?
It depends. It depends on some conditions. Imagine this as a spectrum of relevance.
- If the site is about nothing in particular, like a personal blog, news site or other generic publisher like About.com, then no, it doesn’t matter. The link counts if the page is topical.
- If the sites’ topics have 0 relation, but somehow the page manages to bridge that gap, it’s ok. SEO has no relation to dentistry, but it’s a clean link when I link to my dad’s dental related business from here, because he’s my dad – it’s normal and accepted that I should link to him. And before anyone jumps to conclusions, this text link broker trial was for an affiliate site of mine, not my dad’s business.
- If your site topics overlap and the page is offtopic, it’s not grand (both in terms of traffic and link value), but it won’t hurt.
- If the sites’ topics overlap and the page is relevant, it’s better, simply because the traffic quality will be better. Traffic I get from my guest-posts at Wolf-Howl is pretty good, because our audiences are mostly interested in the same thing.
- If the sites are exactly on the same topic and the page is relevant, it’s money.
- (i) Offtopic sites with (ii) offtopic pages that (iii) don’t bridge the topic gap with the site they’re linking to = Paid links that don’t count.
- Also, (i) Offtopic sites with (ii) relevant pages that (iii) don’t bridge the topic gap with the site they’re linking to = Paid links that don’t count.
The latter type is what I encountered with the text link broker, and it’s why I cancelled the subscription. I dipped my pinky toe in, saw there was an oil slick in the water, and
called the President got out.
- (i) Offtopic sites with (ii) relevant pages that (iii) DO bridge the topic gap with the site they’re linking to = Paid links that DO count.
So yes, links from offtopic sites do count, including paid links from offtopic sites.
It just depends…
As they say, the devil is in the details.
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