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Linkbuilding Techniques Gone Wrong: Is Your Blog Being Pimped & You Don’t Even Know It?

You may be thinking, “WTH Yuwanda; what do you mean by that?” What I’m talking about here peeps are linkbuilding techniques — and how some marketers will try to use your blog to advance their interests – sometimes to your detriment. How do they do it?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

I’m sure you’ve received emails like the ones listed below (click images for larger view). These are, in my opinion, attempts by some to get you to pimp your blog.

What Does It Mean to “Pimp Your Blog?”

Pimping your blog is when somebody wants space on it – without providing anything of value in return. This is done in several overt, and some cases, sneaky ways. Read on for an in-depth discussion of what I mean.

AND/OR

3 Linkbuilding Techniques Some Use to Get You to Pimp Your Blog

Following are three of the most common types of requests I get (and I’m sure many other bloggers too).

(i) The “Self-Serving Guest Post” Linkbuilding Technique

This is when someone will email you about submitting a guest post to your blog. Great, you may be thinking. But when you see what they want to write about, it’s evident that they haven’t even taken the time to see what your blog is all about.

For example, this blog is about how to make money writing. But I’ve gotten guest post “pitches” for everything from furniture design to gardening. Excuse me, like really? Obviously they didn’t take the time to see what this blog is all about.

My response? Delete. Delete. Delete.

(ii) The “Link to One of Your Articles” Linkbuilding Technique

One of my top-performing posts on this blog is about ebook theft. If you type in “ebook theft” that post is usually #1 on Google.*Linkbuilding Techniques Gone Wrong: 3 Kinds to Look Out for that "Pimp Your Blog"

I can’t tell you how many requests I get for people asking me to give them a link on that specific post. The reason? Obviously because it gets good search engine traffic.  Some even offer to pay for the link. They’ll usually ask you to tell them how much you’d charge.

A Warning for New Bloggers

By the way, this is what gets a lot of new bloggers tripped up. They get excited – “Yoohoo! Someone wants to give me money to post something on my blog. I’m ‘making money blogging,’ and I just got started.”

What many newbies don’t realize is, the pay is never enough to make it worth your time, eg, a one-time payment of $25 or $50 (if you’re lucky).

And not for nothing, it can hurt your site’s ranking because Google doesn’t like paid links – at least not those done the wrong way.

On top of asking for a link and sometimes offering to pay for it, some are very bold and go an extra step – asking that you ensure that the link is “Do Follow.”

If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, this all-important concept is explained in the “Types of Paid Links: Do Follow & No Follow Links Explained” section below.

And in the section entitled “Linkbuilding Methods: How to Stay on the Right Side of Google with Paid Links” below, we’ll discuss how to do paid links the right way so your blog doesn’t get penalized by Google.

*Note: Search results are not static; they change all the time. However, that post on ebook theft has ranked on the first page of Google for a few years now.

(iii) The “Can I Get a Shout Out” Linkbuilding Technique

This is when you get an email requesting that you mention their content – a blog post, video, infographic, etc. — in one of your existing posts, or in an upcoming post.

Usually, they’ll say something along the lines of: “I’m sure this will be greatly beneficial for your blog’s readers. If you could share it blah, blah, blah …””  Sometimes they’ll even reference a specific post that it would “fit perfectly with.”

Bad Linkbuilding Strategies: 3 Things that Bother Me

I receive at least 2-3 of some form of the above emails per day. On a really prolific day, it can be 5-10, and I know it’s only gonna get worse as site traffic grows. No wonder so many popular blogs have started not accepting guest posts and turned off comments on their blog.

Yeah, that’s another sneaky way some will try to pimp your blog. They’ll leave a generic comment, or worse, a comment that doesn’t make any sense – with a link of course. I just delete them. With that being said, following are three things that really bother me about these awful linkbuilding strategies.

(i) It’s all about them

Sure, the content may be relevant to my blog and helpful to my readers, but you’re asking me to drop what I’m doing, do something for you, and not offering anything tangible in return.

Even if I stopped and took the time to link to your great content on my relevant blog post where readers may discover and like it, don’t you think I research a post pretty well when I first write it to make it helpful to my readers?

Why would I revisit existing content just to add your link? What does that do for me? One of the reasons you want your link added to the post is because it’s already a danged good piece of content that’s already ranking well, right? So why would I pimp out that post to you – even if your link is on topic?

How I Respond to Requests Like These

If a post is completely off topic, of course, I just delete it. But if the person has: (a) referenced me by name; (b) made it clear that they’re familiar with the content on my blog; and (c) submitted a useful piece of content that I don’t mind sharing, in the past, I sent a response like:

Thanks for submitting. I’m always looking for relevant content to link to. Will keep this in mind.”

I’ve stopped doing that though.

How to Respond to Backlink Requests: A Template

Following is the templated response I now use when I want to respond:

Thanks for getting in touch [Name of Person], and for forwarding info on your [whatever they’ve submitted, eg, blog post, video, infographic, etc.].

I’d be happy to link to it, send it to my newsletter subscribers and share it via my social media channels. As I’m always looking for great, relevant guest posts for Inkwell Editorial, feel free to submit one with a link to your [type of content submitted] and I’ll let you know when it’ll go live and forward you the link.

FYI, here are the site’s guest posting guidelines.

Again, thanks for reaching out, and I look forward to receiving your guest post.

Best,
Yuwanda

The reason I started doing this simple. My blog is a business. It’s how I make a living and I pour my heart, soul, money and time into it. One thing taking the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing ecourse reinforced for me is the need to maximize my time and my blog’s resources.

All. The. Time.

Your blog is a business. Treat it like one. Click To Tweet

Think about it: why does someone want to appear on your blog? Because it’ll be beneficial for them in some way, right? Then they should be willing to pay for the privilege – whether it’s:

This brings me to my next problem with these link-building techniques …

(ii) Most of the pitches are woefully off topic

I’ve even stopped being angry when I receive these because I’m like, “Really dude. You’ll be off to the next ‘make money blogging’ scheme tomorrow if this is how you think you’re going to get noticed online.”

(iii) Waste of time

Some sites send you on a veritable treasure hunt to find their submission guidelines. This site’s guest posting guidelines are clearly posted for anyone who takes even 30 seconds to look for them. So if you’re sending me a “Hey, I want to submit a great guest post to you” email, but you haven’t even looked for my guidelines, it lets me know that you’re sending out a form email to hundreds of bloggers to see who’ll say yes.

You are no more interested in writing a detailed, helpful post for my audience than I am in reading what you might submit. Time is money when you work for yourself, so this is why this kinda burns me when people do this.

When I want to submit  a post to a site, the first thing I do is look to see if they have submission guidelines. Most blogs that accept guest posts make them easy to find.

Only if I can’t find them will I look for contact information and then send a query. And in that query, I make sure to let them know that I’ve read their content; I know what their blog is all about; and point out how a post on XX would be of value to their audience.

As long as we’re on the topic of guest posts as a linkbuilding strategy, let’s dig a little deeper.

Linkbuilding Made Easy: 4 Benefits of Pitching a Guest Post

One of things almost all blog owners want is fresh, well-written, helpful content. And after writing the post, then there’s the sourcing of and/or making graphics, proofreading, editing, research, uploading, formatting and marketing of the post.

See why they want to get you to pimp your content? It’s not hard, but it is time consuming , which brings us to the first benefit of guest posting as a linkbuilding technique.

(i) Saves the blog owner time

It’s what I spend the bulk of my time on, so if someone wants to appear on my blog, then send me a well-written post highlighting your infographic, video, product, service, survey, etc.

That’s one less post I’ll have to write.

(ii) Greater chance of getting accepted

I guarantee you, if it’s on topic and well written, it has great chance of being published. And this benefits you because it encourages people to click through to your blog/offer because you’ve dispensed such great info. This is the whole point of submitting the post.

(iii) Provides an evergreen link

The post will stay live on my site forever – or at the very least for years, only being removed if necessary when I do a content audit.

(iv) Opens the door for future opportunities

This can be submitting another guest post, becoming a regular guest blogger on the site, partnering in the future on JV offers; and/or getting your next “link request” accepted – without having to submit a post.

The bottom line is, you start to build a relationship with the blog owner – instead of reaching out and just saying, in essence, “Do this for me” without offering anything tangible in return.

How to Get Your Guest Post Accepted Almost Every Time

Following is pitch I received from a guest poster that I was eager to publish. And, it was because this blogger had obviously read the site’s submission guidelines and complied, which is really almost all you have to do get a guest post accepted by the way.

Guest Post Submission: The Right Way to Do It

Paid Links: “Do Follow” & “No Follow” Links Explained

Now that you know what to do, and what not to do when trying to build backlinks to your blog, following is some need-to-know info on how to stay on the right side of Google as you go about it.

What Is a “Do Follow” Link?

As I said above, some people who contact you about posting content/links on your blog want “do follow” links.

Think of a “do follow” link as a recommendation; an endorsement, if you will. The reason is, search engines treat them that way. So if you link to a piece of content, it passes along “link juice” from your site to it.

This is why people strive to get backlinks from high-ranking sites. That site’s link juice (its power, popularity) is looked at by search engines (eg, Google) as a recommendation.

It’s like a high-ranking site saying to Google, “Hey, this is a good site. We recommend that people check it out.” As explained here:

Search engines crawlers follow dofollow links. … By default, all links are dofollow links (emphasis mine) unless they are modified to be nofollow links manually or are automatically changed by a website setting.

So when you as a blogger link to another site, they’re benefitting from whatever link juice, power, popularity your site has.

And you should know, every page on a site is ranked individually by search engines. So while you may think, “Hmm, my site is not ranking in Google,” that’s not how it works.

Web pages are ranked in search engines, not web sites. This is why some bloggers will ask for links to a specific page on your site. And this also why you should treat every blog post you write as its own individual money-making entity. This means:

Properly SEO every post because Google ranks individual PAGES on a site, not the site as a whole. Click To Tweet

What Is a “No Follow” Link?

A no follow link tells search engines not to follow a link. Hence, for example, Google search bots won’t crawl that page or pass on link juice. Only a human can follow the link — ie, click on it — as opposed to a seardh bot.

No Follow is explained on the popular Shout Me Loud tech/affiliate marketing blog in this manner:

Nofollow is an HTML attribute value used to instruct search engines bots that a hyperlink should not influence the link target’s ranking in the search engine’s index.

It is intended to reduce the effectiveness of certain types of search engine spam, thereby improving the quality of search engine results and preventing spamdexing from occurring in the first place.

This is why Google wants all affiliate links to be no follow. The search engine likes to return helpful, relevant, non-partisan (ie, paid for) links. And even though arguably everything on the web is partisan in some way, Google wants the most helpful content to float to the top – not content written to influence (ie, posts that contain affiliate links and / or paid links).

From a Linkbuilding Perspective, How Google Handles Affiliate Links

So make sure all of your affiliate links are no follow. Your site could be penalized if they’re not. FYI, here’s what Matt Cutts, Google’s former SEO guru said about how the search giant handles affiliate links:

We handle the vast majority of affiliate stuff correctly because if it is a large enough affiliate network we know about it and we handle it on our side. Even though we handle, I believe, the vast majority of affiliate links appropriately, if you are at all worried about it I would go ahead and just add the nofollow because you might be earning money from that.

So two things we can glean from this: (i) Google knows how to identify affiliate links and will handle them accordingly (ie, treat them as no follow even if you don’t code them that way); and (ii) if you’re not sure, just add the code yourself.

Here’s how to make a no-follow link

Let’s say I was telling you to check out the keyword research tool at the following link (which is a great piece of software by the way; this is my affiliate link for it):

<a href=http://www.ezseonews.com/go.php?offer=inkwell07&pid=12&tid=inkwell07>

To make the link no follow, I’d simply add the “no follow” tag to the code, which would look like this when properly coded:

<a href=http://www.ezseonews.com/go.php?offer=inkwell07&pid=12&tid=inkwell07 rel=nofollow>

It’s that easy. Also, if you have a WordPress blog, there are WordPress plugins that will make links no follow for you automatically. This way, you never have to worry about it.

Why No Follow Links Are Good for Your Linkbuilding Strategy

No follow links have gotten a pretty crappy rap, by the way. They can actually be quite useful because who surfs the web? Humans. And it’s humans that click. For that reason alone, as this post highlights, no follow links will always have value

To be fair, most don’t know enough about search engine optimization to know that they should care, so I guess you could say in this case that ignorance truly is bliss. But if you’re serious about making money on the web, a foundational understanding of search engine optimization (especially how to write SEO content) is necessary.

Anyhoo, to sum up this section, don’t obsess about whether a link is do follow or no follow. Just follow Google’s guidelines so your site remains on its good side, and continue to turn out and promote great content.

Now, to paid links. There is a way to do them right.

How to Make Money Blogging: A definitive 3-Step Plan A 3-Step Plan to Earn $10,000+/Month Blogging.

You’ll learn:

–>How I earned $900 in one day;

–>How to choose a profitable blogging niche;

–>10 ways to start getting traffic to a brand new blog;

–>How to properly monetize your blog to maximize earnings;

–>And so much more!

How NOT to Get Penalized by Google When Using Paid Links

It’s amazingly simple not to violate Google’s guidelines when it comes to paid links on your site. And FYI, the reason I keep referring to Google instead of just saying “Search Engines” is because Google is – by far – the largest search engine.

It’s the one most people are concerned with and that’s simply because it drives so much more site traffic than the other two major search engines, ie, Yahoo! and Bing (MSN).

Following are two simple things you should do when you accept paid links and/or use affiliate links on your site.

(i) Make links “no follow.”

Remember this as if your life depended on it. Google does not want you passing on link juice from paid links. So make sure every affiliate link and/or paid link you have on your site has this code embedded in it. Again, you can do it manually, or use a WordPress plugin to do it automatically for you.

(ii) Post a “Disclosure Statement” on your site

If you write a sponsored post for a company, accept a guest post that is an “advertorial” for a company, and/or link to affiliate products in a post, you should have a disclosure statement – in that post somewhere.

Where to Place Affiliate Disclosure Statements in Your Posts

Some bloggers have a general disclosure statement that’s linked to in their navigation bar, which is usually at the top or side of every page on their site. Some put them at the bottom of a post (a big no-no, especially if this is the only place it can be found).

The Federal Trade Commission (aka FTC) is cracking down on bloggers, celebrities, “social influencers,” etc., who do not make it clear that they derive compensation from the content on their sites/social media outlets. The language the FTC uses says that you must “clearly and conspicuously disclose” relationships, monetary compensation, etc. So in my opinion, your disclosure statement should:

  • Be a general one that appears on every page of your site (somewhere at the top or hig up in a sidebar): This can easily be accomplished by making it a link on your site’s navigation page.
  • Be on the actual page of the promoted content/link; and
  • Appear before a web surfer encounters a paid link. So for me, it should always be somewhere at the top – not buried at the bottom of the page or in the middle – after paid links have appeared.

FYI, here’s this site’s Disclosure Statement. See how the link to it is at the very top of the page, in addition to being a link in the navigation bar, like so?Affiliate Disclosure Statement: Example

How to Write a Disclosure Statement

For mine, I googled “affiliate disclosure statement example”, found one I liked and tweaked it to personalize it.

If you’re going to be an Amazon affiliate, be sure to find a statement that uses their wording. They’re extremely nitpicky about stuff like this, so you want to make sure that you get this right so you don’t get kicked out of their affiliate marketing program.

FYI, here’s more in-depth info on how to accept paid links and advertising on your site — and keep Google happy in the process; cuz boy, you don’t wanna be on their bad side!

Why Not to Pimp Your Blog, No Matter How Little Traffic It Gets

To conclude this very long post, I just want to leave you with three parting thoughts.

(i) Your blog is a business. Treat it like one.

This means having a defined set of rules about what you will and won’t do. And every decision you make when you’re blogging for profit goes directly to your bottom line.

(ii) Don’t be afraid to say no.

It’s one of the hardest lessons for many entrepreneurs learn, especially women – because we don’t want to seem rude, mean or selfish. It’s why I love the following quote on this post on Business Insider about “the power of saying no.”

You can’t be available for big opportunities if you say ‘yes’ to every little thing.

Every little thing like taking the time to help someone with their obvious linkbuilding technique(s). As a writer/blogger, I don’t have enough time in my day to devote to my tasks, so I’ve started saying no to things that suck up my time and doesn’t benefit my blog.

I blog for a living. I take that and my paying customers seriously. I’m not about to pimp out my hard work for a few dollars. And especially if you’re a newbie, don’t fall prey to these linkbuilding strategies. Someone is trying to capitalize on your hard work, and even though you may have little to no traffic now, the links you put up today are ostensibly there forever, which brings me to my final tip.

(iii) Don’t sell your hard work cheaply.

Let’s say you have a small blog – it doesn’t get very many page views, but you’re working hard to increase that fivefold within the next six months.

Someone comes along and offers to pay you $300 for a link on your site. Unless specified, they will expect that link to stay there forever – and they may have a legal leg to stand on if you remove the link say, after a year, and you don’t have a contract.

Now, let’s say you increase your blog’s traffic from a few thousand page views per month, to 50,000 or more. That online marketer reaps the benefit of all your hard work for months, even years to come –just for a few pennies. And they count on this because they know a lot of bloggers, especially newbies, don’t realize this.

Don’t do it. Just don’t go there. Wait until you have enough site traffic so that you can decently monetize it, reaping the rewards which you worked so hard to build.

It’s why I advise passing on linkbuilding techniques that call for you to basically pimp out your blog. You may have a few dollars in your pocket today, but setting yourself up for failure down the line.

Experienced any of These Linkbuilding Techniques?

Is your inbox flooded with emails like the ones I displayed at the beginning of this post? How did you handle it? Have advice, questions, comments about anything said here? Hit me up in the comments section below. I’d love to know your thoughts.

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    Comments

    1. Very helpful article Yuwanda, thanks for the share.

      I want to ask you.

      Which of the link building techniques you mentioned proved to be the most beneficial to you?

      Kind regards,
      Filip

      • Filip guest posting by far, especially if you can land one on a popular blog in your niche. It’s time-consuming though, and alot of the top blogs don’t accept guest posts anymore b/c so many of the pitches are crap. HOWEVER, there are still plenty that do, so if you have the time and patience to track them down, follow their guidelines and submit a post that gets published, it can drive traffic for years.

        Good luck, and thanks for dropping by.

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