About a month ago, John Chow posted a challenge on his website entitled ‘Make Money, Review my Blog‘. The general idea was that a blogger would link to his site with the search term ‘make money online’ in 2 sentences he had pre written. In return he would then link back via posts on his blog. It should be noted that is blog is very popular and gets a lot of traffic.
To his credit, i don’t recall anyone doing something like this on such a scale in the blogging world but a lot of you will quickly realise that he is encouraging people to ‘google bomb’ his site so that he can get to the top of the rankings for the search term ‘make money online’.
I actually posted about a BBC article 4 days ago entitled Cheating the Search Engines which discusses Google’s view on bombing.
Very Popular but a little ironic
I think John Chow has a great blog and all the best to him with his online ventures.
Though im sure im not the only one who saw the irony in one of his latest posts entilted ‘Its all about the relationship‘ where he professes that he would never by pass a site like Reviewme because they send him so much traffic and business. He said and i quote
They’ve sent me customers I would have never gotten if I was not part of their network. They gave me the scoop on new products like Post Level Text Link Ads. I will not cut them (or any other ad networks) out just to make a few extra bucks.
I think this stance is a little hypocrtical. Why does he feel that it’s wrong to bypass ad networks like ReviewMe but that there is nothing at all wrong with manipulating Google results so that he can get to the top of the listings for his chosen search term. Doesn’t google send him the bulk of his search traffic? Doesn’t that traffic generate income for him?
Again, i stress im a big fan of John’s however i just don’t see how manipulating search results on google is fine but accepting a review directly for your blog is not. For the record, ive got no problem with people google bombing (good luck to anyone who gets to the top of the search results) and i would happily bypass reviewme simply because i think that 50% of the review cost is a ridiculous amount and an amount i think they will struggle to get once similar sites to reviewme become more popular.
Why this is good for your blog but bad for blogging
In the short term this reviewing method is gonna prove very successful for bloggers and good luck to everyone out there who gets success from it.
In the long term however, i think if this method gets more and more popular its gonna come back and bite bloggers in the ass. If you read the ‘Cheating the Search Engines‘ article i referred to before, you will notice the part which says
Apostolos Gerasoulis, co-inventor of search technology for Ask.com said: I don’t think this is the problem though. This is just fun.â€
Why we don’t remove it, or why the search engines don’t remove it, is because as long as we give relevant results for most of the queries that you type then we’re OK.
The impact of this bombing, as it is called, is minimal, insignificant. It might be two or three examples,â€ he added.
Maybe im in no position to disagree with the co-inventor of a search site but the one thing we’ve all noticed is that search engines react to flaws in their system. We only have to go back 10 years to see why meta tags are effectively redundant now. At one point there were several porn sites in the top 10 results for the search term ‘Disney’. At the moment i dont think search engines are too bothered about google bombing because the majority of search results are fine. I think that if the review me in exchange for a link system was utilised by a few major blogs we might hear a different story from them. Some things in the blogging world tend to grow exponentially and this could be one of them. The problem arises when a linking method becomes standard.
I’ll use an example to illustrate my point, specifically Gizmodo. Gizmodo is one of the most popular blogs on the web and gets a huge amount of traffic. Let’s say that the owner of Gizmodo decided to do a review challenge similar to John Chow’s however the term they wanted was the name of a new laptop company called SuperLap. With great traffic and thousands of readers i have no doubt that there would be lots of blogs linking back with the term ‘SuperLap’.
Why would this be a problem? Well when someone searches for ‘SuperLap’ they would find the Gizmodo website before they found the official website for SuperLap. I doubt SuperLap would be pleased about that (luckily, they dont exist!). Perhaps my Gizmodo example is a little basic however i hope it illustrates the potential problem if this method does become a standard linking method in blogs ie. it gives high traffic blogs a very easy option of getting to the top of listings of search terms they set.
Will search engines find a way to penalise websites who do this?
Will this linking method even prove popular enough to worry them?
I very much doubt i will run a competition which asks people to link to me. I do ask for people who download themes from here to retain the copyright link however i believe thats a different kettle of fish.
Another reason im reluctant to do this kind of challege is that this blog would be filled with constant updates to the sites who link to me. I’d rather concentrate on writing guides and releasing themes for visitors. I’m gonna put a referrer list on my blog soon but id rather that kind of info was on the sidebar than cluttering up my actual blog.
Brian Heys posted about Mindless Blogging yesterday. His post details how he doesn’t want his blog to become another clone of other blogs on the web ie. to be original and come up with new ideas etc. Which is why i hope he doesn’t start a challenge like John Chow as every 3rd or 4th post will be a link back to people who linked to him.
I would like to stress again that i have nothing against those who do set up a challenge like this and if you do i’d love to hear how it goes on. Personally, i would much rather have unique competitions instead of making my blog a link farm for recipricol links.
Kevin Muldoon is a professional blogger with a love of travel. He writes regularly about topics such as WordPress, Blogging, Productivity and Social Media on his personal blog and provides support to bloggers at Rise Forums. He can also be found on Twitter @KevinMuldoon and Google+.