I write for many blogs, as you know. I enjoy publishing content and sharing my insight. Occasionally it is deemed valuable and read by thousands of people. One of the niche blogs I wrote for, which many of you’ve heard of, has recently taken massive action against promotional backlinks.
If you read what I write, I generally out companies and bad services, and I also tend to even recommend some. Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of my content turned down with comments like:
- “Please either remove the XYZ example or add 2-3 others with it so that it does not feel promotional. Thank you.”
- “This feels a bit too promotional for XYZ. Since we don’t advocate sites like ABC, we’re also not completely comfortable with offering up a similar site to our audience. We are going to pass on this one. Thank you.”
- “Prior to submitting this, please note that we do not advocate XYZ and so choose not to include any links to their site on our blog. Thank you.”
- “Please offer some other options/links for organizations that offer free SSL certificates in addition to XYZ so that it doesn’t seem promotional for them.”
The funny part is, none of these were affiliated with me in anyway. They were all services I had used and were offering personal recommendations to either try or to avoid. Actually, most of the companies I mentioned were simply companies to avoid. There was no promotion to pick X company over Y company.
As you can see, I have a number of articles, including high quality content personally wrote by me, that have been declined. If blogs want to crack down on paid link promotion in their articles, they need to find other ways. There are 2 ways to look at dealing with this, from a business perspective and then from a technical perspective.
From a business man’s standpoint, if your contributors are being paid to write content and place links, they are currently generating content for you, especially if it’s only once in every 3-5 articles. If you were to take action, you could cause contributors to leave and they’d post their valuable content elsewhere. If you’re taking action, you also have the case of false detecting conflicts of interest, like in my scenarios above. Now you have a quality writer who is taking his content to one of his other 20 blogs to publish.
From a technical standpoint, the administrative editors need to know how to accurately detect paid links. Based on the age and popularity of the site, you can decide if the resource is of high quality. A resource that appears at the top of Google, likely where the contributor first found the piece, is likely going to have some quality social shares. Maybe only 5 or 10 shares, but from the organic traffic it received, it should have social shares. This is true if it was at the top of Google. If it was not at the top of Google, then I’d start considering where the writer found the content they are linking to. Is it high quality? Is the site active? Is the site monetized? There are a number of ways to detect this and I believe there’s be money in a service that would be available on contract to investigate sites like this, to find paid contextual editorial backlinks.
Now, this isn’t the case on every platform. There are some publications who don’t care about writers posting links, even after it’s pointed out to them.