Dear [Insert Usually Incorrect Greeting],
I represent a reputable company interested in purchasing text link advertising on your site. We recognize that you have an engaged readership. We are willing to pay $x for a six month placement in your sidebar with the anchor text “venetian blinds.”
Please let me know if you are interested.
Shady SEO Company
When you receive this email the first time, it’s easy to get excited. Wow! Someone gets what I’ve been working on, they see the value of my site, my engaged community, I’m finally making it!
Hold your horses, it’s just not that simple.
What’s wrong with this, it’s quick easy money, right? What is there to lose? Depending on your goals as a blogger, falling for this easy money could result in a Google Penalty Smackdown.
Let’s start off with the the blatant lie.
The represented company doesn’t give two whits about your engaged community. This form letter was sent to a list of sites / blogs all with a specific pagerank. Don’t believe me, do a quick search for “PageRank 4 Blogs.” Sure, it says it’s a list of DoFollow blogs for commenting or guest posting. It’s also a handy list of blogs to reach out to in an attempt to purchase Google Juice in an effort to raise a site’s authority in search results. Google Juice is just the slang term that refers to the flow of PageRank from one website to another.
Violating Google’s TOS is grounds for Google to drop your PageRank to 0.
If you really do have a highly engaged community and your site grows through word of mouth via social media platforms, perhaps you don’t care about your PageRank, a significant factor in how your site performs in search results.
Some will always say, Google won’t know, what’s the harm? Personally I’m in the blog business for the long haul. To legitimate advertisers I am worth more with an intact PageRank and substantial traffic. I suggest you give heavy consideration to your business plan before jumping at the first money someone is willing to pay.
To be clear, advertising is not against Google’s TOS.
How can this be? What differentiates one link from another?
As an example, when you post Google’s Adsense TextLink Ads in your sidebars, those links come with a special tag in the hyperlink <a rel=”nofollow” href=”url”>keywords</a>. This “nofollow” tag tells spiders and bots that you are not giving that link any of your authority, you are not vouching for what’s behind the url, and that the program shouldn’t follow the link off of your site.
A quick litmus test to find out if a company is really interested in your “engaged readership” is to respond, with the following:
I would love to serve the link in my sidebar. Naturally it will be with the rel=”nofollow” attribute and sponsorship disclosure as is required to by Google’s TOS.
Let me know when they call back.
(Image Credit: Public Domain Photos)