UPDATE: GoCompare are no longer ranking for their brand name
Link building is tricky. I’ve worked in some farily competitive niches, and link building does become more and more difficult as you ascend the competitive ladder. One niche I do like to watch (primarily due to the wonderful Insider’s View blog) is the UK insurance/financial services market.
Here’s an email that arrived from one of the largest comparison sites in the UK, GoCompare.com:
Hi – I`m Alex Jones, Website Manager at gocompare.com. We are one of the UK`s leading insurance comparison sites, with over 90 insurance companies on our panel.
I was searching the web and came across ******.TLD. We have a constantly growing range of information and advice surrounding insurance and repair themes. This relates to both motoring and household insurance. As such we are looking for good quality partners that have a motoring, automotive, general household or lifestyle theme . . . so I have an idea which I hope you will find useful.
We can have our editorial team research and hand write some unique content for you to add to a page on ******.TLD. We will agree a subject with you that is relevant to both of our sites. The content will contain a single unobtrusive text link in it back to a relevant page on our site. You would benefit from some unique, relevant content to which the search engines seem to be attributing ever more value. We would probably obtain some long term benefit from the link to us — which, as a relevant outbound link, would also be potentially helpful to you from a search engine perspective. We are not currently in the position of being able to exchange or return links so we thought this could be a good alternative.
There are of course absolutely no costs for you in us producing this content.
*** IMPORTANT – GETTING A QUICK RESPONSE ***
I have found that email isn`t always as reliable as everyone thinks plus I`m either out or in meetings most of the time. We have therefore created a simple and quick-to-use response page that provides detailed information and answers to questions on the various options and allows you to send messages to our team . . and much more! You can access it here:-
Your Access Code: ******
Of course I know that some people prefer to reply via email which is absolutely fine and I`ll reply as quickly as possible.
If you feel I should not have sent you this email, I`m really sorry – please just reply with REMOVE in the subject.
Please let me know your thoughts.
Thanks and kind regards – Alex Jones
I’ve redacted any info that could identify the site. So what’s wrong with this?
Sneaky Link Building at Site Owner’s Expense
Link building is extremely tough in competitive niches. I’m generally pretty white-hat when it comes to SEO, but when you’re heavily involved in SEO you know the reality of competition – all the sites in this niche are up to no good. Take a read of Insider’s View and you can see how often sites get penalties and bans. You’ll also learn just how much money we can be talking about, and why the returns often justify the high risks taken.
I have a problem with GoCompare.com’s email. They are preying on site owners who wont realise the risks of adding this “unique content”. GoCompare’s risk is negligible, while the risks to publishers are high. Alex Jones is disingenuous when he writes:
You would benefit from some unique, relevant content to which the search engines seem to be attributing ever more value. We would probably obtain some long term benefit from the link to us — which, as a relevant outbound link, would also be potentially helpful to you from a search engine perspective. We are not currently in the position of being able to exchange or return links so we thought this could be a good alternative. [Emphasis added mine]
What utter shite. Of course Alex fails to mention that such content on your site goes against Google’s TOS and risks a penalty for the publishing site:
Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.
Worse still – site owners aren’t even offered payment for selling links to GoCompare. “There are of course absolutely no costs for you in us producing this content.” I actually had a good laugh at that. Site owners take all the risk while GoCompare take all the benefit. But then again perhaps GoCaompare learnt from previous bans that it’s better to pass the risk to someone else…
GoCompare banned from Google