[Update: this related post by Carsten Cumbrowski puts my analysis here to shame. Very worthy of a read if you want to learn how black-hat affiliate marketing works.]
Just about everyone knows that spam is part and parcel of life. We just live with it and try to do our best to minimise the impact it has on our daily lives. Unfortunately spam is a particular issue for the SEO industry, as unscrupulous search marketers often turn to spamming techniques to make a quick dollar.
I get my share of spam at Red Cardinal. Generally I just delete the crap left by ‘kind’ spammers (like Cork Web Design Spammers), but occasionally I do a little digging to see what some of the particularly nasty spammers are at. More about spammers a little later – but first, let me tell you what I think of ‘Long Copy’.
Long Copy Pages for ‘SEO’ tools
I like to include screen shots of pages in my posts. I have a nifty little app that lets me grab entire screen shots from within the browser, not just the visible area.
I wanted to include the sales pages for two SEO tools, both of which use ‘long copy’. Here’s the screen shot of the two pages:
These pages are so ‘long’ that I had to reduce them by a factor of ~14 just to get them that small. Maybe they’re ‘Really Long Copy’, if there is such a thing. (If you want to view those pages in all their glory I’ve ‘published’ the URLs a little further down the page. In case you’re wondering what this is all about I’ll come clean in a second.)
These pages appear to be affiliate sites for two well known SEO tools. I’m not 100% sure what’s going on with these pages as they don’t appear to have affiliate IDs appended to the outgoing URLs. Perhaps the affiliate program uses HTTP referrers for identification. Perhaps these pages are actually proprietary sales pages. I’m don’t know for sure.
So what’s the problem with those sales pages? Purely my opinion, but they look and feel like ‘get-rich-quick’ pitches to me. The message I hear sounds like ‘I’ll sell you this great benefit. But wait, there’s more. Buy now and I’ll include x and y’. Yes, lots of marketers defend this technique. And I know it’s true that ‘long copy’ can be effective, but only when the content is compelling and does not feel like I’m being ‘sold’.
Long Page Copy – Read or Turn Off?
When I see long copy pages like these I just turn off completely. As I mentioned, I just think ‘get rich quick’.
I’ve stuck my neck out on this issue once or twice (hello Copyblogger). I sometimes wonder if perhaps long copy is a peculiar American technique that we just don’t fall for this side of the pond? (And if you’re interested Brian Clarke, a.k.a. Copyblogger, has written a post about the death of long copy.)
Back to the comment spam
So taking a step backward for a moment. Why am I highlighting those two affiliate pages? Keyword Elite and SEO Elite are marketed and sold by Bryxen Software (a firm owned by Brad Callen I believe). As with so much of the US on-line marketing industry, Bryxen uses ‘Long Page’ techniques to sell there software. They also make heavy use of affiliate programs to multiply their sales. A couple of weeks ago Red Cardinal received multiple comment spam like the following:
SEO Elite | +http://SEOElite.gurubuddy.com | IP: 126.96.36.199
Automate your link building efforts and rank high in the search engines easily….
Killer Keyword Tool | +http://Keywordelite.find-your-stuff.com | IP: 188.8.131.52
Generate huge laser-targeted low competition, high demand keyword lists in minutes….
These comments were dropped on multiple posts, and, as you can see above, were left by the same IP. Odd? I think not. Probably the same bot. Checking the WHOIS shows find-your-stuff.com registered to someone in Singapore, while gurubuddy.com is privately registered.
Both of the tools being promoted are from Bryxen Software (Brad Callens company +http://www.bryxensoftware.com/), and the linked sites appear to be affiliates.
Comment Spam by ‘SEO’ Firms – Why SEO has such a BAD NAME
I am sure of one thing – spamming blog comments with links to long copy pages, such as those pictured above in miniature, is one of the main reasons the SEO industry has such serious reputation problems. It is very, very hard to blame people for viewing the SEO industry with suspicion. After all, every day the results of spammers litter our websites and pollute our on-line experience.
The reputation problem is only compounded given that the products marketed by the above spammers are well-known SEO tools: comment spam + SEO tools = SEO spammers. And how can we blame people for making that connection.
I’m very interested in your thoughts on ‘long copy’, and whether you have been converted by a ‘long copy’ page like the ones above.
And if you’re thinking of buying these tools, think about this…
I neither own nor use either of these tools. They may well be excellent tools, and perform their respective task extremely well – I don’t know. But if you want to do the world a favour, don’t buy products that are marketed by spammers.