It is five years, almost to the day that Yahoo started charging $299 per year for a listing in their directory as this article on Pandia clearly illustrates.
The main benefit of being in the Yahoo directory isn’t traffic, it is pagerank / trustrank. Who actually uses the Yahoo directory for anything other than listing their own sites?
It is many years since I went to Yahoo to lookup an entry for anything other than a competitor in a niche.
In all those 5 years, I haven’t heard anyone suggest that Yahoo should use “nofollow” for all the directory listings. All commercial websites don’t have a free option to get listed.
It is widely believed that a Yahoo directory listing is given a significant search engine weight.
Big business has a huge advantage over the little guy on the internet. Lets take Ebay as an example.
Many shoppers wouldn’t realise it, although the relationship is made very clear, that Epinions.com is owned by Shopping.com, which is itself owned by Ebay.com.
There is lots of interlinking between the different sites, though it could be achieved in a much more search engine friendly way. There is certainly no clear notification by every link that money is being made on every purchase.
Whilst reviews are user generated, there is certainly editorial control over which products are positioned prominently to maximise sales.
2006 in Perspective
Bloggers have been victimising PPP and to a lesser extent Reviewme.
Google, who claim to “do no evil” are actively discouraging paid posts and paid links from small services. They are suggesting that “nofollow” should be used to denote paid links, rather than their previous intent, untrusted sites (for various reasons).
Google unfortunately made paid links from Yahoo “saintly” since the beginning of their existence. It is only $300 and Yahoo receive payment even if they don’t include your site.
Google don’t regulate major corporations from cross-linking commercially.
During 2006 I have seen Google likened to God.
2007 A Reality Check?
My hope is that bloggers come down to earth a little, because the ranting and raving about paid posts is really displaying quite clearly how narrow-minded they are.
Paid posts and paid links give the little guy a chance to make some money writing about and linking to relevant content. They give the site linked to a greater chance of competing with the massive corporate machines as well as valuable feedback.
There is recent news that PayPerPost have acquired Performancing metrics. Nick at Performancing can be blunt, crude and highly opinionated. He is also a damn smart and ethical guy.
If you have been listening to his recent podcasts, you would know that he has been looking for someone to take metrics onboard for quite some time, as it was a money sink, and he was also talking to VC Dan Rua.
I have mentioned in the past that I have nothing but respect for the PPP guys. The PPP guys didn’t create any scandal, bloggers did it themselves. PayPerPost didn’t object to the free publicity, but in all the comments I have seen made by PPP guys in response to huge amounts of criticism, they have made some quite compelling counter arguments, and taken any criticism as genuine feedback.
I have seen people suggesting that they are going to be immediately cancelling their Performancing metrics accounts for ethical reasons.
Almost every advertiser and affiliate network you work with on your sites is gathering data. PayPerPost seem to have some smart guys backing them with VC funding.
PayPerPost are a business. With VCs backing them, they are not going to take risks in regard to personal data.
Why should PPP be compelled to enforce disclosure when Yahoo doesn’t proclaim “These are paid links?”
From what I have seen of PPP opportunities, they are in the main not for product reviews. It is quite possible they would be totally unaffected by the recent FTC / WOMMA discussion.
Create Great Content and Links Will Follow?
Give it time… maybe. Most websites don’t attract a lot of natural linkage. You can get a few links from various directories for free, though many more require payment – paid links are evil remember?
You can also gain lots of links from things like article marketing or press releases.
But that isn’t the natural linking Google say you should be looking for, to your great content, though I suppose a few sites pick up articles and press releases manually, most collect them automatically based by category of keyword searches.
# natural links per post = blog readership / 1000
That is a very rough figure because many blogs gain far more links, and many gain far less.
Techcrunch doesn’t gain 140 links for every post they make, and I gain more than one link on average for every 5 posts. Then again a large number of the links I gain are from splogs picking up tags used on Technorati.
There seems to be a critical mass for the number of links a single post can expect to receive unless it is exceptional linkbait.
Pay For Your Traffic
You can pay Google $0.15 for some traffic. If 1 in 1000 visitors decides to link to you then that link cost you $150. Hopefully you can convert some of the traffic into customers or subscribers because otherwise that is a horrendous cost, paid to Google as an alternative to natural search.
Who gains more money if paid links and sponsored content is condemned?
Trust and Duplicate Content
Linking through to someone is most of the time a statement of trust. You are sharing your visitors, subscribers, and maybe your customers with the other site. If you link through to them it should always be a followable link, unless you don’t trust them.
Google recommend always linking through to the original source if you syndicate content so they can determine the origin. The same would be true for any quotations. If you quote anything from a site, you should thus always use a followable link.