- Did your site get banned from Google because of viral widgets?
- Has Technorati banned your blog because of WordPress theme spam in their index
- Do the links in your viral ebooks now point to an affiliate program or landing page that no longer exists?
- Did you recommend a web host that is no longer a good choice?
I would even extend that to buying any form of paid link or sponsored review, and possibly also links from directories, social networks, blog commenting etc.
Last June I provided a very simple guide to avoid being banned from Technorati but the same principle applies to many forms of viral marketing where you lose control of the content once it is introduced into the wild.
You need to be using tracking links, redirects, subdomains or even registering domain for the special purpose of ensuring that you have full control of where a user ends up when they click a link, whether it is next week, next month, or next year.
The same applies for search engines.
If you use links pointing to the root of your primary domain
- You can’t remove those links if you get hit with a penalty
- You can’t accurately track traffic from those links
- You can’t split test different landing pages for that traffic source
- If you decide to split your assets, or even sell part of them, you might need to change landing pages, even pointing them to a different domain.
It is easy to claim that Technorati should fix their algorithms to discount themes and blogroll links, or that Google should come clean about exactly what they allow with viral linkbait, but a lot of control lies in the hands of the creator of the viral linkbait, if they are smart enough to use it.