Gift Sending is the New Ethical and Social Way to Buy Links
January 30, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park
With Google’s stamp of disapproval on paid links, the whole economy of link buying has changed. What was once a thriving business has now gone underground away from the prying eyes of Google engineers. Nowadays, buying links through online link brokerage companies will get you nowhere and may actually get your site penalized in Google’s search engine rankings.
So what’s a webmaster to do? If we can’t buy our way to top rankings does that mean we have to actually provide valuable content that will build links naturally? For some reason, I don’t think that strategy sits well with most online marketers.
A recent trend I’ve been seeing in the Internet marketing world is companies bribing giving gifts to influential bloggers. Many times this leads to the blogger giving a “free” plug or review filled with links that of course pass SEO value. But it’s okay because these links are editorial, right?
Let’s look at few examples.
Shoemoney receives a Canon HG10 HD camera from RocketProfit. He then writes a post thanking them with plenty of links and calling RocketProfit his “new favorite affiliate network”. I wonder how much that’s worth. More than a silly camera I’m sure.
A custom under mats company… Are you serious? Well I give them credit for the custom work and it definitely got the job done. Free links for a friggin mat company.
John Cow sends John Chow’s daughter a baby bib gift. Very personal, very creative, and very effective. A way to a blogger’s heart is a gift for his or her children. Free links here as well.
So now I’m sure you get the point. These are only a handful of examples but sending gifts to bloggers is a great way to get a review and a few valuable links without the nofollow attribute. Bribing bloggers obviously has its benefits so let’s look at some of them below.
Benefits of sending gifts to bloggers
- Gifts can be more cost effective than a paid link
Sending a relatively cheap (but thoughtful) gift can work to get you a link. For example, sending a custom t-shirt might only cost you $10 but the blogger may appreciate the act and give you a mention and a link in return.
- Develop a relationship – good networking opportunity
When sending a gift, you’re not just sending a tangible item. You’re also sending your identity for the blogger to remember. This is a great way to start a business relationship and can lead to more conversations and partnerships later on. A gift can be that something that gets your foot in the door.
- Generate good will
Sometimes you send gifts because you appreciate the blogger and all the he or she does. A small thoughtful act can go a long way in encouraging bloggers and bettering the Internet community as a whole.
- Receive editorial links that pass PageRank
If the bloggers appreciate your gift, they will usually mention you in some way and give you a link to your site. Whether you consider it a paid link or not, it’s going to pass SEO value.
If all of these benefits sound too good to be true, then you’re right. Sending gifts to bloggers doesn’t always work out as planned and can actually backfire to hurt you big time. Take Microsoft for example. Back when Vista was first being launched, the software giant sent select bloggers laptops worth over $2,000 each to test and review. Of course, many people considered this blatant bribery and it hurt Microsoft’s reputation. The company even went as far as retracting their offer and requiring the bloggers to send the computers back. Ouch, that’s just awful.
Below are some of the negatives of sending bloggers gifts.
Pitfalls of sending gifts to bloggers
- Risk of receiving nothing in return
Sending a gift does not obligate anyone to return the favor. You could get absolutely nothing in return.
- Could be called out for bribing
Like Microsoft, your gift giving strategy can be called out for bribery and do tremendous damage to your brand. The potential of getting a few links and exposure may not be worth the risk of bad publicity.
- Blogger may give you a bad review
Again, a gift does not obligate anyone to return the favor. A blogger could thank you with an email but not provide any links. Even worse, he or she can write a bad (but honest) review on your product.
So what’s your take on this issue? Would you give gifts to bloggers as a marketing strategy to build links and exposure?
For those of you who are for this marketing tactic, be sure to contact me for my mailing address. I love getting gifts. 😉If you like this post, subscribe to the RSS feed. Get the latest updates delivered straight to your email or news reader.