Gift Sending is the New Ethical and Social Way to Buy Links

January 30, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park  

bribe.jpgWith 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-camera.jpg
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.

shoemoney-mat.jpg
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.

johnchow-cowgift.jpg
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. ;-)

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Posted in Articles, Internet Marketing, Link Building
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Comments

28 Responses to “Gift Sending is the New Ethical and Social Way to Buy Links”

Vikingblogger on January 30th, 2008

Giving gift have been and still are great way to get some exposure. I am a big fan of t-shirts, but still haven’t got one though. :P

Good post btw! :)

Gyutae Park on February 2nd, 2008

Thanks Viking,
It’s true that everyone likes a good gift. It can easily soften someone up and help you to get to know them better on a more personal level. Would you like a WTW t-shirt? :)

 
 
shy guy on January 30th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Giving gift or prize is good to make relationship between blogger..
]Maybe we can get more traffic..

Gyutae Park on February 2nd, 2008

Definitely. Gifts of any kind are especially relevant in the blogging community.

 
 
Kyle on January 30th, 2008

Gift given… it would probably be more politically correct to call it sending material to be reviewed. Although a bib for a child… that’s straight gift giving! In a way it’s advertising also. However you want to term it, you can definitely get some good publicity out of it.

Of course it’s just like a commercial sometimes you make a crappy commercial and it backfires.

Gyutae Park on February 2nd, 2008

Hey Kyle,
Good analogy. The bib for the child was definitely one of the best gifts I’ve seen.

 
 
Guillermo on January 30th, 2008

Presents are recognitions… it’s not like bribing… C’mon! Don’t be jealous! You will get a present soon!

Gyutae Park on February 2nd, 2008

Haha thanks Guillermo. I’m not jealous… Although a present would be nice. :)

 
 
mann3r on January 30th, 2008

just me, they have the money to give a gift, just kidding.

Gyutae Park on February 2nd, 2008

Well gift giving may not really require that much money. I think it’s more about the thoughtfulness of the gift. Although money doesn’t hurt either.

 
 
ImageGag on January 30th, 2008

This from the guy who sends out T-shirts to vote for him in a blogging contest. Ha ha. Just playing.

ImageGag on January 30th, 2008

…speaking of which, guess what just came in the mail? It looks good. Thanks again Gyutae. I’ll post a pic.

Gyutae Park on February 2nd, 2008

Haha, thanks. It just goes to prove the point of this post. The t-shirts definitely helped to get me over the top.

I’m glad you like the shirt! I’ll be putting a picture of you and link in my T-Shirts section.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
Hafiz Dhanani on January 30th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Hey Gyutae,

I think gift giving is a great thing to do. You’ve mentioned some of the pitfalls as well, but I think the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Firstly, even if you get nothing in return, sending a gift could give you networking opportunities and a chance to build a friendly relationship.

Secondly, I don’t think gift giving would be view as bribing. It obviously depends on how you go about doing it!

Finally, you shouldn’t worry about a bad review if your service, content, etc. is solid (which it should be in the first place). Doing any kind of marketing, not only gift giving, must begin with an assurance that the item you’re marketing is sound.

Keep up the good work,
Hafiz Dhanani

Gyutae Park on February 2nd, 2008

Hafiz,
Great points you make there. Networking is a huge component of Internet marketing and giving gifts is just a part of that. Also, you’re right that the product or service you’re getting reviewed should be sound, but that’s very subjective and varies depending on the person.

 
 
Don Draper on January 30th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

This isn’t a whole lot different than software companies inviting industry analysts to Aspen for a briefing on their next release. This sort of thing has been going on in business forever.

Gyutae Park on February 2nd, 2008

Hey Don,
Thanks for commenting. This sort of thing has probably been going on since ancient times, but I think it’s especially interesting now because of Google penalizing sites for buying links. Giving gifts make the links seem more “natural”.

 
 
Tapping Creativity on February 3rd, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I’m on the fence here. I’m all about gift-giving if it’s coming from the right place. If it’s clearly a bribe to get link from somewhere, then I really question its level of ethic.

If the goal is to improve the relationship, then heck, why not?

BTW, Gyutae, I’m sending you a gift in a few minutes. I made it myself even!

Gyutae Park on February 8th, 2008

Gifts need to be given tactfully. Bribing doesn’t really go well with people if it’s too obvious.

Thanks for the book!

 
 
Irish on February 8th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

So, sending gift still work anywhere right? I thought only in conservative community :)…Well noted than.

Gyutae Park on February 8th, 2008

Well it really depends on what you define as “work” but sending gifts is effective. I don’t know what being conservative has to do with it though.

 
 
Michael Heindel on March 17th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I love it. Can’t believe I missed this post earlier.

On the down side, the more people that send gifts, the bigger the gifts have to be to get attention.

Michael

 
Armen Shirvanian on October 15th, 2008

The providing of gifts is another classic method that does seem intuitive because it looks like a +/0 activity, but in fact is a +/+ activity with an extra bit going to the provider. One has to think of the long-term results as opposed to thinking of the loss of the gift they are sending.

 
Chris Peterson on March 24th, 2010

Gift option is better way to develop strong relationship with blogger. After sending gift if we will not get any response then it’s doesn’t matter. It will give later to grow strong networking which will be more benefit for us

 
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