The Greed for SEO can Ruin an Ideal Linking Strategy


So you know about “Tweet In Exchange For Anchor Text”, the Rap Genius link scheme, which is slated to be known as TieFating.

The popular music website, Rap Genius had recently featured a report by Barry Schwartz. The report was related to Exposé of John Marbach. Initially, Rap Genius, had started an “affiliate” program to attract links pointing to their site. Later on, the attempts were exposed and the news reached Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team. Cutts immediately took an action and penalized the site formally for link schemes.

What does this instance indicate? Well, it is true that links hold a lot of power and can do many things but getting greedy won’t work.

What really went wrong in Rap Genius case? Here’s what they did:

Step 1: The Rap Genius guys offered to tweet.

Step 2: They promised to tweet to a link with a URL to bloggers who linked to the Rap Genius website.

Step 3: The bloggers were required to link using keyword rich anchor text to the lyrics of specific songs of specific artists.

Step 4: Once Rap Genius got keyword rich anchor text links, they would tweet out a link to the website or post of that blogger.

Step 5: This would result in diverting “huge traffic.”

Rest, it is for you guys to read the whole story and learn more about the blunder committed by Rap Genius. The only surprising thing here is that none of it had to play out the manner in which it played out.

To put it briefly, whatever happened is an ideal example of damage done to a potentially resourceful linking strategy due to greed for SEO results — most precisely, wrong choice of operational needs.

Now it is apparent to any experienced link builder that Rap Genius was looking forward to enhance search rank derived from the anchor text. To accomplish this goal, they needed some bloggers in the links they had in their blog posts. The code was offered for copy/pasting. For this purpose, many artists, their song titles and artists were incorporated in the anchor text.

Now this came as an open shut case of bribing bloggers with ‘massive traffic’ and seeking links.

What do you feel? Do you agree this linking strategy was intended to manipulate Google?

The Situation could have been Avoided!

The irony of the situation is that this could have proved quite resourceful and dynamic content promotion strategy provided it had been implemented in a different way! And this rule is not just applicable for Rap Genius, but for any blog or website.

Where have the Rap Genius gone wrong?

Listed below are some mistakes committed by Rap Genius:

Mistake 1: Demanding anchor text. This is being greedy and unnatural.

Mistake 2: Integration of the words [lyrics, song name, artist name] in the anchor text. This wasn’t necessary. The links sought by Rap Genius would have been powerful and descriptive regardless whether or not they included these words.

So what could have been done? Here are two examples to consider:

Example 1: To see the lyrics to the Akon song, “I wanna love you,” click here.

Example 2: Here are lyrics to the Beatles song, “Akon song, “I wanna love you,”

Now here are two queries about the examples quoted above.

  • Do you have any doubt in either instance above regarding what content you will obtain if you click the link?
  • Is there any doubt with regard to which of these instances was intended to try and have an effect on Google search rank and which one wasn’t?

Apart from the apparent intention of example 2 above, it is quite an insult to Google’s ability to believe they could not make out what each of these links represent despite the nonexistence of anchor text. So to be precise, a smart and genuine website owner shouldn’t ask for anchor text. Demanding texts is a direct signal of manipulation.

Therefore the major mistake here is the execution of linking campaign. Demanding anchor is WRONG. The prudent way is to allow bloggers create links naturally. Promising to tweet out a link to blog posts containing anchor text rich links is WRONG too. The website lost over quality control here.

It is not possible to tweet URLs sans considering integrity and worth of the site you just tweeted about. This is precisely how a tweet spam looks like. Offering tweet-for-link campaign is not a violation of a search engine’s quality guidelines. However, special care must be taken to restrict those tweets to only those completely relevant to your followers and hosted on credible websites.

To be precise, any content you share must be:

  • Evaluated
  • Curated
  • Quality controlled

What you tweet should not depend on the number of keyword rich anchor text links contained in the URL to be tweeted.

Not asking those blogs to use use nofollow was WRONG. Well, the Rap Genius folks knew precisely what they were doing and hoping to achieve. The campaign was dedicated to get search rank via promising traffic tweets as an incentive.

This is NO Tactic; This is an Intent

There are techniques to implement bounty linking strategies. And these are quite effective to achieve click traffic sans violating Quality Guidelines of Google. And it doesn’t really matter if you believe Google does not hold rights to act as web police. Asking for keyword anchors in exchange for tweets will make your intentions crystal clear!

What you need to understand?

The strategy was cool, powerful, and resourceful; the execution and intent caused the damage.

So strictly AVOID:

  • Building links for Google
  • Demanding anchors
  • Opening for any blogger

Instead of building links for Google, do it for traffic and allow anchors to just occur. You must respect your followers by tweeting ONLY excellent posts.

In a Nutshell

Some amazing linking strategies got bad names just because they were chasing the wrong goals. This doesn’t make the strategy bad. It’s just that you need to be aware of the right incentive you should be chasing, and executing the strategy and promoting campaign in view of that.

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