Online Marketing/Why would someone want to link to my site?
QUESTION: I own AutographsForSale.com. I was recently approached by a company that apparently buys link advertisements for other e-commerce sites. I agreed to put their sets of links (most are to informational pages I noticed) on 2 of my product pages (I rejected requests for my category pages) for annual fees of $65 and $75 respectively:
I didn't see any harm since with almost 10,000 different products the visibility is minimal, and I doubt I'll lose any sales. I am wondering if you understand what their strategy is, is this some type of SEO built around Google inbound links? Do you think it is effective?
ANSWER: Hey Theo,
Oh what a great domain!
If it's possible to have anything like domain envy I've got a bad case right now.
The curious case of linking is getting a lot of scrutiny from the big "G".
Let me just make sure I understand.
I visited the the two URLs you provided.
They show ads or links to 7 other sites but these display ads appear to be yours or you had them put their for link outs to a blog site, Facebook, BBB etc.
Where are the links that they are paying you to provide for them?
And those links are only on two of your product pages, right?
Are you a collector and seller of these autographs or a middle man that advertises them online at your site and collects a fee once they sell?
Really not pertinent, in fact none of my business, but was just curious.
My brain kicked into overdrive imagining the possibility of the guaranteed annual income of
65 times 10,000.
In my opinion, you may have great page rank and authority in the eyes of the search engines and this is the reason they've asked you for the placement of those links. When you link back to them they get a little of your authority juice. We call this leakage.
It's what you try to do if you're looking to build up your authority in the eyes of the search engines. At least it's what you used to do. Google has been shifting the game so much in the last year that this form of link building might be going the way of the horse and buggy.
They're more interested in who might share your site with their friends. This is their new SEO playground aka Social relevance.
So to finally answer your question, it is an SEO strategy.
You might be better served finding a away to monetize your site with other links that you could control and perhaps pay you directly; getting paid more over time.
Maybe a link to a site that sells display cases just for memorabilia. You could be paid a commission every time someone bought through your link.
If it were me, I would look for income opportunities that did not compete with your chosen vocation but enhanced the purchasers experience for which they would be grateful to you for providing the information.
Obviously Amazon is out but there are certainly other means to monetization.
Maybe write an ebook that you could sell on each page of your site that could put coin in your pocket. They click - pay you - get the ebook in their email along with a few offers they might have missed pertinent to their current or past purchases.
"The 10 sure fire ways to spot a fake autograph" or something like that.
Since it's your book you can price it anyway you want and because you're providing them information that might save them thousands of dollars I don't think 49.95 is an unreasonable price point.
Of course it should be about 50 pages with some good solid information and images (helps shorten the writing part and great for pointing out examples) but with what you know I'm sure you could crank it out or hire a ghost writer on ELance.com for a couple of hundred. You give them an outline and off they go.
I've gotten off track but thought I would just throw that in.
Hope that helps
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi Nat,
Yeah I registered the domain back in 1998 or so with no idea how I'd proceed but Yahoo Stores helped me build it into a fairly successful business and become self employed. I own every item advertised except for the larger display cases which I have drop shipped from the manufacturer. Many of my primary competitors either do mainly drop shipping or sell fakes, or both.
Anyway, just to be clear, I sell enough on there that I don't solicit ads in any way, shape or form. I had some ticket brokers contact me to run text ads on category pages years ago but eventually I decided it wasn't worth making the pages look ugly for $100 a year or whatever I was undercharging them, plus hypothetically my customers could get diverted and spend $200 on game tickets instead of my autographs.
The 2 sets of outbound links on each of the 2 product pages were requested and provided specifically by the advertiser. Each set contains one link to their e-commerce client and other links to oddball informational pages. I didn't understand it but really didn't care as long as it was confined to product page only and wasn't offensive.
I'm tickled by your theory that they wanted leakage from my site. I have always felt that I was always playing catchup in the SEO game and this company must be larger than mine and therefore wouldn't need that.
Anyway, this was more a question of curiosity than one of concern, my business is doing fine and I knew accepting these ads wouldn't affect it, I was just wondering what they were up to. I told my lawyer/autograph collector buddy about the Haysbert ad and he couldn't stop laughing.
I figured you had your act together.
I must have missed the display cases for sale. So my bad.
Still think the ebook is a nice monetization angle. You become even more of an expert in the eyes of your visitors and perhaps even more sales.
Just a thought.
All the best