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Conversations with an Underground Text Link Seller

Posted By Darren Rowse 21st of February 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Since Google have cracked down on the selling of text link ads on blogs text link selling has gone underground (as I wrote back in October last year).

One example of this is the semi regular request that I get from text link sellers offering to buy in post text links on single posts on my blogs. Over the last week or so I had an exchange with one such text link seller and thought I’d share it for a few reasons:

1. to highlight the tactic

2. to show the persistence of those selling these links

3. to give those of you considering selling links in this way a tip – play hard to get and hang out for a higher offer

4. while it’s a frustrating exchange at times it was almost comical and I thought others might appreciate a giggle

Before I share the emails – I should say that I get these requests at least every second week and they almost always go in a similar fashion to this conversation. As a result I’m getting more and more blunt in my responses.

I should also say that I choose not to participate in this activity mainly because I don’t want to put paid, non disclosed links in my posts as I think it compromises my content. I’ve written more about why I reject this type of offer at the end of this post. That’s my personal stance on it but I’m interested in yours.

Here’s the email exchange:

======

Hi,

I am interested in placing paragraphs on your web site https://problogger.com only on internal pages (not on home page) . Please let me know if you are interested then we will discuss more in detail. I can offer you best to make it worth your time.

Thanks

Shawn

======

sorry but I don’t do this type of thing

Darren

======

Thank for your reply but I am going to send you proposal may be you influence by my offer.

I am interested in placing paragraphs on specific pages. An example of this can been seen at bottom of

http://www.lindseywebdesign.com/

Below the “small business webmaster design tips”

another example

http://www.fingersdontfing.com/

below the blog post.

The paragraph will be custom written to match the content of your website and you will have the right to edit anything. The text links will go to non spam and related websites.

However, since these links are on specific pages. I would be paying only one time fees and the paragraphs will stay permanent i-e as long as the page stays however, I would be purchasing many of these and it would be a good amount.

Let me know if you are interested and I am going to offer you the following price for the specific pages.

https://problogger.com/what-is-a-blog/ – $150

https://problogger.com/blogging-for-beginners-2/ – $150

https://problogger.com/blogging-is-about-writing/ – $150

https://problogger.com/top-5-group-writing-project/ – $150

https://problogger.com/about-darren/ – $150

https://problogger.com/a-z-of-professional-blogging/ – $150

This will brings the total of USD 900

If you place my all paragraphs on your pages i will give you 1000$(100$ bonus).

PS: Please send me your paypal ID or any other?

Kind regards

Shawn

=====

sorry but I’m not interested

Darren

=====

I can give you $200 per page

Shawn

=====

I’m sorry but I don’t do this type of advertising – it compromises the quality of my content to have you insert paragraphs of information to my posts.

Darren

=====

you can write my paragraph by yourself

and I can give you $225 per page per paragraph

let me know if you are interested

Have you nice day

Kind regards

Shawn

=====

thanks for the offer shawn but I just don’t do text link ads.

Sorry – it’s just not something that I do

Darren

=====

Thanks for your time

I can give you $250 per page per paragraph if you are interested.

Have you any other website where you can easily place my paragraphs

Kind regards

Shawn

=====

sorry shawn but I’m not interested.

Darren

=====

how much you want for per page?

Shawn

=====

I try a new Tactic

At this point I decided to try ignoring him. I thought it had worked because for just over a week I had no more emails. I rejoiced! But then…..

=====

Hi,

I am interested in placing paragraphs on specific pages not on home page (only on internal pages). An example of this can been seen at bottom of

http://www.lindseywebdesign.com

Below the “small business webmaster design tips”

another example

http://www.fingersdontfing.com

below the blog post.

The paragraph will be custom written to match the content of your website and you will have the right to edit anything. The text links will go to non spam and related websites.

However, since these links are on specific pages. I would be paying only one time fees and the paragraphs will stay permanent i-e as long as the page stays however, I would be purchasing many of these and it would be a good amount.

Let me know if you are interested and I am going to offer you the following price for the specific pages.

https://problogger.com/what-is-a-blog/ – $200

https://problogger.com/blogging-for-beginners-2/ – $200

https://problogger.com/blogging-is-about-writing/ – $200

https://problogger.com/top-5-group-writing-project/ – $200

https://problogger.com/about-darren/ – $200

https://problogger.com/a-z-of-professional-blogging/ – $200

https://problogger.com/search-engine-optimization-for-blogs/ – $200

https://problogger.com/how-bloggers-make-money-from-blogs/ $200

This will brings the total of USD 1600

If you place my all paragraphs on your pages i will give you $1700($100 bonus).

If you agree then please send me your paypal ID or any other?

Kind regards

Shawn

=====

Hi Shawn

we had a full email conversation about this last week. We sent emails back and forth. The conversation was me saying I’m not interested and you upping your offers.

I’m still not interested in doing this. I have a website in which I pride myself on providing genuine and transparent advice. I don’t take money to link to sites as text ads.

Darren

=====

Thanks

you can write my paragraphs by yourself according to your page content only place my link.

I am again up my price to $250 per page per paragraph, a paragraph contain 4-5 links

If you have any question please ask

Kind regards

Shawn

=====

I’m not interested.

Darren

=====

$300 per page per paragraph

You have to right to cancel my any link if you don’t like anyone.

Shawn

=====

No thanks – I’m not interested

Darren

=====

last and final price

$400 per page per paragraph

Shawn

=====

do you promise that this is the last one?

In that case – no – I’m not interested.

Darren

Why I Wasn’t Tempted

This ‘last’ message was just an hour or two ago – so whether it’s truly over I’m not sure (I certainly hope so, it’s been distracting). It’s certainly been an interesting ride though – he went from $150 per paragraph to $400 a paragraph. While this sounds a lot I wasn’t even tempted for a few reasons:

  • For starters it’s too risky. The examples that he gave of what he’d done show ‘paragraphs’ that to me obviously didn’t ‘fit’ on the pages. They stuck out like a sore thumb to anyone looking at them.
  • Secondly it’s too cheap. $400 for a paragraph with 4-5 links in it makes it $80-$100 a link. This isn’t a monthly payment – it’s a one off for an indefinite period. Text links on pages with page ranks as high as the ones he’s targeting go for a lot more than this kind of rate when you consider that they often pay per month. Over time his $80-$100 a link is nothing at all.
  • Thirdly it compromises the quality of my content. Even with the offer to write the paragraphs myself I’m not willing to link to sites that could have a dubious quality. This kind of thing can impact you on numerous fronts – SEO for one and reader experience for another. The sites you link to impact not only your bank balance but potentially your reputation.

But again – that’s just my thoughts on this – what do you think?

Update

But wait there’s more…. just now I got this email:

=====

How much you are willing for per page?

Shawn

=====

$10,000

Darren

=====

Lets hope that ends it :-)

Update 2

one more email from my ‘friend’:

oh

i cant give you that price per page

anyway thanks you give me time

Have you nice day

Kind regards

shawn

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Yeah, I’ve been through that with this same guy. Persistent, stupid, and very annoying. I think he started at $50.00 with me, we went through the same nonsense, and I do not remember now how high he finally got. Very, very annoying.

  2. Your counter offer reminds me of the joke about the guy who had offered a woman $1mil to sleep with him and she accepted.
    Then he said “Well would you do it for $100?”
    She replied “$100 what do you think I am?”
    He said “Well we just established what you are, now we are just negotiating a price.”

  3. Hey, you can’t fault a guy for persistence. I’m sure the few yesses he got were worth it though.

    It is nice, however to see just how much leeway these guys have on their price. Sounds like you knocked $300 off of his commission.

    I also have to wonder about how smoothly the payment would have gone – I read about a PP disaster on another blog related to similar work and damn, seems like it would be easy for the guy to reverse payment and get his cash back.

    Also, since you have no control over the pages he’s linking to and no guarantee that he’s not going to swap out content at a later date, having so many links sounds like it would be an absolute pain to check back on….

    How prevalent is this practice?

  4. I wonder how many people fall for this.

    I think they prey on people who are desperately looking for ways to make money, so I find it strange that this Shawn person was so persistent with Problogger.net

    Maybe he saw a chance to make big bucks, and hoped the person running this blog was like him: stupid!

  5. I had received an offer like this in the past, and I took them up on it. I made a nice chunk of cash, and then after a while I removed the links. It looks like I should have negotiated a little better!

    The company gave as examples of their work a couple sites, including Smashing Magazine. Smashing is not a no-name site, so that (and the money) is why I accepted. But after looking at the sites that were linked to, I saw they were all garbage. My PageRank was never damaged (they weren’t on there long enough), thankfully.

  6. Hey send him over to my blog. I’ll gladly accept $400 per post. For a new blog that price is well worth it.

    You can always sell the blog later on and let the guy deal with the new owner for keeping the links and content on.

    Who am I kidding? $400 is chump change on any blog. I’ve had people like this contact me as well. When I gave him my response he replied with a LOL.

    At least he stopped writing.

  7. Unfortunately we did find out that you do have a sellout price. What if he had agreed. Would you have said, “Sorry, I was just joking” or would you have ended up doing something you claim you won’t do?

  8. I haven’t gotten offers for paragraphs yet but I have gotten offers for single paid links to be added to the bottom of certain posts.

    The last one I get wanted me to place the link on a category page and not actually on a post.

    I’m sure this sort of thing is only going to get worse as Google cracks down on paid links.

  9. I got these emails too but after checking out the spammy links I just had to reject it like you did. Oh and since they were lifetime links, there was no doubt in my decision.

  10. I think that this same Shawn contacted me.

    Amusingly, I was much nicer than you were and simply asked for more details of the offer. He never got back to me, and I wasn’t horribly disappointed.

    Way to stick by your principles. Of course, my content isn’t nearly as prized as yours so I’m not in the same boat as you. Plus I’m not a pro blogger!

  11. Ah. This post came in at the right time.

    I got my first email few days back and the response is eeirly similar. I though am corresponding with a person named “Mark”.

    Thanks for the heads-up.

  12. I will have to give you credit for replying that many times. I would have just marked it as a Spam. I think I would give some credit to the text link seller as well for his desperation to get you to do this.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. It made my day. I am pretty sure it was quite stressful for you to deal with this minute after minute but this is pretty funny :-)

  13. This is a very entertaining exchange, thank you for sharing. I think you were very polite and kind to this fellow. I may have just ignored him after while and flagged his email as spam. :)

  14. Hehe – thanks for the laugh Darren! :) You gotta give the guy credit though, not giving up on you. :)

  15. $410?

    Have you nice day

  16. I have exactly the same guy do exactly the same thing with me! He again offered me $400 per paragraph per page. Now, as much as I hate to admit it, my blog is nowhere near the readership of yours. I was slightly more tempted than you, but I can make that in 2 months, rather than permanently.

    And I value my content, no matter how rubbish it is!

  17. LOL! $10k reply was awesome! The guy learnt a lesson..

  18. Darren, that’s exactly what I do. I respond back with a HUGE number and they never respond.

  19. Hello, everybody, I’m Newbie here
    Thanks for sharing this tutorial darren
    Nice Posting.

  20. I get these same emails constantly… they are all “freelancers” working for the same small set of companies. You might be surprised to know that a lot of fairly “large” sites actually do this…

    I’ve found that even writing back is pointless, just mark them as spam in Gmail. If we all mark them as spam, eventually their emails won’t even get through because Gmail will realize they are nothing more than spammers.

    I completely agree with Darren, the problem here is that you should never sell a LIFETIME link to anything or anybody.

  21. I’ll give you $750 and that’s my final offer!

    Just kidding…boy you’ve got the patience of Job!

  22. This post cracked me up!

    I get emails like this too. I run a fashion blog and there is ALWAYS some small t-shirt or jewelry biz that wants me to post a paid article about them or insert some of their links into my posts. It’s so stupid! If I liked their products, I would write about them for free.

    It’s sad that so many bloggers go along with this kind of crap for the quick and easy money. What they don’t realize is that it impacts their reputation and hurts them in the end.

    Thanks for not being one of those!

    – Briana
    http://www.collegefashion.net

  23. I get a lot fo these similar offers on several of my blogs. This is how I approach the offer:

    1) It must be a recurring payment. If not, they should offer at least 24x my monthly link ad rate. So, If my monthly rate is $100, they should offer $2,400 for lifetime.

    2) The paragraph ads should be enclosed in a bordered box to separate it from the content on the page.

    3) The ads will be labeled as “Adverts” conspicuously.

    4) The link should have the nofollow tag or a Javascript link or a redirect.

    5) I have editorial rights to reject any one or all of the ads.

    If they agree to the terms above, then I guess it’s a fair deal.

    As for the ads not in context with the content of the page, it’s the same as AdSense. I don’t drop/block a specific advertisers on AdSense just because they ads were not really relevant to the page.

  24. I got one of these offers, but at nowhere near $400 per para. That probably would have tempted me given that my in-post links via TLA go for $5 per post per month.

  25. I get a lot of these similar offers on several of my blogs. This is how I approach the offer:

    1) It must be a recurring payment. If not, they should offer at least 24x my monthly link ad rate. So, If my monthly rate is $100, they should offer $2,400 for lifetime.

    2) The paragraph ads should be enclosed in a bordered box to separate it from the content on the page.

    3) The ads will be labeled as “Adverts” conspicuously.

    4) The link should have the nofollow tag or a Javascript link or a redirect.

    5) I have editorial rights to reject any one or all of the ads.

    If they agree to the terms above, then I guess it’s a fair deal.

    As for the ads not in context with the content of the page, it’s the same as AdSense. I don’t drop/block a specific advertisers on AdSense just because they ads were not really relevant to the page.

  26. To tell you the truth i would have been tempted!!

  27. Thanks for sharing the email sequence, Darren. Very interesting and instructive. I’ve written print and broadcast advertising copy for many years, and although I’m well aware that many who read or hear the ads take them at face value, often on par with news reporting (otherwise why would we bother advertising?), I agree that crossing that line if you’re presenting yourself as an independent source of news or information is dishonest.

    Once your readers suspect you’re bought and paid for, how can they tell how much of your other content is really advertising?

    @abe: I like your guidelines, and agree with your AdSense assessment. Those ad boxes are clearly labeled as such. Of course, not everyone understands that we don’t have complete control over what ads run, but at least we’ve made the attempt by segregating the paid content from our own.

  28. Ah, the woes of a popular blogger. Would that I could get any offer like this :). I guess the lesson here is twofold: 1. Don’t sell text ads, and 2. If you’re going to sell them, keep holding out for a better price :)

  29. Oh, “Shawn” strikes again.

    I’ve had offers of small one off payments for eternal links. Umm, since when did “normal” advertising work this way?

  30. I’d like you to clarify your difference in opinion between, say, what TextLinkAds does versus the practice you’re talking about, which is permanent links on specific pages. I can’t decide if what TextLinkAds is doing is “wrong” or if Google is trying to snuff out the competition. It’s a fine line, if you ask me.

  31. I can see why Darren has the response he does, but I am in the middle of a deal like this (although slightly different) and have had no issues with it.

    I write a blog about Wake Forest University athletics and was approached by an established online ticket broker to include links in individual posts. She did not ask for paragraphs, just a couple of links for phrases like “March Madness” and “Wake Forest tickets.”

    She did not ask to add them to existing posts, but rather to include them in new posts.

    Because writing news about sports is much more time sensitive, I do not feel that these new posts will have much value more than a year from now. Beyond that, my entire site is still PR 0 so the amount I can make from other advertising methods is pretty small. Also, because they asked for no control over the content, just for the phrases to be linked, it caused a very very minimal effect on the quality of my content.

    I was paid $500 up front for 5 posts over a 2.5 month period on pages that didn’t yet exist and would have PR 0 for a very long time. Considering the offer, the legitimacy of it, the relevance of it, and the opportunity to make more through it than I currently can any other way, it was too good an offer for me to turn down.

  32. I’d counter with a stock email: “I do not sell links. If you ask again, I will cc my next repsonse to Google.”

  33. I had this same email conversation a few weeks ago–but my guy only offered me $20! :(

  34. Hang PageRank! I’d sell for $10,000 a page!

  35. Of all the irony… within 10 minutes of leaving a comment on this post I ended up with another paid link request in my email.

    *Spam!*

  36. Only $10K???

    Hell, give me one on each page of the site for that price!!!

    Wait, would that qualify for a quantity discount?

    Great example of how to handle those types of offers Darren!

  37. I actually considered one of these right after the great Page Rank slam. When I visited the domain in the email address, it redirected to Google’s home page. Every one since has come with a gmail email address. What percent of these are Google “stings”?

  38. When I’ve gotten these I’ve responded that I’ll gladly let them have one paragraph on each page they’re interested in, with a maximum of 5 links per paragraph. Then I tell them that on-going _monthly_ cost will be $X per link. That stops them dead in their tracks and I never hear back from them!

  39. They must be finding people who take them up on it and add their paragraph. The way he kept going up makes you wonder what they thing those links are really worth.

    Personally I’m with the consensus here. A permanent commercial link is worth way more than a few hundred dollars, and probably not worth the hassle in the end. Especially if your blog has any kind of PR at all.

    Can’t blame them for trying though.

  40. LOL! You probably shocked his socks off with that price. Let’s hope he(she, it?) stops bugging you. Very funny conversation though. :)

  41. Very, very funny.

    Although I couldn’t help thinking that $150 for a text link ad is almost as ridiculous as the pay being offered in the job post that you just twittered.

  42. Wow! For a noob like me,being offered money to put content on my site would be flattering. Still though I do want a good company rep. so no paid links! Thanx for showing us how to say no,lol!

  43. *high five*

    That is amazing. I would of loved to see his face when he read that after all the emails he sent. Well done.

  44. Very funny Darren!

    However I have a proposition for you…

    $600 per link. Don’t tell me you aren’t tempted ;)

    p.s. that is my first and final offer

  45. I actually have had 4 different people contact me in the last 2 weeks about buying text links like this, they too were persistent and wouldn’t take no for an answer. They started out offering $80 per link, it rose up to $150 but like you it’s not something I am interested in doing.

    In the end I just directed Gmail to treat them as spam.

    Cheers
    Matt

  46. “Shawn” has send me a similar offer and I remember me a similar offer ~ 1 year ago. Accept that you get these offers again from some guy with a different name (very soon) :D

    These guys are acting like insurance sales men from in the ’80.

  47. Wow! I got the same email form the same guy. It went pretty much the same way. I told him no and he keep offering more money.

    I am not so sure about these guys because I think there linking to scam sites or something. It just seems shady.

    But if they offered 10,000 per page I may be tempted. haha!

  48. You have to admire the guys persistence. Bloody irritating, though!

  49. Hahahaha thats awesome

  50. Don’t forget this one:
    “Hi,

    We’ve seen your website at http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/
    and we love it!

    We see that your traffic rank is 5813
    and your link popularity is 2565.
    Also, you have been online since 21/06/2003.

    With that kind of traffic, we will pay you up to $4,800/month
    to advertise our links on your website.

    If you’re interested, read our terms from this page:”

    I’ve gotten that forwarded from multiple people and it’s always “up to $4,800/month.” You’d think that they wouldn’t send that email to directly to search engine representatives. Multiple times. :)

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