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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. Interesting read, i have only had one request and then they didn’t follow up when i responded.

    What’s with all the underlining of the comments too by the way?!

  2. …I will pay you $10,001…deal? ;-)

    I’m guessing(from the grammar) that the person is not from the US so one thinks it might not even be a real offer….but some kind of scam. I’m glad to see you’re sticking to your guns through, it’s hard to find a site now a days that has resisted the easy income of paid links.

  3. By the way, if you get annoyed when people email out of the blue like this, here’s something you can do. Write back and say “Can you tell me some example sites where you’ve already placed links like this?” Then when they write back with some sites, just go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/paidlinks?hl=en and paste their entire email reply into that form.

  4. That was the clincher: $10k per page! A good read for those who are torn between selling text link ads or wanting to recover their PR and traffic.

  5. Haha, that’s amusing. The guy was persistent. Maybe he used to work for AOL.

    Hm, I wonder what would happen if he actually said “ah, okay, I’ll give you $10,000.”

  6. Thanks for sharing this story! This is a great example of what shadiness is out there and why you should not participate in this type of activity. Good to know you are keeping things straight at problogger.net

  7. I like Abe’s requirements. My own first thought was to insist on nofollow and have it be $10,000/month, minimum 6 month contract and 10 page order minimum. Could do an awful lot with that kind of money.

  8. Darren,

    I was laughing at your exchange with the guy. He’s obviously very persistent. I can only agree with what you said about hurting your reputation. While it’s true my blog is not like yours (I wish), I imposed a policy to be careful to who I link to in my posts. I may not be as strict as you but I make sure the entities I link to in my posts are interesting enough for me and/or relevant to my sites.

    I do paid links and what make me laugh with your conversation with the guy in your story is his very low comprehension with the word NO.

    To sum it all, your article was worth a thousand giggles :-)

  9. on a serious note Darren, i’ll pay you 450 bucks per link, send me your paypal address

    thanks for your interest

  10. Thank you Darren! I get these all the time, and you’ve just armed me with the fastest way to get the emails to stop: I’ll tell them I want $XX,XXX for the links! I love it.

  11. I got a similar offer a few days back, but the guy was offering me $100 one time payment for pacing paragraphs of links on many of my internal pages.

    I told him to buzz off. ;)

  12. LOL! you made the link buyer anonymous but you outed some of his customers. that’s kinda mean IMO. $10,000 is a fair price :)

  13. To be honest I get these emails all the time – I play hardball like u did then I take the money. Last year I raked in $34,200 doing just that on four blogs. It is the easiest money I make.

  14. There must be a full-blown text link team working around the clock, as it seems a lot of us have had similar enquiries.

    Don’t be selling yourself short with $10k. You can put a value on reputation.

    Cheers for sharing this, Darren. I enjoyed reading the back and forth emails.

  15. Also great to see Matt Cutts get sent a similar proposal. Haha.

  16. And how stupid do I now feel for happily taking the first offer ;-< | Great post and very useful.

  17. What is to stop someone accepting his money, put his paragraphs on the page for like 10 minutes, and then delete those blog posts forever. ;) Because note he says –

    I would be paying only one time fees and the paragraphs will stay permanent i-e ****as long as the page stays****

    I bet people have done that – grab the cash, and then removing the pages for good that same day?

  18. What a very interesting conversation! Good for you that you decided not to be tempted and add “underground text links.” You’re thinking long-term – that’ll pay off in the long run.

    I wonder how another blogger would have handled this conversation – would he/she be tempted?

  19. That was indeed tempting but I am glad that you stuck to your guns and maintained the integrity of your site.

  20. Sometimes it makes you wonder how much of the content out there is real versus paid advertising.

  21. Well done Darren!
    If you do ever decide to go for text link selling, you just raised the bar to $10 000 per page, entry requirement.

    I find text link advertising does not really work on my blogs anyway. It’s a much better reader experience to know the ads are over there, the content is over here.

  22. hilarious exchange!

  23. Wow…he really wanted those links! Thanks for sharing this with us. I thought it was funny to read how persistent he actually was!

  24. Darren, you are a great example of holding your values and your reputation higher than what money could pay. Thanks for sharing this. It was both insightful yet funny at the same time. :)

  25. I can’t see adding a paragraph written by someone else to my blog’s content– especially given my topic. I’ve done PPP and TLA, but adding to content just seems beyond the pale.

    It’s strange to see how desperate some are getting to get clicks in that they feel that they now have to not only give you a link to put in, but also give you the text!

  26. Darren, way to keep your cool. You showed respect without budging an inch, and possibly taught Shawn a few lessons in the process.

    Send Shawn my way. I’ll take his offer and share his “paragraphs” with my 20 readers. ;-) Sniff, sniff.

    No…I’ll keep following your tips and cultivating the virtue of PATIENCE–my cup runneth over with it. Thanks for the great service you provide to us newbie bloggers. It’s encouraging.

  27. Hi,
    It happened the same with me and with some friends of mine. The 1st mail I received they said that the content will be related to the blog posts and the blog content at all, then they started to up the price but in the end its tricky because you never know what the content of the linked pages will be.
    It is totally underground SEO and I think this should not be tolerated as it hurts both the advertiser and the website where those links are placed.
    In the end, they stopped mailing…for now probably :).

    A.

  28. And if he said “Yes, I will give you $10,000 per page” would you still have said no?

    It comes back to the age old question where people will do anything if the price is right.

    Great insight! I had an e-mail like this a few weeks ago and found it sketchy.

  29. But did you have you nice day? (grin)

  30. David Airey, quite a few people email me with similar offers. They must not know that I work for a search engine, and that lots of people forward these emails straight on to Google or other search engines.

  31. Definitely a great read. Hysterical.

  32. Darren
    I got same e-mail from another person (female name if I recall correctly). I had much shorter conversation when I said that I am more then interested to sell links on my blog for monthly (little over)payment. That ended the conversation right away.

  33. Matt Cutts,
    you should be able to automate spam reporting by now :)

  34. Ha! That was hilarious! I am going to have to borrow that idea from you Darren, as I find such behavior not only annoying, but dishonest (the whole “paid link” thing).

    PS

    Whenever I get “we will pay you to place a link on your site emails,” I always say sure, as long as I can insert a no follow tag inside of it. That usually kills the conversation.

    ~Darnell

  35. Hugely funny!

    The nofollow seems to kill these, true …

    I received one the other day where they wanted a one-day “free test” to see how much traffic would come — anyone know if that’s at all legit?

    I replied please send me a link to a site where this ad has been placed as a result of the free trial, and heard nothing.

  36. Haha – that same person emailed me too, and I’ve been telling him over and over that I wouldn’t link to competition, or that I wouldn’t approve of more than 2-3 links in a FULL paragraph, or that I wanted more money.

    He won’t give up – I’m going to have to toss out the $10,000 to him and see if that works. ;) Either that, or I’ll take Darnell’s suggestion (afterall, Shawn did say that I too could write the paragraph myself… and since that would mean my inserting the code myself… well…)

    Too funny we got the same emails from the same guy – I’m feeling like your rockstardom is rubbing off on me! LMAO

  37. Ahahahaha. That’s awesome.

  38. Thats a funny context.

    I realize that you make 6-figures blogging, but $400 is still 400 dollars and could buy you a fancy Ipod or Blackberry.

    Thats just for one link..

    I understand that you don’t to text link ads but just looked at it from a different way.

  39. The 1600$ dollar per month is beckoning.
    But selling test link undergrand is too risky.
    However, the ad-aggent’s patience is admired.
    :)

  40. This is amazing. First of all, poor grammar, spelling, word choices. Second, horrible negotiating. I’ve always believed that you never give away something in a negotiation without getting something back in return. But, in order to even go down that path, you have to have established (a) a need or want, and (b) an agreement or at least an expression of interest in the product or service being negotiated – in this case, paid links on a page.

    I allowed a page for links on one site and since have changed my position on this and believe it is wiser not to engage in this type of advertising. The two ads I sold are probably going to be the last ads I’ll sell of that nature.

    Good for you, Darren, in sticking to your guns. I guess you’re just too nice to the guy and that is why he keeps emailing you!

    Scott

  41. While most people think this is funny, I happen to think it is sad for a couple of reasons and noble for a few more:

    1- it shows how desperate people are to get their pages ranked in SE’s. Makes you wanna holla at how difficult it is.
    2-it shows how deceptive some bloggers can be.
    3-it proves that not all content is created equal
    4-it reiterates the fact that some of us don’t mind taking a slow stroll to wealth, while others want to get-rich-quick

    Now for the noble reasons:

    1-it proves that Darren is of great statute
    2-it’s democracy at it’s best (as some of you stated, there is money to be made with this practice).
    3-the entire situation is an example of persistence (no matter how you look at it Shawn was willing to take a calculated risk)
    4-it provides us with market research (hmmm, wonder how many other folks are wanting this type of service and how I can possible provide it to them legally and ethically.)

    In addition, this situation made me think in depth about what folks are teaching around the net about creating content.

    Can I ask a serious question? – What is the difference between Shawn writing some quality content for your readers that you have the option to edit in exchange for some link-love and outsourcing some of your content to somebody you don’t really even know on elance for a fee? I just want to be sure.

    Please clarify.

  42. So this is what we need to do to get Darren replying to emails :D :D .. and before I face so0meone’s wrath I am jus kiddin…

  43. Maledicta says: 02/22/2008 at 10:27 pm

    It really looks like the company this guy comes from has a set of template emails set up called ‘refusal1’, ‘refusal2’ etc and they just select the appropriate one to use depending on how many times they’ve been knocked back.

    I wonder, if he’d approached you using proper english, in a friendly email obviously written just for you (ie not obvious spam), would you ahve accepted his offer? Because the thing that would have put me off the most is the blatantly spammy, impersonal feel to his correspondance.

  44. I have a great deal of respect for your editorial virtue through the whole post, but Darren then you cave in at the end and say basically you weren’t tempted simply becuase the offer was wrong?

    * 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.

    – so if they didn’t that would be OK?

    * 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.

    – so if there was more money it would be OK?

    * 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.

    – if they were respected websites it would be OK?

    Interesting.

  45. 1) I know its been said, but this is just funny
    2) I come from a sales background and admire the persistence and follow up. But this is ridiculous.
    3) Deb – I agree with you point on paid links. Made a post about it yesterday. Click on my sig to read it.

  46. that’s crazy! he expects the paragraphs to stay on forever!! c’mon.

    what’s sad is that, someone that was looking for quick cash might see fall into this trap, thinking it’s a great investment.

  47. Darren, you should re-contact him and offer to come down by fifty cents, then in three days re-email him and offer to come down by $1.00 and you’ll include a prize, etc. Continue this for a couple days, I’m sure it would be funny.

  48. Your email exchange made me laugh, which is a great way to start the day.

    I liked your 10k answer but you should have said it was a monthly fee. : )

  49. What Stephan Miller said! Indeed, if you run a blog targeted at selling something as an affiliate marketer, those extra links just distract people from the mail goal you’re trying to achieve! I’ve been approached by the likes of this guy and also refused – first, the price indeed is too low, and the one-time payment doesn’t make it too attractive eitehr – so even if they were interested in my non-affiliate blogs/sites I would have still refused.

  50. Haha! Such persistence.

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