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Conversations with an Underground Text Link Seller

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 http://www.problogger.net 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.

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/02/05/what-is-a-blog/ – $150

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/02/14/blogging-for-beginners-2/ – $150

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2007/04/02/blogging-is-about-writing/ – $150

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2007/05/07/top-5-group-writing-project/ – $150

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/01/06/about-darren/ – $150

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/06/27/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.

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/02/05/what-is-a-blog/ – $200

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/02/14/blogging-for-beginners-2/ – $200

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2007/04/02/blogging-is-about-writing/ – $200

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2007/05/07/top-5-group-writing-project/ – $200

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/01/06/about-darren/ – $200

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/06/27/a-z-of-professional-blogging/ – $200

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/08/15/search-engine-optimization-for-blogs/ – $200

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/12/06/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.

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Comments

  1. Hahah. $10,000 will get him to back off.

    Considering your traffic, he was really looking for a bargain in the beginning.

  2. hahahahahaha rofl.

    I’m a meek wee little bloggergal myself, but even with my small blog I’ve gotten similar requests to put paid text links on my blog.

    Being as I make, like, 2 cents a day in AdSense I considered. Thus far I’ve taken on one text link add for $100 over a year. It was pitched to me when my blog was updated about once a month and I was like – whoa, holy cow, someone wants to pay me $100 to put a small paragraph on my blog for a year??? Damn. That’s awesome.

    But now that my blog is slowly but surely gaining popularity… albeit nowhere near the popularity where it would make much sense to turn down a top offer, financially speaking anyway, I’m getting more advertising and paid text link inquiries. Sometimes they don’t even relate to my blog. I wonder if the person read my blog at all in the first place!

    In any case, I feel weird about these text links, ethically. The first guy wasn’t very specific in terms of where I should put the links, so I put it under a special spot that I dubbed “sponsors.” I’m guessing that’s not exactly what he had in mind, but for less than $10 a month for about 4 text links, I guess he didn’t really care.

  3. Deb says:

    SFGirl, I love your sassiness and your blog :)

    And that’s what i’m talking about. Can you imagine how many others are feeling the same way and getting propositioned?

    Which lead me to why nobody answered my question. Go figure.

  4. Geld Lenen says:

    If I were you I would have blocked his emails after his second email. I hate people that beg for links on my sites. Only because they offer me $10 dollar for a lifetime link :(

  5. meethere says:

    lol.
    I am sure he will come back again. with a new deal.
    do update us then :D

  6. Gillian says:

    Smiling at this… and pretty sure Darren isn’t interested in the $10,000. But it does remind me of a story attributed to George Bernard Shaw.

    At a formal, private dinner party, he asked the aristocratic woman beside him whether she would sleep with him for one million pounds. After some banter, she indicated that she might consider it. Then he asked if she would sleep with him for ten pounds. She showed surprise and said, ‘What kind of woman do you think I am?’

    He replied, “We’ve already ascertained what kind of woman you are. We’re just haggling over the price.”

  7. Ill sell my blog paragraphs for 10, 000!!!
    lol

  8. For them prices there is very little chance that I would be able to say know, but saying that you are much richer than me and your blog is very much for famous than mine!

    Very good article though.

  9. Benj Arriola says:

    So that’s the way to stop them. Give the $10k price. :) But wow, I’d be tempted already at the $400 mark.

  10. Celine says:

    I would’ve asked for a “100 trillion bajillion zillion dollars”. Let’s see him math that.

  11. Muzammil says:

    “Underground Text Link Seller” I must say a very catchy line you got there :) but just at the bottom of the page I see text-link-ads.com widgetbucks, chitika, adsense etc. ain’t they related to text link or link selling in one way or the other. Please do forgive me but isn’t it a Double Standard? with due respect to matt cutts google monopolized the way we see internet how can google place links on sites (in whatever format they are) while discourage other to do so in particular form/s?
    There is another view to this discussion is that at one side you have a guy being bullied and made fun out of this scenario and on other hand at the same page you are publicly advising people to have same kind of text links. Is this all for one fake blog post?
    For me it would be fair only if you would remove all big names players of text link or links game from your site and then comment.

    Lara Says: Just my $0.02 here, but the post refers to an “underground” link seller. Not an established, respected company with clear, un-spammy (as in, spamming the search engines) techniques. The person who sent the email to Darren, sent me a carbon copy of the same thing for my site, and reacted the same, unprofessional (ie. begging, upping the ante with each refusal) way as he did with Darren. I even got the guy to send me the sample paragraphs, after telling him explicitly that I wouldn’t allow more than one or two links in a paragraph IF I agreed, and he sent me three-sentence paragraphs with 5-6 links each in them and then begged for my paypal account (for the 4th time) so that he could pay before I could actually refuse him outright (to say, that had I accepted his payment, I’d be locked in to showing his spammy paragraphs on my site).

    The bottom line here goes back to even when reciprocal linking was all the rage: Don’t beg. Don’t try to trick people. Don’t harass them. It’s unprofessional and deserves ridicule for being so. Maybe at least so that someone else might learn from it, which is the very nature of this site – to teach.

  12. Joseph says:

    Look i understand the whole perspective on not buying or selling text link ads and i’m all for it. The beauty of seo lies in doing this the natural way . But i just throw up every time someone says its just wrong to buy or sell links.

    Yahoo has done it for years and Google has defended it. I don’t care how you twist this around that they charge for considering it. They might reject it as well. Its not really paid links. Dude if they take money for it and then put it in their directory. Its paid. And i see what my friend Muzammil here is saying, this is just double standard.

    Things are just so messed up these days that to get a legit link back from a site is almost impossible. The Big G has everyone scared off. They don’t want to take the risk of linking to another site and losing their PR even if the site deserves it.

    I mean we have to keep a balance right. Not throw people completely off.

  13. Maria says:

    I’ve received too such an email some time ago. At that time i was interested to sell ads there but then the prices they offered me were to low from the same reasons you said.

    Anyway it was funny how he send you the same email again just like he never talked to you before.

  14. That is absolutely hilarious, “$10,000″ … classic.

  15. Hugo Santos says:

    hahah! That’s what we call a “chato como caraças!!! lol

    10000 really shut up shawn….

    hum… i was contacted once to do this, from a different person, i accepted and got paid… manage to fit the paragraph a bit with my context although it is hard…
    ,maybe i shouldn’t have done this… :|

  16. wisdom says:

    I enjoyed reading that. Thanks.

  17. Travis says:

    I’ve also gotten lots of requests like this lately. I’ve done about 3 or 4 deals so far with no problems but for around $10/link. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately trying to figure out how/why they do this scheme. The last time a guy wanted to do a deal he said I had to use a different paypal account. I told him to either pay my account or no deal. In the end he ended up paying to my existing account. Obviously they are trying to hide something here. This post has been very helpful in helping me understand why they do this. Thanks.

  18. Lite Review says:

    don’t know what to do if i got those email on my inbox :D

  19. Lol 10k sounds good. Totally agree that you made the right long-term decision there. Quality is what it’s all about and especially what it will be about in the (near) future.

  20. Geld Lenen says:

    if ervery paragraph is 10 euro I gonna be rich but paid links are punished by google?

  21. IMFreakz says:

    I just wondering if I got that email, what should I do.
    o BTW, Darren, if he take the price you offer for the last time did you sell the space ? :D

  22. Elliott says:

    Darren,

    I remember reading this post from some time ago, and it is funny because I am getting the same emails from someone named “Michael” right now.

    I feel pretty cheap though as he is only offering me $15 per page…lmao.

    Thanks for reminding me on how to handle the offers, this will be fun!

  23. Norhafidz says:

    Lol, it must be tiring replying those mails. I wonder what might happen if he accpet those $10,000 per page :)

  24. I only just read this post, this email conversation is totally absurd and hilarious. Well done for not losing your temper. I think I would have after the second email.

  25. SEO Pune says:

    Lol…now that’s what i call a persistent man. Going from $150 to $400..Hahaha. Btw, you dealt with the whole thing in a great manner.

  26. Atone says:

    I’m too new to this game for this to have happend yet. My oldest and higest ranking site is a fair trade charity site aimed at a specific town. Droitwich Spa in England.

    I have since gone on to create more commercial sites of a wider interest and will consider my first mail from Shawn as a sign of having made it.

    Will still ask for 10,000 quid though, just for the satisfaction of refusing.

  27. LMAO LMAO. That’s soooo funny. 4real. i needed a good laugh, thanks D. And the responses by Matt Cutts were good.

    Kenney

  28. if ervery paragraph is 10 euro I gonna be rich but paid links are punished by google?

  29. ronitdeep says:

    lucky guy…most of blogger cant earn this much…& u had a chance to earn straight forward!!

  30. Funny posts…you put a smile on my face today, thanks!!!

  31. You’ve dealt with this guy like a champ Darren, nothing else I can respond to that. I wouldn’t be tempted for a $400 fee too on a paragraph. That’s not a fair price, all though I’d sell mines for $9.999 a one dollar discount for bargain seekers. Feel free to contact me to at any time.

  32. Google is extremely smart. They can adjust their algorithm whenever they want. It is so hard to beat them.

  33. Bpjsurf says:

    How would you say this is differnt from the in text link programs that are running on this site and being promoted on the site. Essentially running in text link programs like Kontera and intextlinks sell adverting links from pages based on tag keywords. Its still a link and its being sold. so how would you say this is differnt from a link exchanger / spammer?

  34. Juliet says:

    I totally commend you for doing the right thing…those links would’ve stood out like a sore thumb and ruined your credibility with those in the industry