Donations As A Link Building Tactic? Be Careful

May 6  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

A recent thread in GWC made me remember that donations are an often tactic used by companies with a lot of link money to burn. They’re usually pretty safe from Google’s clutches, but they’re also a huge risk. I was doing some backlink analysis for someone in a thread who had got stung with a -50 filter, and saw some not so good links. I was quite surprised to see a company of this high standards pulling this off, so I thought I’d make one public example for everyone to see. Google most definitely has taken notice to the page so it’s not really a secret, and it’s already out there in the public for anyone to see.

First up, let’s talk a little about why this is used as a link building strategy for a lot of big players. There are a lot of donations opportunities out there and usually they’re on very authoritative sites. Their donation pages are also not far off from the homepage, thus you’ll see a lot of companies going after these links. Sometimes it only takes a few hundred dollars to get a link from a really big foundation, open source project or a charity. For the most part, you’ll often see people drop well over $10,000 for a really link from a popular resource like this. Now that’s a scary link budget to compete with!

I can say openly that we’ve employed the tactic, but we did a few things different. For one, there was in no way any specific anchor text used. Secondly, the donations were made because they were open source software that the company relied on heavily to do their business. Lastly, the company only donated to three open source projects and that was the end of that….oh and I believe we sent the staff beer and pizza one day but we didn’t net any links for that!

Ok so what’s a really bad example of donation giving for inks? Sadly it comes from my favorite flavor of Unix, NetBSD. These folks most likely allow certain anchor text variations mainly because they need the money to go on, and they have one hell of an authoritative website. This means a lot of people will pay big bucks for a “proper link”, and that is most likely too much money to turn down. Times are tough, I understand! I doubt NetBSD would ever get penalized either, more so just have their donation pages devalued a lot. This still works out for them as they’d get the donations and the buyers would never know if those links were duds.

Naughty Naughty!

So most of you would cringe when you saw this, and just imagine what a Google web spam engineer would do? It really surprises me that some of these large companies let their link builders get up to this! Either that or they’re not in the know of what’s bad or good, and they’re just throwing heaps of money at a SEO firm. You’ll most likely see a ton of results, but one day you could have the carpet pulled out from beneath you. No on wants to wake up one day with their rankings gone, so be very careful in what you do.

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About Ryan Clark

I'm the CEO of Linkbuildr Marketing and the brains behind our branding and blog content. I specialize in effective marketing strategies for hotels, luxury brands and real estate. If your brand is in need of a boost then don't hesitate to contact me for a free proposal. Follow me on Google+: +Ryan Clark Twitter: @Linkbuildr on Twitter. You can also come ask me a question on our Facebook Page.  

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