So can this week match up to last week in terms of news?! All the Volcano stuff, the 2nd leaders televised debate and now all the discussions around the Express newspaper trying to peddle out links for £1,000 a pop. I have 10 minutes in between meetings so I thought it would be a good chance to discuss “Selling links”.

Firstly and most importantly Google guidelines prohibit the activity of selling / buying links.

4Ps Marketing, as a white hat SEO agency, does not condone selling or buying links but the subject is regularly raised by clients. When I mentioned our stance on this in a pitch recently the potential client commented “I’m not a purist, I just want to rank” and from a commercial stand point I can understand this.

We take this ethical approach because this is our positioning from a business / marketing front, however I can understand why other agencies and websites would buy links. More importantly I can understand WHY the Express would want to sell links. We have 5 independent newspapers on our books at 4Ps Marketing and to be totally frank, content producers NEED to find more ways of monetising their content.

I have listened to Julian Sambles (Telegraph) on Twitter discuss monetising the web at a recent Digital Lounge event and from what I can understand the industry still doesn’t have an answer. From a personal point of view I can’t see micro payments working for general news sites. The biggest problem is most online advertising formats are basically the same as in an offline newspaper but slapped on a website.

In short we use content to encourage websites to naturally link to our clients websites. This obviously takes time and money and is why many agencies / clients look for a shortcut. 4Ps Marketing are committed to sustainable SEO and it is our opinion that this is the only effective long term strategy for a clients website.

Here is an extract of the email we received from the Express.

“Afternoon

You may be interested to know, here at the ‘Express Group’ we have started to integrate SEO advertorials amongst our news articles across our three main sites – Daily Express, Daily Star and OK.

The SEO Advertorials run in a prominent position on a selected channel homepage (IE: Fashion) for a two week/one month period and then are archived for over 15 months.

For SEO benefits, we ask you to highlight terms you wish to use as external text links and supply destination URL for each highlighted term to and ensure the title of the article has good SEO benefits as this will be picked up in search engine

We ask for you to supply, 250-500 words of content and supporting images.

Advertorials start at £1,000 per article but am happy to negotiate on bundle deals.”

Link building is a big subject in our industry and I can understand why this story has gone viral. As an agency 4Ps Marketing does not buy or sell links BUT I can understand why the Express wanted to try and open up a new revenue stream. In the long term (3 – 5 YEARS) I don’t see links being as important as they are now due to Google et al becoming more sophisticated, but as things stand now we live in a link economy and link building will continue to be important in the short term.

4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how SEO and content are evolving together in order to keep pace with new developments in user interaction and PR, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and user behaviour across all inbound channels. What could a 4Ps content marketing strategy do for your brand?