By Kerry Dean
Hello, SEO friends and colleagues. It’s time for us to have an important conversation.
Recently, I read two posts by Larry Kim which detailed an email outreach campaign by Hotels.com in which they apparently solicited paid links from travel bloggers. After reading both articles, it occurred to me that we’re long overdue for a conversation about the concept of “outing” in the world of SEO.
Quick disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Hotels.com, and Larry Kim is one of my favorite people in the SEO industry.
A History Of Outing
Larry’s posts are just the most recent in a long line of articles wherein SEOs and/or websites are busted for grey-hat and/or black-hat SEO strategies, typically for paid links. While I don’t disagree with the idea of writing blog posts that critique SEO strategies, I am not an advocate of “busting” other SEOs.
Furthermore, I thought the headline implied Hotels.com had been hit with a Google penalty (i.e., “Busted for Buying Links”), which I found unfair and misleading. With a headline like that, I guarantee that a significant number of people which saw that headline in their Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn feeds immediately jumped to the conclusion that Hotels.com had actually been penalized by Google. I
n reality, the only thing that actually happened was that Larry publicly outed Hotels.com for reaching out to influential bloggers and offering compensation in exchange for text links.
My intention here is not to ironically bust Larry for busting Hotels.com. Larry is an awesome guy, and he hasn’t done anything wrong by writing about a paid link program.
Clearly, buying links is against Google’s Quality Guidelines (Link Schemes), and if Hotels.com is paying for links, they are obviously violating those guidelines. I’m not arguing that point.
Larry has every right to bring this information to light, and I’m sure …read more