Posted January 18, 2007 9:27 am by with 29 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Peter da Vanzo on V7N’s SEO blog announced Wednesday that V7N is entering the link buying field. No, they’re not buying links for themselves—they’re offering a service similar to Text Link Ads. But, of course, different.

V7N boasts that their Contextual Links system is superior to any other link buying because the links they’re selling are completely “unmarked” and undetectable as paid links to Google or anyone else. The links are also better because they’re one-off payments of $20 per link. Best of all, as “contextual” links, they occur in sentences. V7N says that “For SEO purposes, contextual links are unbeatable.”

The links are permanent, and presumably one-way, links. Publishers, who earn $10 per link, are not required to make any comments or endorsements. It doesn’t appear that publishers are required to disclose the relationship at all. V7N says most of their publishers are blogs.

You can buy your links one at a time or in packages of 50, 100 or 200. Note, however, that adult sites are not welcome to buy links (as per the V7N FAQ).

In addition to touting their large network of publishers and advertisers, V7N’s page on The Superiority of V7N Contextual Links says that these links are also ethical:

By selling link placement instead of paid endorsements, we sidestep the moral issues and bad publicity that follows with paid blog posting.

While I agree that they sidestep ethical issues in paid review systems, I wouldn’t say that selling undisclosed paid link placement is completely ethically unambiguous.

(I know the issue was debated at length last month, and we probably don’t need to rehash that. I just wouldn’t claim to be ethical especially in light of the ongoing debate on the ethical status of paid links.)

  • If you consider blog is a legitimate media, then paying for mention can be unethical unless it is clear that the mention is paid for. Imagine if you can pay to get mentioned in New York Times.

    [non-relevant link removed]

  • The problem I see for V7N is the fact they are one off payments. Paying uninformed website owners one off may work, but for the informed webmaster, they probably realize they can get paid monthly with other alternatives.

  • Jordan McCollum

    Josh — you can get paid to be mentioned in the New York Times—in the Ads or the Classifieds 😉 . The jury is still out, to pun the phrase, on whether blogs are “legitimate” media. Sometimes bloggers are accorded the same First Amendment protections as other journalists.

    Jeremy — Good point. Depends, though, on how many links a publisher thinks s/he can post per day (10 links — $200/day) versus how many s/he can fill his/her site with from the monthly guys.

  • Pingback: V7 boasting ethical paid links()

  • Total bollocks anyone who has seriously built links and tried to comply with search engine guidelines (even though the Google guidelines say dont do it) will know that this is rubbish. Sorry but this type of stuff makes me crazy and there are still companies out there who keep selling the quick cheap fix. Oh well when it does’nt work they come to us and do it the hard way.

  • Jordan McCollum

    I disagree with the trackback article. I never said, and I don’t think anyone else said, that Google is God, buying links is sinning and a 31+ ranking is Hell. (I already commented on 97th Floor’s blog, but I’m summarizing my comments here.)

    Ethics isn’t about God. Ethics, from the American Heritage Dictionary, is defined at “The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession.”

    No one said that you’re going to Hell if you buy or sell links. If the standards of the search engines state that buying and selling links is as wrong as, say, cloaking, then don’t do those things and call yourself “ethical” (or at least not white hat). You may not be sinning, but you’re not following the “rules or standards governing the conduct” of the industry.

    Ethical or white hat SEO (which you might not equate, but I do) doesn’t try to game or play the search engines; it tries to provide even more relevant results (from its clients) within the guidelines set by the search engines. It’s not because Google is God and a rank of 31+ is Hell–it’s because as the search engine they do get to set the rules of what’s acceptable to them.

  • Fion,

    I don’t know where you get your information from I am involved with many sites that buy links and it does in fact produce results. In fact, I took website just last month from #89 to front page by just buying links.

    As with anything, it’s all about balance and technique. I have also noticed that it helps established authority sites way more than small unknown sites.

  • Jeremy,
    I am getting the information from the people who call who have been banned for link buying programs. We ask them to discontinue all link buying programs once they are back in the index we do re-do their SEO and start building their links through content and publicity they do not have any further problems. In the old days it used to be calls from clients banned for doorway pages now its link buying. I have signed two such clients in the last two months. Both were buying links from link selling networks. I think the link sellers do not want to believe that it can happen its only when one of your clients gets banned that you will realize Google are serious. I do not believe it hurts for Yahoo and MSN at least I do not have any first hand proof that it cause issues.

  • Contextual links are one issue – but what’s the inventory like?

  • Jordan McCollum

    V7N claims they have “more publishers than the other guys” and “access to tens of thousands of proven link buyers.” No run of site links, though.

  • Jordan,

    I seriously doubt that. They just launched and you can’t even sign up as a publisher yet because they don’t link to a sign up form.

  • Jordan McCollum

    I noticed that (hence the “V7N claims”; I actually really liked the page paragraph on joining their network). I guess they think they’ll fill up pretty quick with members from their forums and their already established affiliate partners, etc.

    I’m having to guess at a lot of this as I go along because, as you said, they don’t have a sign up form or much of anything else up yet. I actually have to go through my comments and my post to remove phrases like “I guess” and “I can only presume.”

    The limited amount of information and capabilities on their site makes me even more skeptical of the service.

    I’ll see if I can get an interview to clear things up.

  • Hi guys, and thanks for the mention.

    The Contextual Links program was supposed to launch on the 15th, but we had some issues and it should be online later today. (Promise from my programmer.)

    “but what’s the inventory like?”

    Brian, the inventory right now is not so large, as we’ve only been running the program in beta for a short time in our private forums. But the inventory is good quality. And we will be aggressively growing that inventory with some major advertising.

    As far as orders go, we have clients lined up to us the program. From running in beta, we have had over $20,000 in orders and we haven’t even reached out to our database of link builders.

    I think it will be a great program for both bloggers and for advertisers, but if anybody wants to point out how we can improve I’m hungry for feedback. 🙂

    As far as the ethics of link buying is concerned…. Some people will always be opposed to any commercialization of the Internet. Needless to say, I’m not one of those.

  • Jordan in regards to your post I posted the track back and I was in no way implying you were saying anything about buying links related to ethics and God. I will go back and edit the post. I was talking in general to the whole controversy. There was so much debate about it last month on Jim Boykin and SEOMOZ that I wanted to state the only ethical problems I have with seo is things actually tied to beliefs and God. Like Adult spam targeted to minors, and telling a client one thing and doing another. Your reply was very welcomed and thanks for clarifying the different sides of ethics in and out of business.

  • Also I just did an interview with John Scott on the new service. On the Blog some pretty interesteing Stuff.

  • Jordan McCollum

    Yes, it is, 97th Floor (Chris). John also told me that hopefully in the next few hours, publishers should be able to sign up.

    On publisher guidelines, he said, “We request that bloggers blog about the topic of the link, not the website itself. For example, if we were promoting we would request that the blogger blog about the topic of web hosting, not V7 Inc.

    “They would need to include the link within a sentence, with the anchor text assigned by the advertiser.”

    Should be interesting to see how far Contextual Links goes!

  • Pingback: SoloSEO Blog » Purchase Links… Is it Moral or Ethical? Is it Legal?()

  • Well, it’s pretty obvious that there’s a market for it. Where there’s a market, there’s money to be made.

  • @Brian Turner – You’ve raised a legitimate concern and I’ve addressed this in detail here:

  • Pingback: V7N launches Contextual Link Ad Network()

  • Well all i can say is that for a blogger like me, this could be a source of steady income and well John has been know for keeping his promises and with the added income, one cannot complain..

    From the publishers point of view, the inventory would build faster than any – many quality blog owners would jump in the opportunity to further monetize there incomes.

    Talk about the hassles of looking for link clients and one can waste all his time there…

    Great to hear it John and best of luck with it

  • Obvious Man

    I wanted to be “Obvious Man” here…V7N says,

    “Contextual Links @ V7N are undetectable to search engines. “

    If the search engine cannot detect them, what is the point?

  • Obvious Man, he means that in a different way I think. 🙂

  • Jordan McCollum

    Okay, Obvious Man, I’ll play along. I’ll even be obvious woman. Obviously, you’re kidding, but just in case, by “undetectable” V7N means “undetectable as paid and not completely organic links.”

    V7N has now removed that claim from their site.

  • Juiczee

    Page Rank is dead…..Long live Cutts Rank.
    Google is “supposed” to rank pages using 200 quality signals but that seems to be not working, all google academic PhD’s are worthless against much more intelligent entrepreneurs.
    This blog post is clear and obvious admission that google algorithms has miserably failed, means google stock price will fall soon, because the whole premise of google is it can “algorithmically rank pages” there by “eliminating human review”. Get ready for web 2.0 crash………

  • Pingback: » Blog Archive » Link Buying Controversy()

  • Pingback: V7N Brokering Contextual Links | TheVanBlog()

  • shadowman

    Linksellers and linkseller harvesters (directories that sell links to link selling directories) days are numbered now. It’s about time for this too. It’s now all about “likes” and not links. Get used to it.

  • Pingback: Paid Links - Ethical or Not? What's in it for SEO? | SoloSEO()