• http://www.michael-martinez.com/ Michael Martinez

    “in my mind, any grey area is a green light”

    This is why so many SEOs find their link building strategies fail in the long run.

  • http://www.adventuresinsearch.com Elisabeth Osmeloski

    Michael, in general, I would tend to agree with you – people too often misconstrue the ‘grey areas’ and go the completely wrong direction, execute a tactic poorly and get themselves into trouble from an SEO perspective. (and probably, Jake could have said that in a slightly different way…)

    That said, I don’t think it is entirely fair of (any) search engine rep to lump product reviews into this category – as generating buzz and awareness (ergo, links in the web world) through well placed product reviews (online or off- in print) is a viable, legitimate & longstanding PR/marketing tactic.

    When done well, it should never fall under SE criticism.

    After all, both Microsoft & Google have given away plenty of products (phones & laptops, for example) in hopes of getting reviews / buzz/links & mentions from online & offline media…

  • http://www.michael-martinez.com/ Michael Martinez

    It would be interesting to see what Michael Gray thinks of all this.

  • http://www.empirecovers.com Jake Goldblum

    i could have worded that a lot better about the grey area. I would never do anything that would jeopardize my search rankings. I think this is a method a lot of big businesses use and it is fair game. We use the videos and pictures on the website to increase ROI.

  • http://www.idslogic.com/ I.L.

    A product review sells or gets appreciated solely on the basis of the creative meat put into it. Its absence makes the review a dud, leaving it with no takers. So rather than just slipping in a link to make it look and sound creative, the best to happen to a review is a more compelling draft. The links can come later on!

  • timred

    Jake, I just sent you a message listing out a few things I noticed that are really black hat about your tactics. I can see where this product review idea may fall in a grey hat area, but what you have up on http://internetforyachts.net/ is clearly black hat link building. It seems like you are really attempting to boost your rankings for boat covers, and it looks like it’s working for you as you are ranking great: http://www.google.com/search?q=boat+covers. I hope Google does a better job at picking up linkspam like this and devaluing it.

  • DavidS42

    I don’t think anyone making serious SEO efforts hasn’t dabbled with gray/black hat tactics from time to time.

    Jake, I’m curious to know how you tie your SEO efforts to sales. I don’t have any experience with SEO related to product e-commerce, but I’ve always heard Google Analytics doesn’t do a good job of differentiating between paid and organic traffic and I see that empirecovers seems to do some pretty heavy PPC marketing. Can you accurately measure what conversions are from PPC and which are from SEO? How many SEO sales can you really get from such a targeted niche?