Google Doesn't Like Linking Streetwalkers & the End of 'Tri-engine' SEO for Affiliates?

Eric Ward has published a new article titled, ahem, Are You A Link Whore? (My quick answer before I even read the article: YES!)

His philosphy is one that I think has hit webmasters harder than ever with the latest of BigDaddy.

Google is algorithmically rewarding my good linking behavior over the course of the past 13 years.

There can be no other explanation.  Google doesn't like link whores.

His choice of language sure makes him a link baiter, but I don't think anyone can argue with his point.

I can say with 100% confidence that you can be successful and rank well without having to do anything even close to slutty.

Two questions:

  • How does this philosophy change if you can't/don't want to wait 13 years (or even 3) to rank?
  • Why does everyone seem to ignore the "other two" engines? As far as I can tell they like their links 'fast n loose'. They also send visitors that convert very well, especially for affiliates in many profitable sectors.

Which I guess leads me to a third question. Are we getting to a point where it's more cost effective for affiliates to take an either/or approach to ranking in Google or MSN/Yahoo! ? In my experience, if you target both, it's hard to do GREAT in either (For simplicity's sake I'm lumping Yahoo! and MSN together as they both seem to reward linking in the same general way.)

Whereas if you target only one (either Google, or MSN/Yahoo!), you can focus in like a laser and get rankings pretty predictably. (Usually, that choice is dictated by domain age -- 2 year old domain? Go Google. 1 year or younger? Go for MSN/Yahoo!)

(And by the way, I'm ignoring 'brand' sites and ecomm sites, because they a) are inherently less risk-tolerant than affiliates so are more prone to a 3-engine, non-aggressive strategy, and b) the stakes are possibly greater as getting banned/filtered in one engine would result in not showing up for 'brandname' searches, and of course c) they are less likely to be launching new sites.)

But back to my question: you readers who have recently launched new affiliate sites -- are you doing 'tri-engine SEO'? Are you taking a Google-centric approach? Or is MSN/Yahoo! your bread and butter?

I'll go first: MSN/Yahoo! is my bread and butter for new affiliate sites. The tradeoff always comes down to this: I can do XYZ and it will probably screw the site in Google, when it may have ranked well there 2 years down the road -- but I'll rank in MSN in a month, and Yahoo! in three months. Or I can skip XYZ which will make ranking in Yahoo!/MSN impossible but hey who knows in 2 years Google may want to rank my site! Doesn't even seem like much of a choice, to me...



May 18, 2006 8:36:02 PM

If I find something that works in Yahoo/MSN and it took less than 6 months to work I'll go out and crank out four or five more sites targeting very similar phrases.

May 18, 2006 9:18:11 PM

This seems to be the choice one has to make, Andy.

Don't tell anyone, but I can nail a #1 position in Yahoo and MSN for a $5.00 ppc key word phrase with a free Blogger blog and less than 20 articles with slightly varied anchor text. In less than 3 months.

Not kidding. Same site shows up in Google, but is sandboxed for the main keyword phrase.

And I am far from an SEO guru (but you knew that).

Also, from my pure ppc days, Yahoo and especially MSN convert way better. The easy guess is lack of sophistication compared to the Google crowd.

May 18, 2006 9:19:30 PM

i'm definitely a link whore. such a link slut that nate dogg should drop a lyric about it.

But I just don't think that dichotomy is fair anymore. most industries force sites to be "whores" just to be competitive, which is what makes Google's standard actually a stranglehold on webmasters that are "trying" to be good.

Forget it. I'm past denial. Rock the boat, Andy.

May 21, 2006 3:33:02 PM

Really excellent points all! What does one do if they are in this position:

a). In a crazy competitive business niche
b). Have a relatively new web site that's not content heavy
c). Depend on affliate links

Sadly, if you don't at least try a few sluttly tactics, you might be doomed...

Jun 5, 2006 3:32:54 AM

In travel everyone is a slut. Competing with sites that have 120k backlinks. "Quality" link building does not apply.

Jun 14, 2006 4:55:39 AM

What if the profile of your/my product's market are Goog-babes - like anything web marketing/technology related? While I will rank well on MSN (it took forever to get indexed on Yahoo),it gets relatively fewer searches than Google for the market I'm targeting. I am disproportionately dependent on Google - and I'm an affiliate marketer.
Maybe I should just change markets -:)

Jul 13, 2006 11:23:54 PM

I've noticed that my older blogspot blogs often generated consistent traffic sooner than my wordpress blogs. Also, they seem to have gotten higher rankings in MSN/ Yahoo (1-3rd page), but usually for obscure phrases. I don't know how that works, so I can't comment intelligently.

Also, traffic from MSN/ Yahoo always seems to convert better for Adsense ads. At least for my sites, regardless of blog platform. But that's nothing profound.

Aug 21, 2006 3:59:13 AM

I definitely think it's wrong to ignore the "other two" search engines, Yahoo! and MSN, because they are a close trail behind Google when it comes to natural traffic for me. While yes, most of my natural traffic does come from the big G, a good >20% still comes from Y! and MSN. It's harder to optimize for the other two though since they don't have any straight forward guidelines that help webmasters rank. I naturally rank #1 for the "other two", but by no means did I try to rank #1.

Aug 21, 2006 12:20:10 PM

Interesting post and comments, everyone. Naturally, I target Google because of the high percentage of traffic it may give in teh future, but I find that I naturally get 60% of my traffic to one of my main sites from Yahoo/MSN anyways.

At any rate, great insight, everyone.

Oct 6, 2006 7:05:36 AM

What bugs me the most about Google is the inconsistent "penalties". Things that were the norm, or even the encouraged behavior, suddenly become the no-no's. It would be much better to have a predefined set of rules.

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