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Jason Calacanis, CEO of Weblogs 2.0 service Mahalo, has apparently left the world of pissing off SEO folk and is now pissing off affiliate folk. This time he wonders if the search engines (including Google, Yahoo and Mahalo) should ban affiliate links from being indexed. First, how would anyone even know it’s an affiliate link? I don’t have a reaction here though if a gun was held to me, I would say that they should be banned or if they are indexed, it should be noted that it’s an affiliate link.
However, after reading Jason’s article about the potential banning of affiliate links it got me wondering about the way Jason links to Mahalo on his blog and the way he pushes his employees to also blog and spread the word of Mahalo.
On calacanis.com, nearly every single post has a link to Mahalo which is competely acceptable seeing as Calacanis is the CEO. But should these links have the nofollow attribute on them? Aren’t they paid links? Sure, there’s no direct payment but seeing as calacanis.com has a pagerank of 6, each time Jason links to a Mahalo page, he is passing the page some very heavy weight. In fact, it’s been reported that 76% of Mahalo’s traffic is coming from Google so naturally this type of linking is helping push Mahalo up the ranks in Google. In my opinion, he should nofollow every one of the Mahalo links.
In fact, employee links might actually be worse than affiliate links as they provide a direct benefit to the company whereas affiliate links only provide a true benefit when the user completes some action.
Furthermore, on the Greenhouse mailing list (that is the list for part-time Mahalo page creators), the executives from Mahalo constantly ask the list to push out the pages to their blogs and their social services. Should these links be labeled? Here is an example of the employee push on Mahalo:
everyone go ahead and share this with Mahalo Share!
Mahalo is just one example, this happens across the Web with employees pushing products or services of the companies they are employed by. What do you think? Should employees of sites be able to “push” their sites and pass the juicy search credit or is this just as bad as any other paid link?
This will be my question for him at next week’s SES in NYC.
Last week, I wrote an article about Digg and whether they should change outbound links to use the "nofollow" attribute which (for some engines) would not give as much link juice as they currently provide. This was after Wikipedia went nofollow the week before.
So on my way to NYC this past weekend, I started drawing ideas in my notepad. And the best idea (I think) that came to me is the following. Remember that all of this is just an idea I have and not something I have put into practice on CenterNetworks (or any of my other sites).
Let's use my other site, HTMLCenter, as the example for this demonstration. The site has good traffic, a pagerank of 6 and has been around for 10 years. So the link juice is clearly worth a good bit based on the other text links on the site.
Now we review about 10-12 books a month and each one of those reviews includes links to the publisher and author web sites along with a link to Amazon to purchase the book. Each link is a followed link and so I am sending good amounts of juice to these companies. And so my question is why? Should I change these links to nofollow links?
And so this is where my new monetization model begins. It's really a simple idea. Here is how it would work:
- I post a product review as I always have on HTMLCenter
- All links from the story out become no follow
- I alert the company (like always) that their review is live
- In the email I let them know that the link is a nofollow link and that for $50 (made up amount), I can make the link a follow link
- Whether the company pays or not, the review remains the same
I am thinking this really is a great way to add some potential extra income for me monthly. And clearly I could do the same thing here on CN. The company is not paying for the review and its clearly not the same as Payperpost or ReviewMe. Reviews are posted prior to asking about follow payment, the reviews are not manipulated at all because I don't care whether you stay as a nofollow or pay me for a follow.
This might be a horrible idea, but at 35,000 feet, this is what I come up with! Alright so now I open my new monetization model for review and commentary. Pick holes in my idea, bash it, or love it – just be honest! Thanks in advance for feedback.