Offer Customers a Discount in Exchange for a Link?

Mar 19, 2009 • 8:35 am | comments (8) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

One of the most challenging jobs for e-commerce sites is to get people to link to them. Over the years, we have posted many link building tips but we never posted about this one. Why don't e-commerce sites offer a promotion to customers to get a percentage off their order, if they write a blog post or link to their site.

In fact, I have seen this offered on several sites throughout the year. Personally, I never took advantage of the offer, which honestly surprises me. I blog a heck of a lot, not just on search engines, but on anything, and I never took advantage of the offer. In any event, some sites do this and have been doing it for years.

An excellent HighRankings Forum thread asks if offering this type of discount, in exchange for a link, would be considered link buying and thus against Google's terms of service?

Moderator, Bob Gladstein said that it doesn't make sense to make the offer to everyone and anyone. You don't want links from an electronic store if you site sells shoes. Or do you?

Moderator, Randy said he sees it a lot and when he sees it, he loses respect for that site and will never do business with them again. Wow, strong words, let me quote him:

It's caused me to lose respect and trust for those who offered me such Discount For Link deals. Not only have I never taken any of them up on the deal, as a general rule I never do business with them again. Not because the original thing I ordered wasn't in good condition or that I've had any problem with my original order. But because I've lost respect for them. They're offer has caused me to lose trust and good will that they'd already built with me that caused me to order from them the first time.

Jill Whalen, owner of HighRankings, disagrees with both Bob and Randy, she said "I think it's a great idea."

Honestly, I think the best bet is to write the post after you get the product and then they give you a discount on the next order or give you a credit on your previous purchase. This way you can give an honest review of the product you bought and discuss the customer service and if you liked it or not.

Technically, a discount on a purchase is money and it may be seen as "link buying," but it is a stretch, in my opinion.

Do you think offering a discount in exchange for a link is considered link buying? Take our poll:

Forum discussion at HighRankings Forum.

Previous story: Is Google AdSense Your Main Source of Income? Take Our Poll


Bill Ross

03/19/2009 02:06 pm

Having worked in sales for ABC television network a few years back I can tell you that trade for commercials or ads is alive and well in traditional media. So why would online be any different? I think that is a form of "buying links" but the currency of exchange is paid in product instead of $, so both people benefit from the services of one another.


03/20/2009 09:01 am

On one hand link buying and selling is damned and on the other hand incentives are ok? Incentives or money for a link is the exact same thing.

Arnie K

03/20/2009 05:12 pm

Trying to stir up the whole paid link thing again? I totally disagree with Bob re "You don't want links from an electronic store if you site sells shoes." If it's a reputable store and they have a reason to link to you, take the link!


03/20/2009 11:23 pm

I would still take the link, even though the business is not really related. Whilst it is not as good as a link from a related business or an authority site if they are happy to link and will use your keywords why not take it. I think an incentive for a link is no different to buying a link. Just a different form of payment.

Adam Snider

03/23/2009 08:53 pm

While I don't see how this could be viewed as anything other than link buying, I still think it's a decent link building idea if you do it discreetly.


04/04/2011 02:45 am

You are manipulating your search rankings in the way of payment. I do how ever believe that asking for a product review of the product you bought should be more than ok, but you probably shouldn't try to dictate any anchor text links or even links at all and simply hope that they would link to you i their review of your products.


04/04/2011 03:48 am

I just noticed this post is over 2 years old, sorry guys...


06/29/2011 06:00 am

And then we all know the big boss google took it as spam, after overstock got penalized.

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