Does Google Allow Links Through Customer Discounts?

Apr 23, 2013 • 8:07 am | comments (12) by | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

incentiveA WebmasterWorld thread asks a question about offering discounts on products in exchange for a link - is it against Google's webmaster guidelines?

What I find somewhat funny is that we covered the topic at least twice. Depending on when you ask it, different SEOs would answer differently. We covered it in 2009 where prominent SEOs have said, this is a great idea. But in 2011 Overstock was penalized for offering customers discounts in exchange for links. So if Overstock was penalized, wouldn't any site doing it also be penalized IF discovered?

If you read the Google document on link schemes, Google says:

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a "free" product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.

That seems to cover discounts in exchange for links.

So why are SEOs and webmaster confused on the topic?

One Webmaster said:

I disagree, if you offer a discount for some reason and sites link to you highlighting that, then that is entirely natural.

WebmasterWorld moderator said if you are not asking for the link, then why not:

You're not even really 'asking' for the link, simply notifying the site that you offer a discount.

The problem is that line of "intent" and who is judging your "intent" is not black and white. It is up for interpretation by a Googler and who are you to know what someone at Google may think your intent is or is not.

So to be safe - I wouldn't suggest offering discounts for links or even implying it. That is, if you want Google traffic to your site.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for fish and hook

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