The other day I received an email asking me to link one word in one of my posts to a website. In exchange, they offered me $50 per year. Now, my ad revenue from Google AdSense is about $7/month or $84/year. If someone (not you, Mr. SEO Marketer!) offered me $50/year to put a large bold ad on every page, I might consider it. But one ad hyperlink on one word on one post? No problem!
To be honest, I was a little doubtful, but I added the link and replied that I would remove it if I didn’t receive $50 in my PayPal account within 24 hours. Sure enough, the next day, there was a big fat Ulysses sitting in my PayPal account. Awesome.
What I did not expect was to later find, in my blog stats, a referrer back to a Google Spreadsheet that was publicly viewable (I’m row 302 of the “LA” sheet). This is the document where the Search Engine Optimization company is keeping track of websites where they see the word in question and are willing to offer money. It seems that offers range from $25 to $100 per year. It makes me wonder if I could have demanded more. Anyway, I was pleased to note that one of my row neighbors in the spreadsheet is none other than Zoë Keating.
Anyway, it seems pretty amateurish for an SEO company to A) click on links in your online spreadsheet without disabling referrer information in your browser, and B) allow public access to your spreadsheet so anyone, particularly those that you may not have negotiated a deal with yet, can see how much you’re offering to others.
UPDATE (2010-Jan-19): I’ve donated my Ulysses to Non-Believers Giving Aid to be split 50/50 between Doctors Without Borders and the International Red Cross for use in Haiti. I can’t think of a better place for the money of this incompetent SEO company to go.