Over the past few days, the community has been buzzing about an article on The Outline named How brands secretly buy their way into Forbes, Fast Company, and HuffPost stories . It goes through how many well known news sites and blogs who accept guest contributors also find themselves getting cheated by those contributors because some of them are being bribed to mention their company names and link to their sites for a fee.
This topic is not new, not new at all. We’ve been covering it for years. In fact, it lead sites like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post & Inc. and others tonofollow links on guest contributed stories and articles. Heck, I even shared bribes I get on a daily basis to link to companies from this site or other sites I write at. As a form of disclosure, I have personally never taken any money or any gift in exchange for coverage with or without a link.
Google has told us back then that these links are known to them and they ignore most of those links so they don’t impact their algorithms. Heck, people even try tosell links to Google – it is not a good idea.
Back to the article, which pretty much sums up a lot of what we covered in the past. It actually disclosed the prices and a list of 50 or so sites that engage in this activity, knowingly or unknowingly. What do I mean by knowingly or unknowingly? Well, sometimes the guest contributors sneak by and add links and the editorial staff misses it. As you know, at this site, I won’t take any guest contributors (well, on a rare case maybe once or so a year in a specific situation). It feels icky to me, always has.
Here is the list of 50 sites that have been revealed as having this issue. Again, some do shock me and make me sad.
Google has responded, via Danny Sullivan, which is a bit ironic in this case. Let me share his tweets on the topic:
Lots of people reading & sharing this @Outline article about non-disclosed pay-to-play articles, especially by contributors. https://t.co/OBrdxs8UuZ Here’s the thing the article doesn’t get into. Often, these are about buying links in an attempt to influence search rankings….
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan)
December 5, 2017