MoreDigital.com – buying links for or spoofing Virgin Atlantic?

Discover Disney - Virgin AtlanticGoogle have been cracking down recently on companies that buy links on other sites to artificially increase their PageRank. They give the clearest possible warning in their webmaster guidelines “Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.”

So here are some interesting emails that we received recently from “Regina Steele” at More Digital – [email protected]gital.com.

The first email arrives:

Hi xxxx,

I work for More Digital; a UK based Digital Marketing Consultancy.
We represent clients interested in social media marketing on smaller sites with little or no existing advertising and we’re currently looking for advertising partners.
We pay a fixed upfront annual fee which we will agree on with you. Once the ad is in place, payment is made within approximately 48 hours.
Would you be interested in placing a small text-based ad on xxxx?
Kind regards,
Regina Steele
[email protected]

And we ignored so a follow up arrives:

Hi xxxx,

We recently contacted you regarding advertising for one of our clients.
We pay an annual fee to you as soon as the advert is live. It is a straightforward process and we work with you to make sure we fit naturally with your site. Please let me know if you are interested and I’ll send you more details.
Would you be interested in selling us a simple text based advertisement on your website xxxx?
Best regards,
Regina Steele
[email protected]

So we reply:

Regina,
Depends who your client is – could you let us have more details?

And Regina tells us how it works:

Thanks for getting back to me!
We represent several industries from telecommunications,health,finance,online gaming.
The client we represent would like to expand its brand influence further across, and in order to achieve that goal, they need to advertise on sites based outside of the UK. Since the best way to do this is through the internet, we search for websites that match our clients’ requirements then contact the site’s webmaster.
Basically, we wish you to create a new post or article on your blog to accommodate our client’s link. We have two options for this:
1.) Our team of content writers will create content for an entirely new post or page that will be tailored to fit with the rest of your site. We will make sure that you agree with how the new page has been put together before asking you to place it live on your site.
2.) We will provide you with the URL, and you can link to it in any manner you see fit (topic, content, language, length). You can write the page (preferably 250-words or two paragraphs) in review format or simply write about the usual topics on xxxx.
PRICE: $150
The fees I sent you are quoted for a year’s placement and we pay the whole amount in US Dollars upfront.
To give you an idea of what a text advert looks like, please view our example at the following link: http://www.discoverdisney.co.uk/family-diary where the anchor is ‘Virgin Atlantic‘.
We aim to complete payment via secure payment partners Paypal or Moneybookers within 1 to 2 days of the advert going live on your site.
Also, you may read our terms and conditions: www.moredigital.com/terms.pdf.
I won’t be able to give you an example as it will violate our Non-Disclosure Agreement with webmasters but I can give you more details regarding the client we have for your website.
Our technical and clients team would have to make a further assessment of your website (in terms of quality, content, design, and etc.,) so that we can check to which client specifications your website matches before we can send you more details. We will make sure that you agree with client before asking you to place our advert live on your site.
Would you be interested in having your website further assessed? If you are, please let me know. We’ll then send over the client’s URL (subject to your approval) so you can proceed with the draft of the advert.
Lastly, if you have more websites we can work on, please feel free to send over a list. It would help if you can include the list of websites on your next email so I can start lining them up for assessment and review.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Regards,
Regina

So we reply:

Hi Regina,
It seems this is contrary to Google Webmaster Guidelines so we’ll decline.
http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66736

But Regina insists its all good:

Hi Publisher,
Thank you for your email.
I can assure you that we fully support Google in their efforts to discourage unsolicited and crude web-based advertising. More Digital is not a spam advertiser. We are employed by some of the world’s most reputable brands and as such we handle their brand communications with the greatest of consideration and duty to their integrity.
Our strong reputation is based on our commitment to operating within a solid code of conduct.
The simple text-based adverts that we specialise in are designed to avoid any association with spam in order to protect our clients’ brand.
We appreciate your concern however and feel encouraged that, like ourselves, you would wish to see an end to spam style advertising tactics being employed on the Internet.
If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact me, or alternatively if you wish to find out more about how More Digital operates please feel free to visit our website at www.moredigital.com.
Best regards,
Regina

We re-state:

Regina,
We don’t agree, the Google rules are clear:
” Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results. ”
That’s why you’re wanting to place contextual links on other sites isn’t it?

End of emails so far

We are hoping to hear from Regina again but in the meantime we have the following questions:

1) Is the Discover Disney site real – http://www.discoverdisney.co.uk – it looks odd as there are broken picture links in the menu nav bar.

2) Is the Virgin Atlantic link a paid link or is it just there to fool others into thinking this is not against Google webmaster guidelines?

3) Is More Digital a bona fide web agency or a web-spammer? The More Digital website states “Web Marketing Ltd t/a More Digital company number 04812303” – a UK based company.

We await some answers!

Discover Disney - discoverdisney.co.uk

  • Mark Stearns

    I got an email from [email protected] offering an ad link for AVIVA.com and proffering $125 USD in payment. AVIVA has no record of this arrangement and there are many comments on line suggesting MoreDirect may be in violation of Google.com policies. In any case, I baled out as they may be a very high risk and they may be able to alter the link once it is posted or somehow scam in yet to be determined methods. Can’t tell for sure-but why risk it.