Big brands have been traditionally slow to catch on when it comes to online marketing and quite a lot of them make a mess of it when they finally decide to embrace new strategies.

Search engine optimisation is something that never sits right with big brands thanks to the difficulty in tracking results, paid search was embraced much sooner.

In the last 18 months big brands have almost started to understand SEO but most of them seem to have been told that SEO = paid links by large UK agencies that really should know better.

People such as B&Q and the Post Office have been outed as link buyers this week and everybody surely knows about the problems GoCompare has suffered. Other brands such as supermarkets and most of the major insurance and finance companies are all avid link buyers but why do they bother?

The problem is that 12 months ago if a large brand went to a large UK SEO agency the first thing they would have suggested is a link buying budget of thousands of pounds per month.

This was the tactic that worked and these companies had the budget to pay for as many links as possible.

Now the tide has turned and big brands are stuck with useless spammy links and, in some cases, penalties.

The thing to remember is that most of these brands have so many natural links and so much trust that they can rank for any terms they need with on site optimisation alone.


Published 27 March, 2008 by Patrick Altoft

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Comments (4)


Leon Bailey

Very good article. I find the idea of big brands, that should know better, appearing on spammy "links" pages very uncomfortable - it's a very short sighted view of how SEO should be done.

over 10 years ago



Yeah no need to buy links! Doing the SEO for large, authority sites is so much easier anyway. Plus they are MUCH more likely to get busted by Google, look what happened to

If you need to buy links for big organisations you should do it in a undetectable way (e.g a few themed sites, mid paragraph). Better to write good quality content, blogs, link baiting, the traffic levels should ensure you have plenty of people reading the content so a high chance of people linking naturally.

Spammy links don't seem to work for competitive keyterms these days anyway?

over 10 years ago



Are you for real? Can i first ask anyone who comments on these articles if they have ever SEO'd in the insurance market. If not i'd suggest getting yourself a client and then after 6-12 months coming back with some real experience.

Yes i agree buying links is not great but nearly everyone in the top 20 of Google is doing it which means its a paradigm shift in off page optimization itself. Yes Google could cull it all over night but they would have to bring down some big brands in the process which is all too risky.

And as for on-page only optimisation, maybe we should be thinking a little further than SEO from the class of 2001.

At the moment its all about the links, if gocomapre can rank for some easily obtained links doesn't that just show how weak the big G's algo really is?

I mean just look to the right of this page, just coincidental that they are do-follow links under the sponsored link section?

over 10 years ago

Raymond Dunthorne

Raymond Dunthorne, Digital Performance Manager at Thomson Reuters

I don't believe that a single blog post:

'why are the Post Office buying links ! 12:35 AM March 26, 2008 from Spaz '

should provide e-consultancy with enough substantiation to publish a statment that Post Office is buying links, which it is not. who is this patrick altoft character?!


Raymond Dunthorne
Search Manager
The Post Office

over 10 years ago

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