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Placing posts on high-authority blogs that include links to your own pages is a sure-fire way to boost your website’s organic optimisation.

Gaining sought-after link juice by negotiating guest blogging slots on popular websites can be a really powerful weapon in your search engine optimisation (SEO) tool kit. So powerful in fact, that many corporations and SEO execs are very willing to pay in order to secure the link.

But it’s now looking bleak for anyone who relies on paid-for placement, with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) taking an interest back in December.

Following legal action against the company Handpicked Media, it declared: “The OFT has confirmed its view that online advertising and marketing practices that do not disclose they include paid-for promotions are deceptive under fair trading laws.”

That doesn’t just refer to comments about services on blogs, but also microblogging platforms such as Twitter.

What will this mean?

At the moment, it’s hard to see precisely how this will affect those businesses that do pay for blog posts.

Certainly it will no longer be possible for blogs to receive money in order to rave about a product or service, unless they are willing to emblazon the content with ‘Sponsored Article’ or similar.

It’s not immediately obvious how this will affect more generic posts that have been placed on a blog simply in order to secure a link.

For example, if you run a holiday website then it’s obviously against the rules to pay a blog to carry a post enthusing about one of your packages without flagging up its sponsored status.

But, it’s not clear if you’d be able to pay to place an article on ’10 top tips for travelling with kids’ for example, without including the information that it’s sponsored.

It will be interesting to see how firm a stance the OFT takes on this.

How can I keep my posts legal?

Many cautious companies will be steering clear of the whole issue by ending paid-for blog post placement. No one wants to be at the wrong end of an OFT challenge, it’s not great for a company’s reputation.

But if you’re planning to end your blogging SEO efforts then let me recommend you think again.

Instead of paying for your links, earn them. Write articles of such usefulness and interest that high-authority blogs willingly include them on their pages.

That way, the benefits go far beyond simply building a link. Your blog articles build your reputation, earn the respect of your industry peers, share useful information and encourage new customers.

It’s much, much better to write articles that are valuable than to pay for churned-out rubbish simply in order to secure a link.

So, it’s better, it’s legally safer, it’s more valuable and it enhances your reputation. But how do you do it? Here are my 10 top tips.

10 ways to secure free space on a blog

  • Write useful and insightful articles.
  • Make friends with bloggers at conferences.
  • Keep a regular blog on your own website to showcase your skills.
  • Add value, don’t be worried about sharing your industry knowledge, it’s worth it.
  • Build connections and a following on Twitter, in order to promote posts.
  • Get active in the blogosphere and regularly comment on posts.
  • Don’t be afraid to link to other blogs from your own pages.
  • Keep current: writing about breaking news is a great way to secure free posts.
  • Offer posts at unpopular times, such as bank holidays or weekends.
  • Don’t leave blogging to so-called link-builders, get authorities like the CEO to write articles.
Kevin Gibbons

Published 4 January, 2011 by Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons is UK Managing Director at digital marketing agency BlueGlass. He is also known as an SEO speaker and can be found on Twitter and Google+.

102 more posts from this author

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Mortimer Duke

So basically, fire your SEO agency and write your own content. Best advice of 2011!

over 5 years ago

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Anonymous

What a way to start the New Year Kevin! You should buy Andrew Girdwood a drink!

over 5 years ago

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Anonymous 2

So "[real] content is king"!  Next you'll be telling us it's "the year of mobile".

Great post, thanks.

over 5 years ago

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Tamara@Adaptive

Some great tips here. I especially like the one about posting info at unpopular times. Thanks for the article, it's good to know that people are seriously managing the authenticity of the internet.

over 5 years ago

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buyerbeware

Top ten tips articles are included. The OFT specifically referred to editorial in its ruling as well as blog posts and tweets. Companies do not by law pay for editorial. How would you know about things like Top Shop tax protests if Top Shop paid the sources that disseminate editorial?

Parliament has gone through a lengthy process to decide how product placement might be allowed in broadcast editorial and it remains banned completely in content for children, news content, consumer programmes etc.

European law has for years made clear the distinction between what companies pay to disseminate which is marketing communication and editorial which newspapers, magazines, broadcasters disseminate.

The European Parliament adopted a text last month denouncing what it said was  ‘hidden’ internet advertising. It unanimously denounced "cases in which certain business operators finance directly or indirectly any action to encourage the dissemination of messages or comments appearing to emanate from consumers themselves when in reality these are messages of an advertising or commercial nature."

These rulings should change content for the better. It is bad news though for businesses built on illegal practice that inflate the value of advertorial by calling it editorial or as Techcrunch blogger Paul Carr put do the work of the devil. 

Google should do more too than require advertorial to have no follow links. If content has to have a secret signal to Google should the search engine be indexing it in the first place?

over 5 years ago

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Ed Lamb

The OFT clampdown can only be good news for those of us that only ever link build authentically....

over 5 years ago

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