WARNING: Commercial SEO Free-loaders (Etihad Airways)

Normally I don’t mention names or report every little thing that happens to me on my blog. But when people try to manipulate me and start to lie to me, actually it’s probably in other people’s interest that I blog about it.

I was contacted on 13-Feb-2014 by Anubhav Kumar (SENIOR SEO Account Manager) who works for DigitasLBI. DigitasLBI have obviously been employed by Etihad Airways to do their SEO for them. He gave me an address and phone number in Dubai. He very politely introduced himself, and went on to say he (or his automated system) had found my article – https://doncharisma.org/2014/02/09/do-journalists-tell-the-truth/ in which I’d in passing mentioned Etihad Airways. His request is/was that I link to flights.etihad.com, which is basically Etihad’s buy page – search for a flight then buy. Not their homepage etihad.com.

He then goes on to make a vague mention of future partnership between DigitasLBI and myself, on “future projects” with Etihad Airways.

Now for those of you that don’t understand the significance of a link in SEO terms, a link is an endorsement, I’m basically saying “Etihad Flights Good” by linking to them, I’m passing some of my SEO juice to Etihad. Well at least that’s how Google sees it. It forms part of Google’s equation when deciding who’s result to show when someone puts for instance “Etihad flight” in the Google search box. An endorsement is a form of advertising, and advertising is normally paid for.

So interested to see what would come of it, I wrote back to Anubhav Kumar, and said yes it’s possible I would link as suggested. However I’d like to know what incentive they were prepared to offer, flight upgrades, free flights or whatever. His reply :


“I wouldn’t be able to offer you any kind of financial benefit because we follow a no paid-links policy.”

So let me get this straight you want me to link to Etihad’s buy page, and you’re offering NOTHING in return ?

Fraid so dear readers – DigitalLBI and Etihad complete FREE-LOADERS.

So, I thought about it. I was very sure I knew what the answer would be, a “no” of some kind. But I replied to him anyway. I asked him about the possibility of a reciprocal link, that is that I link to Etihad (as he’d asked) and they link back to me. His reply :

“Reciprocal links are basically black hat SEO and its very easy for Google to find such links and then penalise the websites. Therefore, we wouldn’t be able to add a link back to your website.”

Now I’ve been doing SEO for some time. This is the first time I’ve heard anyone say that a reciprocal link is “Black Hat SEO”. For those who don’t know what black hat SEO is – basically it encompasses underhand and backdoor ways of doing SEO, that are “frowned” upon by Google. The strategies are numerous, google “Black Hat SEO” yourself if you want to know more.

As far as I can ascertain Etihad don’t link to anyone else’s blog from flights.etihad.com. One reciprocal link is not black hat SEO, period.

So actually Anubhav Kumar if you want to say “No” then say it. Don’t lie to me and make up an excuse which isn’t true.

HOWEVER … thank you Anubhav Kumar/DigitasLBI/Etihad Airways for giving me something to blog about. And NO I don’t give out free links to commercial organisations that aren’t prepared to give me something back. How rude, how cheeky and actually not the behaviour I’d expect from a representative of Etihad Airways, whom I’d previously had high regard for.

So, look dear readers I’m passing this information on, so that you may avoid supporting these freeloaders. Perhaps my message will spread wide enough so they will learn to pay for things the same as the rest of us have to.


Don Charisma

Resources & Sources

Free-loader Photo – www.justmemes.com

Notes for commenters:

Comments are invited. BUT you are reminded that this is a public blog and you are also reminded to think before you press the “post comment” button. 

Good manners are a mark of a charismatic person – so please keep comments civil, non-argumentative, constructive and related, or they will be moderated. If you feel you can’t comply, press the “unfollow” button and/or refrain from commenting.

I read ALL comments but can’t always reply. I will comment if I think there’s something that I can add to what you’ve said. I do delete without notice comments that don’t follow rules above. For persistent offenders I will ignore you permanently and/or report you.

Most decent people already know how to behave respectfully. Thank you for your co-operation on the above.

Warm regards, Don Charisma

65 thoughts on “WARNING: Commercial SEO Free-loaders (Etihad Airways)

  1. Your message for other bloggers is one that I wish was talked about more often! Thank you for that.
    I hope that by including the text (not actually a link) to the buy page in your post doesn’t also give them what they want.
    I have to admit, I don’t fully understand the intricacies of Google searches and links.

    1. I think they wanted a full link to their page, so no I didn’t give them what they wanted. I also heightened awareness of less informed people about being approached like this …

      Google searches and links aren’t rocket science, but yes agree, it’s complicated for the layman (or woman !)


      Don Charisma

  2. Perfect photo! The info kinda sorta went over my head, but the gist of it confirmed why I keep my internet life as simple as possible 😉 Good post 😀

  3. Guess that future partnerships line was a lot of bull if they weren’t prepared to do anything for you in return. Even greedy Microsoft was willing to pay VLoggers some cash for making videos saying the Xbone is good.

  4. I’m a newer blogger so I was shocked how many companies (including some larger known ones) contact me and want me to write about them for free! Some even give me a deadline to post my free article lol. I don’t do those kinds of posts, not even for a fee but I’m tempted to send back my “rates”– 10 billion dollars.

    1. LOL, well there is a compliment in that if they are trying to get you to write then you must be doing something right ? I’m a poet and I didn’t know it !

      Oh and when the job for 10 billion dollars comes through, I can help you with that LOL

  5. I have a lot to learn about the online universe – thanks for the insight and for inviting this young blogger into your world 🙂

  6. Communicating the values of a company through a blog, forums or whatsoever it’s called “buzz”. Sometimes buzzers are paid, sometimes you just write something about a certain product/service for free on your blog or other platforms because in YHO it’s worth for. In this case I would be glad to been contacted by a such big company with such a strong brand but they didn’t behave the way they should have. I could understand if it was a high-end small company in need of advertising, but even in that case, there must be a sort of payment or something in return (for me sometimes it’s a wine case or a few nights in hotel). This it’s absolutely unkind and in a certain sense it’s a tiny little spot on their brilliant reputation. But if they’d do this with all the people buzzing about them, how much this little spot could spread?

    1. Thanks Daniela, you’ve really filled in gaps in my knowledge here. It’s generally what I expected. I do help small bloggers and friends A LOT anyway, but a multi-national, multi-billion dollar company can pay for backlinks unless that happen to be organic, and a natural part of what I’m writing about. For instance if coca-cola brought out a new drink, I really liked it and wanted to recommend it because I thought it would enrich other’s lives then I would probably link to their new drink page. But a contrived link which isn’t organic or relavant, which I’d consider to be somewhat black hat SEO in itself, by a pushy, lying fool, another story …

      I will still continue to fly Etihad, I have one booked already. But the point is don’t be so mean, especially to the little people who may actually be your ally …

      Thanks again, very helpful 🙂

  7. Hi. I didn’t understand all of it, but does all this have something to do with you subscribing to my blog? I work as a translator and have some information on this blog but actually I don’t use it very much as a blog. More of a website. I guess it would be more fun to subscribe to my art-blog then 😉 (http://cyndisfika.wordpress.com/) Even if I’m not very active there at the moment. To busy working. Or do I know you? Oh this Internet!!! Sometimes it’s so difficult to understand and see who is real and who is fake ;-))) And of course you are SO welcome to subscribe if that’s what you intented to do 🙂 // Anita

  8. Hmmmm…interesting…and very useful for us novices. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Etihad, but not so much of freeloaders, and I wonder exactly what this guys association with Etihad is…

    1. He works for the company that Etihad has subcontracted to do their SEO. I like Etihad too had reasonably excellent experiences, apart from when I lost my phone, but I can’t really blame them for that. I need to take care of my own possessions, not their responsibility.

    1. Well technically it’s their subcontractor. I suspect they’ve farmed it out to save money, and put a degree of separation between themselves and people like me … unfortunately being treated in a cheap way doesn’t make me happy, so they get what they get ….

    1. Yes I did think of that angle … a lady who’s obviously worked in advertising has posted a detailed comment, and filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge … these guys should have offered an incentive, it usual and normal … a case of wine of something … still some people have to learn the hard way, and freeloaders need to be taught to pay their way … so teach I do … yoda though I am not !

      1. Yes agreed, but obviously people and businesses get full of themselves and no longer think rationally or fairly. There are a lot of bloggers out there with a following like you who make money from selling advertizing space on their blogs. I am sure you already know this… perhaps this was the universe saying Yes you can! Personally, I would rather sell advertizing space and then be free to write about whatever i wanted. That is if one wanted to make money from their blog. Yes i love the photo also, but did not realize you took it yourself.

      2. Ah no the duck photo isn’t mine, I’d love to have taken that myself !

        Not sure I’d want to write a blog that I couldn’t write what I wanted, but given the right amount of pay most things are possible … but I’m certainly not cheap !

        So far my advertising has paid for a few beers that’s it, but hopefully better things are in the pipeline, my bank manager will be happy 🙂

  9. A rather back handed compliment to you, and nothing that would ever come my way (I don’t have the following on my blog to generate such interest,) so polish your buttons anyway. Glad you are smart enough not to go along with this garbage, and I suspect that your description of said adventure will save someone else a lot of grief. Thanks for always looking out for us.

    And those ducks – you should pay them!

    1. LOL I pay ducks with bread when I get the chance … and yes it’s an angle I had considered, although whilst I do blow my own trumpet often, I didn’t directly on this occasion 🙂

      1. I do understand you Don. But I must admid, that I have met so many scammers at the internet in the last 12 years, which did learn me to ignore a lot. Maybe also the good ones.
        You took a chance Don, of course.

      1. I’m sorry. When I read your post a music video immediately popped into my head by Dire Straits called “Money for Nothin”. MTV is how I associate it.

  10. Cheeky, indeed! A commercial enterprise seeking free advertising…HA!

    I am very careful to not write personal names on my blog, although I knew when i wrote that poem on Mr Gates, that it might get googled and i didnt mind that he saw his name leading to my blog, admiring his foundation and other philanthropic deeds. I do philanthropic work myself and though I dont seek recognition I want to laud those who do.

    I love the image you selected! 🙂

  11. Was he asking you to change a link from the home airline site to the buy-ticket site, Don, or asking you to put up a link you never had? In either case, are you positive that there’s no benefit of you linking to them in your blog? Maybe somebody googling them will get the chance to view your site because you came up under their search. Just wondering. Thanks, Mark

    1. I never linked to Etihad, so he was asking for a link that never existed and was never intended. That in itself is a bit shady SEO wise, but that’s another story. AND DEFINATELY NO an outbound link from my blog to Etihad I am giving away a fraction of my “Google juice”. My point is that the least they could have done is linked back, offered me a free upgrade or even maybe a free gift on the plane. But obtaining free advertising like this, without offering any value back is actually verging on a scam.



  12. Don’t give a rat’s about Etihad. But I ADORE and LOVE that photo !!!! [grin]
    Seriously, I’m not sure about this post. This is because you seem to indicate that if they HAD offered you something you would’ve gone along with it. Hmmm …

    1. Thanks Mrs Troll …

      Not sure I understand what your implication is, you imply, but don’t actually state … so I’ll assume that you mean I should get something for helping a commercial concern … rather than I should be helping a commercial concern for nothing …

Leave a Reply for Don Charisma

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.