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.
Resources & Sources
Free-loader Photo – www.justmemes.com
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Warm regards, Don Charisma