I’ve started a few threads at three forums that I involved in regarding the practices of buying forum and blog posts to increase website traffic. You can follow my threads in DigitalPoint.com, SitePoint.com, and Webmaster-Talk.com.
As you may already know, traffic is the life blood of your website – no traffic, no blood, no life.
Some ‘mainstream’ methods of traffic building are:
- Creating worthwhile content that will attract visitors in itself
- Do blog commenting and forum posting
- Whenever possible, offer newsletter
- Do social bookmarking and link exchange (or fave exchange or etc.)
In those mainstream methods themselves, there are some unethical practices along the way – especially in social bookmarking. Trading StumbleUpon (I stumble your blog if you stumbled mine), Technorati (I fave you if you faved me), etc – all are too generic, although they do generate some traffic.
But, it’s not social bookmarking that I want to discuss about.
It’s buying forum posts and blog posts to increase website traffic.
For forum or blog owners
You see, some forum and blog posts you see while you stumbling across the Net are actually a professional work – That is, a forum/blog owner pays a sum of money, usually per post basis, for someone to post about something related to the owner’s forum/blog. The service providers are usually being asked not only to post, but to initiate useful conversation in the forums or blogs they involved in.
The end result expected is to boost forum/blog visitors involvement in the conversation.
For website/blogs owners promoting theirs in forums and blogs
That’s from the owner point of view. Another practice is, in example, for me to promote my blog, Noobpreneur.com, through forums posting and blog commenting – i.e. I pay someone a sum of money for him/her to mention my blog while he/she posts in forums and comments in blogs.
The end result expected is for forums/blogs visitors to join the conversation, and along the way, see your ‘ads’ or site links that are usually placed as signature line.
Are they ethical?
The question is, are those practices ethical? Here are some good answers from the threads I started (edited for length purpose):
“If the posts are relevant to your forum topic, and are of some reasonable quality, then no, there is no ‘ethical’ issue with paying someone to post in your forum.. Just like there is no problem in paying someone to write and article or press release for you… You are paying for content…”
“I think that buying forum posts is absolutely ethical… and if it makes your forum look that much more occupied, then it is a great way to get going. Forums can be tough to start and attract people to. A bubble of content, no matter how you get it, is something that can really help launch it.”
“Of course it’s ethical – it’s a way to get the forum. as nobody likes an empty forum.”
“It is all about the actual traffic to the blog. If the blog has specific traffic that will be interested in your blog, the odds go up that the traffic will actually be worth something. It is for this reason that I don’t buy them.”
“New forums always need a boost, … you may have to pay for your first daily post, it is just as buying traffic from Google or MSN. I consider it ethical as it does not breach any established marketing or SEO rules. There are other such services where people pay writers for their writing – blogs, pay per post, articles, reviews, ratings, press release and news features and stories – just to list a few. It can not be ethical these other services to pay for a writers work, but becomes unethical for forums to do the same.”
“If you’re just starting out i think its OK, but if you already have an established community and you want to boost it i think thats unethical.”
“Technically people are being paid to entertain. The only real difference between the people who are paid to post and the actors which the same people who complain about paid posters watch on TV, is the media used.”
“If the blog you are buying the blog post on is in the same niche and have decent traffic itself, then you will get some traffic… Most people buy blog posts for link building purposes, not for driving traffic.”
The Net is people-driven. Whenever the majority of people said that something is acceptable, then it is acceptable. Yes, the Net is governed, but most websites on the Net is governed loosely (the nature of the Internet).
What I am trying to say is, your websites and online business survive as people still have interest in them. And to enhance the people’s interest in your sites, is to use the common practices acceptable by the community.
So back to the question – Is buying forum and blog posts to increase web traffic ethical? According to most posters in my threads – yes. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.
What about my opinion? I still think it’s unethical. But again, it’s nothing personal, it’s just business.
What about the big guys think? Google think it’s unethical – that’s why Google ‘don’t like’ blogs that join paid-to-blog services like Smorty or Pay Per Post. Most Pro Bloggers (authority and famous bloggers on the Net) think it’s unethical, although not deliberately against it.
The Net is free media. It’s based on democracy – the majority rules.
Buying forum and blog posts