I’ve been in this industry long enough to see a lot of things change and a lot of people spreading a lot of bullshit (that then gets repeated as gospel by everyone and their brother). I feel like there are a few reasons that this seems to be the case.
I think the main reason is that people just don’t test things out for themselves. I understand why – testing can be both expensive and time consuming. However, when you discover something through testing that no one else is talking about, you’ve just found yourself a golden ticket to rankings and (hopefully) riches. And when people do decide to test something, like say buying links from popular services, they think that a sample size of one is enough to form a solid conclusion. It’s not – that’s why I only wrote about Fat Joe after buying 35 links.
Another reason the same myths are still floating around years later is that SEO changes and people just aren’t keeping up with it. And just because something didn’t work three years ago doesn’t mean that it still doesn’t work today. In fact, I know of an affiliate site that ranked very well for almost two full years using old school BMR-style backlinks…then it got a penalty a few months ago.
And I think the other big reason these bullshit myths are spouted off as facts is that some guru (or wannabe guru) says it (without any data to back it up) and then it gets repeated across all areas of the SEO interwebs (i.e. E-A-T being responsible for “medic” rank droppings). Of course, there’s also the possibility that some of the people are just assholes delivering information that they know is wrong just to keep more of the secret sauce for themselves.
So, in my usual blogging fashion, I’ve found something to rant about and will share these myths below along with my experience as to why they are bullshit.
- Myth #1 – No Follow Links Are Useless and Should Be Avoided
- Myth #2 – People Don’t Buy Expensive Items Like Appliances Online
- Myth #3 – You Can’t Have More Than One Amazon Affiliate Account
- Myth #4 – Google Ignores Spammy Links and Negative SEO
- Myth #5 – PBN Links Don’t Work These Days
- Myth #6 – Scholarship/EDU Links Are Dead And Will Get You A Penalty
- Myth #7 – You Can’t Use Other Affiliate Programs With Amazon
- Myth #8 – You Can’t Use Paid Traffic With An Amazon Affiliate Site
- Myth #9 – The Boost From EMDs Is Dead
Myth #1 – No Follow Links Are Useless and Should Be Avoided
This is one of my favorite SEO myths, and a recent uninformed client experience regarding no follow links is exactly what has led to this entire post.
Let me ask you a question – if Forbes wanted to link to you, would you turn them down cause the links are all no follow? I mean, if you think no follow links are useless, then you’d have to turn them down, right? Cause if you’d make an exception for the Forbes link, then maybe you should rethink your whole position on no follow link, eh?
Think of it like this – links are the currency of ranking sites. And if I was walking down the street and there was a guy handing out dollar bills for free and another guy handing out hundred dollar bills, then I would take both. I wouldn’t just skip the free dollar bill cause the hundred has more value – money is money. The same applies to links. Sure, theoretically regular links have more perceived value than no follow links, but links are links and I’ll take any decent links that people want to hand out.
My favorite rule of link building is to never think like an SEO, cause Google doesn’t like SEOs. Who are the website owners purposely avoiding no follow links? SEOs.
Myth #2 – People Don’t Buy Expensive Items Like Appliances Online
This is one of those things that when I hear it, I think the person saying it is purposely bullshitting noobs to keep all the good money to themselves.
Often when I see someone saying this, it is followed up with something like “Well, I don’t know anyone who bought a refrigerator online, do you?” >sigh<
If I need to buy something that is heavy, then you bet your ass that I’m buying it online so that I don’t have to carry it myself. In recent years, I’ve bought mattresses, beds, a portable air conditioner, expensive desk chairs, cardio machines, and a foosball table all online.
But don’t let my buying habits be the only thing that persuades you.
Earlier this year, I sold two different sites where the average product price was over $1,000. And yeah, people DID buy refrigerators from one of those sites! A quick look at sold listings on FEI revealed this home appliances site that was making $8,500/mo.
Myth #3 – You Can’t Have More Than One Amazon Affiliate Account
I’m not sure who started spreading this one, but a scan of the Amazon Associates operating agreement (and all the addendum pages) is all you need to know that this one is not true.
I don’t know if it’s still there, but there used to be a FAQ where Amazon said you can have more than one account but they prefer for you to only have one because it makes it easier for you to manage everything. Personally, my opinion is that they prefer it because it’s easier for them to close your account and keep all of your money if it’s only in one account.
I’ve actually heard of people who create new accounts for each individual affiliate site that they have. Honestly, I think that’s a bit overkill but maybe they sell the account with the site when they flip it? Personally, I have more than one account.
Myth #4 – Google Ignores Spammy Links and Negative SEO
This myth is actually direct from Google and gets spread by their talking heads with some regularity –
If we recognize them, we can just ignore them – no need to have you do anything in most cases.
— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) December 7, 2018
And I actually used to believe this one myself. Then three of my white hat sites got hit with an unnatural links penalty in the summer of 2018.
When I looked to see what could have caused this, my sites had tons of junk and spam links pointing at them that I didn’t create. Those are the links that I disavowed that got the penalties removed.
Let me repeat that – when I disavowed the junk/spam links that I didn’t create, the penalty was lifted.
So, try and tell me again that Google ignores spammy links.
Myth #5 – PBN Links Don’t Work These Days
The truth is that PBNs have never stopped working.
Just earlier this year I wrote about testing not only PBN links, but the shittiest of the shitty PBN links. And my testing was a smashing success.
Do I still use PBNs? Yes, but not on sites that I’m flipping cause it lowers the valuation.
However, I do like to give new sites an initial boost with PBN links (either my own or via the new Diggity Links – Rank Club). Then, I replace those PBN links with guest posts or other “white hat” links.
Myth #6 – Scholarship/EDU Links Are Dead And Will Get You A Penalty
I know, I know, there have been some big names in affiliate SEO saying this, but it’s just not my experience. And I’ve seen plenty of other SEOs saying the same thing.
Obviously, this myth is coming from the big news that 10beasts got a penalty around Christmas of last year and supposedly recovered after disavowing the EDU links. But let’s have some real talk here – that site is a fucking anomaly that it has ranked as well as it has cause the content is terrible.
There were plenty of issues with that site that could have resulted in a penalty/ SERPs demotion.
That being said, I don’t doubt that they disavowed some scholarship links and got the penalty lifted. I also don’t doubt that the site owner disavowed some other links at the same time as well.
And no, the three sites of my mine that got an unnatural links penalty earlier this year did not have scholarship links. The sites of mine that do have EDU links are alive and well.
What I do believe in regards to scholarship links is that the dial got turned down a bit on them, which has resulted in less of a boost.
Am I still building these links to my sites? No, but I’m not ruling it out in the future.
Myth #7 – You Can’t Use Other Affiliate Programs With Amazon
While I will admit that there is some vague legalese in the Amazon Associates operating agreement that could be interpreted as saying that you can’t use it with other programs, I honestly don’t think that is what it is saying.
What I do think is that the legalese in question is referring to the fact that Amazon doesn’t want you using their product descriptions, ratings, photos, etc. to only promote other affiliate programs. So, don’t pull the bullet list of product features from Amazon and only have a link from the Walmart affiliate program.
Of course, I’m not a lawyer … though I did sit for the LSAT and get into law school (I ended up going for my MBA instead).
Myth #8 – You Can’t Use Paid Traffic With An Amazon Affiliate Site
This is another one of those things where I’m not sure where it originated or how someone came to this conclusion.
You can run paid traffic to your site if you want, but you cannot use any of Amazon’s trademarks as the keywords you’re bidding on. And, you can’t send the traffic direct to Amazon from the ad. The user must click on your Amazon affiliate link from your site.
I sometimes see large sites like bestreviews.com running AdWords ads to their buying guide pages, so there’s a good example of someone doing it.
Personally, I have tested this in a few different niches and I can tell you that it can be a real challenge to make this profitable. In fact, you’re better off doing this if you’re working with an affiliate program that has higher commissions or longer cookies.
I can also tell you that you should not attempt this unless you have money to lose. Because there’s a very good chance that your profit will be nothing.
Myth #9 – The Boost From EMDs Is Dead
You only have to do a search in Google to see that this one is false.
Personally, I’m a big fan of PMDs if it’s broad enough that you have room to expand. But more often than not, I end up choosing a branded domain with a broad niche keyword in it.
I think the reason that people think EMDs are no longer effective is because of the shift to authority sites instead of micro niche sites. But if you can get the backlinks to rank, then my experience shows that can do quite well with EMDs today.
So, those are the myths I keep hearing that are annoying me the most right now. As I come across others, I’ll update this post 🙂
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