Heated Debate Over Viral Chain Linking

Over the last few days, there has been a lot of debate over viral chain linking. The type of linking I’m talking about can be seen on these three posts:

Basically a whole bunch of people jump on board and pass around lists of links that sometime turn out to be massive. The debate that has been going on challenges the value of these types of link chains. Obviously it’s a two-sided issue.

In my opinion these link chains are both effective and ineffective. They are effective because they really help you to raise your Technorati ranking. There is no way I would have been able to get into the top 5000 blogs in Technorati as quickly as I did without the success of Viralink and ViralTags. The risk is that one day Technorati will discount all of the links, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if that happened. If you use these methods, you need to prepare yourself for the possibility that your Technorati ranking could be adjusted to discount these types of links.

The Misconception
Many people out there are joining these trains because they think that it will help them to get ranked better in Google and other search engines. In my opinion they aren’t going to help anyone get ranked better in Google. Google is the wise, old, 45 pound lake trout that is almost impossible to catch – they have systems in place to discount these types of schemes. Even the ViralTags chain, which allows us to choose our anchor text will likely not help anyone’s ranking in Google. In my opinion you shouldn’t count on any type of PageRank boost – this type of link is just too easy.

Why Do I Sometimes Indulge Then?
I participate because it helps with my Technorati ranking. It also probably helps my rankings in other search engines, including Yahoo and MSN. I think you have to use them for what they can help you with, and realize that they won’t help you with Google.

Does anyone out there think that these links will actually pass PageRank? Does anyone think Google will ban us for using them? Will Technorati catch on?

Comments 34

  1. This is very interesting. I have only done one, but sadly have not seen any effect to my tecnorati score. Wait stop. As I just said that, I decided to check it. I have gone up 33 spots on my authority. And my score has gone done 1,400,000! Well, I guess I cannot say it has not worked (I am a little flabergasted right now, forgive me), but as far as google goes, I am pretty sure my 3 will not be budging.

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      Yeah, there is no doubt that this kills it for Technorati. That’s why I do it and if that’s your reasoning go with it, it will make a huge difference.

  2. No offense at all to anyone who uses them, but the process seems a bit ‘cheap’ to me, and takes away from the content on the blog.

    I’d rather give bloggers some real traffic, and offer real comments via services like the ‘D-List.’ Sure it’s more work, and will take longer, but I feel like I’ve contributed to their sites when I’m finished, and they’ve helped me by ‘do-following.’ Also, there’s a much lower risk of having those links ‘disqualified’ by the major ranking services. Or so is my understanding.

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      No offense taken Jeremy, in fact I agree with you 100%. It is cheap and it is spam – which is why it’s not going to do any good with Google.

      You are right that there is a much lower risk of having those links disqualifed. The content that surrounds the links will be different of every site.

  3. I think it could cause problems, and I wouldn’t join all three. While I haven’t scrutinized the other 2, it seems like alot of the same people join all of them, and I don’t see the point in that.

    It seems to me that I heard at some point that Google only counts one link from a site – I don’t know for sure, however, so don’t quote me on it.

    Not only that: have you thought of duplicate content? Everybody with the same links? The same blog networks/farms (they are there)? All linking together?

    I don’t think it will help with google: the “getting too many links at once” thing probably will get us all in trouble, lol.

    I have gained some readers, and I think it’s alot of fun to do, and gives me more exposure to different blogs that I was unaware of. For some odd reason the whole thing inspires me to write, go figure.

    I’ve only recently become aware of Technorati rank – I’ve never been into the whole social bookmarking thing.

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      I agree that it could cause problems. Your comment about Google only counting 1 link from a site is mostly true. Google puts a lot more weight on the first link you get from a site, but does also count additional links that you get from the same site. Additional links will provide minimal value though.

      I have thought of duplicate content. The main thing to remember there is that Google ranks pages, and not sites. Since that post will have a lot of duplicate content, it won’t likely rank very well. Don’t plan on getting any search traffic to that post. That said, it won’t affect your other posts and pages as long as most of your content is original.

      Technorati ranking is pretty important for monetization. Unfortunately Technorati is really easy to game. I’m sure they’ll get better in this area but right now it’s pretty easy to link-chain your way to a pretty high ranking.

  4. Guilty as charged! Take me away im ready to go…lol

    I had no idea that Viral linking would become as popular as it has and never expected it to be still going as it is still right now.

    I have no doubt that if it contunes to grow it will raise a red flag with Google and they’ll use their Jedi powers to defeat it!

    The duplicate content issue is a dificult one as each copy of the Viralink, Viraltag, and ViralIcons will be different in some way. Im not sure “How Duplicate” content has to be before it is doomed.

    Im happy I did it and havefound some grat people and blogs through it but am fully prepeared to have all of my rankings removed.

    For my own persona update of Viralink check out yeasterdays post here.

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      I’m glad you did it too! If you hadn’t we would all have worse rankings than we have. Who knows maybe Technorati doesn’t and won’t ever care.

      I think Google has probably already discounted it, but who cares? It still serves a purpose and I don’t think it will negatively affect anyone with Google, it just won’t positively affect anyone.

      I was hoping that you guys would join in on the debate because it’s a good debate. I still stick by my guns saying that they have their purpose, I would likely join again if the right one came along.

    2. The viralink is plenty Duplicate to be counted as duplicate content. Look up “Google Shingles” for more info on how G determines Duplicates.

      Not to worry though, one or two duplicate posts won’t hurt you. Its when more then ~25% of your stuff is copied I would be worried

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        I agree that the viralink post itself could be counted as duplicate content, but only that one post would be affected. I don’t think it would hurt the entire site.

  5. I agree that the process is cheap. The only reason I’ve done it is to raise my Technorati ranking and it has worked effectively. Another thing is that I have bene able to find some interesting blogs through it so even though it’s not gonna help with SEO I’m glad I used it 🙂

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      My thoughts exactly Dee. For Technorati both Viralink and ViralTags are simply amazing. I’m glad that I did it, especially since I got in early on both of them.

  6. I haven´t taken part in any of the viral linking, although it is tempting, because I don´t want something that ugly on my blog! Sure, you get links, but people are going to think you are selling out!

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      Lol definitely true. The secret is to pump out the posts after so it gets moved down fast. 🙂

      I guess it would depend on your audience. If you are a brand new blog that doesn’t have many readers it could really jumpstart things.

      If a blog had only 10 readers it probably doesn’t need to worry about alienating anyone. If copyblogger.com did it, people might get pretty angry.

  7. My take on the whole thing is: why not?

    Who cares if Technorati deactivates the links in the future (which personally I don’t think will ever happen if the Technorati staff want to keep their paychecks) – all I know is that since the inception of these “trains”, I’ve gained a ton of new traffic that I might not have gained otherwise. I’ve also read a ton of new blogs since these came around.

    There is always a negative and “what if?” side to things, and if something looks too good to be true, then we are quick to point out it’s flaws, instead of appreciating what it can do for us now.

    Gaining PR out of the deal is personally the last thing I’m worried about. There are better and more honorable ways to obtain that.

    ViralLink and ViralTags just pushed me under 10k in Technorati, and I’ll reap the traffic rewards while I can.

    If they remove it in the future, then so be it. It was fun while it lasted, right?

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      I’m with you on that one, it doesn’t take hardly any time to do it so why not?

      I just want people to understand that these methods aren’t always as advertised – people should probably not say that users will get a PageRank boost when they won’t.

      It’s good that you’re prepared for them to be taken away. Hopefully it will never happen but it could.

      1. Our readers would be the major ‘why not?’ to me. Also, when we’re linking out to that great a number of sites, we’re probably not checking every url inserted.

        They’re fun as long as they’re kept ‘clean,’ but it will be no time before some wise guy slips a porn site (or worse) into one of these things. I know that kids read my blog. Even still, it may have been ‘clean’ when -I- posted it, but I do -not- want my site linked from another blog down the chain that contains questionable content.

        By manually linking myself through comments and connections with other blogs/bloggers of my choosing, I have complete control over what type of material my name and blog is associated with. If someone independently links me to a questionable site later, at least I’d know it wasn’t my fault. That, to me, is far more valuable than a Technorati ranking.

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          Hi Jeremy,

          I definitely understand the concept of what you’re saying, except I actually do check the sites I’m linking to in these trains. We’re in control of who we link to. If questionable sites link to us it isn’t going to hurt us – but it would if we linked to them.

          Manual linking is definitely a safer method overall, you just can’t get the same results.

          I noticed, for example that you have written a sponsored post or two. I do it as well, and as we get higher Technorati rankings we have more opportunities available to us. These trains can help with that. I guess we have to provide enough value to offset any negative effects it causes.

        2. I’m just stubborn I guess. Even if getting a link from a ‘bad’ site wouldn’t ‘hurt’ me, there is still the association of my name and that site… I’d personally back track it through stat counter and try my best to have it removed.

          You’re a very responsible blogger, and I completely trust that you’d click each link before posting a viral. But I don’t have that trust for every blogger out there, especially when the whole idea is ‘easy, cheap traffic.’ A lot will just not put in the effort.

          At this point, I’ll bow out gracefully and agree to disagree. This is a very good conversation though, I’ll readily admit there are positives and negatives on both sides. I look forward to seeing other posts.

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          You’re definitely right there and I give you props for not wanting your site to appear in questionable neighborhoods. The whole reason I wanted to post about this was that there are two sides, so I appreciate your point of view, which has definitely added to the discussion. 😉

          It is cheap and easy traffic – too easy in my opinion.

        4. I check every link as well. I even put a note on my site stating that if it’s a site that will make me nervous with my child looking over my shoulder, that I won’t link to them, and to please not link to me – it’s not fair for me not to link back to them.

  8. Let me just say that I am glad I started ViralTags based on Viralinks. Sure there are negatives (which is really more speculation than facts) but the positives outweigh the negatives.

    If Technorati discount the links later on, then they will have a huge chore on their hands because it won’t be an easy task to remove the ViralTags links versus other links that are just as manipulative. Do you think no one ever bought links to increase their rankings? Do you think no one ever submit link exchanges that do nothing but gain each other’s links? The only reason some people are against it because it is too easy and the older blogs feel unjust that the newer blogs found ways to gain rankings faster.

    Am I saying that is right? Not really. It is just one of the easiest ways to do what most bloggers are doing … just at a much faster rate. Now, let me tell you that I would LOVE to get Technorati’s and Google’s attention for exposing holes in their algorithm and inefficiency. If they actually do something to address this issue, then that means we did our job. I, for one am not all hung up on PR etc., but if these programs expose the mmighty Google and Technorati, then I am all for it. Eithr way, it’s a win win … if that makes sense.

    I don’t know what the next PR will do to mine PR. It is mostly speculation from different opinions. But for now, I am either No.1 or No.2 on all the search terms I targeted when I started ViralTags. For what it’s worth, we can all sit back and watch what happens as you gotta admit this can be an interesting learning experience in SEO 😀

    I have written a post on the whole ViralTags reflection on my blog.

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      I just have to tell you Jimmy that ViralTags freaking rocked like no other. It keeps rocking actually. 🙂 I was hoping that you would come join in on the discussion.

      Trust me, I didn’t start the discussion because I’m against it, as you know I joined it because I thought it would be awesome.

      You’re right that Technorati would have a huge chore in order to discount the links. I think we have to be open to the possibility, but let’s hope it never happens because ViralTags was unbelievable.

      Thanks for creating it, it served its purpose and was by far the most ingenius train I have ever seen.

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  9. Hey Court, I know you like the train so no argument there 😀

    For me, it has done the job I set out for it to do, and that is to take my search terms (Internet Startup Founder, Internet Startup Blog, Internet Startup Entrepreneur) to the top of Google’s SERP. So I am happy that it did do just that even though I know these search terms are not as common as Make Money Online, or similar ones that so many people are gong for. Good luck on passing John Chow on that one there 😀

    At the end of the day, ViralTags brought me readers that actually became repeated readers for other contents on my blog, and it also allowed me to discover other interesting blogs (like this one). So ranking raised or not, I call it mission accomplished 😀

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      Ironically right now I’m on page 4 and John is on page 6, lol. He had a server meltdown but I’m sure he’ll be #1 again very soon. Everyone check now while I’m ahead of him because it won’t last for long. 😉

  10. I too manually check who I am linking too for content, luckily (touch wood) its been a good ride so far.

    What i forgot to mention was some people who joined Viralinks/Viraltags a couple of weeks after it started began emailing and leaving comments on every other blog on the list requesting a link back instead of promoting their own grid.. This completely defeated the object, I’m not sure if anyone else noticed this.

    This really has been fun!

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      I noticed it for sure. I don’t think that a lot of people understand what ‘viral’ is exactly. It could have gone forever if people would have done it right! Oh well, it still was spread around like crazy and we all have better rankings.

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          I did! Did you not get me email back?

          I thought it was a good solution for people that know how to run cron jobs so I tried it out. You do have to run the cron jobs to make it work though!

          I also had to use it on a test site because it doesn’t work well with my WordPress version and the creator doesn’t provide support anymore.

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