Rand Fishkin Loves Kickbacks – It’s His Favorite Way Of Doing Business

OK…before I start making my point I want you to know that I usually don’t publish rants that directly affect a single person (I actually don’t like doing it), but in this case I thought I would make an exception.

I am pretty sure everyone knows who Rand Fishkin is, but in case you don’t know he is the founder of SEOMoz.com.

On his latest “Whiteboard Friday” session he basically admitted that his favorite way of getting links and business exposure is to participate in cleverly disguised link schemes or receiving so called “kickbacks”.

Here is the actual video:

Let me point out some of the most important stuff from this video.

Rand says…

That’s a great way to go to help seed this process. If you don’t already have that built up though, it’s really hard to get that started, unless you do this. This is my absolute favorite process for this kind of work.

Step one. Go out and assemble a list, as big or as small as you want – it can be as niche or as widespread as you want – of people, friends, colleagues, people who you admire, whom you would like to help out, meaning you want to help them promote their stuff.

Then he says…

Step two. You need to reach out to them. That outreach process looks like this. Note that you want to share and recommend some stuff…….. I do this with books and with vendors here in Seattle, that we’ve used as a company, or that I’ve encountered. I do it with SEO people. I have a whole recommended list of SEOs. All this kind of stuff.

Then he says this

Then I would note to those people, “Hey, I’m trying to get more active in my social sharing and building up my recommendations list, and you’re a person that I really like and admire. Do you have anything that you would like some help promoting? Is there anything I can do to help you promote something out there? Is there something I can link to for you, maybe put on a recommended list. I could socially share this. I could tweet it. I could put up a Google+ post about it.

And here is the kicker

Great. Now I am going out and helping all of these folks, and in the future, right after you’ve helped all the people, the next time you need help promoting something, whatever it is, you have a group, a list of folks that you know you have already helped out. You can reach out to them again and say, “Hey, I have this thing, and if it’s not too much trouble, I would love some help promoting it.

To be honest I find it funny that he actually tries to defend himself here and states that it’s “not a direct reciprocation”…lol

Here is the thing…in 2007 Shoemoney made a post about how you should assume that whenever someone talks about a product or service there is a “behind the scenes” deal going on.

Rand Fishkin actually responded to that and made this post stating that he doesn’t do this type of stuff.

Did he just make himself look like a liar?

On his “Whiteboard Friday” video he straight out tells you that his favorite way of getting links is to participate in link schemes. Linking to someone simply because you expect them to help you and link back to your shit in the future (or whatever) is nothing else but a cleverly disguised link exchange scheme.

Doesn’t Google say that link schemes that are designed to manipulate Page Rank are against their quality guidelines?

I wrote a post in 2011 titled “Gatekeepers are back in control” that touched on that subject a bit as well. I talked about how bloggers are pimping each other’s shit simply because it benefits them and not their readers.

I also talked about this topic in this post but from a different angle. To be honest I hate this approach but I guess it’s the reality.  The web is being shaped around sneaky deals and kickbacks instead of quality content.

By the way, I also mentioned this happening when I wrote a post titled “Message To Matt Cutts”. It’s all about the “What’s in it for me” concept if you want to get links to your blog or website.

I am starting to think that Rand is just a blackhatter in disguise….Oh wait, he did publically out Aaron Wall from SEOBook once for his affiliate links passing page rank which can be classified as Negative SEO campaign.

Anyway, according to Rand if you really want to get those juicy links to your site you need to start making deals that produce kickbacks.


37 thoughts on “Rand Fishkin Loves Kickbacks – It’s His Favorite Way Of Doing Business

  1. As always, Pawel, rather than pimping out your or other people’s products, you put out interesting, unique and enjoyable content. This topic is not something that I would normally care about, and I still don’t really care about it, but still, somehow, you presented it in a way that made it enjoyable for me.

  2. Totally true. I’m an evil black hat in disguise. I encourage people to help others because at some point in the future, it will likely come back to benefit them. Totally evil, and no one ever figured it out until you.

  3. Rand, helping others is fine and I support that. It’s the way you presented it and taking for consideration what you’ve said in the past about disclosures it just didn’t look good.

  4. Sorry – I shouldn’t have left such a snarky reply. Bad move on my part. I’d just gotten to South Africa (long way from Seattle) and was very jetlagged – still no excuse.

  5. This is rich – Pawel of affhelper.com fame suggesting he’s in some sort of position to look down on Rand Fishkin for being shady.

  6. “Effective human society revolves around the concept of helping one another in exchange for something we perceive to be of greater value”

  7. Thanks for your input, but I can assure that I am not a crybaby and probably not a good linkbaiter either. I just said what I wanted to say. Didn’t twist his words either. It’s the exact transcript of what he said.

  8. Talk about twisting words – All rand said is if you help people and develop a relationship with them they are more likely to help you with a link etc when the time comes. That is very white hat.

  9. Pawel actually does say in the comment to Rand that that’s just the way it was put… Rand is one of the most consistent persons I know, so that’s why he is the target of attention bait… It’s neither a bad thing, nor a good thing (it’s just marketing), but I definitely think I can find a better use for my time than picking up to other people’s words 😉

  10. I have a lot of respect for Rand and don’t like rants or calling out at all. I do agree with Aaron here though. Its a good discussion to have. Forget the emotions of it all.

  11. Interesting how you managed to redefine kickback to be the same as outreach! Tell me, can you make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, too?

  12. Kickback. Implies – if you don’t send me business, or a link, or pay me, I will not help you. It’s a fundamental requirement of the “kickback” claim. And simply using the word kickback implies illegal, illicit or otherwise unethical behavior.

  13. I wonder if Rand has had his lawyer send a C & D letter yet. As you say, Alan, “kickback” is a legal description of an illegal activity. That’s libelous, I don’t care who you are.

  14. True, I support the fact the helping pays off. But having a conversation prior to linking out or recommending someone to see if they can repay it back in some way would be just a link scheme.

  15. @Pawel Reszka The whole world is one big kickback party… Sorry but no one really cares about you just for the sake of caring; we barter in every form of currency whether it’s monetary, physical, emotional etc. As humans we offer something and always expect something else in return. That’s just how it is.

  16. I appreciate your insightful comment. I just wrote this post because that’s what was on my mind that day. I hate the “You scratch my back and I scratch yours” idea….I really do, so this post is the result of that.

  17. Great way to show the idea in the video. I am sure it might have taken long time to create this. Thanks for sharing. This helps to spread the knowledge across table.

  18. Let’s think about this for a minute: Rand suggests that we do nice things to help other people, and they might be more inclined to help us out at some point in the future–and you’re calling that blackhat?

  19. You are trying to twist my words. There is nothing wrong with doing nice things for others, but when you are asking if they got something they want you to link to so that you can get them to promote something you plan on putting out soon after contradicts with what Rand was saying about disclosures in the past (especially when you contact them first to test the waters if you know what I mean). When you deliberately chose who to link to so that it benefits you more than the user it would probably be considered black-hat by the Google web-spam team.

  20. Pawel, I don’t think Michael twisted your words at all… he stated it pretty accurately, IMO. I can sympathize with the bad taste – I think this post is nothing more than a sensationalist attempt to gain traffic at the expense of someone else. Tacky, at best.

  21. I do respect your opinion. There are a lot of pieces out there on the web that leave a bad taste but after you read them and give it some thought usually a valid point is made. Maybe I did go overboard with the title of this post but the core message I wanted to send out does get through.

  22. It’s sad watching Rand’s sheep jumping to his defense after it’s been made clear that he’s not always so “white hat” (whatever that means these days). Im not taking any sides…but lets call a spade, a spade! This is an effective black/grey hat technique.

  23. I came across your blog because I went to search “rand fiskin people like him”. Rand has been such a great free resource to me that I was hoping to find other teachers like him.

  24. Well, you can visit SEOMoz and you will find plenty of people who follow Rand and model him (You can learn a lot over there no doubt). But check out sites like: SEOBook.com, SearchEngineLand.com, SeroundTable.com, or SearchEngineJournal.com.

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