A clean start We decided it would be best to register a new domain and essentially start from scratch.This time, though, we'd be as 100% squeaky clean as we could and do our best to stay within Google's guidelines.
We started putting links to those sites instead of dating links in our quiz/widget HTML code.
I build a lot of them - tens of thousands every month. I create fun online quizzes and then provide HTML code with quiz scores that bloggers and website owners can embed on their own sites.
A good example is this widget, which tells you if you talk too much in your blog, or this one, which tests your ability to survive on the moon.
If that's the case, is ALL off-topic linkbaiting not ok?
For instance, if I wrote a linkbait blog post that was featured on Digg or Reddit that had nothing to do with online dating but generated authoritative backlinks, is that against the guidelines? Jane touched on this shortly after the Guardian article came out with this post about search engines regulating linkbait.
The development and transition of One Plus You would take quite a bit of time, however, so prior to launching the One Plus You dating portal, we figured we'd get a head start on our link building.
We launched a set of new widgets that included only links to One Plus with the anchor text "Free Online Dating" and set out to repeat the success we enjoyed prior to Just Say Hi getting penalized.
We soon ranked for competitive keywords such as "Cash Advance," "Payday Loans," and a few EDU lead generation terms.
Our success led to Google receiving a number of spam complaints along with some unfavorable press in the Guardian that referred to me as genius/fiend.
We truly believed this method of link-building was white-hat, provided we made an obvious note to our users that the widget contained a keyword-rich link (which they could optionally remove if they wished), and that keyword was relevant to our site. Lots of other sites are successful with the same strategy and we thought Google had publicly given it the green light when they told the Guardian: "Widgets that are distributed with a link back to the site that created the widget are fine," it says.
"However, going a step further and selling links to third parties is against our quality guidelines.
Using these quizzes, I had a creative way to rank our site for competitive keywords in an industry that is primarily dominated by paid links, directory spam, and other greyish-black SEO tactics.