Snooth Blog

Snooth User: Philip James

New Blogger Tools

Posted by Philip James, Jun 17, 2008.

We spend a lot of time here at Snooth HQ thinking about how Snooth can better serve its constituents, and recently we've been thinking a lot about bloggers.

With help from our 20 odd blogger beta tester's (thats "20-odd" bloggers, not 20 "odd bloggers") we just released the following two affiliate tools which are unique in the industry. Also, particular thanks go to Ryan Opaz for his help in rallying people together to help test the two tools.

Snooth Bookmarklet - The easiest way for a blogger to drop contextual links into their blog, allowing them to monetize content in a more relevant and engaging way than ads - just click on the image below to read more about it.

Installation is literally just a case of dragging a link to your address bar, and then when you need the bookmarklet, just highlight some text, click on the bookmark and it'll popup with everything you need. From there, you just paste in the link and start earning money.

Snooth Quick Search - A simple implementation of the common side bar search, however with the same search capabilities as Snooths main search engine there's full support of foreign characters, food pairings, tasting tags and weird queries.

Both these tools are super simple to use, come with tracking code already implemented, and with no monthly traffic minimums and full Paypal integration setup, and payment is a 2 minute job.

Please let us know how you find these and of course, just holler if there's anything else you need.


Reply by JIKvig, Jun 17, 2008.

Odd Bloggers??????????????

Glad it's out of beat, congratulation on great tools!

Reply by Philip James, Jun 17, 2008.

No, bloggers arent odd ;)

Glad you like it - first of several tools and treats for wine bloggers we've planned. Thanks

Blog comment by Ryan, Jun 17, 2008.

Thanks for the great tools, and I hope more bloggers use them along with other wine sites...Keep up the great work!

Blog comment by Ryan, Jun 17, 2008.

BTW is there a TOS for the affiliate program showing pricing, fraud policy and everything else that would be interesting to peek at? ;)

Reply by Philip James, Jun 17, 2008.

Thanks Ryan - anyone can use the tools without any forms, however to join the affiliate program (ie. get paid for traffic) theres a simple Terms of Service on the sign up page - the same page that the blogger would link their paypal account.

Reply by John Andrews, Jun 17, 2008.

Some people might suggest that I am odd ... and I do blog here.

Reply by Philip James, Jun 17, 2008.

Haha John - odd bloggers indeed!

Reply by Mark Angelillo, Jun 18, 2008.

Hopefully these tools are just the beginning!

Reply by getwine, Jun 18, 2008.

Not to be a downer, because I like the initiative and the tool works well, but have you considered whether or not Google will consider this "buying links". Google has been very aggressive in dealing with link buying lately. It would be a shame if the program ended up actually hurting your Page Rank. Maybe you should consider generating the html code and adding a nofollow tag?

Reply by Philip James, Jun 18, 2008.

Getwine - you raise a really good point.The original version of the tool did exactly that, but the feedback from the beta testers was that most people used WYSIWYG editors and the html code wasnt being pasted in cleanly. So we moved to just generating the link for them.

We've done a lot of reading on the matter and found this quote from Matt Cutts:
"there’s absolutely no problem with selling links for traffic"

This is what the Snooth affiliate program does - it pays for traffic (5 cents per click specifically). We pay the same whether the traffic comes via the Quick Search side bar app (where no links are involved), or through a link generated by the Bookmarklet. Also, if a blogger makes a hundred inbound links but doesnt refer any traffic then they will not earn any money.

However, like i said, you raised a really good point and i wanted to make our stance on this cyrstal clear. We just added a line to the TOS that recommends the use of nofollows and explains in plain english why.


Reply by getwine, Jun 18, 2008.

As the owner of a search marketing company, I feel your pain, and understand the balancing act you're trying to accomplish. However, in Matt's post June 17th, I think he makes himself very clear that paid links should never pass PageRank when he says:

"As opposed to some services where paid posts pass PageRank, (company name) posts require nofollow so that any paid links don’t pass PageRank. If paid posts respect that requirement from (company name), they’d be within our webmaster guidelines." I think this also implies that if paid links do pass PageRank, then they fall outside the guidelines.

I know that you are in it for the traffic. However, if a webmaster fails to add the nofollow tag, I'm afraid it might instantly become a "paid link passing page rank" even though that's not what you intended.

Again, not trying to be a downer, I think you're on the right track...I just think you may end up needing something more solid than a line in your TOS. Good Luck!

Reply by Philip James, Jun 18, 2008.

Getwine - we take this seriously. Incurring google's wrath is never to be taken lightly. In our case, particularly, a lot of our traffic comes from organic searches. II'll email you, as if you have any suggestions i'm all ears.

Reply by Chris Carpita, Jun 19, 2008.

I find it hard to believe that this will be a serious issue for the following reasons:
1) There's no automated method of determining whether a link is paid, and so human intervention is required.
2) A human should see that we are paying for traffic, not pagerank. The pagerank will go up for a few details pages here and there, but what will draw users to the page is the link, not the google result.
3) Also, a human would understand that we are doing everything possible, beyond interfacing with every single blog API on the planet so that we can insert the ref="nofollow". By stating this in TOS, I think we are covered.
4) The human should make an effort to contact us, if we were being accused of purchasing pagerank. I'm not sure how this could fit into Google's algorithm, so I am skeptical of the penalty in the first place.
5) We are stating here on this forum and before God Almighty that we are not purchasing pagerank, we're purchasing traffic.

Reply by Philip James, Jun 19, 2008.

As you can see we're not lawyers here, but i do think the key element of this is that there's no remuneration for the link itself, which would seem to be key in my understanding of Google's inscrutable ways.

As a side note, not all search engines respect nofollows, thus making this entire conversation entirely focused on google's proprietary, and not universally adopted, meta tagging language recommendations.

I am in contact with getwine, who posted above, to try and see if we can figure this out together.

Reply by getwine, Jun 19, 2008.

I'm sorry you find it so hard to believe...and keep in mind, I'm just trying to help, so please don't kill the messenger :)

It's the letter of the Google law you'd be violating, even if not intentionally violating the spirit. For better or worse (and in my opinion worse) the Google spam team has determined that ANY incoming link that passes PageRank and is paid for is in violation of the Google Webmaster's guidelines.

I understand what your intention is, but how can that be proven...couldn't everyone just start saying "oh, no, really, it's for traffic". Google has made it loud and clear that if it's really just for traffic, it must be nofollow.

I can understand that you feel it's unfair, and you are definitely not alone. People are furious about what they perceive as McCarthy-esque Google guidelines. That being said, it doesn't seem to be changing the guidelines any, and Google is being VERY aggressive in implementation of them. Please read for more info...

Also, there's a Google webmaster's webex conference at 2pm pst today, I suggest you go there and ask them yourself :)

Oh, and to address the specifics:

1. Yes, human intervention is required, and they will judge 2 the link paid, and is it passing page rank.
2. How could they see that? As I mentioned above, if you could get away with it by declaring it just for traffic, everyone would do it. Why would you get special treatment?
3. "By stating this in TOS, I think we are covered." I strongly disagree...but, what the heck, go for it. That's what the "reconsideration request" button in webmaster tools is for :)
4. Google? Contact you? heh :) Please don't be skeptical of the penalty, it happens every day. In the blog post I reference above, Matt specifically mentions they have plenty of manpower to review these cases.
5. Again, good luck with that one :) You're probably going to need this link:

Philip emailed me yesterday, I have a few thoughts...I'll email back today.


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