Linkbuilding for Challenging Subjects

I’ve been linkbuilding today for two different web sites. Two very different websites.

First, there’s a free teaching unit on environmental education. This is a very useful page, and I think people will be excited to have access to it. I’m sending off requests to .edu and .gov sites with a fairly high degree of confidence that I’ll get those highly desirable links. I’m hanging out with environmentalists and teachers and people promoting social responsibility. I’m adding the URL to green directories and teachers’ communities to which I belong.

It’s just so wholesome, you can’t believe it.

The other website is selling bruise treatment medication. This is also a useful thing. People have been clamoring to try it out for me. It’s perfectly wholesome, harmless, and the folks who make it are nice, respectable people.

But in my linkbuilding efforts for these nice people, I’m finding myself in low places. Sites that seem to revel in revolting pictures of bruises. Sites on child and wife abuse. Sites touting quackery and snake oil.

I’m getting different responses, too. I got a notice that Squidoo lenses about pharmaceuticals will be shut down. I got scolded by Wikipedia. I’m being treated like — gasp — some kind of sleazy gray hat marketer.

The things I’m doing in the two cases are no different. In both cases, we’re offering useful information and in both cases we’re selling something. Both respectable activities. It’s just that the second example is, unfortunately, in a subject area that has some rough history. Hotels are in that category, too. Nothing wrong with hotels. It’s just that their industry has gotten infested by shady activity, and that makes everyone more careful.

What can you do if you find yourself in this position?

  • Take the high road. It’s certainly easy to follow the common paths, but it’s not beneficial in this case. While you do want your environmental lesson plans to be with the other environmental lesson plans, you may not want your herbal remedies to be with the other herbal remedies.
  • Consider other approaches. With the bruise medication, we may need to focus on cheerleaders, athletes, and dancers rather than on bruises. Doing this will get the product into the awareness of people who need it, without raising so many red flags.
  • Expect the process to take longer. It’s probably going to take more time and more effort to succeed with a product facing those challenges. There’s no point in being unrealistic about that.

Every product, and every company, faces some challenges. The lesson plan, for example, is going to be easy to link and is already getting nice traffic. But the company that’s offering the lesson plan, SmartPay, shares its business name with a couple of different government programs (U.S. and overseas), a Microsoft division, and a service “powered by Amazon.” Talk about challenges!

Just know what you’re dealing with and plan your strategy accordingly.

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