Just got a call from a client who is negotiating with a partner to put the partner’s content on their site. The partner is requiring that each page with partner content link back to the partner site. This is a typical deal point for “powered by” content-sharing arrangements, but the SEO implications could be profound.
SEO-wise content providers will make it a deal point that the link back to their site cannot be tagged as “nofollow”, which in theory would prevent the passing of PageRank to the content provider’s site. The problem with this is that you will be passing PageRank to the other site, which helps their SEO and has real value. My guess is very few companies have ever gotten an equivalent value in return out of this type of deal because either a) they don’t know how much the PageRank is worth – probably more than the main deal terms – and b) they don’t even realize they are providing the partner with this benefit.
So here’s what I propose:
1. Where SEO is concerned, this kind of biz dev deal is no different than buying links off a site. So if you’re selling the links you need to figure out what they are worth. There are no good benchmarks for this, but you could always call up a couple of linkbuilding companies and get an estimate from them as to how much they would pay for links off your site.
2. Since you probably don’t want to be passing PageRank over to the partner anyhow, you need some negotiating leverage. As you may know, Google’s guidelines require that any paid link be tagged with a nofollow tag. This will prevent the passing of PageRank via the link. If you don’t use the nofollow tag here’s how Google words the potential consequences:
“Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.”
So you can effectively argue that you can’t link to the partner’s site without tagging the links as nofollow, which will make the links worthless for SEO, which was probably the reason why they wanted them so badly in the first place.