Some people have been asking about link farms or link clusters recently and there just happens to be one that showed up on radar recently, www.sarahjessicaparkerlookslikeahorse.com, that looks like it might be intended to be what you might call a viral link farm site.
This site is designed to get hundreds of diverse links, some from authority sites, rather quickly which should give it a high PR and authority itself in short order. If you take what is said on the site at face value, it went viral in a big way, scoring 350,000 page views a day and being mentioned on popular humor radio shows like Opie and Anthony. These are impressive numbers but this traffic level probably isn’t sustainable over the long haul. The site is a one trick pony.
Let’s dissect this site a bit and see what it’s up to.
Obviously to pull this off you need something funny, offbeat, irreverent or the like that will catch the public’s short attention span. In selecting Sarah Jessica Parker, one of the stars of Sex and the City, and her elongated face as the subject the site owner did just that. With the movie hitting theaters and her name being in the press this made the lampoon an obvious choice.
The site is very simple, about 20 HTML pages, no WordPress or other bulky server side processing. This helps insure that the site will remain stable even under heavy traffic conditions. You are counting on a site like this to be Dugg and Stumbled and whatever else’d many times. You would think that they would have this on a dedicated server but it’s actually on a shared hosting account. This lean site design allows it to survive the onslaught.
It doesn’t take much to get the ball rolling, just a few “check this out” type posts and comments in humor forums and blogs should get it done. A few initial inbound links from a small link farm can boost it as well. If it catches on, and not all do, it will climb to 1000’s of hits a day rapidly. At the same time, the number of inlinks grows too.
They have two forms of monetization, a theater ticket widget and a block of Adsense Ads, or are they?
I’ll bet you noticed that Adsense block on the page right off. And, if you’ve kept up with what Vic and Griz have said you know that it is a bad idea to have Adsense on a site like this. Why? Because it will probably get your Adsense account smart priced and reduce you to getting 3 cent clicks across your Adsense network. Plus, you would probably not get well targeted ads because of the lack of text on most of the pages. Why would the owner of this site do this to themselves?
They didn’t. The Adsense block is fake! It is a bunch of links disguised as an Adsense block. Why would someone do this? I’m not sure but it is an interesting strategy to perhaps make the site and the links look more legit or to make it part of the parody. Were these links paid links? We have no way of knowing but they should be effective immediate advertising for the other site owners as well as long term link juice.
Long Term Linking Strategy
The links from this site will become quite potent over time. As the movie fades and traffic dies down, most of the links will remain and thus the site will acquire an impressive page rank based on links from authority sites. This will make it a powerful way to boost other sites in the owner’s network or for clients. Just add a link and it gets some good Google link juice.
There is the chance that this site will decline over time in terms of the authority it will pass on. However, this process will take months, most likely years, to happen. This gives the owner the chance to create more money making sites built off of this one, or, to sell links under the table.
They can ride this horse to the bank for a long time to come, but there are some risks involved.
The main risk is that the pictures, both of Sarah Jessica Parker and the Horses, being used on the site probably violate copyright law. Eventually one or more copyright owners will file DMCA takedown requests, or, even worse, sue for damages. This is something to be mindful of if you were to attempt such a site. Just taking the pictures down as requested wouldn’t be a problem for them at this point since the links to the sites are already in place. Being sued though would be a different matter.
Secondary to this Ms. Parker could try to take the domain away under ICANN rules about cyber squatting. This would be a disaster since all of the long term benefits of the site would be lost.
Another risk they’re taking with the site is with the fake Google Adsense ads. I’m pretty sure Google wouldn’t be pleased about seeing the Adsense logo on a block of links that weren’t theirs. Given that Google also controls the search engine, deindexing of the site or other penalties might not be far behind. That also would be a disaster.
The Bottom Line
There are some risks involved in doing this kind of viral link building but the rewards can be great as well. I think the owner of www.sarahjessicaparkerlookslikeahorse.com took a few unnecessary risks, such as with the fake Adsense block, but should be in good shape otherwise unless Sarah Jessica Parker or a horse photographer gets really ticked off and sues.
What do you think about this kind of viral link building? Any thoughts or opinions on the risks and rewards involved? Leave your comment and let me know.