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Affiliate marketing site ReviewLab wants a link-back

posted Dec 27, 2017, 5:06 AM by Lewis Baumstark
A couple weeks ago I got this email:

From: Louisa Wheaton <louisa.wheaton@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 5:13 AM
Subject: Thanks and New Suggestion for your "Stuff I want to remember" Page
To: me


Hi Lewis,

First off, I wanted to say thank you for putting together the "Stuff I want to remember" page on your site (http://www.double-oops.org/stuff-i-want-to-remember). There are some really useful links/resources on there.

Also, I wanted to pass along another useful page, the "Robotics Resource Guide" (http://www.reviewlab.com/robotics-guide/). I thought your visitors might find it to be a helpful addition as well. 

In any case, hope I'm not bothering you. Have a great day!

Best,
Louisa

I'll be honest, my first thought was "hey cool, a person actually read my crappy little blog and took the time to drop me a line about it, how nice!". Especially since I've done pretty much zilch to it in... (checks dates) ...about 3 years. 20 seconds later my natural paranoia kicked in. What did she actually like about my page? How did she find it useful. She doesn't say.

So I mosey on over to the link she sent. It's a pretty spartan list of random links to robotics-related resources, with nothing to suggest actual curation or thoughtful selection. Certainly nothing to interest me. I ignore, assuming I'll never hear from her again.

She sent a follow-up today:

From: Louisa Wheaton <louisa.wheaton@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Dec 27, 2017 at 2:25 AM
Subject: Fwd: Thanks and New Suggestion for your "Stuff I want to remember" Page
To: Me


Hi Lewis,

Hope all is well! I was just going through my emails and realized that I never heard back from you. I'm guessing it's just because you're incredibly busy, but just in case my email slipped through the cracks, I figured I'd pass it along again. 

In any case, hopefully I'm not bothering you - have a great day!

Best,
Louisa

It's Dec. 27 and I've had the flu since well before Christmas. I'm cranky, bored, and not yet finished with my first cup of coffee. And I'm annoyed enough to dig a little deeper.

If you go to http://www.reviewlab.com/ and check their About page you'll  see their a product-review site:

We scour the web to find all the available products in a given category. We then analyze thousands of customer reviews using a proprietary algorithm and evaluate all products in terms of popularity, quality, value, and freshness. This allows us to score every product based on customer experience and provide a curated list of the best 10 products in any category

Apparently their "proprietary algorithm" is hiring freelancers:


Not that I have a problem with that. Work is work, and if you can score a few bills writing product reviews, knock yourself out. From a random sample of one, the reviews *do* appear to be original (not scraped from other sites). So kudos for originality.

Now, as I look around the site a bit more, my ponderment continues. "What is their business model?" ponders I. "They aren't selling anything, and they don't have ads."

I randomly stagger through their links and soon notice every review comes with an Amazon link to the relevant product.  "Hrmm," I hrmm's. Amazon affiliate links. That's the magic. Write reviews, link to the Amazon product page, snarf up that sweet affiliate ca$h if someone buys using that link. Not particularly shady (assuming they pay their reviewers) but low-effort and probably not very lucrative. I mean, Amazon already has a review system that's a billionty times better. Why would people go to this bland site? But you know, not my ship to sink; feel free to do your thing.

So clearly Ms. Wheaton's friendly emails were a thinly-veiled attempt to drive more traffic to her site (fat chance, given that my readers number in the single digits. In fact, if you're reading this you're either me or, well, me). I'm sure my 10th-page-of-search-results-search-result site will really boost those SEO rankings for her. And while ReviewLab.com isn't all that shady, begging me for a link-back absolutely is. So she gets her wish, sort of.

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