Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Preying on education bloggers

Are you an education blogger?

Do you help online colleges and universities prey on underprepared students by clawing their way to the top of search engine results by linking to their websites?

Are you sure you don't?

Here are two ways unsuspecting bloggers are made accomplices in preying on others for online colleges and universities.

  • LISTS: Bloggers will receive a flattering email saying they've been chosen for a list such as 100 Top Edtech Bloggers or Top 50 Classroom Blogs. Bloggers are further enticed by a badge that is presented to them with the request that the badge be displayed on their blog. Or the blogger is encouraged to write about their accomplishment of making the list with a link back to the list or website.

What's the catch?
The flattery and the badge are Trojan Horses that mislead bloggers into thinking all of this attention is for them when really they are being used by online scammers so they may increase their ranking on search engines.

  • GUEST BLOGGING: Bloggers will receive flattering emails that either ask the blogger to write a guest post for the scammer's website or allow a guest post to be displayed on their blog.

What's the catch?
The flattered blogger is led to believe the content of the posts are what matters when really it's the link that matters most. Want proof? After receiving a flattering email asking me if I would accept a guest post on my blog, I found the content to be acceptable and posted it. However, when I chose not to post the link back to the online university, I received a series of emails from the guest blogger that reminded me and then badgered me about inserting their desired link. I refused.
So what's to be done about all this?

First, be informed. I'm all for sharing but this is about privatization and profits. Second, ignore them and never link to them. Third, write a post of your own about all this to get the word out.

For a more detailed look at all this be sure to take a look at Dan Meyer's post Stop Linking to "Top 100" Lists, and read the comments.


  1. Booyeah, thanks for taking a stand! I removed all of those badges several years ago from my blog, and just recently posted my more thoughts that branch off from this. Kudos for asking our blogging colleagues to take a higher road :)

  2. So true. I get hounded by those e-mails. I ignore them, but they still continue.

    One more thing:
    Now they're asking people to post an infographic with a link to the online college site. So, the infographics are great, but when clicked on, they send you to those sites.

  3. I used to get hounded by them too. Some of them want to legitimately turn that around, but I still wonder about others' intentions. The guestblogging piece is especially gross because now these "writers" have a LONG list of places where they did actually place their advertisements, so the not-so-savvy blogger might consider them legitimate. Sheesh.

  4. If you are worried about search engine results just add "nofollow" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nofollow)

    This give the person the link but does not change their rankings.

    If someone wrote a guest post for me I would always give them their link. That is the whole reason for the guest post. To get more people to read their blog/site etc.

  5. Seems like common sense, but I would've been completely oblivious if faced with a similar situation. Thanks for the reminder!

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