In a world where free organic rankings results can easily make or break most online businesses webmasters everywhere strive to get in the good graces of the big Google. It always surprises me when you hear of companies doing things that are almost guaranteed to sabotage their organic existence.

Some things I understand. While they come with huge risks, black hat techniques, spamming, link buying and other shady methods can sometimes, albeit temporary, come with big rewards. These risks are usually calculated and educated. But when a big company makes a very clear cut error in judgement without doing any research it is a bit of a shock.

Take the case of the large group of 15 NNI member newspapers (The National Newspapers of Ireland (

You probably know that inbound links are a huge part of Google ranking algorithm. Webmasters will do almost anything to get them, especially those of high quality. So it may surprise you to hear that this news organization is now demanding payment if you link to them! They believe that if you simply put a link on your site pointing to them, that you are violating their copyright and as such you need to pay THEM!

That’s right, 300 Euros is what it will cost you to send your traffic over to their site! Say what? This is akin to you telling your buddy “Hey Bob, you should head over to Sears, they have a great sale on today” then Sears sending you a bill for 300 Euros for referring your friend to their store. The only real difference is these links also influence organic results, which means rankings will plummet in the search engines. But wait… The search engines provide a link to these sites. So will the newspapers send a Bill to Google? Well, I was surprised to see that their parent site ( is wide open to Googlebot. Why would they not block Googlebot? Perhaps they just haven’t got to it yet?

I am simply unable to make any sense out of this. Can you think of a single scenario where you would pay 300 Euros to link to someone else?  If they actually follow through with this bizarre policy, they will lose most if not all of their referral and all their organic search traffic. What will be left? Direct traffic sure, but will that be enough to support a successful online presence? Perhaps but I suspect not.

Afterthought: StepForth has more than 35,000 backlinks. Maybe we should charge (and enforce) a $300 per link fee. That would work out to $10.5 Million. Maybe it’s not a bad way to generate some revenue? (joking of course)

Here are a few other sites following this story. Thankfully I do not have to pay 300 Euros to link to them so I can easily share with you.

Irish Newspaper Collective Wants to Charge License Fees for Links

2012: The year Irish Newspapers Tried to Destroy the Web

That Link You Just Posted Could Cost You 300 Euros