I am not sure if you got sponsored by a site like RetailMeNot to write this up but it sure does seem so since you omitted doing any backlink analysis on the sites you refer to as “legitimate” and bringing into light what those sites are doing as well.
- Sites like Retailmenot, Goodsearch, Coupon Chief employ the exact same tactics as the sites you mention. They all buy links. Everyone in SEO buys links in one form or another. The only difference is how long the site has been live and the budget they have to spend on SEO. The bigger the budget, the more natural backlinks will look. The longer the site has been around, the more diversified it’s backlink profile will look. You as a SEO professional should know this and have disclosed it. Here is a link to a thorough breakdown of Retailmenot’s backlink profile: http://www.viperchill.com/billion-dollar-seo/. You should have referenced this in one form or another.
- If you look at Goodsearch’s backlink profile, it’s mostly made up of charitable organizations linking back to the site in return for a % donation to the organization based on the affiliate commision earned when someone checks out. You call this natural backlinking as per Google guidelines that you’re such a fan of?
- Why Groupon is not mentioned as a great example of what a great backlinking profile should look like for a coupon site?? They have by far the best backlink profile of all coupon sites.
- If established sites provided accurate coupon codes and deals that worked all the time, there would be way less google searching going on. The reason why people are still searching for coupon codes is because most of the “Deals” all these sites post are not useful to users and are simply used to secure last click. Except for select merchants that provide exclusive codes to certain sites (usually the bigger ones), all these sites have same ish content.
Lastly, for you to list specific sites that take in donations and link to these coupon sites without doing any background checks on those sites is irresponsible whistle blowing. The site operators might not even be aware of how they should be using external links and you calling them out is equivalent to me calling you a terrible SEO consultant strictly based on this article. You should have reached out to the site owners and asked them why they were using dofollow and not nofollow if you are truly concerned about the ethics involved.
I really hope that your next SEO article has more research in it and doesn’t omit important data regardless of whether you were sponsored to write it or not.