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There are a number of "Pay with tweet" type services where you get access to a download (pdf/ebook etc) if you tweet or Facebook like.

Are there any services that do similar for 'normal' links (Blogs etc)?

If you had an online service that you were planning to give away free if people linked to you for then would this be ( from an SEO perspective) :-

  • ethical?
  • effective?
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2 Answers

It's not effective if you get caught:

Google works hard to ensure that it fully discounts links intended to manipulate search engine results, such excessive link exchanges and purchased links that pass PageRank.

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66736

However

Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such. This can be done in several ways, such as:

  • Adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to the tag
  • Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file

So if you follow those guidelines you won't get SEO, but you may get visitors.

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This is definitely a grey area and I would think this could very well fall against Google's guidelines. You are manipulating the search engines by buying links. You may not be paying with money but you're giving something of monetary value to users to get backlinks. Those backlinks would never have occurred otherwise.

I'd avoid it for the potential to be seen as purchasing links.

I also doubt the links you get will be quality links. Sites that can potentially give you quality links almost certainly won't do something like this. Not too mention I would think most links would be from low quality and or off-topic sites. Those links would have very little value.

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Hmm - maybe the phrase "If you have to ask, its probably wrong" is appropriate ;) –  Ryan Jun 23 '11 at 15:40
    
Whats your take on widgets/buttons etc that nearly always backlink? –  Ryan Jun 23 '11 at 15:40
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I agree. And people could simply delete the links after the 'pay with link' system verified them and provided the download. With twitter, deleting tweets makes little difference because many followers will have seen the retweeted message already. –  Nick Jun 23 '11 at 15:42
    
@Ryan, those are fine. If they're putting your widget on their website they are in effect endorsing your website's quality of content so a linkback would be a legitimate vote for the widget provider's website. –  John Conde Jun 23 '11 at 15:42
    
Found your answer to this on another post - webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/12384/… –  Ryan Jun 23 '11 at 15:44
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