Express newspapers caught selling SEO spam

The Daily Express has come in for criticism after it was caught selling links to search engine optimisation companies.

The SEO guys at Further.co.uk were not impressed yesterday when they received an email from the Express, offering to publish advertorial, intermingled with normal news, containing keyword links for £1,000 a pop.

“You may be interested to know, here at the ‘Express Group’ we have started to integrate SEO advertorials amongst our news articles,” the email read, according to Further.

It's common SEO practice to acquire links containing relevant anchor text from popular sites, in order to boost search rankings, but Google takes a dim view of paid-for links.

“This is exactly the kind of thing that gives SEOs a bad reputation and it damages the service we provide,” Further's search marketing director Mark Cook wrote.

The Express, owned by pornmonger Richard "Dirty" Desmond, asks SEOs to produce 250 to 500-word articles containing their choice of keyword links. You can find examples here and here.

The newspaper is evidently doing brisk business. While some articles have now been yanked from the site, many more are still online or available in Google's cache.

The articles do each bear the text 'Sponsored Article', but it's buried at the very bottom of the page.