16 Dec 2008

Am I Risking a Penalty if I Give this Hot Fudge Away?

Dang, it’s after midnight and I’m still at the office again. There’s been 2 cases of Sundaes Best hot fudge sitting on top of my desk that I’m not sure if I should be selfish and give the fudge to the employees (Oh man, I can hear Lisa and Christine and QualityGal saying "Me!", "Me!", "Me!") or if I should try to use this hot fudge for the benefit of my old friend who each year sends me a few cases of hot fudge.

I’ve never taken money from Sundaes Best Hot Fudge. They just send me a few cases of hot fudge each year for "marketing" (fyi, someone else does his site…and I have no say in that area…I’m only "marketing"). So each year he sends a few cases of fudge to me and he doesn’t say what to do with it, or ask about the marketing that we’ve been doing, or have not been doing.

So you know me…I’m always thinking Links…and here’s all these jars of hot fudge in front of me ….and I can’t help but wonder, if I saw a great page about hot fudge, and wrote the the website owner and said, "hey, I was reading your page about hot fudge at http://www.site.com/hot-fudge.html, and thought you’d like to try a jar of this hot fudge. Can I send you a jar?"

Is that breaking any Google guidelines?
Is that evil?
Is that Cheating?
… or is that just "Marketing"?

I don’t know…..
I can tell you that I’d really like to know that answer. I know that Michael Gray is being the trouble maker by pushing some buttons on this very topic via starting Viral conversations which as far as I know, I’ve not seen any G response from yet (correct me if I’m wrong).

I’ve hesitated doing this the past few months….as you know, I’m trying to be Mr. Clean…so I’m not sure if I should try something like this or not….but I’ve got all these jars of hot fudge…what to do….what to do….

This takes me back to the days when I was a Schwan’s Route Saleman. To get new clients, I’d knock on peoples doors and when they’d answer I’d hand them a 1/2 gallon of vanilla ice cream and a product book, I’d tell them it’s Free and that I’ll stop back in 2 weeks and they can tell me then if they ever want me to come back again or not.

It worked then…and it worked good…when they told me I could give away free vanilla ice cream to help get new clients, I ran with that for all that it was worth…and my work at that paid off. Every day I picked up new clients doing this. I was so good at this that I set route sales records that may still stand today, was able to split one of my days into 2 days, sell off one of my days to another driver, and was 4th in the northeastern states territory for new clients. It’s the same thing here….

"Hey Bob,
I saw your page where you talk about how to make hot fudge, and I thought you should try Sundaes Best Hot Fudge. I think is the best in the world, and I’d like to send you a free bottle – no strings, if you’ll let me.
Here’s your page where I saw you talking about hot fudge. If you felt this hot fudge met your approval, feel free to mention it there, we think it would add value to that page, and after trying, we hope you agree."

…I don’t know…. maybe we don’t mention the "feel free to mention it there…"….I’m just thinking… It would make sense to give people hot fudge and say there’s no obligation, and leave them "something" they can do, if they wish….and how they do it, is up to them. I don’t feel I should have to tell them anything about how they link it if they link it….they get the fudge, what they do is up to them, even if the do nothing in return. It’s free fudge. I hope they decide to do something nice in return…but that’s up to them.

I’ve got 2 cases of hot fudge on my desk, can I give them away just like I gave out 1/2 gallon of ice cream back in the day? If so, I might want to milk that for all it’s worth like I did with ice cream…is it evil then? Is that cheating? is that against the guidelines?….or is that White Hat Marketing?

I wonder what the Google spam engineers view is on this?

What’s your view on this?

PS…..relax ladies, I’ve got a few jars stashed away here if you’re needing a fudge fix.


  1. Matt Varney December 16, 2008 at 2:03 AM

    For the record, I’ve had the hot fudge before and the mint hot fudge is delicious. You should give it to your employees Jim.

  2. Simon December 16, 2008 at 4:49 AM

    Hey Jim! Whenever my clients send freebies out I advise them to include a note with a warning:

    “Just incase you feel like linking to us on the back of this kind gesture . . . please make it ‘No Follow’ so we can both avoid Google penalties”

    Yeah – that works a treat. They never get any links, but at least they’ve never got a penalty 😉

    Great post. Interesting points. Happy holidays. Enjoy the fudge

  3. Sebastian December 16, 2008 at 7:07 AM

    I’m sorry, I don’t even know what Fudge is. At the moment i am supposed to do marketing for a Website selling spirits. And allready thought about exactly what you’re talking about. I think giving away some products for free without mentioning that you want something in return is absolutely ok. You’re just beeing nice and hope to get something in return. But to be honest you are putting some pressure on them, most people won’t like it to get something for free and they will think they just have to give you something in return. I think it’ll work out and fact it doesn’t cost top much.

  4. paisley December 16, 2008 at 10:36 AM

    in PR we send systems (can’t say computer maunfacturer name) to people to do reviews, we DO get the computers back, (almost all of the time), so we send the computer for a REVIEW.

    since fudge really can’t be benchmarked without destroying the sample… i would think that should be just PR.


  5. QualityGal December 16, 2008 at 10:37 AM

    You had me going until the PS. 🙂

  6. Brian Hawkins December 16, 2008 at 10:56 AM

    We still offer pingo.com phone cards to any site or blogger to test out are product. We hope that they will post a review and link to us. But its up to them. I’d say that its fair “bait” vs paying dough to try to get a link.

  7. Saad Kamal December 16, 2008 at 11:01 AM

    Jim, I want one!

    Anyway back to serious business – In my opinion, the thing you just described is fine. Its all Marketing anyway!

    Google doesn’t and can’t possibly monitor all links that are paid. I dont think they can say whether a link is paid/natural, simply by looking at it.

    But looking at other variables like it’s placement (e.g. sidebar, footer) and the Anchor text — they can probably make an educated guess. However, having said that, this only happens when the site goes under a ‘manual review’. A spider isn’t that smart anyway..

    If your link adds ‘value’ to the content of any existing page on the web, I think you should by all means go for it.

  8. Lisa Barone December 16, 2008 at 12:35 PM

    What if I just go into your office and steal the hot fudge off your desk? Then I eliminate your moral quandary and I get me some fudge?

    Of course, if anyone asks, I didn’t take it. QualityGal did.

  9. Herb Pagano Jr December 16, 2008 at 1:25 PM


    Nothing happens until something is sold. Market it.

    Why don’t you have interested folks come to you?

    Make relevant, thoughtful comments on food, dessert, recipe blogs and forums. At the comment end simply say, “By the way, I’ve got a very few jars of the best sundae sauce a mom could ever make. It’s like a kiss without the hug! [Contact me] and tell me why you deserve this Christmas treat”. Or …

    Set up a Blogger or WordPress.com blog (hotfudgesundaesaucegiveaway.blogspot). The content can mimic a press release/news format with enticing photos, etc. Add a poll (Top sundae sauce treats). Then tell the interested what to do: “If you are a [ ], with a blog or site about [ ], tell us why we should send you a free sample of the best ….”

    Then bookmark it to all social sites. At Digg: “Madman Gives Away Mom’s Sundae Sauce”. At Yahoo buzz: “How To Get Free Hot Fudge Sundae Sauce!” The interested will read the post. Respond to all.

    Just a couple of ideas.


  10. Gerald Weber December 17, 2008 at 12:28 AM

    I think this may possibly be breaking google webmaster “hot fudge code of ethic” guidelines. Something they take very seriously! 😉

  11. Gregor December 17, 2008 at 10:20 AM

    Why don’t you just give them a load of cash and ask them to link to you with keyword rich anchor text? Then you can eat the fudge! 😉

  12. sam December 17, 2008 at 8:24 PM

    Perhaps just give it as a gift and leave it at that? If people want to they will link back.

  13. jigs December 29, 2008 at 8:54 AM

    Hi Jim.
    this is really good idea and i don’t think its spam.
    @sam Agree with you, just let them decide, if they find it helpful they will definitely give the links. this will be natural and truly ethical way to get links.


  14. Kris January 5, 2009 at 2:59 AM

    Great Post – so now we’re talking Hot Fudge Marketing.

    I suppose it would work, as advertising is a science and hot fudge is a medium in this case. Is there a way you can attach your website address to each fudge you send out (like with stickers), that is a silent, passive way of directly marketing your link.

    I cannot imagine Google penalizing your OBL when your obtaining them through quality direct marketing, delicious, chocolate flavoured marketing.

    Best of luck,


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