I was doing some research today for an eCommerce client (I was totally NOT shopping online while at work), and was looking at RedEnvelope.com. I noticed the waaaay below-the-fold text loaded with Mother’s Day related keywords. Snore.
Then, about mid-way through the page, I noticed that the site was cross linking to other “brands and services” of their parent company, Liberty Media Brands. Nothing wrong with that. Until I noticed the link to “The North Face”.
The “The North Face” link, it turns out, takes the user to Backcountry.com – a site that IS owned by Liberty Media Brands. More specifically, it takes the user to The North Face’s department on the Backcountry.com. Ah, it is all becoming clear now.
By linking to Backcountry.com’s page of The North Face products, RedEnvelope is trying to give the site a little link love with anchor text optimized for “The North Face”. Is it wrong for RedEnvelope to use optimized anchor text to take users to a relevant page on a relevant site? No, not really. Is it misleading and misrepresenting the site that the user is going to end up on? Definitely.
Ultimately, perhaps it is The North Face that should call this tactic in to question. One one hand, if Backcountry happens to sell more The North Face product as a result of a misleading text link, The North Face is still getting more product sold. On the other hand, should they be concerned that another company is implying direct ownership of The North Face brand? I should say so. What do you think?