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The Power of Doing the Right Thing


I often say “You’re either doing the right thing, or your not.” As a progressive and agnostic, I’ve often been accused of being an ethical relativist. Well, I’m not. I think torture is always wrong, that’s why I advocate the investigation of Bush administration officials who ordered or condoned it.

As people who are very active in the world of food, specifically organic gardening and grass-fed beef, we’re always doing our best to buy and promote food that is sustainable and healthy. This ethic, which is certainly absolute, is born from our environmentalism, which guides our choices regarding our behavior toward the planet. We can’t afford to be 100% sustainable yet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t understand we should be.

So when, recently, my innkeeper friend Cherie wanted to do a web site to encourage people to volunteer while on vacation in Hawaii, I jumped at the chance. It didn’t pay much, but I spent a lot of time on it because I knew it could be successful and make a difference.

I just didn’t realize how right I was!

This site went public around the fourth of July this year. That’s, what? Five months. In five months, the Hawaii volunteer site has earned a Google PageRank of 4. My main site,, which has existed since 1996 and has many more backlinks, is a 4. Such is the power of link bait. And why are volunteer opportunities for vacationers in Hawaii such powerful link bait? Because it is an example of people doing the right thing. People (well, most of them) like to do the right thing, and when they see it being done, they will link to it, or bookmark it, or Digg it, or share it on Facebook (note the sharing stick at the bottom of this post).

In this case, they’re doing the right thing in Hawaii, and they’re earning a discount on their stay at Cherie‘s historic upcountry Maui bed and and breakfast. Plus, they’re earning a donation (taken from the price of their stay) to the organization for which they volunteer. Win-win-win.

A close look at the analytics and the webmaster tools shows me exactly what’s going on here. The linking that’s going on is not as extensive as I’d like (that I see in webmaster tools), but the links we have gotten are good ones. Most of them are the usual links I provide to my clients, from my usual set of web properties that are capable of passing some decent link juice. So, I’d expect a PR3 out of it. But a 4?

Looking through the traffic from referrals in the analytics, I’m seeing a decent amount of traffic coming from links that don’t show up in the webmaster tools links (interesting, that). There’s a link from the front page of a German travel forum site that’s a PR 4. There’s a good link from Women’s Entertainment Television, on a blog page with a PR4.

And that link, it turns out, is from a highly ranked blogger. I go on and on about how important blogs are, and here’s a case where some decent links, as I’ve described above, work to give a page a PR4 in less than six months. Have Fun • Do Good is “A blog for people who want to make the world a better place AND have fun!” Apparently, there are a lot of people who want to do the right thing and read that blog for inspiration. More importantly for our purposes, there are a ton of people who link to that blog, because it’s a PR6. Even though the post with the link to our volunteer site has fallen off the front page, and it just links to the WETV post (same blogger) the link juice from those archives is still enough to put us over the top into PR4 territory. Who knows who found us through that post, has linked to us, and will be sending us juice next…

So, for doing good, we’ve been rewarded by those who do good. And we’re just getting started. Many of the organizations to whom we linked will be linking back (lesson: be generous with your links), and we’ll be adding more on a regular basis. And, since it’s such a cool idea for doing good (and there’s financial incentive involved), I figure there will be many more people like Britt Bravo of Have Fun Do Good who will be linking to us as well.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 11/13/2009 12:11 am

    Great post. Thanks for including the link from the source in your post.

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