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It’s Getting Tougher to Make Money From Blogging

By JLP | October 31, 2007

Most readers of this blog probably don’t care about this topic.

Most of you probably know that I do make money from blogging. You can see the Adsense column on the left and two banner ads (there’s a third banner ad but I don’t get paid for it). Then, if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page, you’ll see various links. These are called text links. Advertisers use text link advertisements to help increase their page rank within Google, which helps send traffic to their websites. I have been selling these links for around $60 per month.

Lately there’s been a lot of chatter about Google lowering the boom on websites that sell text links. The penalty for selling text links could be a drop in the seller’s page rank (AFM is currently a PR5), which will impact the amount of traffic sent to the site via Google search. I get quite a bit of traffic from Google search – way more than I get from any other search engine. If the rumors are true (who knows if they are really true or not since Google won’t come right out and say) and I continue to sell text links, Google could theoretically punish AFM. In other words, my hands are tied and Google knows this.

The message is clear: if you’re a blogger and you want to make money from blogging, then sign up for Adsense and don’t try to sell other advertisements. Seriously, I don’t see how a banner ad can be considered different from a text link. It’s an ad with a link in it. Why would Google penalize a regular text link but not a link coming from a banner ad?

Bottom line for AFM: I’m discontinuing text links for the time being. I have a few that are long-term contracts that I’ll let expire. The rest will be gone soon.

Google wins.

Topics: Blogging, Rant | 21 Comments »


21 Responses to “It’s Getting Tougher to Make Money From Blogging”

  1. Adam Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 11:45 am

    That’s pretty ridiculous. So basically they’re trying to clean up market share by strong arming people into submission. What bothers me about this, is that I don’t think people like your are their primary target, but rather the people who are paying you for the text links. Not only do they get to control and monopolize your ad revenue, but also those you sell to by shutting them out, which will be where the majority of the money comes from in this instance.

  2. Lazy Man Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 11:55 am

    My theory with the banner ads is that they don’t factor into Google’s PageRank algorithm. A graphical link can’t be considered as relevant to Google’s algorithms as a text link.

    My theory is that in the end, Google wants to have the best search results. In my opinion that means including articles from AFM despite what you do.

  3. Taylor @ ImprovLifestyle Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    I just took Text Link Ads off my site. I’m new to the advertising thing, so I guess I gotta be safe for now.

  4. Esmo Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Google itself uses text links – logically there’s no reason why they would punish text links and not banner ads.

    Imo this is one of those plausible rumors that has no basis whatsoever.

  5. Liteon Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    I just started blogging and inserted text link, and within few minutes I ran into your article (www.alltimemoney.blogspot.com), thanks for the hint.

  6. cashgoat Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    My favorite add-in for Firefox is Adblock plus and it blocks all of the adesense ads, as well as any banners I tell it to. I’m sure that doesn’t help bloggers make money either but I really like it for when the ads are not exactly placed well and tend to detract from the content. Heck, try reading anything on MSN these days and you’ll see how laughable they have become. The content is literally one of the smallest sections on the pages.

  7. Danny Tsang Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    I agree with lazy man, banners can easily be determined as banners, so they won’t count that as a link. A text link can be confused with an organic link, which means you are really recommending a certain site. Its pretty much certain and its been confirmed on some major blogs that google is hunting text link sellers.

    I have no idea how they determine what is a paid link and what is not. I think if you avoid a third party service like Text Link Ads, they wont know you are selling links. And don’t put “sponsors” right above your links. I think there is a way to get away with it, otherwise, theoretically all blogs with a blog roll may be in trouble that that looks like a list of paid links as well. But I think you should sell some small banners in place of the text. Most blogs do the 125 x 125 buttons along the side bar.

  8. James Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Oh Don’t worry, let me help, please answer me this:

    1) Are the ad partners looking for traffic or links?
    2) how do you reach out to your ad partners?

    Btw I am James from DebtCC.

  9. dimes Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    I agree with lazy man, and I think it’s a good thing. Selling links can corrupt the integrity of the “organic” pagerank. Of course, you know how I feel about ads, and linking to someone because they pay you to as opposed to your feeling strongly about their product/service (especially without telling your readers) is a sneaky tactic, IMO.

  10. BD Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    More power to them. Fewer, better ads would make the internet a better place, and frankly, I had no idea you were selling links! It makes me trust your blog less to know that, and I think you SHOULD drop in page rank because of it.

  11. Mrs. Micah Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    BD, he’s not selling links in his actual posts. Nothing that an educated person would confuse with content and therefore nothing that he should drop in rank for.

    Look at the bottom of the page under “site sponsors”, he even has a disclaimer about it. Those are the links he’s talking about. It’s just the same as selling any other ad space. Don’t have a cow now. ;)

  12. JLP Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    BD,

    I’m guessing you don’t get paid for what you do?

    Give me a break! It’s not like I’m writing posts littered with affiliate links that nobody knows about. Heck, you didn’t even know I was selling links!

    Finally, I did change my policy several months ago to include (Affiliate Link) behind any affiliate link (usually a link to Amazon). I don’t know how much more upfront I can be.

  13. mapgirl Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    JLP – If your logic is true about banner ads, then that explains why having an exclusive ad contract dropped me from PR5 to PR0 permanently. I took the ads off when the contract ended and now I have no PR whatsoever. YAY.

    However, I don’t think banners and text link ads are treated the same.

  14. plonkee Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    I think that your pandering to google won’t help you. And they shouldn’t give a monkey’s where your links come from as long as they don’t distort search.

  15. Flexo Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    While Google has the right to do whatever they want to make their search results more relevant, I’m not making any changes until I see that PageRank has any relevance for anything other than selling text link ads. It seems to have no relation to search result placement…

  16. Andy Says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 1:54 am

    Do no evil, eh?

  17. Rob Lewis Says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    I’m with Flexo – although it could backfire in the future, I’ve seen no correlation between a drop in Page Rank and search engine rankings, so will sit tight with the ads for the moment. I think the ultimate effect will be to have less effect on the rankings of the sites buying the links, not the seller.

  18. EnoughWealth Says:
    November 3rd, 2007 at 8:27 am

    My page rank dropped from 4 to 2 recently, probably because I had some PayPerPost textlink ads (clearly tagged as such), and some AdBrite ads (in place of adsense, which doesn’t pay much for low traffic sites).

    I’m going to delete the links from the oldest PayPerPost sponsored posts, as they’ve had their 30 days exposure. I recently put in four “permanent” textlink ads for a one-off payment (only $150 for 4, as I’m a relatively low traffic site, and hadn’t been approached by advertisers before). Since I agreed for these to be permanent I can’t get rid of them now. Hopefully once theses posts are several months old and off my main page they won’t impact PR much (?).

    I did notice the comment that putting “Sponsors” above links could be a bad move – I’ll change it to an image on my site in case that helps.

    I can’t help thinking that this change is more about google trying to monopolise the textlink ad marketplace with Adsense. They already forbid you from using any other context sensitive advertising on a site that uses Adsense, this is just the next step in eliminating competition. I don’t think it will improve the relevance of search results – although some sites obviously buy textlinks to “game” the ranking system, this change is more likely to eliminate sites that DO have relevant content, but are just trying to generate some revenue from their sites. Google probably wants the advertisers to pay for AdWords rather than textlink ads that aren’t via AdSense.

  19. fivecentnickel.com Says:
    November 3rd, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Lazy Man nailed it. The Google money machine is driven by an accurate search engine. Paid text links “pollute” their search algorithm, making the results less reliable. A graphic ad doesn’t do this because there’s no “anchor text” (the words that represent the link — Google uses these links/words to figure out where to rank a page for searches on certain terms.

    If Google’s search engine becomes unreliable, then the entire rest of their business will fall apart. In my view, this has little (if anything) to do with caring about someone making money from ads outside of Google channels, and virtually everything to do with protecting the golden goose (i.e., accurate search results).

  20. John Says:
    November 6th, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    PageRank and Google SE results are not necessarily related. One of my blogs ranks high in SE results, but has a PR0. PageRank is just one of many internal metrics that Google uses for SE results. In fact, some believe they’re not used at all anymore.

    Paid text links do infact affect results. Google’s job is to present the best content for a search, and not surprisingly, inbound links is a large part of the equation. However, with paid links, it’s easy for a site to buy that link-love, without having to worry about having good content. So, really, Google didn’t have much of a choice with paid text links becoming so popular.

    I’m not immune to the change either. I have one site with paid text links that has just dropped from PR5 to PR4. It’s going to take a huge chunk out of my earnings. Am I upset, yes? Do I understand, yes.

  21. Breakdown Recovery Says:
    November 13th, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    If you links are relevant to the subject matter there will not be an issue, unless Google knows you are taking money from it and to what extent. You have to ask the question about large authority sites like the bbc.
    It also sells advertising space. What about the national newspaper websites, who also sell advertisng space that involves a link to the sponsers website.

    I think If things are relevant, you will not have an issue. in fact if the link is very relevant to the subject matter, there are those who think it will help you in rankings.

    Mark

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