Good morning! Today we continue with our series about making money online. You can check the previous posts about
If your blog is growing, you may start to get offered direct advertising opportunities, generally in the form of sponsored posts. The advertising agency puts up a post with a link to its client on your site, in exchange for a fee. Should you say yes or no?
What is the deal with paid links?
What an advertiser is looking for when placing a link on your site is not so much the exposure on the day you publish, but the power of the link back to his client’s site, also called link juice. Paying to be featured on several sites will increase the link juice back to his client, and help the client rank higher in search engines. This link building strategy is considered unnatural and frowned upon by Google, as it defeats the purpose of its powerful algorithm to spot the best search results for a keyword. Say you look for a hotel in Chicago. There is a very nice hotel that hasn’t paid for links, it has good reviews and a few people who did stay there have linked to its homepage as a vote of confidence that this is really a great place to stay. So far, it ranks first when you search for “hotel in Chicago” on Google. Comes a brand new hotel that is not very good, but buys out links from authority travel sites all around. Google’s algorithm sees a lot of links coming from great sites, vouching for this new hotel. The good old one now ranks number two and this new one who paid to pass ranks first. Knowing that about 40% of the clicks will be for the #1 search result, the amount of online business it can bring is huge. The #2 site will only get 10% of the clicks or so. Imagine how big of a business referral we are talking about when the keyword companies fight for have millions of hits each month.
A personal choice
Your readers are coming to your blog to read your posts. They enjoy your writing and follow your adventures regularly. If they see you publish a paid guest post, the first time, they may read it. After all, some (a minority, generally the ones you are required to write yourself) are well written and informative. The second time, they may only scan the post and the next, skip it altogether. Most readers will understand that you provide a ton of quality content and occasionally, to help with your blog expenses or get compensated for your time, you’ll put up a paid link. Some will stop reading you, or start calling you a sellout.
As I said before, linking back to any site is considered a vote of confidence in Google’s eyes. The same applies to your readers. But again, most of the post’s traffic will come for search engines. If people search for “gambling” and end up on your site, you will have one more pageview and improve your stats. Can you be blamed as a bar owner for people getting drunk? That is a question only you can answer.
You can decide to focus on affiliate sales instead, and ask yourself if pushing 12 different credit cards you have never used to get a referral fee is better ethically than putting up a post about payday loans. With affiliate sales at least, you are doing nothing wrong for Google.
You may have seen some bloggers say they will not link to a payday loan or a gambling site, to a site that operates abroad or one that is not in line with their values. They do not want readers to think that they endorse the company because they link to it. Other bloggers will publish anything for a quick buck, even posts that will net them $25, or not realize when they start blogging that those friendly emails offering “free content” are just trying to push links they get paid on their side to publish. Some are fine with linking to almost any site for the right price.
If you decide to publish paid posts, you will have to decide on the following
A minimum rate. Market rates are hard to determine, you may accept $100 for a post only to find out your blogging buddy got $180 because he haggled better, even though you have similar stats. Whatever you accept, set your minimum and don’t sell yourself short.
Types of posts. Don’t lose your time emailing back and forth with a rep only to find out after 10 emails that they want to link to a site you won’t be ok with. Set the record straight from the first email.
The risks. If you agree to put a dofollow link to a site in exchange for money, you are violating Google’s rules about linking, and risk being “Google slapped”. You may lose your pagerank, see your site ranking drop in the search engines, and decrease of traffic. Know what you are getting into before you accept a paid post.