If your blog begins to gain any kind of traffic it won’t be long before you start to get emails from other website owners, link builders, or automated systems asking you to place a link to their site into your content.
For many blog owners this is the first opportunity to make some money from their new blog building venture, but read on to find out why you might want to think carefully before accepting an offer of this kind. This post forms part of our series on 29 debates bloggers have about blogging.
Links Make the Web go Round
Links are a very precious commodity on the net and a good quality link from a well respected site can lead to a big boost in traffic. Not only will visitors click through the link but search engines will rank your website more highly. A link from a leading site is a massive vote of confidence in your own blog.
Links are so highly sought after that people are prepared to spend money on obtaining them!
Google Wants you to Disclose Paid Links
The leading search engine, Google, doesn’t necessarily penalise you for selling links, they understand that this type of commercial transaction goes on. All they want to know is which links are natural and which have been manually manipulated by cash.
If you label paid for links as “no follow” you shouldn’t get penalised by Google, however if they find you and your partner are trying to manipulate search results by selling links then both of you may be struck down the rankings.
Is it worth the risk?
Why I don’t Sell Links
There are a couple of reasons why I have never sold a link on any of my websites:
- The sums involved just aren’t worth my time. Normally they offer very small amounts which don’t compare very well to other advertising. If they got their link onto my site through adsense they’d be paying out for every click for as long as the link is active. But link dealers are hoping you will be naive enough to sell your site short.
- Poor quality sites. Unfortunately most of the link offers you will get early on will be from very poor quality websites that you would never consider associating with if there was no money involved. If this is the case then I strongly urge you not to sell yourself out so early on as associating with a “poor neighbourhood” as Google terms it will only hurt your long term growth prospects.
- Conversely, I always link naturally to high quality sites. No fee required. Linking to other good sites is good for your readers and goes a long way to enhancing your own site and content.
If a site is worth linking to link to it for free!
As time goes on the quality of offer will hopefully improve, and you should be able to negotiate some better tenancy deals. This is where you charge a fixed fee for a fixed period to include a link or banner on your site. Think about what the equivalent adsense unit might generate for you and use this as a guide to how much you are charging.
Negotiation is easy when you can say that an adsense unit generates x amount each month – can you beat that?
Don’t Risk the Wrath of Google
Google really do disapprove of selling links and not disclosing it. If you are lucky you will get away with it, however one of your competitors may find out what you have done and report you to Google, and before you know it you have dropped down the search rankings resulting in a far greater cost to your site’s long term traffic numbers.
There are plenty of ways to build an income from your blog, I don’t recommend selling links as one of them. If a keyword in your content has value then why not place your own affiliate link there – it should be far more profitable in the long run!