paid reviews

Paid posts are the devil incarnate according to search engines

All commercial content should contain nofollow outward links, all of it..

Read in isolation that’s some statement huh? Yet if you read the posts at Ted Murphy and Andy Beard regarding Google and paid reviews, then that would be a fair conclusion to arrive at. Seems that Matt Cutts has averred that paid reviews or posts that are commercially sponsored should all contain nofollowed links, even if they are to websites that are not owned or controlled by the sponsor.

No such thing as a free SERP

SERPs aren’t free, the sites within them are all there by virtue of a human being somewhere getting paid to create stuff or do things to get the site to rank higher for its target keywords or content. Google want the world to believe that it is they and they alone who decide how this happens, whilst SEO’s and marketers tell their clients that its their understanding of how it all works that either makes or breaks a site in any SERP. The truth of the matter is probably a whole lot closer to the latter, yet say this too loudly and the former will disprove that theory with venom.

I’ve always suspected that there is inside the minds of Googlers this huge fear that one day they will be challenged on the whole ‘free serp’ thing. In some ways I sort of sympathise too. Google have taken great pains to say from the off that their paid results (ads to the top and the sides) and their ‘algorithmic’ results are a completely unrelated and separate thing. They of course have no other choice as to say anything else would lead to a collapse of the whole delicately positioned house of cards. If sufficient weight and evidence could be applied to a position that postulated that Google knowingly allowed content that was created for the purpose of SERP manipulation to directly influence the way it ranked sites, then IMO that would make the presentation of any case seeking to disprove such a thing so much easier. The likes of the FTC and the EU commission not to mention a myriad of other national and regional governmental authorities would take great delight in disassembling the whole shaboogle implementing all manner of restrictions and investigations that would ultimately do no one any good; especially if you were Google or a shareholder of their stock.

Matt said to Ted

Ok, so I’m taking Ted at his word. I’m also assuming that what Matt apparently said is official Google policy as he is head of the Google webspam team, then it’s safe to say that what he said is pretty darn close.

If what Ted is reporting is a correct interpretation, then how could Matt (Google) realistically say anything else?If he were to say to Ted and his gang “Ok Ted, yup no probs, nofollow the core sponsor and all the other links will be just fine” then would it not be weakening its whole anti link stance? If he were to say after months of table thumping and anti paid post rhetoricising that he now accepts that a paid post is ok so long as its core sponsor isn’t rewarded in a way that would benefit their search profile then wouldn’t that just expose him and Google to derision and attack?

Content is a SERP manipulation tool

Let’s just assume that Matt Cutts had agreed with what Ted had suggested and that it was a good move and a welcome change to how they used to do things. Let’s then assume that word got out that paid reviews were now an ok method of search marketing and that the content within was now therefore ok with Google. What would people do with the knowledge that the content would be trusted editorially?

If you knew of a blogger who was part of a system that was paid by an advertiser to write reviews about a product or service that you knew would contain nofollowed links to the core advertiser, yet was allowed to link out to other content to enhance, support or compare the position of whatever it was that was being discussed then wouldn’t you try and use this knowledge? Furthermore, if you were an advertiser that understood the game, then again what would you do too? Would you seriously just sit idly by and not use that knowledge to help your cause?

Clever content creators create all sorts of value for their sponsors. Their sponsors are often unseen hiding in the shadows, silently profiting from their works. Amazon, Yahoo, Ebay and any other number of sites you’d care to mention all exist to turn a profit, all exist to benefit themselves or those employed to write or promote them in one way or another. How many of those have at one time or another appeared in the SERPs for competitive keyphrases? Were they there on the basis of being most relevant or did their market dominance and Googles over reliance on link text have an influence instead?

Bloggers themselves are exploited in the millions by the ‘free’ platforms like blogger and wordpress. Content is syndicated and reassembled and plastered with adverts that enhance the bottom line of the likes of Google and Yahoo and any other number of networks that make use of the content. Journalists are paid to push editorial agendas of publishing houses with huge commercial interests and sponsors. Politicians are influenced by commercial interests in subtle often unseen ways that lead to decisions that have massive impacts on the lives of millions of people the world over. The world is a commercial place, commerce doesn’t live in a vacuum, it’s an intrinsic part of all our lives, we all know too that it’s not going to go away either, especially in the online world.

As for Google or search engines and their SERPs. Nothing has changed, it’s as its always been. The SERPs are there to be hit, but you can’t brag about it. You have to play softly softly catchy monkey. Paid posts and reviews play softly softly catchy monkey badly for a few reasons. Most were borne out of or created by people who used search metrics as an advertiser hook. They sold their programs on the basis of the benefits to be had from an external entity unowned by them. They acted as if the 1000lb gorilla wouldn’t really notice their existence and would just allow them to go swimmingly along their merrily merrily way.

Google hack me off too but..

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t like the fact that bloggers have to tread tippy toe and exercise great caution around what they write or how they monetise what they do. I don’t like the whole dictatorial attitude that is expressed by those who leech off of and make millions from the backs of those whose content they use. I don’t like the fact that they are now influencing the very shape and fabric of the time space continuum Internet by way of nofollow and adsense based content, I don’t like a whole list of other things either, yet I’ve ran out of time so I’ll leave the list at that for now.

I’d just say in closing that there is a radar and you have to keep below it. Once spotted you have to have the right markings and paperwork too, otherwise you just get shot out of the sky. If you want to get those markings and paperwork then it isn’t so difficult. You just got to stand in line or know a few people on the inside of the bureaucracy who can help you get them; suffice to say you need a little money to do that.

Making money from your Blog – What is your favourite method?

Blogging for profit?

Ok, not everyone wants to monetise their blog – some people equate money and blogging as some kind of dirty word almost. Some people still like to write for the hell of it and couldn’t really give a rats arse for any kind of monetary payback. Their payback is the reward that comes from getting people involved or simply venting their spleen on a topic near and dear to them.

Its not for me to pour scorn on any money hating anti capitalistic mindset, we can all rant and rave about market inequalities and the evils of money until the cows come home, yet nothing changes the reality of life, which is, we all need the stuff and to have a productive life, we tend to get out and find ways of acquiring it. The easier that task the better no? why work for the man, when you don’t have to, or at least not as hard maybe.

Earning yourself a passive income stream

Blogging and monetising that writing is an excellent way of creating passive streams of income. Passive streams of income are like bank accounts with lots of dosh in them. You get interest monthly and you don’t have to do very much for it.

Getting affiliate cheques every month is quite a pleasant feeling, trust me. 😀
Blogging for profit isn’t like traditional methods of selling ones labour. You can actually own the means of production, which is you, yourself and sell yourself as that product. Decide upon how much you charge, how much you are paid, when you take your breaks. IOW, it really has the potential to free you from traditional forms of work. Your traffic and authority levels can truly give you what you need. All you have to do is do the leg work and build something of value.

Blog Optimisation Experimentation and Cultivating your Niche

So, having tentatively established that there isn’t anything really evil about making money from your blog/s I just wanted to share some of the programs Ive used and see if I could get a little feedback from people with regard to their own experiences.

We all know that there are lots of ways of monetising ones blog. I’ve blogged on quite a few programs and have shared some of my experiences and gave opinions too. I’ve dabbled with paid reviews, and have recently added the buy me a beer plugin too, just to see if anyone actually uses the thing. After all it cost me $0.00 and took me 22 seconds to install. If I get one beer bought for me, I’m quids in 😀

It is very much early days for me. Many of my past web monetisation efforts have been in affiliate market sectors outside of the blogosphere. This is kinda cool though really, because Ive learnt a great deal about what it takes to get traffic and getting people to click through to stuff and funneling them along various paths which is absolutely central to any monetisation aim. I’m continually experimenting with the blogs I use and the methods I employ too, you have to, why wouldn’t you even, call it BO (Blog Optimisation) without any stink.

It’s a well known fact that some markets are definitely more lucrative than others. People also tend to guard their niches with their lives, as a saturated niche becomes that much harder to play in and compete with.

Every niche is different. Different people interact in different ways dependant upon what they are after. If you can ID those behaviours and tap them in to what you do and how and why you do it, then that’s a very good start in understanding what they are all about; as obvious as it is to say, it needs to be said nonetheless knowing your readership and giving them what they want is a key component in successfully monetising your blogging efforts. Sure, you can’t be all things to all men, but you can certainly be the populist and appeal to your greatest constituency.

Blog Monetization feedback

I put up a little poll recently and some of my readers have clicked on the ‘other’ option. Perhaps I should have added other options that covered the various sponsored blog type options that exist. Sponsored Reviews , Pay Per Post, ReviewMe then there is the buy-me-a beer thing that seems to have gotten people chin wagging all over the shop, ebay and Amazon, auctionAds, Azoogle and a few more I’ve probably forgotten about already.

I don’t have one to hand, but it would be kind of useful to have a list of all the various programs out there today and hear of peoples experiences with them. None of those check out my affiliate link type posts please, I’ll delete those in a heartbeat, but if you do have some experience of a program that you’ve used and are really happy with or sad with even! Then I’d love to hear all about it.

Maybe a quick Pros and Cons type comment even.


Bidvertiser Review (Sponsored)

This is a sponsored review of the bidvertiser advertising program. It contains affiliate links to the bidvertiser program.

I signed up with bidvertiser after reading Andy Beard’s Bidvertiser Review I even blogged on it myself too.

You can sign up as an Advertiser, a Publisher or Both. They also have a referal program where you can earn up to $50 for new publisher sign ups and $25 for new advertiser signup, both of which are conditional upon performance.

Advertising with Bidvertiser

I must confess I haven’t yet used the advertiser product, so can’t really comment on its effectiveness. I’m sure people will be able to find out info on this with a quick Google.

Publishing and Bidvertiser

I wasn’t too impressed with the backend system at bidvertiser. I briefly touched on those here . To elaborate further, my biggest issue was with what for me is just too clunky a system.

As a blogger I just want a quick and easy way of getting ads on my sites and getting paid. When you log in to the publisher backend you are auto opted in to a long list of advertisers. I didn’t enjoy having to go through 240 + advertisers disapproving sites I didn’t really feel were relevant. It was a royal PITA. I think a better system would give me an option to enable myself to opt out of all advertisers and then selectively choose which ones I wanted to allow. Sure, some people might not care what ads they show, probably because they have a broader reach or appeal yet for a tech blog like this I see little value for myself, my readers or potential advertisers in showing links to sites like Russian Brides 4 Marriage’ and ‘Casino’ and ‘Rehab, Drug and Alcohol’ . To make matters worse, once having been through what can only be described as the rigmarole of a disapproval process. I then found I had to go back and constantly tweak and add and disapprove as new advertisers came on board.

I really don’t have time to mess around like that,so for that reason and that reason alone I decided to remove the ad code.

Would I reconsider? Sure, yes of course I would, but before I did they’d have to improve upon how it currently works. I would like to see.

  • Catergorised ad channels – would allow me to more specific about the kinds of ad channels I wanted to show. If I run a tech site then I want tech related ads. If I run a drug rehab site then again the same kind of thing applies. I don’t see the point in showing ads to Russian Brides for Marriage websites as in 99.9% of cases very few people who read a tech blog are really that interested in such things. I want to give them ads that are in the very least somewhat related in some way.
  • Minimum bid rate options – What is the point in me showing ads from a network that are going to pay me such a base minimum. Niche blogs target all manner of sectors and themes. Different markets have different levels of participation and therefore profitability. A blog that deals with finance or gambling as a subject matter would ideally wish to display adverts of related content. Ads in this sector tend tomore expensive than those of other sectors due in the main to the high returns that can be made from serious program participants. A casino affiliate can earn great commisions, as can casino operators too, simply due to the high level of spend by the average new player. Why would any blogger blogging on the topic of gambling want to show a low bid 0.05c ad to a site talking about unrelated stuff, when a relevant ad could perform so much better. By having a minimum bid option, a site that decided on a benchmark level, could work from that base and if so wished exclude further as appropriate.
  • Opt in to advertiser options – I alluded to this above and understand that as a program bidvertiser wants to get their advertisers ads out there in the space, but jees, do please also appreciate that not all of your publishers are that carefree with who they link to or show even. If at least an option existed to automagically opt out of all, then this would be very much the welcome time saver. Publishers could then look at the list and selectively include whomever they saw fit. I’d like to be able to also have a a checkbox that prevented new advertisers from appearing as well as maybe an email alert otion if ‘ads opted in to ‘ fell below a certain threshold.Update:

    My bad. I have since noticed that there is an option to manually approve each new ad, and filter out sites you may not wish to publish; such as your competitors. I hadn’t noticed this though as it wasn’t immediately apparent.

    They also allow you to contact them and request inclusion in different categories. This domain was assigned to which to me is pretty restrictive Computer & Internet –> Internet Services –> Search Engines I dont get why if this is my classification I had ads for all manner of unrelated areas but hey…

Bidvertiser Referal Program

I think that the referal program has the potential to be a very good thing but feel that it could be improved somewhat. They offer up to $25 for advertiser sign ups and up to $50 for new publisher sign ups.

Whilst the lure of $25 and $50 per new sign up is on the face of things attractive, when you look at it further you do realise that once these thresholds are met, your bucks stop there.

It would be both cool and I’m sure affordable if there was some additional ongoing passive stream. Maybe some tiered bonuses relative to either advertiser spend or publisher income generation.

If bidvertiser are seriously looking to grow their publisher base then IMO they could do far worse then step up to the plate and offer its partners serious ongoing incentives.


On the whole I think bidvertiser has a lot of potential.

With a sufficient publisher and advertiser base it could obviously do very well indeed.

The success of Google, YPN, Adbrite and Kontera to name but a few are a living testament to this. I can’t vouch for the effectiveness of their ads from either an advertiser or publisher perspective. In many ways they look very similar to most of the other players in the marketplace and could certainly do with some additional formatting options. I think there are as witnessed by some of the advertisers who are using them, some excellent opportunities for the arbitragers of this world to come in to programs like this and exploit some of the low cost offerings that are to be had there.

Its obvious to conclude that a successful program of this type has to live up to the aims and expectations of all its constituents and users, with a little bit of work Bidvertiser IMO, could well do this.

update :

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