Thanks, Matt… and the TLA affiliate link in this post makes me suspect the real reason for this particular piece of link bait was not to enlighten the issue.
My initial reaction was surprise that somebody I’ve never met, or even had an email conversation with, would publicly question my motives for making a post. Later on my thoughts turned to the age old rule that for every person who states their opinion there are 100 more who thought the same but kept quiet.
The comment has had me thinking a lot about how bloggers make money and whether any monetization strategies are considered ethical anymore. Bloggers who include Adsense within posts are sometimes criticised but not always for ethical reasons. Using Adsense is fine by me but what happens when a search marketing blog running Adsense writes about the current state of the “mesothelioma lawyers” SERPS?
Is using Adsense any different to affiliate links? If my post about Text Link Ads had included Adsense and triggered a PPC ad for TLA would that be any more ethical than the affiliate link? Some of you might be thinking that Adsense offers full disclosure but bearing in mind 99% of web users don’t realise Adsense units are paid adverts is this relevant? Is their any difference apart between them apart from the method by which the publisher gets paid?
Personally I don’t mind if a blog has affiliate links, banner ads and Adsense as long as its well designed, easy to read and most importantly has something worth reading. However, what I think doesn’t matter as much as what everybody else in the blogosphere thinks.
Affiliate links in the content area of posts are hated by some, tolerated by others and not noticed by most. I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the links myself even before spending today thinking about the issue. In future the posts on BlogStorm will be an affiliate link free zone.
What do you think? Do affiliate links undermine credibility? Do sites write posts just to add affiliate links? Do sites write posts to target high paying Adsense terms? Does any of this matter as long as you enjoy the blog?