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SEO vs affiliate programs, follow vs nofollow links

 
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I remember listening to a podcast a while back where Paul mentioned that something people could do to promote stuff they like would be to create a blog and link to those things. By doing this the page rank of the linked article (or whatever) would be boosted.

I figured that would be something easy enough to do, and while I was at it maybe I could throw in some affiliate links to help pay for the hosting.

However, I was doing a little reading and it sounds like search some search engines algorithms don't "like" affiliate links. If I were to include affiliate links, would that severely undermine my attempt to promote things I like?

I read a little about "follow" and "nofollow" links. My understanding is that a follow link is just a regular link that search engines will count for the purposes of ranking pages. After some people abused this system (spamming blog comments with links, filling Wikipedia with links, etc.) nofollow links were developed. Nofollow links aren't counted by search engines for the purposes of ranking pages.

So, would posting links to things I want to promote as "follow" links and affiliate links as "nofollow" links get around this problem? Or are the two goals of boosting page ranks and making a little money mutually exclusive?

Is this something I even need to worry about?
 
pollinator
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Tyler - without trying to put you off this is probably not the best forum for technical questions about SEO. The arguments about follow/no-follow and link spamming were big issues 5 or 10 years ago, but the search engines have got wise to this kind of manipulation. The expectation that you can throw up a simple site and hope to get income from it without lots of work and effort is unrealistic.

That is not to say that web based income is not attainable, it is simple not EASY any more. After all, we are in an age where everyone has a network connection and the capability to upload a website. The money is there, but you need to rise above the masses to draw both visitors and then to generate income. Simple affiliate links and paid ads can get some income, but they rely on huge traffic flows.

For sites with less traffic you need to be looking to sell a product direct to your visitors - it could be a digital product like a video or a book, or it could be a physical product.
 
Tyler Miller
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Michael Cox wrote:Tyler - without trying to put you off this is probably not the best forum for technical questions about SEO. The arguments about follow/no-follow and link spamming were big issues 5 or 10 years ago, but the search engines have got wise to this kind of manipulation. The expectation that you can throw up a simple site and hope to get income from it without lots of work and effort is unrealistic.


Thanks Michael! You don't have to worry about putting me off.

My main concern isn't making money, but providing a boost to other pages by linking them. My understanding is that a page's ranking is partly determined by the number of other pages linking to it. So if I were to write a blog post about Paul's diatomaceous earth article out at Richsoil and put a link to it in my blog post, Paul's article would get a (very small) boost in people's search results. Is this still the case, or is my information outdated? I'm not just posting the links hundreds of times, I'm just including a few in honest blog posts in hopes that they won't be flagged as spam by search engine algorithms.

I'm not looking to make a significant amount of money with the affiliate links, that isn't the primary purpose of the blog I'm setting up. It would be cool if eventually the affiliate links would cover the hosting costs. Do you think that is very likely to happen?
 
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Since I'm a little limited right now and how I am able to provide an answer this is going to be in chunks.

I want to say that talking about SEO in this forum totally works. True it is rather technical, but a lot of things we talked about our Technical and a more biological sense. This definitely applies to the things relative to this forum.

No follow links were quite the big deal many years ago. There's still a big deal, but for a different reason. For example, it has been proven that if you use a no follow link to something Google does use it. I think it just doesn't put as much value into it as a regular link. I'm going to just guess that the value of a regular link is about 10 times greater.

I very much like what Matt cutts once said... and I am definitely paraphrasing here... If you make a site that is delicious for a human being it will be delicious to Google. There are some exceptions - like putting text in an image won't be viewable by Google.

Overall, if you were creating a new website or a new blog I think the important thing to do is to focus on your content and how enjoyable it is for your readers. Make sure you follow a path that you think is cool and do not follow a path that somebody else tells you is cool - let them go make their own website.
 
paul wheaton
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This is the residual income stream forum. So it is perfectly valid to talk about attempting to develop income streams. And I'm here to say a message that is contrary to a message given above: I think it is rather easy to develop an income from this kind of stuff. The important thing is that it will be a tiny income. And as I have pointed out in this forum many time, if you can come up with $5 per month that works out to about $600 every 10 years. So if it took you 2 hours to put that together, you effectively earned $300 per hour. The magic shortly follows, if you do this 2 or 3 times per week then in a few years you will have something similar to as if you put a million dollars in the bank and you are living off of the interest.

The first step is to get any income at all. Even $0.20.

Yes, there are a lot of people that are doing this. And there are ten thousand times more people that are not doing this.

And there is more... Misc forum is in a collection of forums which are about permaculture. Permaculture has about 500 niches. As career people and marketing people will tell you... Find your niche. I bet you can find a lot of niches that have not been touched yet. Or have been barely touched.

Spend some time having fun developing a website. When you are in the mood, attempt to develop the SEO. When you are in the mood, attempt to draw more users to your site.

Overall, I think that this is all worth doing. For many people this will lead to a career that is far more enjoyable than the job they might currently have.
 
paul wheaton
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If you make a link to my diatomaceous earth article it does give it a little bit more Google love. Not as much Google love as it may have gotten 10 years ago. But a little.

The Google algorithms have evolved a lot. Mostly As mentioned earlier, because bad guys did bad things. They learned how to fool the Google algorithms.

So now the thing I suggest is create content before studying SEO.

I am trying to pull together a lot of permaculture resources that charge a fair price per unit and offer a 40% affiliate fee. This way, thousands of permaculture aligned websites might be able to someday have enough money coming in that they could try permaculture and homesteading away from the city.
 
Tyler Miller
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Thanks Paul! I'll not worry about it then and just focus on posting more cool stuff.
 
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I have no idea what the answer would be to your original question, but I agree with Paul that it's probably the wrong question.
An accurate answer would require a knowledge of the current search algorithms used by search engines. These algorithms are kept secret, and changed often, to prevent exactly what you're hoping to do: control search-engine effects through some mechanism other than readers' genuine interest.

If you're still looking for ideas, more generally...

If you want to build a website into an income-generating opportunity, research some tools and features you might want, and look at whether they are easy to integrate.

There are free and cheap platforms for websites.
However, they support different things. There seem to be "sets" of services that mutually support one another.

I have a Google Sites website, which I have not really overhauled in something like 8 years. It is based on a template, only approves certain "gadgets" and won't let me do custom HTML code, and uses "nofollow" links almost exclusively. This makes it hard for me to, for example, put up a simple form for my mailing list that uses custom HTML. So now that I have an outside mailing list server, it's hard to get people from my website to sign up for the mailing list.

I also have a blog at ErnieAndErica.blogspot.com, which is a little easier to put up a mailing list signup, but it's still Google and doesn't like my mailing list's form. So I have an underlined link to click, not an integrated form.

At some point, I might need to look through the Google development gadgets, figure out which mailing list they actually support, and switch to that one.

My mailing list has a gadget for Wordpress, but not for Google.

In hindsight, this is kinda like deciding if you want Mac or PC - or Linux - it is going to narrow your options for all sorts of other programs.
Trying to get one to talk to the other can eat up a lot of time, fruitlessly. Seems like I could have avoided it if I knew what to ask when I signed up for these separate, low-cost or free-trial services.

Another thing you might want would be an online store.
Or a "splash page" where you can have people enter their email for special offers and keep them on a mailing list.
Jeff Walker's "Product Launch Formula" website has recommendations for tools and compatible hosts that will support his style of online marketing, if you might want your own website to become a business in itself, or closely tied to your own business.

Developing a dedicated audience for a blog, or through a mailing list, takes consistent attention and interesting content, like Paul says.
If you have good content, you want to be able to build a mailing list or subscriber readers, so you can reach people without them needing to find your website again on their own.

So mailing list integration is one of the hot new features that a website might want. "Splash pages" that ask for their email address, blog updates that can be posted via social networking.
Some sites do it in spammy ways, some do it in ways that feel acceptable, some are customizable. It all comes back to whether the content being offered has genuine value, and whether you respect your readers enough to anticipate which options they will appreciate, tolerate, or refuse to tolerate.

I am on maybe 3 mailing lists that I regularly read, and maybe a dozen more that I regularly delete without reading, but don't unsubscribe because I know the person and might have time some day. I routinely get spammed when someone else signs up for a mailing list and uses my address "by accident," and I report some of these as spam even if there is an "unsubscribe" option. You don't want to be identified as a spam site, or a low-value website. And that will be determined in part by your readers' responses, which is what the search engines are all striving to detect.

You can provide genuine value with glossy pics and video teasers - or you can provide it with short and honest recommendations that lead to juicy info somewhere else.
Paul's daily-ish and Geoff Lawton's video updates have very different styles, but they both have genuine content that makes it worth sitting through the self-promotion.
(I am thinking of Geoff's dramatic jungle-drums heroic theme, here - doesn't add much for me, the 3rd video I watch, but I will sit through it. Paul's "tiny ad" at the bottom is much less annoying.)

Website, email, and online store integration is pain in the butt to work out after the fact.
If you can get that right from the start, it will help.

And then someone will come along and design another special tool, that only works on some platforms, which is even juicier, and you will wish your website had THAT.
Nobody can anticipate all the future changes - but if you start by picking platforms that work well together, you will at least avoid inadvertently putting yourself in an 8-years-behind-the-curve position like me, when you have the benefit of my hindsight. Good content is easier to generate if your platform is easy to use. Less wasted time = more good content.

So I agree with Paul - good content matters more than hacking algorithms. Market hacking is not appreciated by the search engines no matter what's being marketed, and algorithms change.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rmhbuildersguide/the-rocket-mass-heater-builders-guide
A lot of affiliate programs are getting smarter about making non-obvious affiliate links too - my Kickbooster links are pretty random, and seem to work in a lot of different ways.
Here is the signup page for my Kickbooster: https://rocket-mass-book.kickbooster.me
and here is the Booster link it generated for me, to advertise my own project: http://61lsi5jh.kckb.st/
(note: I actually lose money by paying Kickbooster to pay me a commission on sales, so I don't use this link much; I mostly give out the main campaign page, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rmhbuildersguide/the-rocket-mass-heater-builders-guide
I just signed up with a separate email as my own Booster, to see how it would work, before asking friends to become boosters. It seems to work well; the links can be used on websites, Facebook, or wherever, and they get you directly to the campaign so it's a seamless process.)

Maybe a search algorithm will recognize "kckb.st" as an affiliate program some day. But I bet they will buy another domain or two and keep themselves as low-profile as possible.

My Scubbly affiliate ID was discreet, but not deceitful.
Search engines that truncate longer links will leave off the "affid" term.

Compare with an old-school affiliate link from my publisher, who are still manually tabulating pre-orders and processing affiliate applications by e-mail:
http://www.newsociety.com/affil.mvc?Affil=ERWI&Page=../Books/R/The-Rocket-Mass-Heater-Builder-s-Guide
This affiliate link creates a short delay as it connects to the book page, and when it truncates, it includes the "affil" term.
It is obvious to search engines and my readers that it is an affiliate link.

In all three cases, since I value my readers, I am going to give full disclosure about affiliate links where space allows. "Using this affiliate link to make your purchases helps support our site. Thanks!"
But for shorter platforms like Twitter, you may not have time to say all that. Those shorter links are pretty cool.

That's more than enough side notes on a finished topic!

-Erica
 
Tyler Miller
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Thanks for all the detail, Erica!

I'm especially happy you replied because somehow I hadn't heard about your Kickstarter being launched and I would've missed out.
 
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Tyler:

Hi, I have been working on a web site for 8 years (I am not going to put a back link on this post). What all these people are saying is good and what Paul is saying about "creating good content" is best.

On my web site, I have found that I make a lot of claims and refer to a lot of other resources that exist on the internet. And yes, I think I say some things that people want me to prove. Therefore, for a lot of my pages I have a "Reference" section. In that section I put in clickable sources to the claims made in the body of my pages. These links go straight to the web sites (no affiliate links there) and not to books, because people will not read books if it is not in front of them.

In the body of the page I usually do not say something like "The sky is blue and it says it here" . I would say, "The sky is blue because a Scientist named Reighle (sp?) discovered that light scatters in our atmosphere to the forth power of its energy". Then in the "Reference" section of the page, I would have a reference to a web site that talks all about this type of scattering.

Google (and other crawlers) counts that as a "delicious" back link, and you do not spend a bunch of words proving what you said is true. And the reader does not have to read 500 more words (on some other web site) to know how and why light scatters in our atmosphere. As long as you say the key point as to why you bring it up in the body of the page, people will go to the "Reference" section if they want to know more or if they want to challenge you on your content.

With that you can create great defensible content giving a lot of other people (and companies) boosts by bots. The affiliate links are on the side bars where they belong.

 
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