Some of you may have noticed that until today there was a link in my left sidebar for Credit Land (link now removed at request of Credit Land). After reading the recent chatter on the trouble that JC Penney got into for buying links and then finding numerous statements from Google’s Matt Cutts that they will punish sites that sell links which pass their Google Page Rank I decided to take the link down.
To explain, Google looks at the Page Rank of sites that link into any given site as part of their search algorithm so they are sensitive to attempts to manipulate results by paying for links. In a touch more detail, links from sites which have a high page rank are particularly useful in getting the linked-to-site to rank better on Google, and hence SEO folk reach out to sites like this one and try to buy links. When I took the link I knew I was taking a chance with Google, but thought it was unlikely I would get noticed. However, it looks like they have noticed. My Page Rank has fallen from a peak of 7 or 8 out to 10 to 5/10 today which will be reducing the positions my posts appear in Google and reducing my traffic.
I’ve had the link up for the past couple of years and given all the money to charity. I won’t disclose the precise amount because Credit Land probably don’t want to the amount they pay disclosed, but I will say it is in the low £000’s. Whilst that isn’t a huge amount of money it has gone to local charities where I live in North London which are small enough that the amounts received has made a difference. The beneficiaries have been CARIS which runs a nightshelter for homeless people every winter and Conewood Nursery in Highbury which provides a subsidised service for families that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to have their kids looked after during the day.
They are both good causes and I’m grateful to all of you for driving the Google Page Rank higher and making the donations possible by reading and linking to this blog.
I’ve experimented with a few forms of advertising over 4.5 years I’ve been writing this blog, including paid links, affiliate links and Adsense, but the paid link was the only one that generated a meaningful amount of money without requiring me to plaster ads all over the site. Now that I’ve taken that link down we are back to an ad free site, which shows how difficult it is to monetise blogs with the level of traffic I get (15-20k uniques per month, 200-250k page views). I’m still open to ideas though.