This is an opinion post. It is not based on fact, case studies or anything. It is something I’ve been thinking about and have no real answer for so I’m looking for feedback, opinions, etc… I would normally write to the tools or scripts first, but I don’t think there is an unbiased answer for this one.
As of now I do recommend auto-monetization scripts and tools to some Bloggers and website owners that have specific needs for their websites. With that said, I’m not currently willing to put them on my own sites. The reason is that I’m concerned that with the larger these tools get, there could be a potential negative effect on your site’s ability to rank. (If you want to skip to the meat of this post, scroll down to the heading that starts with tools promising PR….)
Could Automonetization Scripts Hurt Your SEO?
I’ve been thinking a lot about adding one of the many automonetization tools or scripts to my older blogs. The reason is that I have error messages coming through affiliate networks and crawlers that there are focused on old or broken links that are still receiving clicks. The thought is that if I’m going to spend time fixing them, I’d either point them into Amazon which will be around for a long time, or I’d need to go with direct no follow links and use a script to monetize them so I don’t have to do this again in the future.
These scripts allow a webmaster to install a small piece of code on their websites. The code takes over and turns all of your direct do follow and no follow links into affiliate link for the merchant’s who have them in their affiliate programs (with some exceptions). If the tool or script you’re using goes under, you can install another and not have to do a ton of work to replace links again. That’s only one benefit if you don’t have time to go direct with a merchant or through an affiliate network.
For a while now I’ve recommended that bloggers and affiliates use these tools because I have friends who love them and they solve some time consuming problems. I haven’t personally used them, and I never let them in my affiliate programs when I have the choice. (There are a ton of reasons I’ve already mentioned on this blog).
They can be great for webmasters because they save you time, money and can make up lost revenue (even if you have to share the commissions with them.) To me the trade off for time saving and the little amount from sharing commissions instead of going direct is a win for older sites, so I’m all for it. But I am also a bit nervous to place the scripts or tools on my own sites, so I haven’t yet.
Once I really started to think about the potential negative SEO effects they could have, the more hesitant I became to add the scripts.
If you look through the history of backlinks and SEO, you’ll see a ton of places that used to be easy for a website to get backlinks from. Many of those sites that were used to acquire links and the sites that received them got wiped out. Article directories, link farms, web rings, paid placement, some blogger networks, etc… The main reason is that they had a few things in common. They gave free backlinks or paid backlinks with no work and there was a way to map them in a pattern.
In some cases the sites that gave the links got wiped out and with others it was the websites using these resources for links that took the hit. Matt Cutts talks about using article directories as an example in the video below. If you go to your favorite search engine and look up the other types of places that people used to build links from, you’ll find other examples of when they became bad places for links as well.
Now you may be asking, how would an automonetization script be anything similar to these? Below I give a few examples of this and why I’m cautious about adding them to my site. Until I get feedback from SEOs I trust, you guys who read this site, etc… I’m going to hold off. At the same time, I will currently say they are still a good option for other bloggers, as long as you watch your traffic carefully. [Continue reading]