A few weeks back I wrote a post titled No-one links to the linkers. It had quite a few comments left on it but one (it was one of the last ones left) caught my attention above the others and as I read it I knew instantly that I could not possibly leave it as a comment hidden away on an old post. It was left by Tony Lawrence (who comments here as pcunix) who has given me permission to ‘promote’ it to be a guest post here on the main blog. Here it is:
My name is Tony Lawrence and I’m a recovering linker.
Like most of us, it started out with a friendly “links page” – just a little something extra I added to my site to list other related sites of value. Today we’d call that a “blogroll” but back then it was just a “links page”, and every site had one. Not wanting to be different, I had one too.
As time went on, I added a lot of content to my site. I mean a LOT. I worked hard at it and really made it a very useful resource for my niche. I built significant traffic and although I really paid no attention to such things back then, I started getting a lot of affection from the big search engines. Life was good.
Then one June morning in 2003, I discovered Adsense. “Cool”, I thought, “I’ll
make a couple of extra bucks from the site. Why not?” I applied, was approved, and started running ads. Cool beans, I thought.
Imagine my surprise when I woke up the next morning and found $40.53 in my Adsense account. Wow. It wasn’t millions, but it wasn’t just pocket change either.
The next day was $51.95. There were $60.00 days, even $70.00 and $80.00 days. This Adsense stuff was great.
I wanted more.
Well, how do you get more? Obviously, more content. So I stepped up the pace of my writing. Where I had been posting perhaps a few times a week, I now wanted to post a few times a day. Many times a day, lots of posts, because posts carry ads and ads mean money. Post, post, post.
But these weren’t like my my previous posts. Oh, some were, sure. But a lot of them were just empty links: “Hey, look at this:” posts.
What was I thinking? Hours spent searching the web, often stumbling into seedy and disreputable sites trying to find something to link to. It got harder to find anything of interest, and my standards slipped. I’d wake up in the morning and stare bleary eyed into the mirror: “I can’t believe you linked to that”, I’d say.
But I had. I was ashamed, but I could not stop myself. Links, links and more links. A long chain of empty posts that were really nothing at all. My once proud site was starting to look a bit sploggish at the edges and I hated it. But the driving need for post after post after post kept me doing it.
One morning I looked in the mirror and said “No more”. No more would I post empty links. If I didn’t have useful content to add, I wouldn’t link at all. My posting frequency would suffer, but it had to be done. I had to return my site to quality standards, and I was going to do that no matter how hard it was. Cold turkey.
I was done as of that day. No more empty links.
It is hard. Sometimes I see a juicy web page that really is relevant to my niche but I have nothing to say about it other than “Look!”. My fingers hesitate, wanting to type in that href. I take a deep breath and steel myself: I will not link without additional value. I will not link without additional value. I will not link..
Well, Adsense isn’t what it used to be anyway. A good day is $40.00, and a lot of days are in the thirties. Weekends plunge even lower. It’s still nice money, of course, but I don’t think about it as much anymore. I think about content, and value, and that’s what I should be thinking about, isn’t it?
I shook the empty link habit. You can too.
Thanks Tony – you can read Tony’s blog here.