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Google AdSense Forum

    
Does Presence of AdSense Inhibit Inbound Links?
The degrading factor
menial




msg:3441618
 5:08 am on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Being a webmaster, do you freely, without a second thought, link to a website with Adsense or similar contextual ads on them? Now I realize I would do it only if the website has extremely good content (10 out of 10) for my visitors. But that hardly ever happens. On the other hand, I would link to a website that only has good content (5-9) -- but does not include any ads.

I feel I'm not alone in this approach.

It seems Adsense or YPN degrade the true value and potential of the website in the long term. That's why, it's harder for Adsense publishers to get good rankings in organic search results because the "natural votes" are missing.

 

mayest




msg:3441622
 5:20 am on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I disagree. As long as the ads aren't overwhelming (popups, flashing ads, etc) and the apparent main purpose of the site, then I pay no attention to them. I'll give a link if I think that the content is worth it, whether there are ads or not.

Good content comes at a price, and having a few non-intrusive ads seems like a pretty low price to me.

jomaxx




msg:3441623
 5:22 am on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Personally, yes I do, but it's got nothing to do with "Adsense or similar contextual ads". Banner ads or popups or interstitials or affiliate links have the exact same effect. And don't even get me started on mandatory subscription or registration sites.

The harder someone is trying to monetize their website, the more carefully I will evaluate that site before linking to it. I'm sure that's a common reaction.

zett




msg:3441636
 5:48 am on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

When linking, I do not care whether or not a site is trying to monetize. I know that very few sites out there are run by enthusiasts who do all the hard work for free.

To me it matters most, whether the content is unique and useful and adds something that my visitors can not get from me for whatever reason. I also do not care about backlinks. You like my content and style? Then please link to me. :-)

And, no, from looking at my logs I see that plenty of sites are linking to me, despite of Adsense being present. Having said that, my Adsense ads are not blended and do not trick visitors into thinking they are content/navigation. They can be clearly identified as ads.

koan




msg:3441708
 8:23 am on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I won't link to a site that uses adsense in a *spammy* way (two squares of ads before getting to the content, or skyscrapers on both sides and some Kontera program... come on, that's too much), otherwise, it may penalizes the site a bit in my evaluation, but not drastically. Of course, pop ups are out of the question, or heavily promotional text for some affiliate program. But if I receive a request by email that doesn't seem automatically generated and the person makes a good case by showing why my users might be interested, which means that person is actually familiar with my site, I'll have a look. It will probably go in my pending folder and I might actually provide the link only a few months later when things are slow, but he'll get his chance eventually. I find myself in that person's place when I start something new :)

abbeyvet




msg:3441729
 9:14 am on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

In theory presence or absence of AdSense is not a factor for me, but in practice I don't link to all that many sites with AdSense.

Given the choice between linking to similar quality information on two sites I'll link to the one that is the best resource - that's not just related to the content, it's to do with ease of use, appearance, image and a host of other often subjective things. Where there is a choice between an AdSense and a non-AdSense site, the latter generally wins, though not always and not automatically.

It's not really because of the absense of ads, but because other things let the AdSense page down - all too often the ads are so in your face that the page looks like hell or the information is either hard to get to or overly fragmented.

I think of the presence or absence of AdSense as being a little like genetics. If you have genetic markers for criminality, it doesn't mean you will automatically grow up to be a bank robber, so many other things come into play - environment, upbringing, location, education, etc. You could end up a saint. However if you look at random at 100 people with the same genetic markers there will be more criminals in the bunch than in a random group of people where the markers are absent.

Ditto with AdSense. Because a site has AdSense on it, that doesn't automatically make it a poor site. Obviously, many great sites use AdSense. But if you randomly look at 100 sites with AdSense then you are, in my experience anyway, going to see more poor quality sites in the bunch than you would in a random sampling of 100 sites without.

two squares of ads before getting to the content

That would be a deal breaker for me too - even one large square of ads before content is. If the content would be below the fold on a 600X400 screen, no link. To me that reflects a mindset where ads matter more than content, rather than being there to support content, so unless it has something completely unavailable elsewhere (very rare), I don't even stick around to evaluate what's on offer.

netmeg




msg:3441976
 2:53 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yes, it's all about the quality and relevance for me. But I don't link out to many sites, period.

I did, for the first time, find one rather nasty reference to the ads on my own site; a major newspaper linked to it and said it was extremely useful information, but too bad there were ads. (Of course, there were tons of ads on the newspaper site, but ...) In any event, the ads didn't seem to bother the official state website nor the state senate website (both .govs) which had no problem linking to me.

wrgvt




msg:3442006
 3:21 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have a site with AdSense on every page and it has thousands of back links.

europeforvisitors




msg:3442015
 3:31 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I can think of a travel site that has received unsolicited links from international media, a "Best of the Web" award from a major magazine, and plugs in several important guidebooks despite having AdSense ads on most pages.

As for me, I certainly don't mind linking to sites that use AdSense ads. What I won't do is link to sites where the editorial content is merely filler for pages of AdSense ads, or where the ads have become the tail that wags the dog. There are a lot of those sites around. Some AdSense "publishers" don't know much about their topics or about publishing, and others are simply greedy.

Bottom line: It's the content and the overall packaging of the site--not the presence of AdSense ads per se--that determine whether I link to a site. In my experience, that's the same standard used by major media (which tend to use AdSense or other contextual ads on their own pages).

menial




msg:3442111
 5:07 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

There are a lot of those sites around.

That's my point. Sites with Adsense or other contextual ads on them have two contradicting goals:

1. On one hand, the owner wants his visitors to stay on his site as long and as often as possible;

2. On the other, the site owner wants the visitors to "get out" as quickly as possible by clicking on the ads.

It's really hard to find out which of the above goals are more important for an average site owner. I guess - in most cases - webmasters prefer to have financial needs fulfilled first rather than doing the job for free.

That's why I look very carefully when I consider linking to a site with Adsense on them.

europeforvisitors




msg:3442149
 5:45 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's really hard to find out which of the above goals are more important for an average site owner. I guess - in most cases - webmasters prefer to have financial needs fulfilled first rather than doing the job for free.

The proof is in the pudding--a.k.a. the content. If I'm interested in model trains, I don't care whether MODEL RAILROADING's owner is motivated by a love of model trains or by profit as long as MODEL RAILROADING has the information that I want.

farmboy




msg:3442168
 5:58 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

That's my point. Sites with Adsense or other contextual ads on them have two contradicting goals:
1. On one hand, the owner wants his visitors to stay on his site as long and as often as possible;

2. On the other, the site owner wants the visitors to "get out" as quickly as possible by clicking on the ads.

Assuming 1 & 2 are mutually exclusive, what exactly is the value to a site owner in having visitors stay on the site as long and as often as possible?

FarmBoy

europeforvisitors




msg:3442202
 6:35 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

There's also another possibility:

3) The site owner recognizes that providing third-party resources (both editorial and advertising links) will encourage return visits at every step of the research and buying cycle.

Don't underestimate the power of return visits for both publishers and advertisers: DoubleClick's "Search Before the Purchase" study showed that most users conduct multiple searches or research sessions before making a purchase decision, and a 2007 ScanAlert study indicated that the average delay between a customer's first visit to a Web site and the customer's first purchase has increased 80% (from 19 to 34 hours) since 2005.

BigDave




msg:3442244
 7:16 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't give a second thought to linking to a site with advertising that doesn't get in the way of the content.

If the ads get in the way enough to annoy me, I either won't link or will link with "nofollow" if they are the only resource on the subject.

A banner, a skyscraper and even a small banner between article and comments are all fine with me. Large block ads in the content, popups, animated garbage, ads pushing basic navigation below the fold, and articles broken into too many pieces for the purpose of showing too many ads are what sets off my alarm bells.

I'm sure that my ad block discourages some inbound links, but it doesn't discourage too many people.

I'm also not deceiving myself by thinking about trying to keep people on my site as long as possible. Maybe 1 out of 10 will stay and look around a bit, 1 out of 1000 will register and 1 out of 10,000 will actually post something. The rest come in to find a particular bit of information, then leave once they find (or don't find) it. It's just fine with me if they close the window, click the back button,follow an internal link, or click an ad that hopefully takes them where they want to go.

menial




msg:3442295
 7:54 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Assuming 1 & 2 are mutually exclusive, what exactly is the value to a site owner in having visitors stay on the site as long and as often as possible?

If the website sells a product or provides a service, the value is that the visitor will be interested enough to make a purchase. There's a reason why sites like amazon or ebay created "reviews" or "forums" sections for its users.

menial




msg:3442312
 8:07 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

3) The site owner recognizes that providing third-party resources (both editorial and advertising links) will encourage return visits at every step of the research and buying cycle.

Third-party, paid, random, not unique, spam-prone resources - who really values them? Would you consider linking to a site that includes Adsense ads only and consider them as useful resources?

The value and potential of Adsense ads has been killed by MFA sites. True, Google has made tons of money on MFA sites (and continues to do so), but now it's left with an exhausted product that is not considered an useful resource for most users. Signing a deal with CNN is a desperate act of trying to bring back "Adsense respect" to the users. I'm not sure if it's not too late though.

[edited by: menial at 8:24 pm (utc) on Sep. 5, 2007]

europeforvisitors




msg:3442322
 8:16 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Third-party, paid, random, not unique, spam-prone resources - who really values them? Would you consider linking to a site that includes Adsense ads only and consider them as useful resources?

Nope.

BigDave




msg:3442344
 8:44 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

The value and potential of Adsense ads has been killed by MFA sites.

Is your niche really that bad? No wonder you're bitter.

It's extremely rare for me to see off topic or MFA ads on my sites. When the ads are on target, I do consider them to be an asset to the readers. If I'm on a site reading a recipe recipe that calls for a green chile sauce and there is an ad for the new harvest of green chiles from Hatch New Mexico, there is a very good chance that I will click on that ad and be glad that I did.

menial




msg:3442404
 9:37 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Is your niche really that bad? No wonder you're bitter.

No, actually I have never used Adsense (don't even have my own Adsense publisher ID). I've been considering using it for several months now but it seems the pros don't justify the cons.. Hence my question about linking to website that features Adsense ads.

I just realize that I have never bought nor would never buy anything after I clicked on an Adsense ad - so what is the value to the advertiser? Getting 1 cent per click is about what the true value is. I would be surprised if my average revenue per click was much higher than that.

europeforvisitors




msg:3442464
 10:46 pm on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've been considering using it for several months now but it seems the pros don't justify the cons.. Hence my question about linking to website that features Adsense ads.

Most major media sites use AdSense or something like it. (NYTimes.com and Washingtonpost.com are two such sites that I visit every day.)

I just realize that I have never bought nor would never buy anything after I clicked on an Adsense ad - so what is the value to the advertiser?

Maybe you aren't their prospect. :-) Seriously, advertisers spend billions of dollars per year on AdSense, and it's a direct-response medium that allows advertisers to track their ROI (return on investment), so they wouldn't be spending the money it if it didn't pay off.

Getting 1 cent per click is about what the true value is. I would be surprised if my average revenue per click was much higher than that.

That may be true for some topics, some types of content, or some audiences. Many publishers earn far more than that, however. If you're publishing a site for an audience of people who are researching ways to spend their money, for example, you're likely to earn more than if you're publishing a site for Britney Spears fans or hitchhikers. In the AdSense world, as in the world of print and broadcast advertising, audience motivation has a lot to do with ad rates.

ken_b




msg:3442507
 12:04 am on Sep 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

EFV pretty well summed up my thinking on this issue.

What I won't do is link to sites where the editorial content is merely filler for pages of AdSense ads, or where the ads have become the tail that wags the dog.

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