Tom Mangan writes about a receiving an inquiry from an outdoor clothing company interested in setting up an affiliate program with his blog:
I can’t imagine I’ve got enough readers to make it worth the trouble but even if I did, a commission set-up strikes me as problematic.
I completely agree, Tom. It’s just not worth the bother, let alone the chance of sacrificing your credibility.
I got a similar email a few months ago from a guy who said he represented Lands’ End. He said:
“I was wondering what the policy was for adding links to your blog, and if you would be willing to add a link to Lands’ End. We are willing to discuss sponsorship opportunities as well.”
Just as Tom reacted, when I received that message I thought my blog was too small and lacked enough influence for Lands’ End to gain anything from a link.
The offers Tom and I received recently are different than the ones I wrote about in May. In that post I mentioned several requests I received to write about certain sites. Of those requests, I found one particularly bothersome. It offered a chance to win a trip if I wrote about the site.
Those earlier inquires were intended to build “buzz” about a site. But the latest ones are just looking for links. Sure, those companies would love to sell the products that are mentioned on our sites, but that’s not what they’re after.
They’re looking for Google juice.
Link traffic is the new currency of the Internet, thanks to Google. The value of that currency is called Google juice, or officially by Google, pagerank. That’s the position where each site appears in a search using a particular keyword or phrase.
There are ways to determine that value, though they are inexact and the results vary widely. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I checked the value of my site at Linkvendor.com. Its calculator said a link on my home page is worth $3.50.
Interestingly, the calculator said a link on Tom’s home page has the same value. I’m surprised by that, considering he is much more active with his blogging. He does a better job generating comments, which presumably is a reflection of higher traffic.
Compare our value of $3.50 to the supposed value of a link on the home page of the New York Times: $1,536.31. Is nytimes.com 439 times more valuable than our sites? Who knows.
I don’t know anything about the methodology or validity of this information, but I’m sure Lands’ End, Patagonia, and all the other companies seeking links on blogs know the value of their pagerank. They also know that cultivating a little goodwill with bloggers, thereby gaining more links, can go a long way to boosting that pagerank.
And that’s what it comes down to.
I never bothered replying to the guy who asked about linking to Lands’ End, just as I’ve never replied to any other request like it. I don’t intend to get into the business of endorsements and blogging for dollars.
On the other hand, I am looking for an ultralight (under 10 ounces) rain jacket and all the ones I’ve seen so far cost well over $200. I wonder how many links that’s worth.