Is Quality Content Needed To Make Money?

I first published this post under a different title almost 3 years ago (Jan 17, 2007 @ 6:55), but over the last couple of days it has become specifically relevant.
At the time Jack Humphreys was offering a training program combined with high end blog hosting called “Authority Site Center” which was the successor to his previous offering, “Content Desk”.
First of all I was just going to post it with a quick introductory paragraph, then I decided it really needed some additional examples.

A couple of days ago Darren over at Problogger highlighted why he didn’t feel good about a specific type of Make Money Blogging training product.

Even though it wasn’t mentioned in Darren’s post, it was quite clear from various references in the post that he was referring to Jack’s latest offering Blog Success.

I am going to turn this on its head a little as I spent a few hours browsing around various B5Media blogs. B5Media is being highlighted as Darren was a founder, and his primary role was training the bloggers, though I am not sure about his current involvement or influence on content strategy.

I understand that they have been going through a lot of mass consolidation of their blogs, and there are tons of redirects from one domain to another, and my taste in content may be different to the general public.

Thus I thought the best way to judge overall content quality would be to use retweets, as recorded by

I am using Topsy as from what I have seen they at least handle internal 301 redirects fairly well, although they don’t seem to do the same for when content gets moved between domains – Tweetmeme doesn’t even handle small changes in permalinks. on Topsy on Topsy on Topsy
Bizzia seems to have been recently consolidated into Everyjoe

I also went through a number of their celebrity blogs which haven’t been consolidated, but didn’t see anything that suggested a different emphasis, level of quality or audience engagement.

Only BlissTree seems to have really knocked anything “out of the park” since B5 Media had their site consolidation – wait a moment, that was a post from 2006 on the effect of Coke on the body, and there is another great post on what happens to your body after giving up smoking with 3000+ comments which is also old content.

Even with an army of authors, plus the occasional mention in Darren’s twitter stream the overall public reception of the content is a little bit… muffled.

I am not knocking the strategy or the authors. The authors get paid to write content to specific requirements but ultimately the aim of the current content isn’t to get book deals or speaking engagements, though I do realise some of the B5Media writers are already published authors.

There was no attempt to sell an ebook of “Halloween appetizers” despite Alexa showing it was a recent top search term.

Here is a link to the blog Jack created about Environmental News and dog treats

I have nofollowed the links as I don’t want to have too much of a positive effect on their rankings. To be honest I would have done a bit more work in making things unique, adding a point of view and personality.
I am 50/50 as to whether I would allow the links from my comments though that could be easily fixed by making the sites more personal. When Jack comments with links to the sites, he does do so as himself.

The sites are nothing special, mainly built around niched 3rd party articles, press releases etc sourced through Jack’s custom tools, and using Zemanta in some cases to provide links to 3rd party resources including sites such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

I personally don’t think it is a worse user experience for a search visitor landing on one of Jack’s niche sites compared to landing on a B5 Media blog, though there would probably be less inclination to subscribe.

Can the content Jack uses rank? Probably depending on search queries, linking etc.

With some long tail queries for snippets appearing on his home page he already outranks the original article author, though that isn’t necessarily the goal.


It is too early days to see the full effects of Jack’s linkbuilding efforts, but both sites have 5-10% of content in primary index.

An alternative goal might be to use lots of this kind of site to help rank other higher quality money sites. To be honest when B5Media had 300+ blogs I always assumed they would eventually move to a more solid revenue model such as eCommerce.

B5Media blogs seem to have 5-10% of their indexed content within Google’s primary index, which can easily be achieved with 100% duplicate content.

Blog Success (on the surface) certainly isn’t the authority blogging model Darren is advocating for Problogger readers, but Jack has taught that model in the past with a fair number of his students achieving success, and also teaches that model as a consultant. I would think some of that also carries across into Blog Success.

(highly targetted display advertising)

Update 14/12/2009

Techcrunch had an interesting piece about quality content on Sunday highlighting a post on Wired that descibes the content creation process on sites run by Demand Media.

I am not suggesting filling up the web with junk content – I have always maintained there are ways to aggregate niched content in ways that add value and create a useful end user experience, even if it might not retain long-term subscribers.

Original Title: Speed Linking Slow Linking

First posted Jan 17, 2007 @ 6:55

I don’t like the term speed linking. I like it even less on some blogs that use the “more” tag on a speed linking post, so you don’t even get to click straight through from your feed reader.

I know it helps with traffic numbers, especially if you have a large subscription, but I find it just annoying. Higher traffic that isn’t going to click an advert lowers your CTR.

Another factor to think about is how long people are on your pages. There has been lots of speculation about how long a visitor stays on your site affecting search results. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, maybe it just doesn’t… yet.


I write a fair amount about linking… hmm so does Jack Humphreys. Actually Jack writes a lot more than me about linking, and has done for years. In fact, come to mention it, if someone was to ask me to name one person as an expert on linking, Jack would be a good choice.

Jack has just written a great article “Give Links to Gain Authority Status

Jack might even agree with this next part.

Speed Linking = Bad Blogging?

  • Unique Relevant Content – Quite frequently, a speed link post doesn’t have much unique content on the page, other than a few links. If you want a page to be unique, and have some value, it needs to have content. One piece of content linking through to another adds value and relevance to both.
  • The Fire Exit – Linking through to others is great, but a speed link page is like a Fire Exit. I could understand it if it was an affiliate link… call it a minimalist approach, you don’t write anything to persuade the reader to click through, you just present them with a link and a choice, which pill? We are in a world of tabbed browsers now, but do some justice to the links, even if it is only including a few excerpts and links to related posts.
  • Create a reference – If you present a document with lots of useful tips that can’t be totally digested in 30 seconds, there is a higher chance for the post to be bookmarked and saved for reference. That isn’t an excuse for not breaking up your writing with paragraphs, bullets etc.
  • Add value – if you write something useful related to someone else’s work, there is a high chance they will link back to you either now or in the future. Are you just a fanboy or do you have a brain and a real opinion?
  • Advertising – I mentioned near the start of this article about CTR

    Jack wrote:-

    My advertising rates continue to go up because advertising today is based almost completely on page views. I get new visitor page views, but remember the 37% return visitors? My advertising is affected by that greatly.

    Maybe he needed to make this a little clearer. Repeat traffic and repeat views for the same advertising message is more valuable, because consumers need to see an advert multiple times before it even registers as something interesting, or something they might be looking to buy.

Here is an example of a speed linking type post on Jacks site.

Now first off, Jack publishes full feeds – I am not forced to visit his site to use the links. Thus the links are there to be useful, and not to create supplemental traffic that won’t help CTR.
He does include some comments about why they might be useful to me. I would actually prefer him to write a little more, or to interweave the speed links with references to his own writing on similar subjects.

Back Scratching

Speed Linking can be good for back scratching – links are better if they are surrounded with lots of related keywords, not just for the person you link to, but quite possibly also for yourself.

(highly targetted display advertising)

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  1. says

    Thanks Andy – you can clarify for me anytime!

    I like your linking policy too. People who use “no follow” or worse, turn off their trackbacks and comments, are giving in to the biggest failed effort in history to stop comment spam.

    If people only realized how they are killing their own business by turning off user interaction with their sites, they’d stop doing it in a second!

    ASKIMET kills all my comment spam – no idea why people are so worked up over it!

  2. says

    Hi! Just discovered your excellent blog a few days ago and have been following it through my feed reader daily. Thanks for your thoughts on speedlinking.. I actually do enjoy reading link posts because of their brevity and usefulness. No matter how much I try to read, there always seems to be some super article I’ve missed or overlooked.

    I also agree that adding more unique content or opinion to other the other blogger’s post is a great way to add value for your audience. You might also get some new readers from the blog you quoted. :)

  3. says

    Thanks for this post. You’ve given me lots to ponder. Am I being deficient in my speed posts (new term to me, but not a new concept). The analogy that really jarred me was to compare them to a fire exit — exactly what I don’t want!

  4. says

    The link to Give Links to Gain Authority Status seems to be broken. It looks like Jack has changed his URL structure and didn’t set up the necessary redirects.

  5. says

    Andy, I couldn’t agree with you more on this issue. I’ve seen speed link posts all over the place and while I’m not completely against them, I think you should be inventive or creative when doing them. The quick bullet point list to posts just doesn’t do much for me these days

  6. says

    Occasionally I like to sum up the week with a few quick links, usually because I feel that they have added something useful to the conversation. I try to add a little snippet as to what I like about the article, but mostly they are articles that I think would be useful to my readers.

  7. says

    I do a weekly link post because I think it adds value to the information I am providing for my readers – readers who do not spend the hours that I do researching and reading so that I keep up to date with the world of blogging. It may be speed linking but this post probably takes me longer than most others.

    I may add a bit of a summary but I see little point in going into too much detail, effectively rehashing what I have read elsewhere unless I can bring a new perspective to the subject. I would rather spend my time creating unique content or presenting a different aspect of a topic.

    I know the links are not too good for pagerank purposes but it is my readers who matter.

    I think it is the quality of the reading material you are linking to that matters, in relation to how much value these posts add to your blog.

    • says

      Hi Sue

      I liken your Speed linking posts to be something different, along the lines of the WordPress Wednesdays by Lorelle on Blog Herald, or Engtech’s delicious links
      There is a line, and I am not sure where it is were link posts become a resource.

      I think it is both a quantity and presentation thing. I have been thinking of adding some additional links to the bottom of posts pulled from Stumbleupon, or maybe Diigo / Delicious.

    • kaisen says

      I am not too sure about this term “speed linking”. I agree with you, the quality of the links and your readers are what is important. If you find an articles/posts that your readers would like or you like link to them!

  8. says

    No one is exception in this case as most bloggers wants to provide value to their readers that’s why i think it is necessary at least in a week to go for speedy links.

  9. says

    Didn’t follow all the way through this post, but this is the first time I’d heard of Topsy.
    Just wanted to say thanks, I’ve been looking for a way to search twitter directly from firefox and their firefox intergration work for what I needed.

    • says

      I need to delve into topsy a litle more as by handling 301 redirects correctly, they might handle something else I have wanted Tweetmeme to do for a long time, though from a slightly different direction to what I expected.

  10. says

    Very interesting. Clearly an issue that has been around for a long time although we are in real danger of getting to a point where spam content generators are winning the battle. I wrote a piece on this yesterday picking up on the notion of McDonaldization of content that Mike Arrington used in Techcrunch.

    The problem with McDonald’s content is that (a) it is very cheap and (b) it is a mass consumer product and whilst it is low margin, it sells and makes money. Contrast that with a meal from ElBulli restaurant where there is a 2 year waiting list for diners, prices are high although the business will never make the kind of money that McDonalds does.

    I know where I would eat. The problem with search engines is that they seem to reward McDonalds over ElBulli every time. You can read my thoughts on some possible solutions here.

  11. Hotel Booking says

    One of the main transformations I have seen in search engine results over the last couple years is a noteworthy preference for pages with good quality content. What I believe is “If you are serious about developing pages that will rank in SERP, then it is essential to begin increasing quality of your content.”

    I am not very familiar with this speed linking concept but yes if few external links are adding some value to content and they are helpful for readers too then I will go with them.

    Correct me if I am wrong.

  12. says

    A friend of mine always links out every Friday. He is doing quite well building a relationship with other bloggers that way.

    Also, I don’t believe quality content is needed to make money all the time. If your blog is all about making money with AdSense, then you just need to rank high in the search engine. You don’t need to worry about people commenting or people subscribing.

  13. says

    Hi Andy,

    I just found your blog today and see a lot here for me to learn. I recognized your name and reading this post I now know it’s from the “16 Steps” training offered by Authority Site Center. I took the training twice with Sam in 2008 and I must say: I’ve been working on implementing all I learned ever since… (That training was PACKED with content)

    Blogging is not my main business but I have given a good, long, honest effort to create and publish quality content for my niche (people in the US struggling with serious credit card debt). I just flipped my main domain to my WordPress site a little over a month ago, now I’m all WordPress. Before that I had my blog hidden behind an opt in page and only sent my subscribers to it.

    Two questions: 1) How can I set my blog to “do follow”? 2) What would you recommend as a resource for understand trackbacks? This is something I haven’t grasped yet, but I think I am ready now.

    Also, your feedback on my site (no punches pulled) is welcome.

    Thanks and best wishes!

    • says

      I did attend one of his 16 Steps webinars – not sure if I was ever mentioned as a source within those. I have a lot of respect for what Jack does.

      A blog hidden behind an opt-in form isn’t necessarily bad, the aim ultimately is to get people to subscribe on any page that they land on.

      Lucia’s Linky Love is the dofollow plugin I use

      Tips – you are doing well

      I would look to hosting your own video with some smart code for link building / branding
      Comment box is way too small
      Think about related featured posts with images which would allow you to knock out one sidebar and potentially have larger typography
      I am not sure what you do on the back end with comments but it can be used for lead generation (I am lazy here)

      Jack actually teaches trackbacks/pingbacks quite well – ultimately pingbacks are mainly WordPress blogs and don’t require you to hunt for a trackback link to include in a box in your post. Other platforms you have to actually find a specific link to paste in. It can get you anchor-text links

  14. says

    Thanks for this great post, Andy…

    I echo Jesse’s thoughts in the previous post. I am doing well, but I still have a lot to learn.

    I just discovered your blog today, and I am just starting out with a new blog of my own. I am trying to keep all of my posts as content rich and valuable as possible using videos.

    Do you recommend primarily using video posts, audio, written content or a mixture? Should there be a specific medium that the blog utilizes the most? Hmmmm… I guess I could split test?

    I am going to try a combination of various different types of content for this blog. I have used Joomla sites more in the past, but I giving WP a shot with this new site.

    I loved your plugin post as well…