Photo Credit: Hollygroup.com
Has anyone noticed ads on your or anyone else’s blog that seems a bit out of character lately? Have you wondered what is going on? Well, I have the answer for that, and I also have had some stories to tell that have occurred lately and my personal two cents worth about it as well, which is not at all in favor of what has transpired. Today’s post had been stewing in my brain already, but it was cocked and fired due to a comment by a concerned reader, which I am glad she said something, since I know she figured I would want to know and because something seemed a bit out of character for me.
As of sometime this year WordPress has been putting ads on our free WordPress hosted sites. I am unsure exactly when this started taking place, but I know it started early on this year, and I have been experiencing some complications from it already which I will share with you in a moment. This blog is a free WordPress hosted site–I just rent the domain so that it is more professional (which is highly recommended). I have two other sites that are self-hosted (different animal): my author website blog and my business website Soaring Eagle Publicity. The difference between the two is a whole different post. So, in short, I don’t have this problem on these other sites.
Just because I have this site as a free blog doesn’t mean I skimp on the content or on the appearance. I just don’t need all the bells and whistles that my other sites have for this one. This is mostly for tips and resources for new and aspiring authors and for carefully chosen guests and companies to share their info and products with others. When I built this site, I wasn’t going to go “all out on it” for a reason. This is like my “hobby blog” if you will, but it still has a purpose and a function. It is branded for the stuff that isn’t going on my author blog or on Soaring Eagle Publicity, but it is still a part of my platform. That is how I planned and designed it!
So, WP thought it was necessary to start putting ads on our sites just because they felt like it. They argue that it will “ensure that it will stay free”. Um, I don’t buy that. Sure, free radio and TV allow commercials, but that has always been the case, right? I think satellite and cable TV are double dipping in some ways, but that’s a rabbit trail not related to this post. NAG is now 3 years old this year this past Jan. I have never had a problem in the past with ads being stuck on my site in all the wrong places in regards that it still remain “free” in the previous years. So why is happening now?! I definitely have never had a problem with spammy links or this other incident that’s coming up since I carefully choose what I link to and mostly post content and not a whole bunch of unrelated links.
From the comment by this concerned reader I have come to the conclusion that WP is not vetting who they pick to put ads on our blogs. She was concerned that it could be a scammy phishing site. I have worked hard to build my reputation that I try my best to recommend reputable companies and tools that can be trusted for authors to use. Of course, if someone knows something I don’t about something I would like to know they should let me know, right? The concerned neighbor in question also mentioned that this out-of-place ad could damage my credibility if I don’t get it off ASAP.
So you mean to tell me that the credibility I worked hard to create is at stake here because WP wants to put ads on my site, and they don’t vet their advertisers like I try to do? This ire is not aimed at the reader (I am grateful for her comment or else I might have not have known what is being put on my site that I am unaware of), mind you–it’s aimed at WordPress rather. I am glad she said something about it as this creates a BIG problem, and my credibility could get dinged by what something someone else (WordPress) did. Not cool. Not cool at all. I wasn’t happy about the ads being on my site to begin with. Now I am even more unhappy, but there is another thing that took place last week that is also related to these ads which compounds the issue even more. I am so infuriated by it that it isn’t funny.
To add insult to injury, these ads are not branded to our interests or are for reputable companies–or at least some of them. This is like someone breaking into my house and putting air fresheners in my house when they don’t even have regards to what scents I like or if I have allergies? These ads aren’t even related to WordPress products or apps or plugins (which would have been OK, BTW). So basically any scammer or spammer who wants to hand out enough dough for ads will end up on our sites and there is little or nothing we can do about it or recourse is not really in our favor. We can do something about, yes, but I’ll share with you what can be done and why it isn’t cool. I would also be really angry to know if WordPress put links to ASI companies when, in fact, I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone even if they were the last group of publishers on the planet. I would publish my novels on clay tablets before I used them ever again :(.
Of course, I know that the casual reader who comes by any of our sites may or may not know what we bloggers put or don’t put on our sites ourselves. They think or feel that anything that is on our site is something we recommend and in the past this has been the case, but due to this ad problem, now it is not. Of course they aren’t going to know that, and it is an understood code if you will. Anything I am recommending are in the body of posts, on pages, or in the sidebars. WordPress is putting these ads in between posts and possibly at the bottom of pages as far as I know. Not everyone out there is a blogger either, so they aren’t going to know what’s happening here.
WordPress says these ads are unobtrusive. After last week’s incident, I don’t think this is the case, but that’s my experience and opinion. So, now I know you are just dying to know what happened. Here we go.
Last week I received an email from a pest control company I had never even heard of to remove a link from my site that was linked to theirs or they would report me to Google if I didn’t remove the link or respond in 24 hours, and that I was bringing down their SEO very badly. They showed me the post in question and the URL. I go to the post in question and it is a guest post about choosing keywords for Google Adwords. I know the guest, and I remember the post, so why in the world would there be a link for a pest control company in that post when it has nothing to do with pest control whatsoever? I also knew that my guest did not put a link for a pest control company in that post. I and a friend check the HTML in case a spammer injected something into my HTML (crap like that happens and it did on my author site until I added a plugin for that). I know I didn’t have a spam comment about a pest control company for that post since I vet my comments regularly. I had never received a kindly threatening (from research I have discovered some are a lot worse) email like that before, and I was scratching my head about where the link could have came from and why this was even occurring. I never saw or found the link from my backend in the post anywhere.
Then I remembered about the ads. Could this be the culprit? I respond to the company that I didn’t put the link there and neither did my guest. I also explained that WordPress started putting ads on my site and that could be the source of the link which I didn’t put there myself. There wasn’t anything I could do about it and that it was outside of my control (or until I found out what I could do in the meantime).
After doing research, I also had discovered that these kinds of emails are circling about since Google is changing their SEO stuff again, but this happened to people who actually put the links on their blogs, not some that appeared without knowledge of the blogger like what happened to me. Spammy backlinks and stuff of that nature are what’s harming some sites’ SEO and they are having to clean up their spam. I also learned the truth about the “Disavow Tool” from Google and a lot of people aren’t understanding what is up with that and are lying and threatening people with/about it. I’ll talk more about that later since it will take another post to explain. In a nutshell, the stuff this company was kindly threatening me with wasn’t going to happen, especially since I wasn’t the one who intentionally linked to their site in the first place. Upon reading the email I was like, “What the heck, people?! I don’t remember putting a link to your site in the post anywhere! Why would an author ed blog link to a pest control company in the first place?” I didn’t write that in the email of course. So you are threatening me with dinging up my SEO for something I didn’t–to my knowledge–do?
So, because of these ads this kind of stuff has been happening to me the past couple of weeks when it never happened in the past (3 years and 3 months!) BEFORE the ads. I have only have 4 options of recourse: 1) make this blog self hosted 2) pay WP $30 to stop the ads 3) close down this blog 4) move to Blogger. Option #3 is not an option since people like and benefit from this blog. Option #1 is not an immediate option since I am going to be building a site for my new publishing imprint Soaring Eagle Books and because my traffic and following would be back to square one and back in the sandbox for my SEO. Option #4 is worse than option #1 since I don’t really care for Blogger (some live by it and love it) and I would be starting from scratch. So I am left with option #3 give WordPress 30 bucks to stop the ad madness and all the BS that goes with it.
Why, WordPress, why? You had a good thing going, but then have to screw it up by doing THIS?! At least Wix has only ads for Wix stuff if you go with their totally free service (you have to pay them to get rid of their ads too or to have a custom domain)! I am currently offering basic WordPress setup and design for clients for Soaring Eagle Publicity and with Soaring Eagle Books and now they have to pay an extra $30 to you so they don’t have these stupid ads on their sites? REALLY!? I already recommend they have a custom domain, but it is not required. Gah! >:(.
So now I have to cough up $30 out of one of my other projects so I can get these freaking spammy, unscrupulous ads off my site so it’s back to pristine condition and so I can keep my credibility and my sanity which are priceless that I worked hard for? This is almost as bad as my agent (if I had one) cussing out a reviewer and I get dinged up for it in a reviewer circle when I didn’t do the act or have knowledge of it until something had happened. It’s that bad, IMHO. You are really going to nickel and dime me for something I enjoyed for three years completely free (except for the domain)? I am so ticked about this and on top of the things that have been happening to me as a result of this practice until I grudgingly hand over the money. It’s still cheaper than going to a self hosted site, I guess. I wonder how much money they will be reaping in when hundreds or even thousands of ticked off bloggers pay up to get rid of these cockamamie ads. We are backed into a corner more or less. If we don’t lose $30 then we lose the time and effort we put into our free blogs that we can never get back either. In my case it will the three years and three months of my life I can never get back.
So there it is folks. Free WordPress is no longer free or else have to endure the ads and the pitfalls that come with them or hand over $30. I’m pretty sure WP will get some heat about this if they haven’t already. So this should be on any other blogger or author’s mind if they want to have a free WordPress site.
It’s like the cliche always says, “Nothing is free.” Or if it is it won’t be forever.