SEO, Astroturfing, and Paying my bills

I have several websites with very high Google Rank. I did this the old-fashioned way - I put content there that people cared about. It happened almost without my noticing, because it wasn't intentional. I was producing content that people cared about, and the high rankings were an unintended side effect.

Now, there's a new breed of people out there. Not so new, I suppose. They think that if they can find high-ranking sites, and put their links there, that they will magically have popular sites. Although they are wrong, they are right enough that they are willing to pay a lot of money for these links. I've written before about what I think of SEO, and some other folks have been even more forceful, or more brief. In short, I have nothing but contempt for artificial SEO.

Which leaves me in a curious position. One of these sites, rcbowen.com, I largely abandoned several years ago, because it was becoming too problematic to maintain multiple websites. But the Google rank remained, because apparently there's still some content there that people care about. including a set of embarrassingly outdated howtos. on various topics that I largely no longer care about. I keep meaning to go update them, but it's never important enough.

Meanwhile, just in the last month, no less than 6 organizations approached me and offered me absurd amounts of money to put their advertising links on these sites. Hmm. They're going to pay me to put links on sites I don't actually care about any more. What's the downside?

Well, the downside is that I disapprove, philosophically, with what they're doing. Astroturfing - the manufacturing of word-of-mouth - feels fraudulent to me. On the other hand, I am also philosophically opposed to unpaid bills. And is it *really* that much different from putting Google ads on this site? Well, except that it pays a LOT more.

I'm curious what you think. But probably not curious enough to change my mind if you think I sold out.


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Some people are heroes. And some people jot down notes. Sometimes, they're the same person. (The Truth. Terry Pratchett)