For most of us, we would hope personal finance and investment websites have our best interests at heart. And with the way search engines are moving, they are smart enough to weed out the ones that don’t and truly deliver us websites that want to help.
However, some websites can slip through the cracks, and we can end up on a website that is doing nothing more than churning out misinformation to get them to their ultimate goal. Making money.
Often the main driving force for those who start a website, money has a hypnotizing effect on many, especially when it is generated by sitting on your computer and typing a piece for the world to see. That is why it is absolutely imperative you really research what you’re reading online, and learn how to sniff out a money-grabbing article when you see one and head back to the search results.
Affiliate marketing has ruined the internet
The easiest way to earn money on the internet is probably affiliate marketing. Unless you’re a giant website, more than likely you’re not going to pull a major income off of it, but it doesn’t stop website owners from completely manipulating their pages to make a buck or two.
One of the most common scenarios you will see this with is “top” lists. A personal finance example? Look no further than the best budgeting apps. Now, I’m not going to name any names, but I know for a fact most of these big budgeting apps offer a commission for bloggers and corporations to bring them customers.
Now, if you’re a website owner, particularly one that is just starting out and trying to earn a little reward for the hard work you’ve put in, who are you going to rank number one? The best app, one that doesn’t offer a commission for bringing them a customer or a mediocre app or program that puts money in your bank account? You don’t have to feel bad about picking option B, the large majority of people would.
The website owner is allowed to generate affiliate income however they want (within reason of course), and you as a consumer have to be aware of this. That is why I strongly suggest doing your research after reading any sort of review or top product list online. Most bloggers will be transparent about their affiliate agreement with the company and post it at the start of the article, but you can’t depend on this.
Differing opinions bring traffic
I’d never be one to write something that differs from my point of view to earn a buck. But, I am unfortunately few and far between. You’ll typically see this more on investment websites rather than personal finance sites, but bloggers and website owners like to stir the pot, even if it’s not something they believe in. Why?
Well, stirring the pot gets peoples attention. And getting peoples attention gets them to click your post, image or whatever it is you published via the search engines, social media, web forums, you name it. And what happens when you visit their site? Well, they have a couple ways of making money after that.
They could get you on their newsletter list, where they will try and nurture you into an eventual customer for a product, or even like I mentioned above sell you an affiliate product.
Or, they can just get you on the website to increase their impressions for their advertisement agency. This is probably the most common method, and is why you see those aggravating posts that require you to click through 25 different pages to get to the number one item on the list you’ve been looking for.
If I’ve noticed someone rocking the boat, I’m more so looking for someone in an authority position for me to ever be interested. Someone who doesn’t need to use these types of tactics to get traffic.
Promotional posts or paid guest posts
SEO is becoming an absolute necessity to survive on the internet today. And thus, people are learning how to improve their own SEO. Bloggers have learned the value of the almighty backlink (a link back to your site from another blog, which improves your search engine results) and have started charging prospective guest posters to publish the post.
Guest posting was pretty handy back in the day. You’d get a ton of value from an outside writer because they were generally looking to increase their reach and expand beyond their current audience. Now, you’d better be taking these posts with a grain of salt. Bloggers are churning out guest posts like they are going out of style, and there is very little effort put into the posts. Why?
Well, for one, if you’re getting paid $200 USD to publish a guest post as the website owner, you’re probably going to let sub par content slip by to collect the paycheque. And as the writer, you’re already dumping $200 just to get a link from this blog, so why spend a day or so crafting the perfect piece? You’re well aware the blogger is going to accept your content for what it is, simply because it’s paid for. And, you’ve probably got an agreement with that blogger that they aren’t going to mark the post as sponsored or a guest post, because you know….money.
What you end up with is a bunch of website posting crappy content for money. It happens everywhere, and it’s simply poison. Keep in mind not all posts are like this, but I would say the large majority of them are. People simply don’t go through the extensive amount of effort it takes to lock down a natural, true to form guest post these days. They just want the links quick so they can churn out their next post.
Use caution and you’ll be fine
All in all, you simply have to take whatever your reading online these days and be very cautious about it. Research the site, research the authors and read multiple posts before taking action or making a potential purchase of a product you’ve been looking at. If you find a piece of content, such as a top product piece with no affiliate agreements and it’s near the top of the search engine results, you’ve more than likely found a goldmine.