Lee Odden

Blog Credibility and Ads

When the first iteration of this blog went live, there was no intention of doing anything but documenting resources and sharing information. For a short time, we ran some Google AdSense ads and then participated in the beta of the Yahoo Publisher Network for a while. We even had a few image ads.

But ads just didn’t seem right so with the exception of very small sponsor text ads for the RSS feed, there is no advertising on this blog. I suppose one could argue the whole thing is an ad, but not in an explicit way.

However, when you look at a lot of the popular search marketing blogs, the ads are obtrusive. Whether it’s Aaron’s SEOBook for sale, or right column graphic ads like on Marketing Pilgrim (has RSS ads too), Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land the ads seem to be a natural part of the design. Rand used to run ads but does not any longer and I don’t think Todd, the Lisa or Kim have ever run ads on their blogs.

So my question to you is:

Do ads increase or decrease a blog's credibility?

  • Decrease (43%, 23 Votes)
  • Increase (28%, 15 Votes)
  • It depends - see my comments below (28%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 53

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. If the ads are targeted and not annoying, I believe they can add value to a blog – then again, I’m biased. 😉

  2. Avatar Thomas McMahon says

    It depends on if they are in your face and annoying, or if they are designed into the site.

  3. Avatar chris dohman says

    i think they are fine as long as they are targeted as andy said above and they don’t get in the way of reading the real content. the credibility of the blog as a whole ultimately comes from the credibility of the content.

  4. I am in agreement, ads that are overly obtrusive don’t help with credibility. For example, blogs that place AdSense or YPN ads right at the top or often in the body take away from any quality content. The thing is, those kinds of blogs don’t often consist of quality content.

    In a way, best practices for AdSense and YPN ads are often at odds with presenting an image of credibility. Having a defined area for ads makes sense as well as targeted/relevant ads.

  5. I think AdSense ads always diminish a sites credibility, no matter how tastefully they are placed when noticeably separate from the content. Image ads aren’t as bad, but eight 125×125 above the fold, like the Mashable site Andy pointed to earlier today, is ridiculous.

    Ads are always going to diminish credibility or at least make a new reader think twice before trusting an article about XYZ while their ad is running directly above or next to the article.

    If someone is into blogging to make money (rather than self-promote or otherwise contribute without directly profiting) then there is no choice other than to run ads that are relevant to the articles published there.

    We, the readers, understand – just don’t over do it. We’ll notice when the blogger talks overly favorably about a particular company. So they shouldn’t take offense when we occasionally call them on it.

    And when accepting an ad from one source you can’t be exclusive (see: cheezhead.com) because that reaps of favoritism past and present.

    PS: Does the ad money really make up for the inevitable loss of credibility? I suspect there aren’t any, in this industry, who really would make a living by surviving off their blog ads online, so why not save the lost credibility and gain it back on the professional side?

  6. I just lost my post twice due to my failed ability to add and follow directions.

    Long version short

    -yes, it detracts from credibility
    -mainly it detracts from credibility discussing the particular product or service of the advertisers listed
    -I ran adsense for a day, and my price to “sellout” is much higher than $2 a day – and I’d rather do it for something better than “submit your site to 1000 search engines companies” – Text link ads and Webuildpages were listed (for free) for a long time as well.
    -I may sellout and run ads for sites I think are decent again someday
    -Most people run blogs to communicate ideas to clients, prospects, or industry cohorts

  7. Hey Todd, just so no one misses out, here’s the text from your first comment:

    Does the ad money really make up for the inevitable loss of credibility?

    That’s the million dollar question – most folks just run a blog to archive information, or communicate with clients, prospects, and cohorts.

    I’ve experimented with adsense on two occassions – and the $2 per day certainly wasn’t worth the detracted credibility of having “submit to 1000 search engine ads” on my site.

    I think 125’s are a good way to go – and may eventually do it myself as a revenue stream. It will still detract from my credibility somewhat (it’s a tradeoff – we all have our price whether you admit it or not) – Most notably it detracts from my non-biased credibility in discussions of THE ADVERTISERS products.

  8. Nice… I have thought about that. In the end, other than a promotion of my own eBook… I don’t have any Ads nor Affiliate clutter on my ‘Blog’

    .. I felt it is more personal and transparent that way.

    Good topic…


  9. This is a poorly written question. There should be four options:

    a) Increase
    b) Decrease
    c) Neither
    d) Depends

  10. I am not interested in recording “no opinion” Matt, hence the absence of “neither”.

  11. In some ways, I think that targeted ads can add credibility. I recently talked to a college professor who runs a workshop on building and marketing blogs. Each of his 39 students had to create and maintain their own blog for a month. Two students were able to get paid advertisers on their blogs, which helped them to stand out from the rest of the class as being credible. There is a mentality that if someone is willing to pay for the space, the site must be credible.

    I’ve never had a problem with an ad or two on a blog, as long as they’re well placed and not too intrusive. You watch TV and see commercials, listen to the radio and hear commercials, drive down the street and see billboards, surfing the ‘net is no different. As long as they’re well placed, and targeted, I have no problem with it.

    A fellow I know used to run a blog with HTML and CSS tutorials for beginners. He had ads on it for web hosting and domain registrars. He never made reference to the products in his blog copy to promote them, but the ads did get quite a few clicks, just because of their relevance. He did make it clear that it was all paid advertising, and made it clear to the reader he didn’t endorse or promote these hosts. He saw it as a way to offer related services to his users that they’d need anyways.

  12. Wwell put Dan. I agree that execution has everything to do with whether ads take away or add credibility. If a blog is already well known and read, I don’t think adding ads will enhance it though. I think the opportunity to build credibility through ads is more applicable to a new blog as you mentioned in the college professor example.

  13. Hey Kim, I suspect there must be a lot of poor ad implementations going by the poll numbers above. Andy and Danny do a very good job with their ads as does Barry because there’s a defined area for them and they mesh well with the design.

    As far as blogs about a hobby with ads, I can related. I made one about a new car I bought two summers ago and the AdSense revenue has paid for the car. The site is ugly on purpose so visitors click on the ads!

  14. Avatar Kim Krause Berg (cre8pc) says

    I think the decision rests with the goal(s) of the blog. I didn’t launch a blog to get ad revenue, but that is precisely why so many people do start blogs.

    Credibility? I don’t see it hurting Andy Beal or SearchEngineLand or SearchEngineGuide. In fact, Robert Clough has had ads on SEGuide for years and years and remains a popular web stop for many people. It’s been his business model all along.

    I do not personally like Google AdSense ads on blogs because of the high usage of them by splogs. Blogs that take the content we write in our blogs and republish it, in full, without giving credit or a bio or asking permission to reprint, and who have ads all over the place, are not sites that are credible.

    In those cases, its not the ads alone that degrade the site. It’s their total lack of original content as well. We should get a cut of their revenue, when our content is stolen to create and support their ad-based blogs.

    As if that will ever happen 🙂

    Had an interesting conversation with some SEO’s the other day outside Philly about creating blogs with ads by simply blogging about a hobby you may have, outside your business. The narrow target market, plus original content, seems to do better driving in revenue.

  15. Problogger (darren r) puts ads on his blog and I doubte anyone would say he is NOT credible.

  16. If the ad comes from a 3rd party media mogul, then yes – this person has lost all credibility cause there just trying to make a buck. Something must come first – either you’ve decided you have something important/unique to say and you have a blog as the vehicle to share that with others – or, you started a blog only with the intention of “I will make money from this” or be a marketing tool – then it’s stupid.

    If the ad is served directly from the blog site (same-domain or same-server a.k.a the blog owner) and is a product or service that they themselves use, then perhaps in that instance it ads credibility.

  17. Avatar Mark Vladir says

    I have no problem with people trying to make a full or part time living off their blog and that takes advertising. But, there’s a fine line between ad-supported content and ad-influenced content that can be a tough balance to strike.

    I think the ideal solution is when a blog owner promotes their own products or services as opposed to just third-party or affiliate products and services through advertising. Then I see the blog as an intro to their brand and not as potentially affecting their credibility.