An interesting way of doing business: Cartoonist Ampersand has sold his domain to a Search Engine Optimiser who lets him continue to run his (excellent) blog and cartoonist pages in exchange for a link on the blog's front page and the ability to put whatever he wants (presumably link farms, but I haven't been able to find out yet) on new pages on the website.
I suppose it's as legit as any other form of sponsorship, and it sure beats having SEOs spamming their links on other people's blogs against their will. But one wonders if it wouldn't have been more effective for the SEO to buy a traditional sponsorship. What's one link to a blog about, in this case, handbags, on Amptoon's blog page worth in comparison to a well-placed ad, possibly drawn by Ampersand himself and integrated into the website, pointing directly to the product? Presumably the other stuff the SEO adds is worth more.
There is a risk involved that could cause Amp trouble for a long time to come. The reason I'm interested in this story at all is that the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Search Engine Optimization is spam. Comment spam and forum spams, the two blights on the Web that have caused me to spend many unpaid hours to clean up Waffle, Talk About Comics and, before Mithandir installed his latest honeypot-based comment spam blocker, the comments to Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. I know that's not entirely fair; there are forms of Search Engine Optimization that don't involve spam, and what Amp's buyer is doing could be one of them. But if the buyer is putting link farms on new pages within the amptoons.com domain, then these will themselves only become valuable if they're widely linked to, and that means there's a strong incentive for the new domain owner to spam. Actually, that applies to anything else he might put there - it can only be valuable for SEO purposes if it's widely linked to.
You don't want to be associated with a domain that's spammed in blog comments or forums. Or associated with spam in any form at all. It got the makers of the blogging software Wordpress in quite a bit of trouble and could end up doing the same to Ampersand.