Do A-Listers Really Still Promote Text-Link-Ads?

This week I decided that I wanted to spend some time catching up with some of the ‘make money online’ and ‘internet marketing‘ blogs that I’ve been neglecting for a while. I got caught up on some of the posts I’ve missed, and I’m always amazed when I do this at how much real talent there is out there.

Is This A Bad Dream?

The thing that I simply can’t believe right now is that I found a few very large sites that are still promoting Text-Link-Ads and similar types of services. Are you guys serious? Were 27 rounds of Google slaps not enough to convince people that this is a bad idea?

If any of you out there want to use Text-Link-Ads and other forms of link selling to make money, go ahead and do it. Educate yourself first, but if you’re well aware that Google could and will penalize you for it if they catch you, make your own choice.

If you have an influential blog, I sincerely hope that you realize that people will do things just because you say so. Do you think they are going to take the time to educate themselves about the subject as much as you have? Whether these A-List bloggers like it or not, they are hurting people by recommending this service.

Nice work though A-Listers, you made a couple extra bucks this month.

Being Responsible

The responsible thing to do in this case is top stop promoting the service altogether. That’s right – stop altogether.

To be fair, a small percentage of these individuals has written disclaimers and warning about selling text links. Problogger is one of these, and has written a warning that can be found here: A Word About Selling Text Links. You can find a link to that page directly below his affiliate link for Text-Link-Ads. In my mind this is much better than simply promoting blatantly.

I personally would make the language stronger if I was going to do this (by the way, I wouldn’t do this). I would use something like ‘A Warning About Selling Text Links‘. It seems to me that a lot of people are going to click through without reading the ‘word’. To be fair to Darren, I don’t think that he wants it to appear the way I think it appears. To me, it says, “I recommend using this service even though I have further thoughts on the issue.” I think that’s what people are going to think, simply because it’s in the ‘Recommended Money Makers’ section and the language of the warning link isn’t that strong.

Seeing how Darren interacts with his readers, I would imagine that he knows that some people are going to use the service anyway and he’s saying, “If you’re going to use it, here are the dangers.” Does that mean that people are getting that message? With all due respect to Darren, I don’t think so.

I would like to see these guys step up and throw this program out altogether. Most of them make plenty of money already and could probably take one hour of their time to figure out how to replace that income. This statement doesn’t apply to every one of these guys, (I don’t think it applies to Darren) but most of them honestly don’t care about what happens to people.

Comments 50

  1. You made me think. Thanks. I recently wrote a post about TNX and I think I really need a disclaimer up there with the review. Sites like this still have a use, I think, but you have to know what you are getting into. I guess it comes down to knowing your audience and if there is a bunch of newbies or even some, you need to look out for them.

  2. Good point Court. A lot of people seem to still promote this stuff. All I can think of is bad idea.

    Haven’t talked to you for a while. Hit me up when you get a chance. You know where to find me.

  3. I can’t figure out what Google will and won’t penalize your for. For example, I’ve been given a PR-0 slap on OpTempo even though I followed the rules and nofollowed all links on paid reviews. All I can figure is that I had the audacity to mention Izea and PayPerPost in an article in plain text, not linked. Then again, others who have TLA and PPP with followed links out the wazzoo that have PR 4 or 5 with no penalty in sight.

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      Frank have you done a reinclusion request? Google made some mistakes when they did all of the slapping and they won’t correct the error unless you ask.

      I don’t see any other potential issues with OpTempo so you should be able to get it restored.

  4. Court I admire your work but I have to flat out disagree with you on this one. The reason Google punishes paid links is because it cuts them out of the deal. They make no money so they try to get you to sign up for AdSense. Frankly I tried to stay on the straight and narrow for some time, but could not monetize my sites enough from AdSense or Affiliates. Then I joined TLA and bam all of a sudden one of my sites became highly profitable. I have also bought links to boost rankings on other sites to improve ranking.

    Stop using AdWords and AdSense.

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      You’re entitled to your opinion.

      Adsense doesn’t work on every type of site and if you read my work regularly you know that I have recommended removing Adsense from a lot of different types of sites.

      The problem you have now is that you are STILL relying on Google because you’re selling PageRank and trying to manipulate their results. Once they catch you, they will take away your ability to do that.

      Once that happens, bam all the sudden you lose all of your profit.

      There are plenty of ways to monetize that don’t require you to sell links. I’m on pace to make well over a six figure income this year on this site and I sell exactly zero links that pass PageRank.

      1. Thanks for the quick reply Court. My question is what is the difference between asking a webmaster to link to you or paying someone. Most savvy webmasters will ask for compensation of one sort or another via reciprocal link or another arrangement. I feel the only reason Google really cracked down on paid links is because it made them 0 money.

        But again, lets agree to disagree shall we.

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          There are quite a few people out there that have the same belief as you. They feel that Google did it so they could get a bigger share of profits by using Adsense.

          I can tell you that the tiny loss of Adsense profit doesn’t hurt Google nearly as much as the manipulated results that come from people selling links.

          TLA is a tiny drop in the bucket compared to Google. Google did almost $5 billion in revenue in Q4 of 2007. In order to protect that revenue, they have to stay A LOT better than their competitors when it comes to search results.

          Although it might seem that Google feels threatened by TLA, it would be like a great corporation like McDonald’s being threatened by a 13 year old girl’s lemonade stand. McDonald’s isn’t going to worry about her stand taking business right? However, if some 13 year old kids were throwing bricks through windows of McDonald’s stores, that WOULD cause trouble for McDonald’s. TLA is doing that exactly – breaking the integrity of Google’s model. This hurts them WAY more than loss of a few million in profits.

          The difference between asking someone to link to you and paying for it is that they won’t link to you if your site isn’t top notch.

          People that do reciprocal link exchanges will check factors to make sure that the site is worth linking to – they want to make sure that they won’t get hurt because of the link.

          Regardless of the difference of our opinions, I appreciate yours. Thanks!

  5. Court, good points to consider. I was “using” TLA for awhile, had an account for over 6 months with my two highest traffic sites. I never sold an ad.

    I finally pulled their code out of my sites and ads off of them, and now all of a sudden I get emails asking me what’s wrong?

    I politely told them that I wasn’t going to get smacked using their, how should I say, “product” and left their account.

    There are plenty of other ways to make money on your site, other than TLA.

    The biggest thing with “no follow” is to remember that if it is something you are paid to review, promote or otherwise not related to your main blog topic, it probably won’t hurt to no-follow it. I have adopted this policy and haven’t been smacked down (yet).

  6. I asked for reinclusion and pulled my two TLA ads off and removed my 3 PPP posts back in November. No luck getting my PR back and I don’t think I will ever get it.

    Again, I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW THE BIG BOYS CAN PROMOTE IT AND USE IT AND KEEP THEIR PR. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT? Who are they paying off?

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      Most of them actually don’t use it – hence the hypocrisy. They promote it to make money and keep it off their sites. It’s pretty messed up if you ask me.

  7. I think that people should place what they wish, on their blogs. They know what they are getting into and their goals may be remaining independent of Google, which seems wise to me.

    Adbrite and other ad service are available and less restrictive. It is high time people started looking for alternatives to being bullied by a company that is now large enough to stop caring about those who helped it grow.

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      SageRave thanks for your comments. I said in the post itself that people can do what they want with their sites.

      Where I start having a problem with it is when people start pushing something that they wouldn’t use themselves. These guys don’t even use TLA yet they try to make money by getting other people to use it?

  8. Court,

    Great seeing you call out the big boys on this.

    From the comments it appears that some folks still don’t understand why Google cracked down on this – they really believe they were selling ads and not PR. Perhaps they should ask TLA and IZEA why they weren’t allowed to use no-follow. Do they really think advertisers paid them to advertise on their blog with 100 visitors? Blaming Google for protecting their Adsense market is illogical – have they ever penalized anybody for selling alternative ads on site that didn’t also sell page rank? No. Granted mistakes happened but they only targeted sites that sold PR – not advertising.

    The most dishonest people in this whole mess along with the A listers are the folks behind TLA and PPP – they knew what they were selling and never clarified this to the end users. Talk about sending noobs out to be cannon fodder.

    Great job Court.

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      Grizzly, thank you, thank you, and thank you!

      I could never have said it that well myself. You are 100% correct, Google has never penalized a site for selling ads that don’t pass PageRank – that is a fantastic point.

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          Nuker everyone gets all emotional about Google but people that play by the rules don’t run into trouble.

          I got slapped – was I playing by the rules? No. You got slapped – were you playing by the rules? No.

          Google doesn’t care about how you monetize Nuker – unless you mess with their search results. Do that, and they’ll blow you out of the water.

          Nuker Grizz and I both happen to do very well with Google and understand how Google works. Whenever I have gotten in trouble with a site, I have been bending the rules.

        2. Point taken re the hyperbole but I think it’s fair to say this isn’t a common problem in the general scheme of things. If Google was doing this we would know as much about it as the PPP slamfest. In the end my point is valid – they allow advertising without penalty provided no PR passes. As I said mistakes have been made but are a exception rather than the rule.

          Thanks for reminding me not to use absolutes when trying to make a point.

      1. As I noted above they penalized me and I don’t sell PR. I think I drew the penalty because I simply mentioned Izea, TLA and other such services in plain text in a post. Their flawed algorithms marked me as selling PR and they refuse to reinstate it.

        Of course, I’m also highly critical of their ageist hiring practices as well as some of their other business practices that remind me of how Microsoft, AT&T, IBM and others have operated in the past but I doubt that would get a PR penalty.

        The bottom line is that they’re simply forcing the practice of selling PR underground. It would have been better to have quietly discounted links their algorithms assumed were paid rather than taking a brute force slap approach. Having an overwhelming control of a market and being forceful against ‘the little guy/gal’ is a sure way to end up being the subject of Congressional investigations and FTC/DOJ probes, something neither we or they want since it will be bad for both our businesses.

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          Frank as always I appreciate your input.

          The debate in this thread really though is whether Google penalizes people for using advertising methods other than Adsense, and this isn’t why you were penalized.

          Frank I know that you have your beliefs about Google but I just don’t see how any of that matters to people trying to make money with the internet. I don’t want to debate that because it simply doesn’t matter to me.

          Unlike many other people Frank, I don’t care about what Google does. I care about how I can benefit from the traffic that they can and do provide to me.

  9. I have a few links that have been paid for, direct to me… I have added the {rel=”nofollow”} tag to them until they finish out their ‘pay thru’ date – Is this a good idea?

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      Yeah that’s probably wise Dawn. The only thing is that the links aren’t as valuable now, so you might want to email your advertisers to make sure they’re ok with it.

      I refunded an entire month of text link money when I took mine down a few months ago because I wanted to be fair to the advertisers that paid for them.

  10. I have heard a lot of bloggers saying that it has an effect on the Google rankings and I have been away from the blogosphere for a while so haven’t had the proper time to research this. Thanks for bringing it up and I am defiantly going to check it out.

  11. Zoomed.

    I went from promoting this a little bit, to one rss footer ad. I send even more traffic to TLA but I dont get any converts. Not only has it hurt the blogosphere, it hasn’t paid.

  12. i wouldn’t promote it without a disclaimer,

    but, tons of sites didn’t get a slap, especially sites not related to marketing/seo, so people keep buying them.

    it’s still a valid way to make money, but I agree it would be responsible to make a disclaimer with it.

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      Hey Mark, I sincerely appreciate your input. It’s true that tons of sites still use it without a slap – I just don’t want to be responsible for ANYONE getting a slap myself.

      Glad to hear that you would use a disclaimer though – most people don’t. 😉

    1. It is a company that pays bloggers and websites to have a link on their site. Advertisers can pay a certain amount of money per month to have the link on someone’s blog. It’s basically a meeting place for website publishers looking to make money and advertisers looking to advertising.

  13. Court,

    Another great post and I think it is a very honest statement about large bloggers. I think sometimes people think that their blogs have such little impact, when in reality they have a great deal of impact. Look at how many make money online websites there are? That isn’t a coincidence. You emulate what you see the most in your life and for a lot of people it is hard to branch out. They cling to every word of A-list bloggers like you and I find it very valuable that you care more about the little guy. You can’t ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.

    Another note I find funny is how people have decided to take this personally (which is bound to happen) even when they are not the A-list bloggers. I am fine with these sites being around, but people need to be warned like you mentioned. If you want to use them then great! Google provides for so much of the search I don’t know why anyone would want to go against them and unfortunately most bloggers don’t have a problogger type readership to dip into.

    There are also so many other ways to make money online that I think it is silly that people think one form of income is their saving grace. Google isn’t big brother, but they are just smarter than a lot of other search engine companies. They know how to keep the integrity of their search program and this publicly goes against it and Google must see this as a form of manipulation to their algorithm when it comes to links. Hahah…Do we remember why links were important? It was because we truly liked something and wanted other people to know about it too, not because they offered us money. It is noteworthy, controversial, exciting, or whatever. That is what creates value online and is worth a searchers time. Everything is so manufactured with spam and other junk that a lot of people look for the quick fix instead of building a brand and providing value.

    I think people forget the purpose that a search engine (Google or whomever) is there to provide value to someone that is searching for sites under a targeted keyword, more than being kind to a website by giving them more traffic. They owe us bloggers nothing. There are plenty of sites out there. The searcher (combined with Google technology) is the true person that made Google what it is and not the blogger hoping for traffic. We aren’t entitled to it and that is what makes this a free market. Court you provided value and people saw it and came to you. Now you have your own text links and ads with no follows. Isn’t that the story here that people are missing? They can do it too without feeling like they are getting kicked in the face by Big Brother Google. You are no different then them other than you and other A-listers put their heart and mind into it. I wish people would care more about providing value instead of gaining a buck.

    1. Thank you for speaking the truth brother…. Google owes us nothing… they are a business, and their business is providing the best results and people trying to cheat them under cuts their business. Be the best and advertisers and readers will come.

  14. I was considering using TLA on my keyword sniping site in order to generate some steady revenue, but thank you for looking out for us… you don’t need to, and you could very well try (like the other guys) to make a little bit of money off of us, but you’re looking out for us…

    That makes me want to support you with some money.

  15. I think I shouldn’t worry too much about how I rank in Google. I do SEO but I try to become less dependent on SERP from the beginning, although thank God my blog is in top ten for certain queries.
    I think you are agree that there are lots of ways to drive traffic other than SERP, as well as there are many other ways to monetize a blog other than selling links

  16. Nice post Court. Great that you point out something like this as the majority may have not been aware of the penalties at all. No doubt that traffic is important but at the end of the day I think the most important thing any blogger can do is…hard work and quality content…there is just no replacement for that.

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  17. Web or plus release an article yesterday stating there are ways around the Google slap issues and a way to totlay hide selling links so they can’t find out. Why most bloggers or atleast the big ones don’t care about Google and do stress the issue the cpc ads are not the way to go for bloggers to make huge money online. This is why they keep inforcing the topic and supporting it.

  18. *a little off topic*

    “Do you think they are going to take the time to educate themselves about the subject as much as you have?”

    Thank you for that sentence Court. I just recently had this backfire on me. Reading your words made me open my eyes a bit on how I should word my posts a little better.

    Thanks,
    Ruck

  19. That’s a very good topic you picked to write a post on. It seems to created a lot of debate one way and another; Google and their actions always seem to create a lot of reactions. Debate is always a great indicator of how good a post is i think

  20. Its funny that you mention this…I have one site that is just a hobby UFC fighting site, another I try and really make money from..the UFC site has no ads and it has a PR5 while the one I’m pushing has a PR0…it seems Google really looks at the links you sell! My advice, build traffic and sell affiliate products…no ads, maybe a few sponsored reviews but thats it!!! trust me Court!

  21. Are you going to go back and edit your “Masterful Monetization Tutorial” to include your little disclaimer? Or are you going to stop pushing it in that article to avoid the hypocrisy you bluster about?

  22. I’m not sure about TLA specifically but I know a lot of the big guys are still selling text links. Yaro Starak has talked about this recently and even though he did get slapped quite severely, his income didn’t drop and selling links makes him money so he continues to sell them though I think he uses the no-follow tag now.

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