No More Text Link Ads and Paid Links?

By Daniel Scocco

The discussion about Google penalizing websites that sell text link ads has been going for a while. It looks like some stronger evidences are emerging, though.

Search Engine Land just published an article titled “Official: Selling Paid Links Can Hurt Your PageRank or Rankings on Google.” The article illustrates some high profile sites like the Stanford Daily, which saw its PR drop from 9 to 7, supposedly due to the the practice of selling text links. Here is a quotation:

Last week, I noticed the Stanford Daily had dropped from when I wrote the above in April to PR7 today. That’s a huge drop that has no apparent reason to happen. Some others were also reporting PageRank drops. So I pinged Google, and they confirmed that PageRank scores are being lowered for some sites that sell links.

In addition, Google said that some sites that are selling links may indeed end up being dropped from its search engine or have penalties attached, to prevent them from ranking well.

It looks like there might be a PageRank update going on as well, and several sites that used to sell text link ads experienced a drop in PR (e.g., Entrepreneurs-Journey).

Personally I will follow Google’s guidelines on paid links. I might not agree with their policy completely, but I really do not feel in the position to risk getting penalized.

I am also starting to consider if my 125×125 sponsor ads should have the “nofollow” tag or not. But for the moment I will not change it since Search Engine Land itself and several other high profile blogs have the same setup.

Do you plan to keep selling text links on your website?




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94 Responses to “No More Text Link Ads and Paid Links?”

  • Kevin Muldoon

    I have been watching this very closely myself.

    It’s a big blow for a lot of bloggers and webmasters, I’m happy to add nofollow tags to text links etc but will I be able to sell them if I do that?

  • fc

    hey.. came to your site through courtneytuttle.com…
    its a bad move.. especially considering the fact that text links is most often the first steps into getting advertising on a blog or website for any publisher…

    also like kevin says above with the no follow text, who would really want to purchase text links..

    its unfair on google’s part to expect people to earn money only from adsense…and not add value to other streams of money…
    (ok stretched that one last part over there :))

  • redwall_hp

    While the TLA idea is great, perhaps there should be an option to sell links with nofollow attributes attached so Google doesn’t get annoyed. Unfortunately, sites will be less likely to buy then.

  • Zybron

    And here we see Google flexing their near-monopolistic control on search engines. Since everyone who is anyone needs to be on Google and Google has a competing ad format to text link ads, they penalize websites who use a competitor’s product.

    I remember this happening before, though the context was different. At that time, it was Microsoft forcing everyone to use their browser. That ended badly for Microsoft. Perhaps Google should learn from the anti-trust suits of one of their competitors.

  • Cigar Jack

    It is scary how one companies policies can make or break your site. If I gave up Text Links sold via other services and direct sponsorship I’d lose most of the income from my site. All my TL’s I sell on my site typically relate to my content so why I should I be penalized for that? So far it looks like my meager PR 4 is holding firm though.

  • sir jorge

    This does dampen the future for me, as I was starting to see an increase in ad sales through TLA, but if google is going to start penalizing people and rank, maybe it’s time to figure out a work around. I’m sure we will figure it out.

  • Nathan Rice

    Daniel,
    I’d go ahead and add the nofollow to your button ads too. In all honesty, button ads are meant to attract clicks, not link weight, so adding it to them won’t affect the advertisers, and it will tell google that you are willing to comply.

    Better safe than sorry.

  • Daniel

    By the way when I mention Text Link Ads I am not referring to the company by that name, but rather to all forms of paid links.

  • Travis

    Like Kevin, I wonder if adding a nofollow tag would make the paid links ok. That would reduce their value somewhat, but if they’re relevant links, they might still be valuable as a traffic source (rather than just a link for ranking purposes).

  • Daniel

    Travis, yes Google stated clearly that you can still sell links as long as you add a nofollow tag.

    Most people buy links for the SE juice, though, so I this model would prove much less profitable.

  • N80ie

    I had the code for this program on this (n80ie.com) site since I set up the weblog and did not sell any ads until recently. Prior to the one and only ad that is now served via TLA, the site enjoyed over a hundred hits a day right out of the gate, even before there was any content.

    That particular phone model is not as popular as it had been prior to the N95, so there are probably fewer searches for this and therefore, less traffic, but the site is now down to an average of 23 uniques per day and the PR, which was 2 is now 1.

    The content is good. The is still on the first page of Google results for the domain name keyword search, n80ie. The drop in page rank makes no sense. Pretty lame Google.

  • Eli

    I may sell text links, but not through TLA and not so that it’s noticeable. One reason to no longer use TLA is how much they take from your link sales, 50%.

    I wanted to ask, Daniel, in your opinion, is selling graphic ads the same as text links? They don’t have as much effect in SERPs as do text links do they? So why should having a no follow on the graphic ads effect anything?

    Thanks

  • Daniel

    Eli, if I am not wrong Google states that any form of advertising should be disclosed via the nofollow tag. So far the buzz is only about text links, but it could expand.

  • Thilak

    I’ve been watching the whole story closely. Matt Cutt keeps telling that we redirect sponsored links through robot.txt, but I don’t understand how this is done.

    Google should cook up some algorithm to devalue these sponsored links rather than devaluing the site’s PR.

  • Patrix

    So does Google ads also have the “nofollow” tag built in? I use TLA as it provides a steady income but I would use a nofollow tag on those ads if I could. I rather have advertisers who are looking for traffic through clicks rather than SEO juice.

  • Daniel

    Patrix, yeah I am pretty sure Adsense units do not pass SE juice.

  • pchere

    I stopped using TLA a month back. Google is too important to ignore.

  • Jamaipanese

    I’m giving this a little more time before I decide to do away with sponsored links on all or some of my blogs

  • Ben

    Anything other than Adsense has done poorly on my blog so for me it is not a big deal. I guess what you really have to ask yourself is:

    Are you blogging for money?
    Are you blogging for content?
    Are you blogging for pagerank?

  • Dean

    Does this include javascript code for banner ads or is it just HTML links?

  • raj

    The Googlewhip cracks down. Several webmasters are reporting PR drops. What I’ve noticed, though, is that it’s only on sites that have irrelevant paid links. And possibly due to snitching, or some obvious text such as “Sponsors” near the link blocks.

  • Daniel

    Dean, I am not sure about javascript codes.

    Raj, yeah if you still want to run paid links I would call them blogroll or something :).

  • Annie

    Hm, I’ll have to think about it. In the grand scheme of things, I make very little from selling text link ads (about $150 a month) and only do it on one site. I have a blogroll list on the same site though so I’m not sure how Google would tell one from the other. (Unless they’re specifically looking for code from the TLA people.)

  • Moses Francis

    The way i see it Pagerank was/is overrated to begin with, people should be buying links for traffic not PR and, the only reason a big majority of people are buying links is to increase their respective PR, but since Google has imposed this penalty wouldn’t it just devalue the whole PR shananigan?

    ok i don’t if what i just said makes sense, but it did to me, i think…

  • cmanlong

    if they aren’t penalizing graphic ads wouldn’t a simple(albeit temporary until google updates again) solution just be to convert the text link ads to graphical ones. Say a 200 x 10 or 12 size block image with simple text.

  • Daniel

    cmanlong, who said they are not penalizing graphics? As I posted on the comments before Google states that all forms of advertising should have a nofollow tag.

    The issue is that major blogs still use banners with followed links, so I am not sure how much of a big deal this is.

  • Sydney

    The main source of income I’ve found is through paid reviews. Text link ads are nice and all, but I’d rather have something I can manipulate into fitting into my site more, hence the reviews.

    While it pains me that Google is using their clout to do this and us bloggers actually fear getting penalized by Google, it makes sense.

    I haven’t made much headway with TLA, but I did take them down anyway. If a new pagerank comes out, I don’t want my meager one to be penalized anymore than it should be.

  • Dean

    I presume affiliate links would be classified as a paid link too?

  • Daniel

    Dean, I don’t think affiliates are a problem. If you are using them on the homepage or sidebar just stick a nofollow in them to be sure.

  • aaron

    nofollow was one of the worst things to happen to the blogging community in my opinion. It did nothing against spam, continues to let blog authors penalize comment authors, and sets up situations like this. There’s obviously going to be some blogs that want to link to good content or a good site, that will be penalized because they didn’t add nofollow and it looks like a paid link.

  • Israel

    pretty informative site you have here. I havent sold any text links but i was going to. Maybe I should not do it? hows exactly does google know if you sold text link spots?

  • Genesis

    Well, I sell text links, but don´t have PR yet . . . so I would guess that my buyers are not looking for PR juice. 😀 But on the other hand, I think it is a bit unfair of Google to penalize people who don´t put no-follow tags on their blog . . . a lot of us aren´t terribly technical. I for one, have no idea how to do that!

  • Armen

    I’d definately be adding no-follow to ads, image or text. After seeing what happened to David Airey, I wouldn’t risk losing a heap of Google traffic over it.

  • Jermayn Parker

    David Airey just got pinged with this same thing…

    I would personally use rel=”nofollow” or clearly label them as sponsors…
    More that I have personally learnt hear:
    http://germworks.net/blog/2007/10/08/some-seo-lessons-of-paid-sponsors-for-your-website/

  • David Airey

    Hi Daniel,

    Similar to Armen’s view, I’d add ‘nofollow’ to your image ads, so you’re sure not to be breaking Google’s guidelines. Your ads are clearly labelled as sponsors, so it’s fair to assume they’re paying you. Paid links mustn’t pass page rank (where Google are concerned and as far as I know).

    It depends what you value more, Google rankings or funds from sponsors.

  • Dexter

    The real question is.. Do google update the Page Rank.. It’s been a while that they have not updated it..

    The only soultion into this selling if it happens is.. Just sell links to those site that have same niche as yours

  • Mohsin

    This is scary, but what’s even scarier is that your competitors can report you to Google for selling text links on your site.

    I think there is no way to escape Google’s omnipotence anymore.

  • Marko Novak

    I’ve just removed text-link-ads two days ago.

  • Ross

    I’m curious – does all of this automatically include the actual “Text-Link-Ads.com” service?

  • Daniel

    Ross, yes.

  • angrys0ul

    Google may seem to be self defensive here but there is a lot more at stake, especially their algorithm to rank sites based on links from other sites

    you actually may not have given that advertiser’s site a link for its content, its the money they pay you thats making you link back

  • Marc Beharry

    One of the most fundamental building blocks of the web is now being policed by Google, the SS of the internet.

    Now we have to be gunshy about linking to other sites? MADNESS !!!

    This deals a harsh blow to many legit sites, while spammers run free.

    How much effort are they putting into cleaning their search results of MFA sites?

    Goggle should move their home office to North Korea, just like Haliburton moved to Dubai.

  • blogstheme.com

    It’s sad that this thing started to happen, because people were starting to earn a lot of money from selling text links.
    The websites/networks that sold links like text-link-ads.com, will be getting a kick…

    It’s something like if you are earning a lot more from google’s traffic, you will have to lose all the paid links that you have on your website, if not, just keep them.

    Same thing was said about having adsense on your website a long time ago, but it looks like it doesnt matter that much.

  • Jaan Kanellis

    Great advice on the subject here:

    http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2007/10/75-rules-of-selling-links-how-not-to-get-penalized.html

  • vijay

    If you want Google juice then don’t complaint just keep quite else find other revenue and traffic options for you. It is that simple!!

  • Make Online Money Now

    Seems kind of harsh since many blogs are only currently making enough to just pay the bills. If Google forces them to pull out some major sources of advertising to keep they ranking it may cause some of the quality of the writing to suffer since there will be little in it for the average blogger… Google should re-think this.

  • Deceth

    Does this refer to services like Text-Link-Ads and Kontera, or to things like paid link directories?

  • Daniel

    It refers to any link that you place on your site where you are getting paid for and that do not carry a nofollow tag.

  • Johan

    I think it is part of google’s monopoly to get us to use there adds

  • Ken Dahlin

    In my opinion, Google should flag sites owners who are buying text links if they are concerned about sites “buying their way into heaven”. But by going after the sites that sell text links, they’re able to directly launch an attack on advertising which isn’t their own… effectively cutting *in* the middle man, so to speak. Maybe I’m wrong, but it might be interesting to compare pagerank stats for publishers who use adsense exclusively.

  • Eric Atkins

    You scared me. I’ve removed my accounts with TLA.

    Still, how can you stop website owners from voluntarily linking to your website? I’m unsure if Google can publish the website being linked. There’s a lot of site without nofollow in the world. In fact, nofollow is relatively new to the web.

  • Daniel

    It is very hard to get penalized by external links. Google controls that so that someone could not damage you merely by linking to you, even if their site is flaged as spam or worse.

  • JTPRATT’s Blogging Mistakes

    I won’t do text link, and I took down my TLA’s a long time ago. When I wrote about this in August, some people thought I was crazy. But it’s not like Matt Cutt’s hasn’t been telling people for awhile now.

  • admin

    wohhhh, this is a serious matter, i must reconsider.

  • Ada

    Hi. I’m a bit confused. When you do paid reviews like with Pay Per Post etc does that count? After all, you’re being paid and the posts usually include links to the site being reviewed. What about Kontera? Does that count as well?

  • Radheshyam

    Hi,
    I am Radheshyam admin of http://www.bizarredesigns.com . I visit your site and fine Great site. Really nice work. Keep it up.

  • Daniel

    Paid reviews count, kontera should not.

  • Anime Girl

    Google can not police the internet. They need to fix their algorythem and stop penalizing webmasters.

    If they reduce the page rank of top websites and blogs, what will happen is the crappier sites will take the lead, which after a while, will devaluate the value of a Google search! So in essence they are hurting themselves.

    I think if ALL websites joined together and fought Google by ignoring them alltogether, Google would eventually have to listen mainly because the value of Google hinges on YOUR CONTENT in THEIR INDEX!

  • Ndaru

    But how can G tell the difference between paid and natural links?

  • Adam Smotthy

    ok – paid and natural links.

    A link is a different website linking back to your website.
    (A backlink is the offical term).

    Natural links can be free of paid.
    Both are natural links but sometimes you pay and sometimes its free depending on where you go and what the site rules etc are.

    *** Note: one way links are more valuable then 2 way links as a one way link means the other site is really interested in adding you and you didn’t need to add them.

    *** There is also a concept called PR – Page Rank – it means which page you are listed on – the first page being the most valuable.

    When you pay for links you can get a one way higher PR link often.
    Many site also offer one way free links with OK PR.

    Recommendation to rank higger in Google: I would get paid and free one ways links to your site – to the front page and sub pages if possible (from 20 to 50 per month) a little more is ok but dont’ over do it.

    Note: you have to be pacient as Google is very large and you won’t get the results you want for a few months in most cases.

    🙂

    Adam Smotthy
    website design and search engine optimistation melbourne australia
    http://www.globalsolutionsit.com.au

  • Autoresponder Designer

    Hello,
    Its the post which explains do’s and dont’s of SEO. Buying text links would be beneficial only for less time, but on a long term, it just makes loss as the site giviing paid links is one or the other day penalized by Google for there work && the imapact of this is forwarded to all sites in the network.
    So, never do any paid links work, just make natural link building !! it does not matter if you get the links from no-follow tags pages, but it will at the end of the day, give you a good response !!

    Thanks,
    Sandeep, if you are dreaming for an Autoresponder, than visit http://www.googlewebstore.com .

  • Tom

    Another similar program worth considering is Etology. I’ve been using this service for a few months now and so far I’m quite happy with the results. I haven’t had a chance to advertise with this system yet, but as a publisher I love the freedom to sell ad space based on my own prices. Check out this review that I wrote for more info.

  • fornetti

    I do not believe this

  • Off Page Seo

    It’s very difficult being competitive without buying links, the competition have already bought loads.

  • Armand

    I guess it doesn’t matter as long as we keep the no-follow tags. But the advertisers won’t put their ads to those who have blogs with no-follow tags.

    However, I guess the most important thing to consider is optimizing the PR and traffic of your blogs, once you have the lucky number, then you’ll have the chance to try different types of advertisements or even sell direct ads 😉

  • Boerne Search

    I always find out about this way too late. Wonder why?

  • sam

    THIS Is the topic -which still has no final verrdict. we see sites withTLA as high as PR6 and going good. where as we also see sites with TLA showing N/A on google and delisted/ so there is no such final verdict as such. if omeone has got a sure shot answer– let me know

  • google money

    there are many problems in building links manually i think buying link is more useful

  • Buy Text Links

    99% from top 3 website in competitive niches buy text links.

  • Buy Text Links

    You should find solutions and you will be ranked for top keywords 🙂

  • Build Backlinks

    A less expensive alternative to buying text link ads is to buy a service that matches up websites to to a network of sites willing to give each other one way links. Neurolinker is the best service in this category and is a great service for building backlinks effectively and cheaply.

  • Nad

    Those who are living in USA must sue googles as someone did it with Microsoft. Google practices are not clean as many thinks. I was running google adsense and stopped money even I did not violate their policy. It happened to many others if you invetigate on the net. If I would be in USA, I had sued them and asked them to prove if I violated the policy.

Comments are closed.