Posted by Melanie Phung on Monday, February 5, 2007 at 10:20 pm
Note: I wrote this post in 2007. Please be aware that selling text links is heavily frowned on by Google and may have consequences for your site.
For advertisers, there is a significant difference between contextual ads and (non-ad-served) text link ads. Contextual ads, like the Sponsored Results you see on the side of search engine results pages are all about ROI; whereas text link ads are primarily about (c’mon now let’s be honest) buying relevant inbound links that are intended to drive up rankings.
But for publishers, one concern looms larger than all others: show me the money!
After doing some investigating into the whole industry of purchasing text links (not to be confused with paid content or paid blog postings), I’m starting to come to the conclusion that I should migrate away from Google’s AdSense system in favor of a text link broker like Text Link Ads, or the equally creatively named Text Link Brokers (both terribly generic company names that serve as ultra-relevant anchor text anytime someone links to them).
So here’s the thing, it took me a whole year to get my first Google AdSense check. I look to be on track for another year of the same. Don’t get me wrong, I have no real complaints about the program. So why am I thinking of walking away with money left on the table?
Reasons Why Text Links Are Better Than AdSense
- Google’s minimum for actually cutting you a check is higher than most other services, but until the money is in your bank account you haven’t actually earned anything yet.
- With contextual ads you only get paid when someone clicks, while the simple act of publishing the text links is all it takes to earn money under the other model. And depending on the default level you set for editorial oversight, text link ads can run themselves as easily as the AdSense script.
- While one could argue that visitors to the site might actually be interested in contextual ads and that text links, by comparison, are simply link spam –i.e., that I’d be doing my readers a disservice by switching to text ads — the truth is that I don’t think any regular readers of this blog are too interested in the cheesy contextual ads that get displayed alongside my posts currently.
- Because text link ads don’t require anyone to actually click through, there’s less pressure to pimp out a site with ads in very prominent locations. (Google advises advertisers to pay attention to eye tracking and heat map studies to make decisions on where to place ads.)and finally…
- Even if I only sold 1 link a month with Text-Link-Ads.com, I’d still be earning more money than I do with AdSense currently.
Whether you think text link ads are “black hat SEO” doesn’t really matter if you’re the publisher, not the advertiser. Even if there’s a possibility that the search engines start discounting your links by virtue of being lower quality, the only reason this should matter to you as a site owner is if the ability to pass PageRank is part of your sales proposition (which means, de facto, that you were already trying to pull one over on the algorithms).
If you’re a very large site, text link ads look pretty tacky, so I certainly don’t think revenue should be the only consideration when deciding between AdSense and paid links; but on the other hand, AdSense would detract from how seriously I would take a large, would-be authoritative site as well.
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