There has been a lot of talk about PageRank in the last few months, specifically related to the buying and selling of text links. I voiced my opinion in an article titled Google PageRank: Tool or Marketing Gimmick? While I can see both sides of the debate, I have come to an obvious conclusion:
Its time to discontinue any relationships with text link brokers
You may think that's a hasty decision, or that I'm giving in to the mighty "Green" and bowing down to the Google Toolbar, but let me explain...
I'll start with Text-Link-Ads.com, as this seems to be a culprit for the recent loss in PageRank that many webmasters and bloggers experienced. I'm not sure if it's been proven, but its certainly heavily suspected. Just see the discussions about TLA on WebmasterWorld for a taste of the suspicions...
Text-Link-Ads (aka TLA) is one of the largest text link advertising brokers in the industry, so it wouldnt surprise me to learn they were specifically targeted by Google.
But in addition to that concern, TLA did something on their own this year that bothered me enough to make me want to cut ties with them. They changed their affiliate links from a basic referral link to a TinyURL. This seemed like a very odd (and somewhat fishy) move for a company of their size... and it made me question their motives - or at least their thinking.
When I got that email from Text-Link-Ads, my reply was "Are you serious?!?" - to which I received a short reply back which simply said "yes"...
I have no idea why a company of that size, with their reputation, would cloak their own links - leaving thousands of affiliates scrambling to update their referral links around the web, and stuck using something so questionable as "tinyurl". GEEZ.
At any rate, the talk is that selling links to Text-Link-Ads.com on your websites or blogs is the reason behind the loss of PageRank in the last Google update. Since the advertising rates are directly related to the PageRank of your site, this resulted in a drastic loss in revenue for webmasters - including myself.
Its just not worth it anymore
My primary website went from a PR5 to a PR4 and then to no PR at all (see for yourself). Text link advertisers dont want to buy links on a PR0 website, so this resulted in a direct loss of revenue. I removed the code for TLA promptly - You win, Google.
Interestingly, my traffic and search engine positions didnt change - only the Toolbar PageRank - which is what advertising brokers base their ad rates on. The conclusion is an obvious one.
Sponsored Blogging is suspected as a trigger for this recent update as well. Just like text link advertising, the payouts for sponsored blog posts are based on Toolbar Pagerank too. The recent Google update cut many bloggers checks in half, or more.
It boils down to "Losing Green" which, with this update, refers to both PageRank and to cold hard cash from advertising revenue.
This week I will be removing Text-Link-Ads.com code from all of my websites, and cease my relationship with them as an advertising broker. I am also removing all references to sponsored blog posts in my blog archives.
The blog posts will remain, but I'll simply remove the "sponsored by" text, or anything that might trigger Google's filter. Those posts have long since run their required time for payout, and so this is a fair move from all sides.
If you rely on advertising revenue of any sort, its time to consider other forms of monetization and new sources of revenue. Affiliate Marketing and Info Products are great replacements. If you are not already using both of those to make money online, now is a good time to get started.