No More TLA & Sponsored Blogging

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.

Best,

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 15 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. I too cut ties with TLA at the end of last month. I had it on 3 of my sites, and all 3 lost PR. Luckily, it doesn't look like I lost any traffic yet. I can't believe your main site went to PR0 :(

  2. That just happened last week... but I am betting it bounces back after removing TLA from the site.

    I display Google's link unit at the top left of all pages (prime placement) and TLA was at the very bottom left of the pages... Of course, revenue went to zilch with a PR0.

    It makes you wonder if Google targeted TLA to cut out the competition, considering publishers generally make a lot more selling text links than on Adsense click-through's...

  3. My sites were hit rather inconsistently. A blog that had about 4 sponsored posts and no TLA was hit with a PR 0 down from 3. A blog I do more sponsored posts on went from 2 to 3. The one blog I have TLA on went from 4 to 3.

    But yes, I'm thinking enough is quite likely enough. I've been taking my time since not all is lost yet, and Google traffic hasn't particularly changed.

    The zeroed blog I put the rel="nofollow" on those sponsored links I liked well enough to keep. Theoretically that's all Google wants, isn't it? Something they can read.

  4. I am quite sure TLA knew what was coming well before it happened. I have no proof of this other than I have contact with people who work closely with individuals at Google and they have a knowledge of things not heard anywhere else.

    Google has threatened this action for years and yes, the most potentially vocal bloggers were hit first with a second round of PR drop about three days later. I believe the first round was a hand edit from select bloggers. The second round affected a great many more sites than I think Google would edit manually, thus the random and somewhat unexplained PR movements both up and down across the web.

    The lesson. When Google drops a hint, you better pay attention.

  5. HDTV Reviews says:

    I never hooked into such things. Anyhow thanks for bringing this news into light and I would also look into the tips you provided.

  6. I dropped TLA months ago. Glad to see you've done the same Lynn.

  7. A lot of people got slaughtered in the toolbar and that was mainly due to selling text links or sponsored posts. Both shouldn't be a problem though if you put rel="nofollow" in the links but that is going to decrease demand for these links significantly.

  8. Colin "Free Traffic Report" McDougall says:

    First of all, it's time that all of us stop looking at that "green fairy dust".

    The toolbar is only an estimate of PR anyway. PR is an ever moving thing. I have PR 4 on a site in a very competitive industry and rank on 1000's of keywords.

    I put no focus on PageRank, I focus on getting my site in front of a targeted audience and sometimes that involves buying text links.

    However, when I do a link buy, I request that they use the nofollow, if the agency I buy from will not provide a nofollow on my purchased links I move on and don't purchase from them.

    Link buying should form part of your advertising strategy and Google's green fairy dust shouldn't even be a thought in your online marketing endevours.

  9. I agree, Colin. We have similar views. If you havent read my previous article on PageRank yet, you can find that here:

    http://www.clicknewz.com/1173/google-pagerank-debate/

    Of course, requesting the nofollow attribute is directly related to PageRank/Google concerns. But I'm with you - it does have to be considered. Similar to the reason for ditching TLA and other targeted companies.

  10. Colin "Free Traffic Report" McDougall says:

    I remember asking the text link ad folks at several networks to incorporate images into the equation, while not effective for click throughs, images are great for branding purposes.

    It's sad how they have proceeded forward with "selling pagerank", if they had positioned themselves better it would have been an excellent Tier 2 advertising platform.

    Oh well... Off to do some last minute Christmas shopping now...Yikes!!!!

  11. Dan Reinhold says:

    So PayPerPost is no longer cool either?

    And its competitors??

  12. Sadly, it seems not Dan. I let go of that revenue source some time back, and you can see here how I've replaced it:
    http://www.clicknewz.com/1122/how-i-make-money-online-part-2-an-inside-look/

    I have a lot of personal feelings on the matter, as I pointed out in my Google Pagerank Debate post.

    Similar to TLA switching to cloaked affiliate links, PayPerPost also changed their company name this year to IZEA. I havent looked into the reasons, but I've assumed its related...

  13. Sadly, when a bad business model goes bad, the last to admit it are the founders and upper level management. I am sure their revenue has taken a tremendous and their future as a business in their "industry" is basically over.

    Changing names and cloaking their links will not change the fact that Google has targeted their business and sent fear in any future customer.

  14. Even more sad - IMO - is that Google is in control of which models "go bad" and which thrive...

  15. Colin "Free Traffic Report" McDougall says:

    Hey Dan - I use services such as these but not for the purposes of page rank though.

    Use services such as this to get your name / your brand in front of an audience. Yes, even get posts in blogs that use nofollow, it's all about engaging with an audience.

    This is part of my link building strategy to acquire naturally cast inbound links. Get busy blogging and getting known and then somebody will find your comments useful (make sure you get useful blog talk going, not english as a third language material...) and some of those following the conversation in the blogoshpere might write about you.

    Hope that helps a bit....

  16. Robert Nelson says:

    Has your PR come back yet Lynn? I too regret the ability of Google to control what happens in ecommerce. Worse yet various companies give in to them. One is alway hearing about the 800 lb gorilla(read=Microsoft) tactics, but this seems to be right up there in shadiness on both sides. Somebody will have to take them on(Google, that is) or eventually it will be a de facto monoply.

  17. No, the PageRank hasnt changed back yet, though I expect it will...

  18. Knock on wood! Ill keep that up (TLA) until I lose pr. Then I'll get pissy with them.

  19. I wouldnt recommend it, Troy... Of course, I dont know if Google targeted certain niches or certain types of sites, or if *everyone* is at risk - but its better to be safe than sorry. No sense going down on a sinking ship!

  20. Makingyouricher.com - Best Affiliate Internet Marketing Training Program says:

    Thanks Lynn. I am happy to learn from you – especially the sort of deals or relationship that would have gone sour at the end.

    Though I haven’t heard about Text-Link-Ads.com at all. But just recently, I was telling someone that I may consider this sort of services among others.

    Now I know better…

  21. Easton Ellsworth says:

    Lynn and everyone, thanks for the informative discussion. Our blog network was PR-kneecapped by Google a couple of weeks ago. Since then it's been a scramble to implement the kinds of changes you are all recommending. We're putting nofollow everywhere it needs to go.

    It's just hard to swallow given that we've tried so hard to play by Google's rules all this time, and given a good chunk of change to Google via AdSense and AdWords, and still we get treated like we don't matter to them.

    So yes, I do think, as others here do, that Google needs to not be in such total control. But unless and until another search engine rises (or several) to challenge its giant market share, things will probably remain this way.

  22. I feel your pain Easton. "G" obviously achieved their goal of creating a buzz that sent a clear message about what they did and did not want from site owners across the 'net.

    It's unfortunate that tools like PageRank and Alexa - both completely inaccurate in regards to valuable tools to determine site metrics - are all that we have to analyze the value of a site or a page on the web.

    It should be interesting to see the long term effect this has on the online advertising industry as a whole.

  23. Easton Ellsworth says:

    I agree, Lynn.

  24. Maybe is just me but I believe this Google crusade against paid and sold links is not that powerful anymore. I had the same experience with my website being stripped from its PR because if paid links but I didn't give up. Maybe just because I am very stubborn and others wanted to do their way.
    And now I believe it was a good decision because the traffic was the same long time after I lost the toolbar PR

  25. I experienced the same Andrei - it didnt affect the traffic or even my rankings at all. In fact, it didnt affect actual PageRank (if so, barely). What it did was affect our "toolbar pagerank". And zero green in the toolbar means no payout for you with most companies - as they base their acceptance & payout on that precious (fake) green...

  26. At the end of the day, it's impossible to detect a paid link if it is very much like a regular link...affiliate marketing is nothing different, right?

  27. I thankfully was able to avoid using TLA, so wasn't affected by the Google slap. It's amazing how fast Google catches on to anything spammy/easy for SEO's

Trackbacks

  1. [...] advice, as I have experienced this firsthand myself. Text-Link-Ads and PayPerPost being good examples. Sometimes an income opportunity is great short-term, and then you’ll [...]

  2. [...] and 2) buying & selling text links for the purpose of increasing PageRank could potentially backfire on both the publisher and the [...]

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