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Do You Sell Text Links on Your Blog? [POLL]

Posted By Darren Rowse 29th of October 2008 Advertising, Reader Questions 85

Do You Sell Text Links on Your Blog?

Warning – Before answering this question in comments you might want to consider doing so anonymously and without a link to your blog – particularly if your answer is YES. It could hurt you to identify yourself if you say yes publicly.

It is time for another poll here at ProBlogger – this one on the topic of selling text links.

A year or so back selling text links was the #1 income source for many bloggers. The practice was common and all done out in the open. Advertisers wanted to buy text links from blogs and websites that had been around for a while and had established decent page rank in Google. They were doing this to increase their own search engine authority. Bloggers saw the practice as relatively easy money – payments were recurring on a monthly basis and with services like TextLinkAds that emerged there was very little work in finding advertisers or collecting payments.

However the Text Link Ad selling industry came crashing down (to some extent) late in 2007 when Google took the step of penalizing many websites and blogs (some quite high profile ones) for the practice of selling text links. They see selling of text links as people trying to game or manipulate their ranking system and if they find people doing it – issue penalties which can hurt your search engine ranking.

As a result of this action many bloggers stopped selling text links. I had personally stopped selling them before Googles action (although was hit with a page rank penalty for a few days before Google corrected it).

The practice of selling text links continues today – however it’s done a lot less publicly than previously. Services still exist to arrange the buying and selling of links but it seems that it has gone much more underground with many deals being done directly between advertisers and bloggers and with advertisers less interested in site wide text links and more interested in buying them within content on individual pages.

While many bloggers have stopped doing it – quite a few continue to sell them either not aware of the risks or willing to take the risk for the income it provides.

The point of this poll is to find out just how many bloggers still sell text links.

As I mentioned above – if you want to comment on this poll below and you do sell text links you might want to do it anonymously or with a pseudonym as it wouldn’t be hard for Google to hit you with a penalty. Voting yes in the poll without commenting is anonymous however.

So it’s over to you – here’s the poll (it’s also in my sidebar):

{democracy:39}


I’m looking forward to seeing the results on this one!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. I used too and I made good money… But it damaged my rank and traffic very, very hard when our mutual friend G realized it… So I re3edemed my self to our Big Brother Google and now everything runs smoothly… but with less money!

  2. Absolutely NOT. Selling Text Links is like building a house of cards. The thing that makes text links valuable on your site is your Pagerank, but selling Text Links will ruin your Pagerank.

    And for me, my Pagerank is very valuable. My outgoing links, and even my self-referential links, are authoritative with a PR6.

  3. Anonymou says: 10/29/2008 at 12:19 am

    I just recently signed up for Text Link Ads, at a recommendation of a Blogger friend (who is actually quite an avid reader of yours!). I was completely unaware of these consequences, and it makes me wonder if she is as well…

  4. Darren, I think you missed a very important metric. Whether the links are nofollow or not.

  5. I honestly sell text links on my blog and some paid reviews.

  6. Nope. No links here. But i still have not PR for now.

  7. I just recently started to sell nofollow links(125×125 and text links). I’m bought a plugin to manage sales. I did not do the dofollow since I did not have the traffic and Google slapped many back then. It was too risky.

    You should had added:

    – Yes but only nofollow

  8. Would you mind explaining a little bit more about how these work for us newbies? Are these the links that exsist directly in the post content, where if you hover your mouse over a keyword it displays a pop-up ad? In that case, I think it would be pretty obvious who uses it, but I’m thinking that’s not what is meant by text links.

  9. I sell Text Link ads, I have had my PR removed.

  10. Nope and I never will. I have had people ask me numerous times and I refuse too.

  11. I still sell them, although I try to sell just nofollow links, if someone wants a follow link they pay double…and i make quite a bit of money doing it. As other revenue streams get more profitable for me I’ve been being much more selective and raising my prices.

  12. I never have. Although the money is awful tempting.

  13. On my niche sites yes, not on my blog.

  14. Hamdani Amin says: 10/29/2008 at 1:07 am

    I just started to sell text link as experimental. All my link is actually nofollow and image banner.

  15. Of course not, it is easy to tell if a person is doing this and it makes you look bad. You want to make a good impression on people visiting your blog and selling text links is not a good way to do that. I know some people think it is an easy way to make money but they really are annoying.

    I guess it really is up to what the blogger is looking for. If you are all about getting traffic to your blog and not keeping those visitors as your subscribers or religious readers, then sell text links. Or you can not do it and keep those people as readers.

  16. Yea the punishment in both page ranking and in the overall quality of your site simply aren’t worth it. Google catches the large majority of link sellers/traders and most readers see right through it and then take a bad opinion of your site. Not a great way to build a following – even if it does make you some short term cash.

  17. Why do some of my comments go into moderation when it doesn’t look like spam at all?

  18. Nope, and I don’t plan to either. Honestly, how do you sell links in a photoblog without making it look weird anyway?

  19. No I never sold text links on My blog although my blog having good ranking and have good traffic.

  20. Brandon says: 10/29/2008 at 1:36 am

    To those of you that say it’s too risky– I hope you’re doing something else that makes money off your blog to justify not taking the “risk.” I love it when blogs that make no money and really serve no purpose refuse to sell links because of the risk. What’s the risk…that you might actually make some money?

  21. I sold and sell text link ads, as it’s the only real significant source of income.

    I honestly don’t know why Google has a problem with this if the links are relevant to my site contents. I only sell links relevant to my site content.

    Yehuda

  22. I would if I could and I would even rave about the product or site or whatever, any takers.

  23. No text link sales here.

    I only do AdSense on a site and a blog that is generally static and make enough to satisfy all of my computer and internet costs.

  24. I just noticed new ads that just started appearing on my site are not so relevant after all. Spoke too soon.

    Yehuda

  25. Absolutely not – as well as the google penalties it’s unfair on your readers.

  26. Chris says: 10/29/2008 at 2:00 am

    Selling text links brings in about $200 a month profit for me. I’ll always do it.

  27. No I have never done any kind of sales on my blog except for products I market. I have been asked many times.

    I have PR4 so maybe I was on the right track and didn’t even know it.

    Thanks for this post, I have wondered often about this.
    Robin

  28. Your Friendly Neighborhood Computer Guy: No that’s in-text advertising

    It’s mostly on the sidebar like a regular link(friend’s blog) but bought using and anchor text.

    You also have paid post where you make a few comments about a product/service using again the anchor text.

  29. I had never heard of selling text links (and still don’t quite understand it) until I saw your post today and then lo and behold, I got an e-mail from someone who wanted to buy them.

  30. No, although I want to. lol

  31. I tried it a long time ago, back in the days when you had to ask Google’s permission to add other advertisers to your site. After asking Google if it was okay, they politely informed me that they pretty muched loathed text link ads and strongly suggested that I remove them from my blogs (which I did).

    Now with the economy downsizing, I’ve noticed that the offers have increased to hundreds of dollars. Since I promised Google that I would not engage in text link advertising, I (sadly) have to decline (as I really could use the money now–but keeping my word is more important to me). :-(

  32. Nope, I never have sold text links on my blog. I have always been proud of my blog’s content and feel that selling links will cheapen it.

    With that said, I do link to various books I talk about on Amazon, as I am one of their affiliates. But when I do include such a link in my content, I often will put “(aff link)” after, so people know they are clicking on an affiliate link. I think transparency is very important in blogging.

    Great post, as always! Thank you Darren!

  33. Andrea: This morning, I replied to someone who had an offer for her blog.

    The person wanted to pay her $15 to add a small related paragraph at the end of a few post. It had 6 links(dofollow) in it. The offer was not recurring.

    I had similar offers before.This is another way besides the 2 in the comment above yours

  34. Another perspective…. We saw the paid link backlash coming and positioned our product to take advantage of the “new rules” by allowing the sale of relevant links in content which publishers and advertiser have the option to nofollow or dofollow.

    We are seeing new clients each day who are moving from sidebar and footer ads to the safer option of contexual html links.

    The main thing, if you are going to sell links, don’t make them obvious as paid or at least nofollow them. Yes – many advertisers buy nofollow links if they are properly priced.

  35. I only sell paid review’s in my blog. Never had link selling before simply because I know I can make good money with this but I am scared of a Google!

  36. I have contemplated selling some but I do not feel like getting penalized for it. I will settle with selling “nofollow” bannner ads instead in hopes that it will still make a decent about of money.

  37. Thanks Steve.

    With that in mind, I don’t think I would do well with those, especially since my blog is about personal finance with a focus on frugality … might look like a bit of a conflict of interest. :)

  38. Hi Darren,

    I never sold a text-link in my websites, but because we did never had a customer asking for such service yet.

    I think we are all so obfuscated with what Google does, and this is not good, because we are giving a power that do not worth.

    They sell Text-Links, is they main business, and if I do not sell a link from they I get a penalty (yes, I know that is not exactly the same, but sure you get my point…)

    Or when I have to buy a campaign at Google AdWords, I have to pay an average of 1$ per click, but when I get paid I revceive 0.01$ (not joking, this was the last price for a click on one of my sites).

    You said in a previous post that bloggers get their traffic from RSS, friends and Social Media, SEO is only an small part,… so why we care what google thinks of us ?

    Also I fully agree with your decision of removing adsense from Problogger, I’m sure you will be doing better with direct sales, and people that really appreciate what do you do.

    We all have to become sellers and do direct sells, or do a network/group between us and our margins will be increased dramatically… I prefer to pay a commission to a friend blogger who sold an ad on my site than paying it to Google for doing nothing.

    So, to clarify my point…

    If someday, someone lands on one of my sites, and ask us to place a link for money, we will first analyze the relevance of the links ( I will not place a link to Viagra from a HDTV website), then we will try to offer an advertising/promotion package that will include (hopefully) Web Banners, Newsletter banners, advertorials…

    We do not lie to our audience, is what we care about. So if it’s a paid “link” we will tell them that is an advertorial, or we will not accept to promote a content that is not in our editorial line…

    But… we will not drive our decision based on what google does.

    If google is as good as it to detect that is a paid-link, what it have to do is simply not take into account that link as a vote… as they are not taking into account the links for the banners… not need to penalize the website….

  39. I haven’t sold any text links till date. But given the right advertiser we would be glad to work with them.

  40. I have never sold a text link, but have agreed to offers from people who wish to “advertise” on my sites. When I reply my agreement, as long as a nofollow attribute can be applied to the link, I never get a reply back.

    It is just not worth taking the chance of being penalized for what amounts to a very small income.

  41. Anonymous says: 10/29/2008 at 4:05 am

    I’ve been selling them from almost the beginning of my blogging. Had no idea I was playing with fire.

    I don’t get what the big deal is…how is it different than selling any other ad or even a google adsense text link block?

    Seems kinda hypocritical. Anyway, my PR has stayed around 4 for a long time. I’m not sure how I would know if I was getting penalized except that might fall right?

    Also, everyone in the comments seemed to suggest it was highly lucrative. I don’t make that much money from them…less than $100/month and I have almost 10 of them.

    I’ve noticed that TextLinkAds has built in all sorts of obfuscation technology lately to prevent detection…the plugin has a randomly generated name, their javascript you paste in is highly obfuscated, and of course the text it generates leaves no trace of text link ads in it. I imagine Google would have a very hard time detecting it…web servers go to great links to prevent access to the code underneath since this would open up all sorts of apps (imagine if you could see the PHP code that generates any page on the internet)…it’s a huge security vulnerability.

    That being said, Google does have human beings looks at some pages now. And (if they want to be mean) people can report you for selling text links on the webmaster tools page. That’s probably how some people are getting caught now.

  42. Selling textes isn´t the best thing to earn money…
    Just do hard work for your money is the best thing!
    That´s my opinion…

  43. Text Link Ads or Image Link Ads or Both? I find it quite vague. Anyway, i hope this poll will give a decent result were all of us can draw our own conclusions.

  44. Now my blog hasn’t good PR and it hasn’t good traffic but when i’ll have enought traffic and PR i willn’t sell link, but i think sell reviews isn’t bad idea

  45. i display text links on my site. i don’t do it directly but through a 3rd party website. i did get google slap bigtime a few months ago and considered dropping that service..but then google loved me again and i kept it on. plus the $200+ passive income from it is hard to leave.

  46. Google is just mad because someone is profiting besides them. I think it is unfair to penalize a bloggers blog just because they sell text links, especially if it is done through “paid to post” programs like smorty and payperpost.

    I have never sold text links but was thinking about doing it, but only through paid to post programs. I would never do this individually. But, here is my thing, you can pay someone to post blog comments for backlinks as well! Isn’t that the same thing as buying or selling text links?

    I think this is why paid to blog programs are using new criteria for accepting blogs to the program. They use to go off of pagerank, but now they are looking at backlinks and your visitor count. Some aren’t even doing that. They are just looking at if you keep your blog updated.

  47. Text link ads were sold on our site for almost two years, and in that time PR went from a 6 to a 3. Reimbursed advertisers and removed them about two weeks back and the site is magically a 6 again. Along with that 6 comes additional interest from other non-text based advertisers and it makes the site look ahelluva lot cleaner.

  48. I used to get paid $5 per link, per month. I sold 2 links to the same company every month for an entire year, I think for Viagara or something, and got $10 every month via paypal.

    The latest trend is headed towards image-based advertising, so I have updated my site accordingly with a self-service solution. So far, so good.

  49. I had TextlinkAds about 2 1/2 years ago and made very little money. So, I dumped them and went with other ad sources that preform better on my blog.

Comments are closed for this post.