Ding dong text link ads is dead
Are Text-Link-Ads dead? I think they are. Back in August 2007 I wrote about the google text link ad penalty. It was pretty controversial then. Now it’s pretty much accepted that paid text links are bad and will get you banned from google. So I was on 45n5 today and was catching up on posts I missed and saw this post Text Link Ads is Black Hat SEO. That kind of cracked me up and he’s right you know. Like he says in the post, Wikipedia says that ‘Black hat SEO attempts to improve rankings in ways that are disapproved of by the search engines, or involve deception.’.

You’re not convinced Text Link Ads (or TLA) is deceptive? Well sir, I will point you to their home page which STILL egotistically claims “Improve your traffic and search engine rankings. Only TLA can deliver an ad that does both.” How in the hell can they still claim that? After all the fallout from google, their own web site doesn’t even rank for the phrase “text-link-ads” and that’s their brand – and they have a google pagerank of 7!!

You know what this reminds me of? Big tobacco.

Traditional “head-in-the-sand” marketing tactics:

“No, our products aren’t addictive. There’s no conclusive evidence. Cancer – what cancer? You can’t show me one verifiable case directly linked to our product(s).

Are they (TLA) stupid? I mean really stoooopid? Anyone savvy in business would have re-branded that company to adapt a new business model accomodating the new ways the Internet and it’s content is evolving. Change or die, ya know. Is it any surprise that the google search “I’m removing text link ads” yields more than 200,000 results? Out of the 20,000 publishers they still claim to have, I wonder how many have actively used their account in the last 6 months? It was no surprise that I found another post labeled Text-Link-Ads Blackhat in no time at all.

I remember back in October when google had the first smackdown on pagerank for text link ads and JohnTP talked about some high profile bloggers getting hit. It made me dig a little deeper and I came across this article by Jennifer Laycock written about the same time – which reminded me of the evolution and history of “nofollow” in the first place and it got me all red-eyed and Mel Gibson (conspiracy theory) like. Remember, nofollow was invented (by google) to combat “comment spam”. TLA was invented (essentially) to “buy pagerank”. TLA refuses to nofollow their ads, and kicks you out of the program if you add it to their ads on your blog.

First off – the battle for comment spam seems worse than even, look what Matt Mullenweg (inventor of WordPress) said:

In theory this should work perfectly, but in practice although all major blogging tools did this two years ago and comment and trackback spam is still 100 times worse now. In hindsight, I don’t think nofollow had much of an effect, though I’m still glad we tried it.

Secondly, as Jennifer points out nofollow has evolved into a way to kill illicit google juice by using a nofollow link condom! Jennifer say “Where does it end? Google doesn’t like paid text ads. Google doesn’t like paid graphic ads. Oh, Google doesn’t like sponsorship of blog themes either”? Now she’s wearing the Mel Gibson hat. Guess what. Matt Cutts AND Matt Mullenweg don’t like sponsored WordPress themes.

If all this isn’t making your head spin already – I go ahead and read Part 2 to the first Jennifer Laycock post, and as she points out – wtf is Yahoo! doing anyway? You can “pay” them for a “review” to be included in the Yahoo! directory – and if that’s not a “paid link” what is? Clearly if they nofollow’d that directory listing link nobody would ever want to buy one. But Yahoo! is big man on the block, much like the Wall Street Journal. Google would much rather piss off 100 bloggers with a pagerank slap than one of the largest companies or sites on the web.

I never liked TLA – I thought they were arrogant from the git-go. They should have adapted to a new model instead of acting like they were doing nothing and publicly ignoring paid text link concerns. But as Jennifer points out – where will it end? Will google hate banner links, affiliate links, all image links now? Will they begin to ban or penalize sites that use certain keywords in links? In Part 3 of that series Jennifer says that google (Matt Cutts) says that good anchor text (keywords in links) is “black hat SEO” (see article for context). WTF is that? Are we heading down a slippery slope? Will google kill us all in the end and give us a big manual telling us how to be naughty and how to be nice?

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