Buying links has long been a popular way to increase search engine rankings, but only few marketplaces exist where you can buy links – text-link-ads.com is one of the largest – but buying (or selling) links trough such places can have its disadvantages. This review will focus on both the advertising and publishing aspect of TLA.
Links in the TLA network can be purchased at a variety of monthly rates, you can sometimes be lucky and find a pagerank 6 site that you can buy a link on for as little as 30$ per month. These low prices can be very attractive to advertisers who are looking for cheap links.
Text-link-ads also have some other services when it comes to buying links, they are however very expensive, and appears as a direct competition to publishers on the site. Their other services are focused on permanent links, such as:
- Link Wheels
- Forum Links
- Webmaster outreach
It's rather unclear how publishers can join these other services – maybe TLA will contact them when they are ready to take in more?
The value of buying links trough TLA
Text-link-ads have all these extra services besides the normal TLA text links, they have so many services, with so little explanation, that its hard to know what they are, without having tried them. Some of the services are pretty obvious however. One thing they have in common, is that they are very expensive, and therefor not worth it for most website owners.
If you got the money to pay for these services, then it likely will be worth it. But you should keep in mind, that many of these tempting offers, are just low-quality spam, sold with one purpose, to boost search engine rankings. If discovered, links can get devalued just as fast!
Take forum links for instance, how can these be quality links? Basically only in very few situations, and it often depends on who's buying! There are two ways to place links on forums, one is by spamming, the other is by participating as a real user of the forum. You shouldn't trust text-link-ads to participate in forums on your behalf – their interest is to place the links you just brought – your interest should go further than that.
The normal TLA link is more innocent than their other services, but you should still use it with consideration. There is a lot of spam in the TLA network – buying a link on a low-quality, low-traffic site will mostly be a waste of money. The placement of the link is important, since a poor placement won't give you any traffic.
You might be thinking: But isn't TLA just about search engine rankings? It likely is to the majority of advertisers. But if all you are focusing on is SE rankings, then you might have a very hard time reaching your goals. There is just as much to be gained from referral traffic (if not more!) That's why the location of the ads you buy, can be more important than other factors.
You would want to buy a link on a quality site, that is regularly updated, with at least 10000 monthly visitors – and the location of the Ad should be visible to users!
Selling links trough Text-link-ads.com
If you are considering to sign up with text-link-ads as a publisher, then you should be aware that they take a 50% cut of your revenue – this doesn't seem entirely fair, considering all they are doing is putting your link at display in a automated system.
You are also required to review any sold Ads within 24 hours, after which they will automatically go live on your website – and while TLA does claim to review ads before they go live, a lot of spam still slips trough. The below is a quote from the Editorial Approval System page:
Receive an email notification every time an advertiser purchases a link off your website and have the ability to reject that advertiser. If you (the publisher) approve the ad, then the ad is placed immediately. If we do not hear back from you in 24 hours the ad will be reviewed by our Text Link Ads editors.
Many website owners have reported that they are making more money with text-link-ads than with adsense, but that is likely only because they are operating low-quality sites with little traffic. Many website owners will earn much more on adsense than they will with text-link-ads.
For publishers, the problem is mostly with the quality of the advertisers in the TLA network – you will get a lot of irrelevant spam offers, perhaps even automated – and you need to spend time rejecting those offers, which further lowers the value of being a publisher with TLA. The time required to review ads is simply not worth the money that you can earn, because, its near 90% of all the requests you get that will be spam. This may be different depending on your website keywords. Etc. But it's our impression that a lot of advertisers don't even look at the sites properly before they hit the buy button.
The safety of selling links
Text-link-ads are themselves indexed in google, if really selling links could worsen your rankings, don't you think text-link-ads would be de-indexed by now? Buying links may have that effect – if discovered – its mostly impossible to tell however, so its rarely leading to any serious penalties. Besides, its not to Google to decide if you can sell links or not – its however their right to devalue links on your site, in case they do not trust them.
Generally it should be safe to sell links, given that you review the links properly, and don't just accept an offer for the money. A couple of links can supplement other sources of revenue, but you shouldn't be using text-link-ads as your main source of revenue. You should also keep in mind, that a site with as little as 10k visitors per month, might be enough to make more on adsense than on TLA.
The safety of buying links
While there have been some examples where Google penalized a website for buying links, they have mostly been in the extreme. It is generally safe to buy links, especially considering that its impossible to tell when done right.
Its more likely for Google to just devalue links they think are malicious looking, than for them to apply a side-wide penalty to a website. There is also the possibility that a competitor would try to get you penalized, so there is really no way to determine who is buying the links.