Ryan Jones Blog – dotCULT.com Ryan Jones Blogs About Internet Culture, Marketing, SEO, & Social Media

January 23, 2007

Text Link Ads. A Scam?

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 5:20 pm

Ecuador Update:Patrick Gavin has contacted me and appologized for the misunderstanding. Apparantley I was correct in pointing out that they don’t mention anything about using rel=nofollow on the website, so currently it is not a violation of their TOS. My account is now in good standing with TLA.com, however I’ve yet to re-instantiate the ads on the webpage in question. This issue has raised a personal debate with myself about the ethics involved in selling text-link-ads. If you have any opinions on this, please leave a comment.

One of the new crazes in advertising is paid content. Patrick Gavin is making a fortune with his text-link-ads.com and reviewme.com websites (not linked to on purpose). They were unique and creative ways to build traffic to your website.

Up until today, I was a text-link-ads.com user, but not in the sense that most users use the site. See, I sold ads that no search engine sees. I used a link condom (the rel=nofollow tag). According to Matt Cutts of Google, this is a reccomended use.

Anyway, these links must have worked. The same people kept paying me $25 every month to continue their links. By my own estimates, 12% of my users who filled out a form on this webpage clicked on an advertisement link afterwards. Their ads ran on every page of my website. They got traffic, and I got enough money to continue hosting the website.

Apparantley though, as Drew from Text-Link-Ads mentioned in his email, using the rel=nofollow tag is a violatin of the text-link-ads TOS. It’s also the reason they’re not paying me this month. (yet as of this writing, they continue to show ads on my site that they don’t pay me for) Does that sound fair to you?

So, I scoured their site for the TOS and guess what? Nowhere on their site is the nofollow tag mentioned. It’s not in their faq, nor has Google ever seen it mentioned there. In fact, according to that link other publishers have been doing it too!

To make matters worse, I actually sent (not 1, but 3) emails asking about the nofollow tag before I signed up. All 3 emails were through their contact us form, but I got no reply. After 2 months of not hearing from them I decided it must be ok, and added in the rel=nofollow tag. After all, if they didn’t want me messing with the code they’d use some sort of JavasScript, not just give me the PHP to copy and paste right?

Now all of a sudden some TOS page that doesn’t exist says I’m not allowed to do what I’ve been doing? And they’re taking my money away because of that? Screw that, I’ve taken the TLA code off of my websites and sent in 2 requests to have my sites de-listed from Text-Link-Ads. (of course, a few hours later I have no reply to these emails either) What’s going on here? Patrick, I thought you were better than that


  1. Well, HG you know my views on adverts on websites. Frankly, I don’t see any difference between V14GRA spam and google ads whatsoever, I’m not going to click on either of them.

    Web hosting keeps getting cheaper, but yet webmasters seem more and more willing to pollute their pages with ads, trying to send their visitors away from their content to some spurious third party. I don’t get it.

    Plus, I can only see returns on text ads (and banner ads etc) diminishing over time as more people get clued up to “filtering” content from adverts on a web page using their eyes. The same way you don’t stop and read every billboard you walk past, you just blank them out because they’re irrelevant to your daily life.

    But maybe that’s just me.

    Comment by Alexander — January 25, 2007 @ 5:55 am

  2. Hey Alex.. the “ads” we were talking about weren’t really ads, but just a part of a sidebar saying

    “Sponsored websites:” and then plain old a href tags below it. Sorta like the “My Websites” section of this page that whores out my other shit.

    Comment by Ryan — January 25, 2007 @ 1:25 pm

  3. Oh I see, kinda like a sponsored affiliates deal? Fair enough then.

    Comment by Alexander — January 26, 2007 @ 4:02 am

  4. Ryan, excellent article. I really love Google. Type what I want in the search bar and “Boom!” your article pulls up. lol

    I have been trying to figure out how to do this, can you reply back and let me know how you added the nofollow to the links? If not here, then email me directly is fine too.

    Best Regards,

    Comment by Garry Conn — June 25, 2007 @ 2:04 am

  5. […] I’m not the first one to do this, Ryan Jones over at dotcult.com did the exact same thing back in January, and got suspended from TLA (only to be let back in later). Like Ryan, I looked for a ToS on the TLA site, but could not find one. I therefore modified the raw PHP plugin that they provide, to add the nofollow tag. […]

    Pingback by Dropping Text Link Ads - h0bbel — July 21, 2007 @ 6:07 pm

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