link condom Well, the last month has been entertaining and educational. After a month of having paid text link ads on my site, I've taken them down--just as I said I would. In the process I got to find out what a lot of people think about the practice of selling or buying "sponsored links" or "text link ads" on various sites.

I'm not going to rehash the whole debate, but for those tuning in late: The big controversy comes from the fact that one is "selling PageRank" rather than forcing publishers to earn it through good content, lots of links, and all that other stuff it takes. The search engines (one of which I work for) would rather that paid links be tagged with a rel="nofollow" attribute to indicate that any "link juice" or authority shouldn't be passed on to that site.

Now here's the thing that surprises me. There are many folks out there who don't care about buying PageRank, link juice, authority, or whatnot. Given the chance to buy a link that's been tagged with nofollow, they're willing to do so. In other words, some of the folks buying links really do see them as advertisements not just a way to "cheat" Google. They simply wan exposure.

I know this because some of them have asked me if they could advertise on my site. So may you'll see the sponsored links module reappear if they do. And if that happens, every one of them will have rel="nofollow" attributes (a poorly named attribute if I ever saw one). Perhaps link condom isn't such a bad name after all. :-)

Anyway, maybe I should put a blogroll back on my site in that space, just so I can link to Matt Cutts (without the "www" for those of you playing along at home; if you don't know why that's amusing, don't worry…).

Posted by jzawodn at January 04, 2006 07:45 AM

Reader Comments
# Jeroen van den Bos said:

Personally I think that the people who are pissed about you selling links because that's cheating Google or other search engines have got the whole concept of a search engine backwards. If you putting paid links (with or without the link condom) on your sites messes up the quality of Google, that's Google's weakness.

Google is so proud of all their algorithms, I'm sure they can figure out a better way to determine the value of a link. Either way it's not your problem.

on January 4, 2006 09:17 AM
# Robert Oschler said:

Dear Jermey,

As one of the few people that comment on your blog that does not have the required first name of Jeremy, I humbly request that you put links to my site on all of your pages without the NOFOLLOW tag.

If you do not do so within 24 hours, then for each hour that you don't I will force a small adorable furry hamster to read Matt Cutts blog for a minimum one hour period. As a warning, here's a photo of what happened to the last hamster that was forced to endure this:

The consequences will be on your conscience.

on January 4, 2006 10:30 AM
# Jim said:

No doubt, Cutts needs to drink the Kool-Aid that he has just prepared and 301 that site, yo!

on January 4, 2006 04:50 PM
# Search Engines Web said:

The big controversy comes from the fact that one is "selling PageRank" rather than forcing publishers to earn it through good content, lots of links, and all that other stuff it takes

In defense of selling links...

It could also be argued that - for reputable sites that are selling links - those purchased links are filtered and verified that their content and text link are valid and accurate.

So, since they are NOT being allowed to use FLASH animations or catchy DHTML etc... that the subtlety of a Text link or small graphic should in fact offer OTHER advantages such as PageRank, especially if those links are on a Commercial site's homepage.

How many commercial sites would Want a visitor to click off of their site's homepage, to go to another business.

on January 4, 2006 09:49 PM
# Joe Hunkins said:

In one sense you have ended the great paid link debate but has this resulted in problems (ie a penalty) and lowered your Google traffic with the Dec 27 Google update?

on January 5, 2006 12:28 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

No, I've not seen a measurable change in traffic.

on January 5, 2006 07:06 AM
# Clint Dixon said:

Let's see how to do this nicely.

100 parts to the algorithim and no part is more crucial than the other howecer through all the jibberish and double speak, hilltops, floridas, jaggers, etc basically this is just pure reiniforcement that Google front page and Yahoo too sadly can be influenced through links.

Cotent is another avenue for those on the white path... but if looking to exploit spam sites and push them up the SERPs, its the links that win.

As was mentioned earlier... for all the huff and puff to the contrary.... Google isn;t that good at keeping it's self defended.

Sort of like my Eagles :-(

on January 5, 2006 10:25 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

I think you've pretty much summed it up.

on January 5, 2006 10:30 AM
# Alex said:

I'm with you Jeroen. Unless google makes a change the masses will continue to link the way they please ... no matter what the result of the test were.

on January 5, 2006 01:16 PM
# lsblogs said:

Until the major search engines publish a clear cut policy, as far as I am concerned I just do what I feel ok with.

Personally, I think the Search engines would be better off sitting down and listening to their developers, who probably have lots of ideas on what could be done, instead of encouraging rumours, and helping to cause chaos by allowing all these guessing games to go on.

on January 7, 2006 03:56 PM
# Lee said:

What I'd like to know is why the world thinks G has the corner on information. Their results suck like bad wine ... you think it's good until you get a real taste of it. Google is synomous with search, but that doesn't mean everyone uses Google with they google. No pun intended.

on January 13, 2006 10:56 AM
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