Selling Links In A Google Controlled Internet

How To Stay Under The Google Radar

So you got some paid links going on your blog and Google haven’t got to you yet and you want to keep it that way. Here are a few things you can do to stay under Google’s radar. Keep in mind that this is a cat and mouse game. What is working now may not work in the future.

Make Sure Links Are Related To Your Blog

Having links that are unrelated to your blog is one of the biggest paid link tip offs. Keeping your links related to what you blog about will help you stay under Google’s radar. You should consider more creative linking strategies as well. Links in the side bar are often viewed as paid links, especially if they are site wide. Links at the post level are a lot harder to detect. If you’re a new publisher to Text Link Ads, consider running single page links instead of site wide because those sell more.

Upgrade To The Latest TLA Plugin

If you are running an old TLA plugin, then you need to upgrade to the latest one right away. If you’ve been wondering how Google can tell if you’ve been selling Text Link Ads, it’s actually pretty simple. Shoemoney explained it in his Fun Numbers post. If you want to see all the sites running TLA, do a search for function tla_ads. The number has gone down from the 34,100 that Shoe reported. This doesn’t necessarily mean that publishers are dropping TLA. The latest TLA plugin doesn’t have function tla_ads in the codes so publisher running the new plugin won’t show up on the hit list.

Do Not Label The Links

Labeling your links with “Sponsored Links” “Advertisements” “TLA” “Text Link Ads” etc. just screams for Google to bitch slap you. The best thing to do is not to label the links at all. If you must label the links then do it with an image and not text. The image can say whatever you want it to say because the Googlebot can’t read it. This doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. For that reason, you’ll want the image to say something along the lines of “recommended sites” or “sites I read.”

Remove Your Link To Text Link Ads

Google has targeted Text Link Ads publishers because TLA is the biggest player in the link selling business. Many publishers link to TLA under their paid links using “Your Link Here” or “Get Featured Here.” The bot can follow the link to Text Link Ads and conclude that you are selling paid links.

The easiest way to avoid this is to remove the link to TLA. However, this could reduce link sales. A way around this would be to hide the link behind a redirect and add a nofollow and noindex to it. The bot won’t see text link ads in the URL because it’s behind a redirect and it won’t follow the link because you put a nofollow on it. Hell, it may even conclude that you are following Google’s guideline on putting nofollow on sponsored links. 😈 OK, that’s probably wishful thinking.

While the redirect and nofollow may keep you from the bot’s radar, it doesn’t keep you safe from pissed off readers from manually reporting your blog to Google. So, if you want to really play it safe, remove the link entirely.

Paid Links Are Not Going Away

Paid links are not going away no matter how hard Google tries. While Google has been able to get many sites to surrender, that had the effect of increasing prices because of less supply. I’ve talked to quite a few sites and they tell me that since the Google crack down, their link sales have been better than ever. As long as they stay under Google’s radar, they’ll be able to enjoy the income the links provide plus get Google traffic as well.

Good luck in your cat and mouse game with Google.

98 thoughts on “Selling Links In A Google Controlled Internet”

  1. Truth be told.

    I just need my sites to get into TLA now!

    1. Wayne Liew says:

      You haven’t got yourself approved? I thought TLA has lost most of their publishers with so many leaving them? (I do know many stayed with them as well :mrgreen: )

      1. I haven’t applied with TLA personaly but I have seen many removing TLA ads because they saw decrease in SERPs and again increase in SERPs after they removed them.

        I decided to apply for TLA with another site, but have yet to find a site I would not care at all about and run this test 😛

        1. Why is PR so important? I don’t get it. If you write good content, link to other blogs, and promote, PR is quite superfluous…


  2. Hiding a link to TLA behind nofollow and noindex might not stop google. I would cloak the link by user agent and IP address as well.

    1. I am not sure even that cloaking would work, more like it is better than you simply remove that link completely. Even tho this is a tough mouse and cat game we can’t really say how to hide those links until people find out how they detect links and what makes things worst is that we have to fight Google and Google fighting us…

    2. TLA is making all out efforts to save themselves…

  3. Ivy says:

    Google seems to be going all out in asserting their dominion, what with slapping down on sites selling TLA, then making changes to the clickable area of adsense ads… probably all an effort to increase their own market share in the selling ads game.

    On an off-topic, I was reading in the papers how an early employee who first joined Google as a masseuse when it was just a start-up, and how she is now a multi-millionaire after cashing in her stock shares…

    1. Rags to riches! Thats pretty much the Google story isn’t it!

  4. Thanks John, I like these tips (even I don’t sell any TLAs). Good post. 😉

    1. I just got it for one of my sites… I’m going to try the redirect.

      1. Huh already got accepted? That was fast

  5. Haroon says:

    Well link sales is never gonna stop.
    I say sales link with a smarter way.
    Use digital point forums to sell links easily

    1. ms danielle says:

      ditto. the only way link sales would stop is if google ruled out the use of links to determine ranking. anywho i don’t talk too much about dp link sales anymore… i.e. shhhh… 😉

  6. Good tips… but private advertising is still the best if you can find the advertisers.

  7. Ethan says:

    Thanks for all the links!

  8. ONwebCHECK says:

    A very good post here – but we will see if that will help enough….. It will be a hard fight.

  9. vexx says:

    redirecting the links is a very good idea,although I’m not a fan of TLA 🙂

  10. bloggernoob says:

    i still need to grow my site

  11. Carl says:

    I think the easiest solution would be for TLA to switch their ad links to use rel=”nofollow”. If they really are buying links from the SITE and not PR from GOOGLE, they should have been doing that in the first place.

    1. I’d agree with that, I only ever buy links for the traffic and so nofollowed links are fine by me.

      As for the code problem, I find that writing your own code to show the TLA links works just fine!

    2. MoneyNing says:

      Not getting a PR benefit would probably kill 85% of the publishers right out of TLA 🙂

      1. James says:

        Perhaps, but it could confuse the issue for Google. Right now TLA means paid nofollow links and is easier to spot. If TLA also did nofollow links, Google would really have to change their current actions. To penalize just for using a competing product would not stand up long. Right now, they are hiding behind supposed view experience. Not that any reader knows whether a link is nofollow or not.

        1. MoneyNing says:

          Google doesn’t really care what the reader does. All they care about is making sure no one can game their search engine results.

  12. Mike says:

    Well said John, but you may want to clarify. Adding nofollow to the linkback to TLA will still get it crawled. Nofollow just prevents the passing of links juice. Of course this wont matter if you use a nice redirect.


    1. Etienne Teo says:

      I am sure google have no issue with us spreading traffic juice, it’s the link juice they are more concern, they dont want spammy sites.

  13. I think adding a nofollow to TLA links is the best solution to avoid Google’s Fury!

  14. j says:

    wow, ur like the undercover agent for TLA’s for manipulating google. at least ur on toes, and making sure ur still banking in that dough.

  15. Eli says:

    *goes and changes title from sponsors to friends.

  16. i need to grow my site also.

  17. Yeah I got the email to change my TLA code

    1. Shaun Carter says:

      shhh it’s supposed to be a secret! 😀

  18. Rome says:

    Thanks John, another 😈 post .. but very 💡

  19. Hoto says:

    :mrgreen: thx for all that tips. i hope some of that works and google will not find fast ways to cover all of that tips.

  20. Yes, i think google has cracked down on the sites selling links. But I see this as a mere step to correct the valuation of pagerank system of google, since the links on even high pr were going for very cheap and it was sort of deteriorating the PR system of google.

    1. James says:

      And what good is the PR system if they are manually penalizing a good site? They are really saying their system is not working anyway.

  21. Ilias says:

    I recently changed my code in most sites. For me happend something different.. I had a PR drop in the sites that didn’t sell any links and those who do sell links via Text link Ads didn’t have the smae PR. Maybe I was just lucky..

  22. SEO Vibe says:

    Good tips but the cat has the mouse already. Thats because TLA publishers tend to visit their TLA control panel a lot, giving Google all the data they need to know that someone who checks out TLA a lot likely has business with them. If they’re onto you as a browser a quick check of whois data gives up your site addresses.

    Whats on your site is irrelevant if you visit TLA daily.

    1. MoneyNing says:

      If they do that then Google is going bankrupt because no company can withstand a nation class action lawsuit of invasion of privacy 🙂

      It will likely detour a huge number of people from using Google too if the news media picks up on this so that would be the worst thing Google can do.

  23. SEO Vibe says:

    Oh, and for your own good, don’t respond in threads like this if you’re selling links, you KNOW google is stalking John right? 🙂

  24. syuxx says:

    wihh, i always redirest my url !
    haha 😈

  25. Domtan says:

    We don’t sell links via TLA. We decided to sell links directly, at $2 a pop.

  26. Make hay while the sun shines. Yes it will be a cat and mouse game and why not use the advise so well communicated to play? Thanks for the tips. They will sooner or later catch on to what is happening and do something else to spoil the fun anyway!

  27. el blogo says:

    I think tla is gone, what about the old links?

  28. bmunch says:

    Google is just going to drive more people onto the Dark Side of Blackhat SEO. Selling text links is going to stay, just preple getting smarter to hide them.

  29. Yes, it’s gone… gone… gone… My PR is 0 BUT LIFE goes on! Who knows,… the extra fire in my belly may help a great deal!


  30. James says:

    F*** Google. I’ll continue to sell links as long as I can, I don’t care. But of course I’ll have to hide, Google is evil!

  31. Well, Even TechCrunch is still selling links with nonofollow… Take a look for yourself.

  32. Squeaky says:

    Very nice article and advice. Do you have an example of such a link and redirect for us newbies?

  33. Etienne Teo says:

    I am selling direct links and it’s with nofollow rules. I guess you just have to play by google’s rules.

  34. Earl says:

    Why don’t we all switch to Yahoo and MSN as publishers?

  35. My big tip – nofollow some of your sponsored links… Google will reasonably assert that if you have a block of links where some are nofollowed, you are applying editorial discretion as to which links to pass juice to. So, you could very easily just add in some non-paid links into your sponsored links section, nofollow those, and be in the clear. Just because an advertiser pays for a link doesn’t mean you have to nofollow it (see yahoo directory as a prime example). The key is to suggest to Google’s algorithm that you are exerting control over what’s followed and what’s not within a link block.

  36. Matt L says:

    What about those of us who already got slapped with PR penalties before TLA released the new plugin? We meet all the other criteria you mentioned above, but the damage has already been done..

    1. MoneyNing says:

      Obviously you can’t do the stealth thing anymore but if you take all the paid text links off your site, you can email Google to reconsider. Assuming that your site isn’t manually targeted though, an update will probably fix it.

      1. Matt L says:

        If we take all of our paid links off and refund out customers, we won’t be able to pay the monthly dedicated server charges. And AdSense sure as hell won’t cover that!

  37. John, this post appears on page 10 of Google when you search “function tla_ads” lol

    1. John Chow says:

      That’s because I haven’t updated the plugin yet. The first time I tried I got an error because of naming problem. I’ll try again a little later. It’s not like Google haven’t found me yet. :mrgreen:

      1. James says:

        John, in your case, I think they just assume your guilty without even bothering to check.
        “We need to find sites that are doing this and penalize them. Start by marking for a penalty and then see you can find someone else.”

        1. ms danielle says:

          “then see if you can find someone else…”


  38. Wayne Liew says:

    Some people are just crazy to show Google the “Come penalize me!” with violations to the guides above. I see all of it as common sense and with John already said this in his e-book, I guess many should have avoided using the word “Sponsored”.

    John, not only sites selling text links have been penalized, some sites writing paid posts also got penalized as well. Do you have any tips on how to avoid this?

  39. Ethan Christ says:

    Why does Google even care about paid links? It doesn’t affect them. If people want to sell links on their site, they should be able to without being controlled by Google. Google is evil, don’t believe me, read my <a href=”” title=”post”.

    1. They care because it DOES affect them. Google’s stance as the number 1 search engine is based largely on its ability to provide superior results (real or perceived). If followed links are purchased in quantity by a company, they can more effectively game Google’s rankings. Google wants to ensure that this can’t happen.

      The problem is that Google’s already a gamed system, and enacting these sorts of measures only further unevens the playing field (in favor of the original gamers).

      What Google really needs to understand is that paid links aren’t so bad. If a company has the resources to buy enough links to be relevant for a specific term, they probably SHOULD be relevant for that term. Just weed out the pages that rank for terms clearly unrelated to their content, and everyone should be thrilled.

      That said, at present, this PR hit is only impacting toolbar PR and not influencing SERP rankings (as far as I can tell from the reports by affected sites)… so not really a huge deal.

      1. Ethan Christ says:

        Okay, so that may be true, but does anyone here actually think that Google is going to loose any popularity because of paid links? I think not.

  40. Hey Thanks for the information! 🙂

  41. johnCard says:

    shouldn’t google concentrate on having an accurate search engine? seems like they would be doing a dis-service to their customers. is controling links really more important to them?
    for better searches, lately i’m been using yahoo.

    1. The point is that paid links DO impact Google’s results… they’re trying to fix their rankings, but I think they’re going about it in the wrong way.

  42. Gary Lee says:

    great tips john . . . i agree paid links are never going to go away . . . and i don’t think google pursuit for the perfect internet that makes them money will never go away as well . . .

  43. Blackysky says:

    Start promoting yahoo search engine and msn live or other alternative !!!! We are internet and not google …. We push google to be number 1 , the same way we can push another to be number one !!!

  44. gfitedwon says:

    everyone forgets that lycos and were cool before google existed.

  45. Thanks John for putting your mind to how you can beat the mighty Google, even if it is only in some small way! Those are good tips, one in the eye for Google 😈

  46. A'braham Barakhyahu says:

    Wouldn’t you just need to detect the google spiders and render your page without the paid links if it’s them?

    -Be gentle- 🙂

  47. Ha! I get to sell almost as many paid links as I want and Google even help me.
    They call it Adsense.
    Of course Google take a nice slice of the revenue – actually they take it before I ever get to see it, but they even give me advice on how to make the most of the links. It’s a shame I only get paid if they’re clicked on, but since Google make sure the links don’t affect their search engine that’s cool.
    I mean, it’s not like they ever show those links at the top of the search engine results themselves, is it….
    Get a free Ad sense site

  48. Etienne Teo says:

    I have always been using yahoo and msn as my main search engine, but still we can’t deny the power of google. :mrgreen:

  49. Blog Topsite says:

    Looks like selling links can’t be as open as before. Police and thieves game. What have we done wrong? Maybe have have been stealing the income of Big G, that why we are being pinned down.

  50. Will says:

    Why does google work so hard to piss off so many people? I wonder what google is gonna pull off next.

  51. Simon says:

    Another approach (just adopted by the Cow) is to sell your ads yourself, rather than relying on programs like TLA. As far as WordPress goes, a couple of good options include wptextads or OIOpublisher (I created the latter, so don’t ask me which I’d recommend lol).

  52. The force is strong in you John, you must resist the Empire.

  53. I think the easiest way to sell links is on a big webmaster forum. TLA’s takes too much money from you on each sale, sell them yourself and you’ll make almost twice as much. 😎

  54. Interesting tips, but I think the issue still remains if it is about the links. You say that G targets particular advertiser’s clients such as TLA

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