TextLinkAds Interview : Monetize Your Site or Blog
I had the chance to talk with Patrick Gavin yesterday of TextLinkAds. If you have not heard of TextLinkAds, you better get used to hearing about them as they have made a marketing push this month which may succeed in TextLinkAds being one of the most popular forms of site monetization besides Google AdSense and Yahoo Publisher Network.
Unlike the forementioned offerings from Google and Yahoo, TextLinkAds is a bit different as it is not contextual advertising per say. TextLinkAds delivers link ads on top quality publisher sites and pays those publishers via a flat monthly rate per each link sold.
Additionally, one massive difference between TextLinkAds and the contextual advertising options on the market is that TextLinkAds is a kind of a hybrid between organic link buying and an advertising selling service. The links which are bought via TextLinkAds can be served as organic links, which if planned correctly can help the advertiser site improve in organic search engine rankings on Yahoo, Google, MSN Search and/or Ask Teoma.
The mix offered via TLA is beneficial for SEO, attracting targeted traffic, and also benefiting the publishers financially in the TextLinkAds network. Enough rambling, on to the interview :
Loren Baker: Patrick, thanks for the interview. Besides Text Link Ads you also run the Link Building Blog and have your own SEO service company. To kick things off, please do tell Search Engine Journal readers of your background.
Patrick Gavin: I graduated with a degree in Marketing from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH in 1999. From there it is a real “bricks to clicks” story as I started in my family’s reclaimed brick business, Gavin Historical Bricks, in the year 2000. I learned to use pay per click and organic SEO to turn what was a local business into one of the nation’s premier used brick dealers shipping bricks coast to coast.
After learning the tricks of search engine marketing I started a company in 2002 to do just that. Using experiences learned from pay per click management and search engine optimization services I started Text Link Ads in 2003 and have been dedicated to TLA exclusively since.
Loren Baker : I’ve heard there are some pretty big search names behind Text Link Ads. How many people are in the company and who?
Patrick Gavin : Text Link Ads has 8 full time employees. The management structure looks like this: my partner and CFO is Bill Fish, Inventory Manager is Brock Boser, Sales Manager is Jay Swansson, and our Strategist is Andy Hagans. We have such a small staff thanks in part to our web development team which is outsourced to Barry Schwartz’s Rusty Brick company. We have been building our ad serving technology for over a year now and their dedicated staff has helped build a system that has automated the majority of our business.
Loren Baker : And what services does Text Link Ads provide?
Patrick Gavin : Our core product is our TextLinkAds. Our service is a full advertising system that allows publishers to sell TextLinkAds off their website and allows advertisers to purchase TextLinkAds through our marketplace. Our ads are unique from most internet ads because of they are static html links with no redirect or tracking on them. This means our ads can send targeted traffic and help your link popularity which is a top factor in search engine rankings. Our ads are bought and sold for a flat price for a 30 day period independent of the number of clicks or impressions they receive during that period.
Loren Baker : And why the sudden push for publisher expansion?
Patrick Gavin : The publisher expansion was something we have wanted to do for a long time. Up until the last month we were identifying large networks of websites that would run our ads as this was easier for us to manage a low number of contacts with a high number of sites. There are only so many large quality networks available and we have known this for some time so we have spent the last year building a full ad serving system that could process individual websites in an automated fashion handling everything from ad placement to payment to the publishers. So the reason for the sudden publisher expansion was opening our automated ad serving system to public use.
Loren Baker : What are TLA’s goals?
Patrick Gavin :Our long term goals are to be an ad serving system that is a great way for any website to supplement their income. When webmasters think about monetizing their content and traffic we want to be a top alternative or supplement to YPN or Adsense.
Information for Publishers / Bloggers
Loren Baker : Speaking of which, can TextLinkAds be served on the same page as YPN or AdSense? Is there conflict with the TOS of those programs?
Patrick Gavin : To our knowledge TextLinkAds can be served on the same page as contextual programs like YPN and Adsense because ours is not a contextual ad system. Similar to Adbrite, our links do not rotate or change based on the content of the page. When you purchase an ad your link is static on the page for 30 days no matter how the page content changes. Also, our ads are not designed to mimic any of the contextual ad layouts on the market but instead are designed to blend into our publisher’s template.
Loren Baker : Does advertising on TLA or running TLA on a site alter the advertiser/publisher’s Google rankings and PageRank?
Patrick Gavin : As for purchasing TLAâ€™s we advise our clients to only purchase ads on sites where they have a good chance of receiving targeted traffic that could convert for them. If they purchase ads that result in traffic that converts then they do not have to worry about the potential benefit that can come with increased link popularity. As for publisherâ€™s being negatively affected for publishing our ads, we have not seen any evidence or received any reports of this happening.
Loren Baker : Google AdSense added high octane fuel to the blogger boom by given bloggers an incentive to post, buy their own domains, pay for hosting, etc.. Is the TextLinkAds program for bloggers too? And if so, how can small publishers/ blogs benefit from running TextLinkAds?
Patrick Gavin : Yes our program is for small publishers and large publishers alike. We have recently opened our publishing program to the public and blogs have been a big part of our new inventory. Small publishers and blogs can benefit from running TextLinkAds because we offer a full advertising system in which they can install our script once and then leave the selling and billing to us, leaving then with a check at the end of every month.
Loren Baker : How many publishers does TLA currently serve link ads on?
Patrick Gavin : We currently run our ad system on 1000’s of websites and that number is growing daily.
Loren Baker : What kind of requirements does a publisher have to meet in order to run TextLinkAds on their site?
Patrick Gavin : We have an in house formula to accept publishers and it is a combination of: traffic, topic of the website (e.g., no adult), link popularity of the website, and overall quality and appearance of the site is reviewed by hand. We currently reject a lot of sites submitted to our publishing program as our goal is for our advertisers to only have to shop for TextLinkAds on the top sites on the Internet.
Loren Baker : If an advertiser is practicing questionable SEO tactics, and is ‘punished’ by engines, will the publisher run into trouble for linking to them?
Patrick Gavin : We hand review all advertiser’s websites before placing their ad and we have not run into this kind of issue.
Loren Baker : Does the publisher have the choice of rejecting a TextLinkAd advertiser, like one can do with BlogAds?
Patrick Gavin : Currently they do not but if this is something our publishers start requesting thanks to you we will add this functionality into our system right away.
The reason we have not done this off the start is because our publishers enjoy how hands off our system is. We have taken the sales and accounts receivables work away from them and are putting cash in their pockets at the end of every month instead.
SEO Implications of TextLinkAds
Loren Baker : From an advertiser expecting to gain rankings by building links via purchasing ads via TLA, which search engines do TextLinkAds have the most effect on?
Patrick Gaving : We do not focus on any specific search engine. Link popularity is a top ranking factor in all the major search engines. We deem a program successful when our clients deem the program as successful. This happens when the TextLinkAd sends targeted traffic and helps our client’s keywords in any of the major search engines.
Loren Baker : Is it more cost effective to purchase link ads than build lifetime organic links via relationships with other sites?
Patrick Gavin : It really comes down to the time you have available and your budget. Everyone would rather receive lifetime organic links via relationships with other sites but relationships take time and time is money. Purchasing links is not for everyone but if you can find the right links that send converting traffic to your site first and can help your link popularity second, you have found a nice bargain.
Loren Baker : Who are some of your top publishers?
Patrick Gavin : We work with thousands of publishers from personal blogs to large networks. Among some of our top properties are The Wall Street Journal’s http://www.realestatejournal.com/ and http://www.opinionjournal.com .
Loren Baker : Oooo! The opp to buy links on Wall Street Journal blogs, nice… And what are the positive effects of buying links via TextLinkAds on SEO?
Loren Baker : And lastly, I see that you are now offering something new on the site called ArticleLinks. Is ArticleLinks a response to the lowered value of site wide links?
Patrick Gavin : Our ArticleLinks program is actually an article syndication service. We write an informational article related to the client’s site and then syndicate it to a list of websites that will pick up and publish the article.
Loren Baker : Excellent Patrick, I thik this gives our readers a substancial understanding of TextLinkAds. Thanks for the interview.
Patrick : Same to you, Thanks again Loren!