Sponsored Links Update

    January 4, 2006

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).

Jeremy Zawodny is the author of the popular Jeremy Zawodny’s blog. Jeremy is part of the Yahoo search team and frequently posts in the Yahoo! Search blog as well.

Visit Jeremy’s blog: Jeremy Zawodny’s blog.