There’s a site called Text Link Ads which very aggressively markets their services on SEO/SEM websites and blogs. Their service involves placing text links on sites with a high search volume and Google PageRank for you. The intended result is that Google and the the other search engines will rank your site higher because the text links placed for your site are viewed as "votes" for your site from these already trusted and relevant sites. As you can imagine, we were intrigued by the concept of this service, and thought we’d give it a shot. After nearly a month of having the paid links up on the site, we can safely say that the benefit of these types of sponsored ads are minimal. In the test campaign, we only noticed results for one key phrase (out of three targeted), and those results were limited to Yahoo and MSN, the least used search engines. A week after we noticed results on Yahoo, those results simply dropped out of the SERPs altogether. And the traffic volume generated from the placement on the sites did not help justify the high monthly cost of placing the text ads; we only realized about a dozen visits during the first month as a result of referrals from people clicking on the ads. The bottom line: the search engines are growing very smart about paid for links, and are directly penalizing those who are selling them by reducing the PageRank of their sites, and therefore trashing the benefit that having a link to your site on those pages would have as far as rankings go. It’s becoming clear that Google and the other search engines are starting to view any purchased links as manipulation of their systems, and are treating them as they would other "black hat" operations (link farms, comment spam, etc.). So we don’t recommend utilizing Text Link Ads unless they dramatically slash their prices or can prove that the way they implement the ads cannot be detected as paid links by the search engines… then again I guess that defeats the whole purpose. There’s no quick replacement for going out into the blog community and participating, negotiating to place unpaid links on valuable sites, and creating a site that people genuinely feel excited about referring to. If you dig this post, PLEASE Digg or Sphinn it! Thank you!