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Clearly, the great majority of the text link advertising industry seems to echo John's sentiments because it's still business as usual at all of the major portals that cater to that form of advertising. None of the major players have ceased their operations due to the new wrinkle in Google's Webmaster Guidelines. In addition, a source close to the situation has intimated that another semi-major player in the industry, linksmile.com, is in the process of re-launching their text link advertising platform after a year or so of inactivity.
What does this tell us?
Basically, it seems to hint at the idea that paid links will continue to be a major industry despite Google's ongoing efforts to stamp it out. This lead to yet another interestingly radical suggestion: will Google ever change its stance and accept responsible text link advertising as a legitimate SEO practice?
After all, as John suggested, relevant text link ads could theoretically help Google's ranking algorithm to some extent by allowing responsible webmaster to increase their link popularity via advertisements on relevant web portals.
In all likelihood, the answer is to this question is a resounding no, but there's a significant insight that can be gleamed by looking at the current trends reciprocal linking.
Remember that Google has tacitly lumped reciprocal linking and text link advertising together, both in some of its patent applications and in other official statements. So technically, reciprocal linking is also frowned upon by Google. Even so, webmasters that engage in responsible reciprocal-linking campaigns (avoiding bad neighborhoods and exchanging links only with relevant sites) continue to reap the rewards both in terms of PageRank and SERPs. If I had to guess, a similar line of thinking will lead to similar results if applied to text link advertising.
Here's one final parting note, which applies to both the novice SEO and the grizzled veteran webmaster: Google's latest stance on text link advertising seems to re-affirm their underlying philosophy that content is king. Creating fresh and original content that encourages unsolicited linking from other websites is still the absolute best way to increase both the quantity and quality of your inbound links.
If you're into text link advertising and it works for you, by all means, continue to engage in your activities. But don't do so at the expense of building your site's content, because in the long run, that could prove to be a costly error. This is not because Google's going to ban you or anything like that. It's just a matter of fact that nine times of out ten, the site with the most quality content comes out on top.
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A Brave New World: the Current and Future Status of Text Link Advertising
Contributed by Hugo Guzman
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