Text links are much simpler than banner ads. They’re also less eye-catching and less sexy. There’s no funky animation, no neat Flash, just a few well chosen words often stuck at the side of a web page. But that doesn’t mean they’re not effective. In fact, to some extent, text links are the unsung heroes of online marketing. They don’t get half the attention they deserve, but they can do an excellent job bringing visitors to a site.
The first point to bear in mind about text links is that they’re tough to write. You might have just 50 characters to make your sales pitch. That’s about the length of that sentence, so you’re going to have to be pretty creative in what you say. That’s the downer. On the plus side though, text links are amongst the most popular form of promotion amongst Internet users. They don’t get in the way like popups, and they’re often mistaken for content so they’re actually read. And because they’re written into the site’s HTML, you know that each page view means a real exposure.
They’re also cheap. You might have to pay a flat-fee or a costper-click, but there’s much less risk than with banner ads. If you know how much traffic the site’s getting, you can figure out in advance if it’s worth your while. Best of all though, you can sometimes arrange for free links with partners in return for a similar placement on your own site. That doesn’t just give you free advertising… It also helps your search engine placements.
I use a lot of text links to promote my sites, but I wouldn’t rely completely on them alone. But, in terms of effectiveness and cost, text links are very powerful.