LinkWorth – Something smells fishy

LinkWorth - Dodgy?If you read this blog, you’ll probably be aware that we use Text Link Ads to provide some regular income. Text Link Ads is by no means perfect, but they are certainly the biggest and are probably the best outfit out there at the moment for selling links on blogs and websites.  Recently, a competitor to Text Link Ads, called LinkWorth has been grabbing my attention. The main reason for this is the fact that they’ve been spamming the comments section of this blog. Someone going by the name Scarlett Tarjick has left a number of similar comments regarding LinkWorth across a number of posts, most of which have nothing at all to do with monetising websites or advertising. You can see an example here.

The first comment someone operating on behalf of LinkWorth was on a valid post, so I followed the link and took a look at their website. Bearing in mind I hadn’t identified them as spammers at this point, so I was pretty open to them as a company, and I’m all for additional income sources. Browsing through their website, a couple of things worried me about some of the services they offer.  In amongst the usual TLA style link advertisments, there is a product called LinkPost.  LinkPost allows advertisers to purchase posts on blogs of their choice, similar to PayPerPost and ReviewMe. The most worrying point in the advertising spiel is the following:

Control. You may set length requirements, keyword linking, review topic, and whether or not the review will be “positive” in nature.

Browsing their site you will also notice that this point is emphasised in the “Advertisers” section but only briefly mentioned in the “Partners” (i.e. publishers) section.

Classy. So essentially, if you sign up to review a product the advertiser, your new pay master, can force you to write a positive review. There is also a throw away line in the copy that goes “Why pay for someone to bash you, right?”. Well I can think of plenty of reasons for paying for a review that “bashes” you.  Many people purchase reviews from prominent bloggers, such as John Chow, in order to receive constructive critiscism from someone who knows the industry. In the long run, this honest information can be far more worthwhile and valuable than a single, blinded, positive review.  Especially if you are exposed as having paid for positive reviews.

Put yourself in the shoes of an advertiser. Now you can force people to write positive reviews for your product, even if they don’t like it. What could be better than that? Only one thing, imagine how great it would be if you could write the review yourself and have it appear on a popular site. Well, unsurprisingly, LinkWorth has you covered with their LinkBB product which literally allows an advertiser to write some content that then goes on to appear on the publishers blog.

I have two major issues with this. Firstly, if I see LinkWorth advertisments on any blog, I’m going to leave straight away. The reason is simple, I can no longer trust that the content on said blog is the honest opinion of the author.  It is irrelevant whether or not the blog participates in either of the schemes I’ve mentioned above, affiliation with the company is enough to plant the seeds of doubt.  Secondly, I would assume that advertisers like the opportunity to place content on popular sites that carry with them a level of trust. Reviews only really work on trusted sites. Unfortunately, what most advertisers won’t realise is that through the very act of advertising on these sites, they will be diminishing the already fragile trust of the audience.

I think it’s best, as always, for you to make your own mind up about LinkWorth, and the myriad of other monetisation companies out there. What I would say is that LinkWorth appear to have chosen all the worse kinds of advertisments to sell. This includes not only advertisments that call your integrity into question, but also those annoying pop-ups that automatically appear over certain words.