January 21, 2008

LinkXL plugin aims to monetize WordPress blogs

Author: Tina Gasperson

LinkXL is a new way to capitalize on your blog's popularity. It leverages the keywords and keyphrases you've been including in your content in an effort to get a higher page rank on search engines. LinkXL is an ad broker, but the ads are not really ads, they're just links from certain words in your blog posts to an advertiser's site. Advertisers pay a set amount to get a linked keyword -- usually around $5 per link, per month. Publishers stand to make a lot of money, LinkXL executives assert, because of the sheer volume of content available on most blogs.

LinkXL founder John Lessnau emailed and asked me to try out LinkXL. Fresh from the Las Vegas Pub Con, Lessnau was pumped about the potential for LinkXL on blogging sites like mine at gasperson.com. Lessnau did not ask me to write about LinkXL, but I thought it was unique enough to share with Linux.com readers.

LinkXL can work on just about any site with access to its server, but it is especially easy to set up on non-WordPress.com-hosted WordPress sites. That's because LinkXL wrote a plugin for WordPress. Installed LinkXL is simply a matter of uploading the plugin to your server and clicking on "activate" in the WordPress plugin admin area. The software and service are free for publishers, including WordPress site owners.

Once the plugin is installed, the LinkXL spider begins indexing the pages on which you want to sell keywords. As the publisher, you set your own price, unlike with other ad brokers, though LinkXL suggests a price of $5 per link per month. LinkXL takes a 40% cut for handling the technical support, marketing, and billing and payment system.

When an advertiser buys a keyword or phrase and sets the number of links desired, the LinkXL plugin automates the process of inserting the link; you the publisher don't have to do anything except keep the site running and collect the monthly payment, which LinkXL can send as a check or a PayPal payment. If you don't approve of the advertiser's content, you can cancel the ad at any time, though you won't receive payment at all for the month in which the ad is cancelled. (Hint: cancel ads early in the month to avoid giving too much free advertising.)

Purchased keywords or phrases show up as hyperlinked text. Lessnau says this is an effective way for advertisers to ensure their page rank goes up at search engines like Google. For one thing, the links not only look like plain HTML, that's what they are. "Unlike other sites that do JavaScript in context links that do not help your link popularity at all, LinkXL creates HTML text links that the search engines follow and count in their ranking algorithms," Lessnau wrote at his blog. "Many SEOs believe Google already has technology in place that helps them spot text link ads so they don't count them in their search engine ranking algorithm. After all, how hard is it to spot a block of text links in the sidebar or footer of a Web site?"

I haven't sold anything through LinkXL; apparently keyword contextual links aren't flying off the shelf just yet. Lessnau thinks it's just a matter of time and word of mouth. "I have started to notice more and more requests for links in content," he says. "So I think our message is starting to get out."

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