This is just one part of a very long discussion. I’m discussing actual ads, not merely a banner exchange.
Due to my travels, I’ve looked into getting free advertising as much as possible. It’s very expensive to constantly pay for ads in changing locations, not to mention all the payment headaches. The number of online advertisers has exploded (especially overseas), so there are many options – even when I try to narrow my choices to what I think will be the best for me.
Because these are free ads, advertisers also want me to link back to them and the home page has become the popular spot. Advertisers have become overly aware of SEO and want huge text links with every keyword they can think of. It junks up my site, making it look somewhat spammy to Google too — which could decrease my site’s PageRank. (Advertising on an online mall is not about SEO for the escort, it’s simply about getting seen by clients.) I understand that advertisers need to be competitive by working on their PageRank and such.
But I think it’s gone to extremes. Even very minor sites think they should get 20 keyword-heavy text links leading from the front page of my site. If I’m not getting a front page spot on their site with lots of text/pictures, how is this a fair trade? If I’m lucky, I get a photo somewhere on their site. Or maybe just a text link, buried in their pages. That’s not worth junking up my homepage for.
Paid ads sometimes requires this as well, but it’s not as bad as with free ads. No one says you must use free ads (or any ads at all), but sometimes an escort has little advertising choice due to her location or budget. A number of escorts don’t even use advertisers and have a successful business (discussion of various non-advertising-mall methods throughout Book 2: Advertising and Marketing).
My Escort Site’s Advertising Policy
My advertiser policy: If you want your link here, you must have a very well-established, high-traffic site. Your link must be a badge. If you want your link here and you’re not a major site, then my ad should be on your index page just as your badge is here. Otherwise, all advertiser links go where they belong: on my Directories and Boards page.
All escorts are welcome to start using this policy (reword as needed).
Who knows how well this policy will work? I don’t think it’s any more arbitrary than the policies advertisers often have for their free ads.
Badges can still have keywords in their alt and title tags if the advertisers want. And images won’t mess up the design of your site like their heavily-coded banners often do (another new, irritating trend with advertisers). On a personal note, I think badges just look more attractive.
The Goals of Advertising Malls
Advertisers seem to forget that SEO and attracting new advertisers are two different things. To broadly summarize the cycle of attracting new advertisers — girls always use other escort sites as research tools looking for good places to advertise, photograher references and so on. Escorts will go to sites that seem good or are used by other escorts they like. More escorts advertising will draw clients. If the site charges for advertising, it will draw more revenue with more escorts. And if the escorts are successful with the site, the site grows even more. (Advertisers should realize a good banner will likely draw more escort-attention than lots of text like “London escorts”.)
Escorts also use sites that come up in Google searches for particular terms. The escorts are trying to mimic what potential clients will search for. This is where the SEO efforts of advertisers pay off. But there is more to SEO than forcing every advertiser to have frontpage links using the same keywords. I’ve seen sites pop up in the top 5 of my Google searches that I don’t want to advertise on because they seemed scammy or didn’t seem to have any real advertisers on there. I much prefer a site that’s established and has lots of real, established escorts advertising there. High PageRank isn’t the be-all, end-all of advertising malls. They have to benefit clients and escorts fairly equally to be truly successful (or at least appear to benefit both parties).
Their Traffic to YOU
Of course, your most important consideration is the Web traffic and successful appointments an advertiser brings you. Even the nicest site is worthless if it brings 1 hit/month. Checking Web stats or simply asking where a client found you tells you all you need to know. And when it’s not those sites lounging on your front page, well, there’s not much reason to keep them around.
Which makes one of the most successful, (formerly free) advertising options of all – CraigsList – even a better deal for those girls who use it.