In case you didn’t know it, the days of traditional banner advertising on websites with high volume traffic solely for the sake of getting traffic are pretty much over. That’s right, I said it – there’s just no ROI in banner ads. Conversions are low, prices are still inflated, and there is little or no SEO benefit. Most website visitors are just too sensitized as to what an advertisement looks like and click on them with less and less frequency. Sure, there are some modern variations besides the typical 468 x 60 top of page banner, such as dancing animations, small square blog banners, etc., and they do perform a little better. But for the most part people simply don’t like graphic banner ads.
Take, for example, that big obnoxious banner on the right side of this page for ITCN SEO and Web Design. Yeah, you can see it, and maybe you even realize it’s my own company, but you can obviously see that it’s an advertisement and you probably don’t think twice about clicking on it. In fact I know you don’t because I know how many clicks that banner generates. But what if I were blogging about SEO (which I am), and I put an intriguing text link in the middle of my content which said something link “these guys are the best SEO consultants in NJ” (which I just did). Not only are you are more apt to click on it because it’s context-sensitive, but in crawling this site Google sees it as a link with keywords for which I want ITCN.com to rank.
So I think we can safely say the days of text links for the purpose of improving organic search results are here to stay (at least for a while). Google ranks websites for keywords based on the links which point to them; and the weight given to those links is based on the PageRank or authority of the incoming link site.
For example, let’s say your home page has a Google PageRank of 7. If I had a link on your home page with the keyword NJ SEO linking to my site, then I would rank better for the term NJ SEO in Google results. If your home page only had a PageRank of 3, however, it wouldn’t help me as much at all, even if you had thousands visitors a day to your website (which you probably wouldn’t).
Now you could have a graphic banner ad and use some on-page SEO factors such as a title tag in the href code, and keywords in the alt and title tag of the image code – and that does help. But it’s my bet that nothing is going to beat a good old-fashioned text link any day of the week – especially since Google discourages the practice of buying links, and what says you paid for a link better than a standardized ad banner size in a common ad banner placement position?