Watch your .htaccess with Text Link Ads

This week David’s been having fun and games with Text Link Ads and a problem of them saying that he wasn’t display the ad link he’d sold on his site. At first we assumed it was due to his redesign and therefore moving the advert from the right side to the left had perhaps confused them.

However the steps taken were

  1. First alerted that their bot had not managed to access the site and couldn’t confirm if the ad link was live, informing Dave to check and ensure his ad script was in place. Also his account had been put on hold.
  2. He replied saying it was still there in the bottom of the left bar.
  3. A reply from a TLA support guy saying they still couldn’t see the advert.
  4. Dave replied again stating exactly where it was.
  5. A further reply from the same TLA support guy still saying they couldn’t see the advert. The email stated it was the final warning and he had 24 hours to reinstall the script.
  6. Dave sent a screen shot of the site showing the link, where it’s been the whole time.

At this point, Dave was checking his logs and noticed the same IP trying to access his site over and over but because it had an empty User Agent it was being blocked by his .htaccess file, as this is often what spammers and hackers will have. As his site has been targetted by hackers and many spammers he had this block in place to ease the load on his site. So he traced the IP and discovered it was an IP assigned to Text Link Ads. He then contacted them, stating he could see their IP accessing his site with an empty User Agent and perhaps this is the reason they couldn’t see the ad link as they were being refused access to the site.

The second support person that had picked up his message about the empty user agent wrote back asking what the problem was, as he could see the link was on his website. So why couldn’t the first support person have done this in the first place?! After a few more exchanges with person no. 2, Dave suggested they think about putting something into the user agent of their bot however the reply of ‘thanks for the suggestion’ doesn’t give you much confidence that anything will be done about it! In the mean time he’d removed the block temporarily and suddenly Text Link Ads informed him they’d ‘seen’ the link now.

This whole issue does prove that when the comment was “we cannot see the ad link on your site” it simply meant their bot couldn’t get through, and even after they’d suspended his account they still never sent a human to check. Whilst I realise they’ve got thousands of publishers, surely it would have been quicker to spend 2 seconds manually checking the website than sending about 2 or 3 emails stating it wasn’t there?!nnDave’s full post plus the htaccess code used can be found on his post – Advanced Spam Control.

3 Responses

  1. I should point out that at the time they came back to me, and said they’d finally been able to verify the link was there, I hadn’t actually altered my .htaccess, and so was still blocking everyone with an empty user-agent header – including them. So I’m still unsure about how they confirmed my account was working right, what the anonymous server connections were about, and whether or not they were related.

  2. Will says:

    Hmmm, I wonder if they’ve been tinkering with their bots because just yesterday I had an email saying that the links on one of my longer term TLA sites couldn’t be accessed and so it had been temporarily suspended from their catalogue.nnIt turns out that if the URL you’d listed is redirected to another then their bot can’t verify the links are at the specified location. It makes sense, but it meant that I had to switch off the randomising functionality of the website in order to satisfy their policy.nnThe links were site wide anyway…

  3. Sarah says:

    I know you need to ensure that the adverts sold are being displayed on the domain you signed up with. Sounds like their bot goes out at intermittent times and you were both flagged. As I mentioned though, it’s a shame that after their automated system has alerted you to the problem and you’ve responded that they don’t manually check the site. Afterall, are you honestly going to respond and say ‘it’s there’ when it clearly isn’t?!

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