I've been using the new Link Vault system for several days and talking with the operators, and I'm quite pleased with how this network is shaping up. Time for a first impressions review...
Link Vault Overview
The Link Vault is a new link advertising system, similar to the DigitalPoint Co-op, in which links are automatically shared across the network, with the main distinction being that links are relatively permanent once they have been placed. Placement of links takes several factors under consideration including category, language, page value and credits earned from publishing ads.
Not all sites will be able to participate. Besides the barring of adult, illegal, offensive, weapon, drug and gambling websites, sites that are DMOZ clones, Wikipedia clones, or any other copy or mirrior of another website are not allowed. Also of note, is the restriction that no general directories may be used to publish links or receive link ads. Finally the website must be in the index of the major engines, so if you've got a new website, it might have to wait a bit. You are also currently required to have a Google API Key, although according to the LV people, this part of the system will be removed soon.
The first step is to join the Link Vault.
On your "Account & Site Settings" page you will be able to enter information about the first website that you are going to publish links on. You supply your URL, obviously, along with a Language selection which is nice as it prevents your site getting link ads that you can't even read. Additionally, a Category is selected from a list that corresponds to the high-level categories at DMOZ. The operators have indicated that new more specific categories will become available as the network grows. Finally you select whether your site is going to use PHP or ASP to handle the server-side scripting that will be added to your site.
The Site Setup Instructions area will contain cutomized step-by-step instructions for PHP or ASP depending upon which option you specified for this site. Setup basically consists of adding a single PHP and text file to your server with a randomized name signature. This means that the network has no direct footprint. The system can also be configured to auto-update the PHP script as necessary. The script was updated once since I've been a member and I'm not using this option so I had to manually replace the file.
Finally you will need to call the script such that the links are added to the web pages that you've selected for publishing. There is no requirement, like the DP Co-op, to publish ads on every page to qualify. You are able to configure the display of 1 to 5 links per page, and also the formatting between the links, for example <br>'s, pipe characters "|", or whatever works with your layout.
Vaultage is the name of the credits that are earned for publishing links. Although you will find that links will be added to your site slowly, you don't have to wait until a link is published to get credit for it. Credit is applied in real-time to your account as new pages containing the linking code are detected by the system. I've found that even when spending Vaultage to get more links that my numbers have tended to climb daily. This is partly due to more older pages being loaded for the first time as well as brand new pages being created. Vaultage earned or spent is also said to vary depending upon the quality of the page getting the link.
Now to the fun part: the link ads. The Organize Links section of your account allows you to enter up to 30 links for each website that you publish links on, but these links can point to any website that meets the site requirements mentioned above. Besides the URL, Language and Category settings, each link gets 3 Link Text options and the ability to adjust the percentages of each. You are able to select how many links will be placed daily for this particular URL in increments of 1, 2, 5, 10 or 20. Orginally an option for 50 was available, but then removed, which is probably a good idea. The slower you add links the more variety of pages you will have access to as the network grows.
All in all, I think this is a very good system. It's always nice to be able to get free advertising, and this network looks like it has some benefits in the SEO department as well.
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Last edited by Thermit : 04-20-2005 at 08:35 AM.