Does Google Hate Affiliate Marketing?

Google

Some search purists will insist that affiliate marketing is an inherently undesirable aspect of the web that Google is out to eliminate or marginalize, but taking advantage of affiliate advertisements doesn’t mean an automatic loss in search rankings or domain authority status.  Like any type of advertising, it can be done in a way that respects the user’s web experience, or it can be abused in a greedy pursuit of easy money.  Since affiliate marketing provides a significant source of revenue when the pages are set up right and the search engines bring traffic, there’s plenty of examples out there of low-value sites with no intention but to make as much money as possible – regardless of the consequences for anybody involved.

If you’re new to affiliate promotion, be sure to protect yourself from the common mistakes that will actually cause Google to hate your site.

Protect your reputation

Perhaps the most common mistake webmasters make is considering how a product or brand reflects on their own reputation.  If you’re selling low quality junk, you’ll be automatically associated with that junk.  Google and your ex-customers don’t want to hurt their own reputations by recommending you.  By that point, no level of artificial SEO in the world will ever bring you the traffic you could have had for something actually worthwhile.  All of the specifics come back to the central theme of maintaining a reputable website.

Know the Product

If you want to sell, you have to know what you’re selling.  Ideally, its best to sell a product that you use yourself – this is the surest way to become an expert.  If you don’t have a use for the product or the money to spend on it, be sure to at least invest some significant time into researching it.  And this means more than reading the product specifications and press releases, you should also search out reviews and find common trends among both the satisfied and dissatisfied customers.  If all of the bad reviews point to the same problem and a critical function of the product doesn’t work as advertised, it might not be something you want attached to your website’s name.

Respect the Customer

Don’t just stuff a page full of keywords and sprinkle affiliate links randomly into the mix.  Since you’ve used the product or studied up on it extensively, you should have plenty of information to share about your experience.  Be honest about the weaknesses of the product.  Shoppers are smart enough to know that no item is absolutely perfect, so let them know what choices and trade-offs exist between a product-type’s competing brands.

Provide a Service

If you want any attention from surfers and search bots, you’ll have to do something more than take your cut of the sale.  A thin affiliate site that doesnt nothing but redirect shoppers take up an extra step and add cost to the transaction.  On the other hand, an honest affiliate site with comparative data helps consumers make better decisions and ultimately reduces the associated costs.  Any salesperson has to interact with their potential customers, so answer questions on your site and challenge shoppers to ask the right questions of themselves and their shopping needs.

Don’t Pass Pagerank on Affiliate Links

I really hate nofollow links on comments and other user contributions, but the rel=”nofollow” attribute should always be used on any kind of paid or sponsored links.  This includes affiliate links!  Google won’t penalize you for selling link space on your site, they just don’t want these paid sponsorships to calculate into the organic search rankings of the web.


Basically, I would say that Google doesn’t hate affiliate marketing any more than they hate other forms of online advertising.  What they do hate is fraud, waste, and blatant manipulations designed to mimic popularity.  Stay clear of those pitfalls and deliver a site with the shoppers’ needs at top priority – from there, the traffic and the sales will start rolling in.

3 Comments

  1. Really great useful post. But when someone does not have a product of their own…it is really hard to develop a way for a potential buyer NOT to click on your affiliate link…then send them to your affiliates product then to the buy now button.

    How does an affiliate get the “Direct buy now Link”? There’s got to be a way…or maybe not!
    Paul

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