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Affiliate sites losing rank
keywords losing rank to the merchants you advertise for
Rufus_dog




msg:3438505
 8:19 am on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Does anyone use affiliate sites and organic search results to generate income? I worked very hard to improve the ranking of some keywords with anchor texts in incoming links in the past 2 years. But recently, I found that these keywords were losing ranking to the merchants I advertise for. For example, if I am an affiliate of a merchant (ABC) which sells shoes, and I have been using "cheap running shoes" as archor text in incoming links, I used to rank well for the keyword phrase "cheap running shoes" but now, I realize the merchant (ABC) get better ranking than me for this keyword even though they may not target this keyword themselves. It is like my hard work (and income) is lost and the merchant ends up getting the benefit of my SEO effort. Does anyone notice the same thing?

 

Quadrille




msg:3438517
 8:55 am on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's a very common affiliate problem.

think about it; if there are 5000 affiliates, their sites will be much the same - except for the affiliation main site, which has all the advantages, and wins all the duplicate content battles too. And that, of course is how they like it - and many do a lot to maintain the position (can you blame them?).

The trick is to make your site as unique as possible; you are competing with all 5000, though you compare yourself with #1, and really think out of the box on keywords.

Additionally, go for extra content to improve your chances with non generic phrases that others will not have the content to catch.

Marcia




msg:3438526
 9:42 am on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Rufus_dog, merchant sites usually have more (and better) opportunity to get quality inbound links, and most often more capital to invest for various means of site promotion that help with their rankings.

One thing you have to watch out for carefully is what kind of affiliate links are being used for different merchants. Check out the actual URL with an HTTP header checker, and make sure it's a 302 redirect through the network's tracking. If it's a direct link to the merchant's site, or a direct link using a 301 to get the visitor to the product or category page, run your links through a 302 on your own site.

Rufus_dog




msg:3439246
 2:32 pm on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, my target keyword phrases surpassed the merchant's site in ranking several months ago and I did not see any of their affiliates in the first page of search results either. But now, the merchant's site is almost always a few positions ahead of me. It is just my speculation that Google has given the merchant's site higher position on those keywords because the customers end up buying from their site (even though they might have come to my site first). If my speculation is true, it doesn't matter how unusual my target keywords are, if the customers find my site but click the affiliate link and end up buying from the merchant's site, Google may track this and give the merchant's site higher ranking for those keywords after a few months.

Quadrille




msg:3439251
 2:41 pm on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

There's no evidence that visitor numbers - or behavior - contribute to the serps.

But the 'main site' does have content and link advantages.

You CAN win on secondary keywords, but you are extremely unlikely to win on the obvious ones.

Keep adding unique content to maximize your chances.

But, in most cases, they have the advantages ... you just have to try harder and persevere!

Good Luck! :)

idolw




msg:3439289
 4:32 pm on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

find a new way to show your widgets.
if you become a third party authority you will get ahead of them.
that is why comparison and reviews sites win these days.

King_Fisher




msg:3439408
 7:25 pm on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

You will probably always be at a disadvantage. Perhaps some PPC would help the
cause. Tough to do anything organic wise today.

Skeptic




msg:3439422
 8:04 pm on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

What if I use rel="no follow" on the affiliate links?

Quadrille




msg:3439510
 9:32 pm on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I doubt they are dependent enough on your link for that to hurt them ... and it won't help you an awful lot.

The key to survival - even success - for affiliates, as several have said, lies in content, not in links. It's about standing out in a sea of semi-clone sites. Not easy, but possible.

Remembering that most affiliations consist of many thousands of sites, try envisaging one blue poppy in a field of red ones. It's not roots linking to the central poppy that will make it stand out. It's the blueness.

[horticulturalists need not reply ;)]

Marcia




msg:3439523
 9:51 pm on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Additionally, go for extra content to improve your chances with non generic phrases that others will not have the content to catch.

Definitely, that picks up traffic from searches for many more search terms if there's unique descriptive text and diversity in on-page attributes. It also hopefully attracts inbound links in some cases, or at least increases the chances of getting decent ones.

lies in content, not in links.

There are plenty of great content sites languishing deep within the SERPs, hardly found - because of lack of IBLs. Merchant sites are still holding the trump card for top rankings if they accrue enough link love, which is why some are going to much trouble not only to involve themselves in "creative" link building and buying, but are also coming up with systems to game the engines by duping affiliates into unwittingly passing them link juice.

Quadrille




msg:3439533
 10:18 pm on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

That's absolutely right; which is why an affiliate really needn't try to compete head-on with the merchant; the cards are simply stacked against you.

While it is important to hold some links (as always), differentiation, not direct competition, is the only wise approach.

Rufus_dog




msg:3439765
 7:49 am on Sep 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

Strange, Google must be playing with their algorithm. My keyword phrases are now back to the front page of search results and the merchant site is not there (for my target keywords). I did try adding content pages and sometimes get to the top 3 positions without any incoming links to those pages. But I don't think they generate sales for me (just for product related information only). I think incoming links are still very important to get the product pages listed in Google search.

voices




msg:3443673
 3:05 am on Sep 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I would say my sites don't match any affiliate sites cause I don't have any site that only promotes one merchant or only one product. Nor do I have any stores or datafeeds that promote a ton of products. I have content sites that promote products related to the content.

I would say affiliate sites are losing rank simply because the real stores are gaining rank. When organic SEO worked it was easy to beat the stores, now I think they have an advantage just by being a real store, I don't think it takes much effort or link juice on their part.

Maybe they get extra points just because they have an add to cart link on their sites. Seems like it would be an easy thing for an algo to pick out.

simey




msg:3443747
 6:22 am on Sep 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Good points. I would agree the 'affiliate store' (often database powered), is on the way out.

But there will always be room for the creative affiliate to make good money marketing products.

Beagle




msg:3445623
 2:14 pm on Sep 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

R_d, I'm curious as to why you don't think adding content had anything to do with your ranking improvement? It might not directly get you more sales (although it could if your visitors see you as an authority), but that's a different question.

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