I have an affiliate program with roughly 100 or so affiliates currently, with about half of those actually active. Most of those affiliates I have had for few months, more than enough time for at least some of the engines to have picked up those links.
The way I have my tracking links set up are like this:
Most SE's will avoid references to CGI bins and "?" because their spiders are programmed to avoid them to reduce the possibility of getting trapped/bogged down.
>Is there a way to set up these links so that the engines will see them as actual links to my site so that they will actually benefit my site's link popularity?
The best way that I am aware of is to simply let your affiliates link to your index page thru their own site and not a page that is replicated for each of them. This is where I should defer to my esteemed colleagues at WMW :)
I thought about copying the main page, but this would seem to create an awful lot of duplicate content which would seem to create yet another thing the engines do not care for much.
It would be easy enough to redo the linking structure and place the script into a different directory other than the cgi-bin, use mod-rewrite to get rid of the "?" and even go so far as to rename the .cgi file to .html and set the server to treat it as a .cgi file, but that still leaves the 302 redirect.
Do engines have any kind of a problem with this type of a redirect? I have always been under the impression that they simply follow the redirect to the destination page, but at the same time, if someone is linking to a page that shows the engines it has moved, would they ignore the link?
I would really like to get a good idea of what I should do to get this working correctly, before I redo my affiliate program which will be in the next few weeks.
Thanks again to everyone for any help you can offer.
An alternative solution is to have your affiliates link directly to your home page as normal, and simply track them by referring URL. Of course, this wont track traffic from most email links, or really old browsers. Maybe you can increase the affiliate precentage slightly to account for the old browsers and use the regular cgi link for email messages(they wont contribute to link pop anyway).