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Affiliate links
What constitutes one and how are they interpreted by Google?

 3:28 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm sure this has been brought up before but I'd like to get some fresh thoughts on the subject.

What exact IS an "affiliate link" in the eyes of Google? And how are they treated?

For example, when I design a web site for a client and place my logo at the bottom of the page does this constitute an affiliate site?
If my link is on every page of the site does that harm me and result in zero benefit as opposed to being on only one page, or does it simply provide no additional benefit but not cause any damage?



 4:25 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

To my knowledge, Google doesn't have a problem with affiliate links. Dmoz on the other hand definitely does.

In the context usually accepted, an affiliate link is one where the host site gains a cut of the profit when a user clicks on the link and buys something on the target site.

The dmoz guidelines [dmoz.org] are pretty specific in their definition. But do note that these are the dmoz guidelines and what Google does or does not do is in no way related to dmoz policy. I'm wondering whether you are confused between the two.

Putting your link at the bottom of the page as the webpage designer shouldn't cause a problem at all and will probably generate some PR benefit for your site on the side.


 9:22 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Maybe some confusion here due to terminology:

An "affiliate" is a business relationship - you send traffic to another site and if they buy you get paid a commission(Google, as far as I know, does not have a problem with this, but, as John pointed out, DMOZ does)

An "affiliated" site, according to document describing the the Hilltop algo, is a site on the same type C IP address (given that Google are associated with this document, they **MAY** have a problem with links between "affiliated" sites - ie on the same class IP address)


 9:57 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have a content site with affiliate links and the past two months my site has dropped down for many keywords. I am still not sure if having an affiliate site in a content page is considered a doorway page and hence an issue with google, or is it because of the cross-linking between the content pages and the affiliate pages that is the problem. I have nothing else in my site that could have caused this drop. I have written to google to find out and all I get is canned emails.


 10:54 pm on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

Useful information on DMOZ inclusion:

General rule of thumb: Look at the content on the site, mentally blocking out all affiliate links. If the remaining information is original and valuable informational content that contributes something unique to the category's subject, the site may be a good candidate for the ODP. If the remaining content is poor, minimal, or copied from some other site, then the site is not a good candidate for the ODP.

I have never had a problem selling a couple related books on any of my sites that I feel will be helpful and convenient to our visitors, and I've got several hundred sites listed in ODP.

As long as you provide quality content, I don't see DMOZ, Google, or any other firm having a problem with you making a few dollars.


PS: As has already been described, your small icon would not be considered an affiliate link. As far as recognizing your firm with a small icon at the bottom, it is a common practice by a myriad of successful firms, and I recall GG saying last year that it isn't a problem at all (although he didn't expand on any potential benefits).

The biggest benefit for our firm is from prospective customers who like a design - then follow the link.


 12:54 am on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've been wondering if having links to Amazon.com books (which are affiliate links) hurts a page's ranking.

I have a very informative page on my site. The site is a professional service site with lots of good content that highlights my services, examples of my work, and prices. I also have a page for those that are beginning work in my industry with a TON of information on how to start. Awhile back I decided to put up reviews and links to the different Amazon.com books that discuss how to learn the industry - all the proceeds from book sales are donated to a local charity I'm involved with.

Do others that have affiliate links to Amazon.com feel like it has hurt their rankings?




 12:58 am on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Look at the content on the site, mentally blocking out all affiliate links."

Just did that for Kelkoo - had nothing left but the domain name!

Doesn't stop it from being listed on DMOZ though.


 1:08 am on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just did that for Kelkoo - had nothing left but the domain name!

Yeah, but it is actually useful for someone looking for a product - they are a shopping site for pete's sake!

edit - quote fixed


 12:16 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Quite true edit_g. My point being that the DMOZ rule of thumb is a very poor judge of what does and what does not constitute a good site.

Nova Reticulis

 12:26 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Our team is currently having a discussion: whether it's worth hiding affiliate links?

This argument was brought up because there was some information about Google penalizing sites with [lots of] affiliate links. While I don't believe it does, and see no reason why it should, especially considering that our site conforms with The rule of thumb, we still decided to make a hybrid solution:

We list a number of affiliate web sites, a user clicking on an affiliate link actually clicks on [our.web.site...] which is an URL rewriting trick that calls a script producing a HTTP 301 redirect. So even if that penalty exists, the particular URL that'll be penalized is the one above.

However, I think that this is a paranoid overkill. What are your opinions?


 12:56 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Nova -
Between parasites and the witchhunt by Norton and ISP's I think it's worth hiding the links. Just because a site has "qksrv.net" in links doesn't make it a worthless site.

I was planning to hide affiliate links the next time I do a site. I like you're mod_rewrite solution. I was just going to redirect script that looks like buy.php?product=****xx

I'm curious though. Do affilaite programs track the clicks properly when using the different techniques to hide affiliate urls? I imagine the cookies are set properly but how about referrer url? Is the referrer passed through the 301 redirect?

Nova Reticulis

 5:20 pm on Mar 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Our consideration on this was purely Google's [alleged] opinion on the matter. The affiliate links lead to sites which do all their tracking by affiliate ID obtained from the GET call. Cookies work, and referer is irrelevant.

I'll look up the expected agent behaviour on referer with 301 redirects...

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