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|Affiliate ID's removed from the urls on serps |
Is it Google or my Sponsor?
On a recent effort to expose my sponsor to a greater variety of keywords -all related to his products- I created a variety of pages and started to link to his domain using relevant anchor text. It wasn't too long before his url (with my partner ID) started to show up for a good number of those keywords (anchors) on the appropriate searches. This, substantially increased my income since users were finding his site and not one of my promotional pages. The only drawback was that now his domain was appearing for the "main search" under my ID. And for this, I suspected a backlash.
Starting last week, I noticed ALL of my links for ALL of the searches targeted and a few more I got as an unexpected bonus, have turned into bare urls without my partner ID. In fact, I am having a hard time finding anyone's IDs on searches for his products. The url that is now listed in google is a redirect from the affiliate urls.
I contacted the sponsor and I showed him proof of how his listings were showing up for some of the searches targeted. Although it is always tricky to pair a result with ones own efforts, I was able to provide him with information on how the linking took place, during which time period and how his site started to show up originally (under my code) and how it progressed over time. I kept detailed stats on searches as well as screen shots throughout the relevant period.
The sponsor was convinced that he now gets this great traffic due to my effort but has said no word on crediting me for it, specially now that the urls listed have NO partner Id. He must be thinking he is getting mana from heaven without any sweat, my sweat. I went a step further and showed him how Google still lists a url that was read as text, but whose content (and final destination) is actually different. No redirects here, although clicking on that link does redirect.
His excuse is that Google is the culprit. He blames the whole issue on Google. He says -very politely- that he has done nothing on his end to have the redirect listed and not my affiliate link -a flat url with no query strings-. According to him, Google has been undergoing some changes in the last week or so and as a result, they now list the bare urls. In other words, 'swallow it, that traffic is now mine'.
I was wondering if anyone could share similar stories and how they got solved. If possible, I would also like to know if anyone thinks that Google really doesn't want affiliate Id's listed on serps or that perhaps -unintentionally- some affiliates links end up being listed through their final redirects.
However, the last scenario is NOT compatible with what was happening only 72 hours ago and kept happening for months.
If Google "does no evil" why would they disregard so easily the hard work of any affiliate -provided their algo is causing this? And will they ever consider a more fair approach on how traffic gets distributed?
As of now, I have made all the effort and the fruits of my labor ended up in the hands of an already *very* rich sponsor. How unfair!
I'm mostly answering this post just to bump it. It's an interesting report, but in an area where I have nothing much to say.
Has anyone else seen something like this in recent days?
I'd crash it and get out. If your sponsor is trying to weasal on you with that much proof then he would squirrel out of anything. It doesn't matter if google IS the culprit, he is profiting from your work. If he doesn't want to give you a taste- then find a new sponsor and get back to making money.
You need a better tracking plan on this.
Check if he's doing an 301 or 302 redirect if you enter the page with the aff. id..
Might be whats causing the aff. id to be removed in Google. You also might wanna check with Yahoo & MSN, do they show up there?
Its not your sponsor but a change in googles algo.Maybe connected to its canonical problems.Maybe just fleeting as i see the same thing as you but it comes ad goes.
If Google sees 50 different URLs (affiliate ids) all leading to the same content of course it is going to treat them as duplicate pages. The fact that it has eventually worked out which URL is the true source of the content means that it has done something right.
What should Google do if 50 affiliates all link to the same site with the same anchor text? Which webmaster's hard work should they reward?
It has nothing to do with the sponsor being a creep or Google being evil (this time). You are expecting them to treat someone else's content as your own. Your affiliate links still make money if a user clicks from your site, right? That's what they were designed for.
I was making a truckload from these types of listings for a long time. In one case I even convinced one of the biggest sponsors out there to alter the text on their home page slightly to match my anchor text. It worked beautifully for a while but now (thanks to my efforts) they just rank for that highly prized term without my ID.
Such is life.
I think Google have improved their ability to distinguish simple URL and Affiliate ID URL, And categorize Affiliate ID URL to Supplemental Result...
>>>What should Google do if 50 affiliates all link to the same site with the same anchor text? Which webmaster's hard work should they reward?<<<
>>>It worked beautifully for a while but now (thanks to my efforts)they just rank for that highly prized term without my ID.<<<
You are contradicting yourself.
You can't have it both ways.
I was being a little facetious, referring to the fact that they changed their homepage at my suggestion to match my anchor text. I'm not compalining - that's my point. I understand why my ID isn't ranked anymore and I accept it.
I think that it is difficult to assign any form of 'blame' here - the technique, whilst it has obviously been effective, isn't what I would consider a sold long-term way to track links. In the long term, you should optimise your own website or domain, and gain conversions that way.
> The fact that it has eventually worked out which URL is the true source of the content means that it has done something right.
Nothing further from what is really happening. The fact that Google catches one url as the important one (with affiliate IDs) and ends up posting a testimonial page as a result (with no IDs) or a page that does NOT represent what the user was looking for, for example by posting an archive page that is 2 years old and is unrelated to the search (the home page) is your best proof that they are NOT doing things right. In this respect, kudos to yahoo that decided to only post the final destination. At least we know what to expect. They don't make us work our arses to only see someone else being benefitted by our effort.
The long term solution is to have one owns program and develop traffic for noone but oneself, and end of story.
I have a different point of view, please do not take me the wrong way because I beleive anyone who works on a page should receive due comission.
Where I work, we have a problem (mostly with MSN, but may bleed over to google) where it is our domain, we are the manufacturer, and we are the authority site. The site has been around for a very long time, been in countless magazines, tv shows and news programs.
Yet on occasion when doing a random keyword search for what ever, it could be a branded name or not, I will see our domain with an affiliate ID.
I look at it like this, if it is our domain, our product, and it has an affiliate ID, why should an affiliate receive credit? I do think it is a search engine glitch, not just with MSN, but I have a feeling it is going to bleed over to google as well.
Think about this, what if you had a webiste that you spent years on, not to mention developed products and you had an affiliate program that was fair and on an honor system, but you had to dish out cash for some weird glitch?
Like I said, i beleive that anyone deserves to get paid for their hard work, as you should, but when there is clearly a glitch in the way search engines occasionally index a page, that should be what it is and no comission should be granted.
Also, I know the site I am talking about, would never make a change on the server to favor an affiliate in the way that I have described it.
Your sponsor can redirect using 301, cloaking it only for Googlebot (based by IP or not)...Or the G just "clean up" the URL due duplicate content "merging" the PR...
You got bonus income for quite a while, I hope you enjoyed it. Now it's gone. No one did any evil, the rules just changed. Deal with it.
It wasn't your traffic that was being delivered, nor is it the manufacturer's, it is Google's. Google gave you their commission, and now they stopped. They never owed it to you.
It is for reasons like these it became evident the ultimate reason sponsors exist is for their benefit, and their benefit only.
Let me define the relationship:
Affiliates are slaves, a sponsor is their master.
Too blunt? Sorry... Affiliate = employee, sponsor = boss.
Understand this, and realize what this means in terms of pwnership.
It is for reasons such as these I stopped using pay-for-performance sponsors sometime ago. It's your performance, so long you don't mind being paid minimum wage.
Then, they did me a favor when a large network closed my account. I don't know why they did it, but I'm doing better than ever by not using these pay-per-sale / lead sponsors for whom I should have never wasted my efforts in the first place.
Pay per click or per listing, prices are set and payment is due upfront.
Accept credit cards and online cheques onsite.
That's how I do it anymore, although I barely cover the cost of the server and my Internet connection, the revenue from my site is 10 times what it was before. I won't delve into what this reveals about conversion rates, other than to say it became obvious my visitors convert far better than I was led to believe.
> I look at it like this, if it is our domain, our product, and it has an affiliate ID, why should an affiliate receive credit?
You ought to be kidding.
Do you really think your Id'd domain shows up for a search "all men are equal" just out of thin air? Or perhaps some of your affiliates are making you wealthier by targeting it? Who is responsible for the *acquisition* of that traffic? And what will you do about it? Keep the commision that should have been paid for somebody else's vision/intelligence/work?
BigDave, saying Google is the benefactor paying ocassional commisions -at their own will- is plainly ridiculous.
-obono I think you are not understanding what I am saying, i will explain it better.
Say the company that the affiliate is trying to promote is
The affiliate site is
You do a google search for "Product"
Product .com is listed, but it has an affiliate id below is an example:
Do you really think that an affiliate should receive a comission because of a glitch on a google search result? Keep in mind, I am not talking about someong clicking on an affiliate link from an affiliate page, I am talking about a google search that yeilds the company domain address the affiliate works for.
Edit: Furthermore, had you read the beginning of my post, you would have noticed that I beleive that anyone who works should get the comission, but not by those standards.
>Affiliates are slaves, a sponsor is their master.
No, just silly. You are/were just a low-level unsuccessful affiliate. If you have quality traffic you command the terms, people will jump through hoops for you like you wouldn't believe. But you have to earn that position.
This thread is describing a very real phenomenon. It's not simple and there's no obvious "correct" result. Google is making a valiant effort to deal with it in the test datacenter, with some good and not-so-good results. We'll see how it comes out in the end.\
300m, it is not a Google glitch to show affiliate IDs. It is a legitimate expression of Google's algorithm and has been for a long time. Same on MSN and Yahoo, don't you know. That may change, but calling it a glitch is missing the point of how Google works.
I have read this a couple of times over and I guess i wanted to add more....
Do you really think your Id'd domain shows up for a search "all men are equal" just out of thin air?
No, I beleive it may have something to do with the fact that the company site is an authority site...
Or perhaps some of your affiliates are making you wealthier by targeting it?
I do not know what it is like in your industry, but mine, you have about 60 keywords that need to be targeted and then it starts to bleed over in to other relevantnon competitve keywords on its own.
Who is responsible for the *acquisition* of that traffic?
I do not know the answer to that, but I can say with certainty that in my case, not the affiliate.
And what will you do about it? Keep the commision that should have been paid for somebody else's vision/intelligence/work?
What vision, what work, what i am talking about is on the comapny webiste, not an affiliate page.
I beleive this bothers me because I do the SEO for the company and I compete in a similar fashion as affiliates do, only i am an in-house employee. I go by the book, i get credit from referral pages i work on, same thing basically, but if one of the sites i work on were to have thathappen, i would not getthe credit for it. Beleive me, I have had this happen to a few of the referral sites i work on.
frup- no i did not know that. I do now, thank you. I still think it needs to be addressed.
Interesting topic! How many affiliates can better SEO a page than the merchant and get better links. Affiliates sould be paid for thier efforts. Often I see merchands ranking in the tullies while affiliates are on page one. If the affiliate id is stripped find another merchant to work with. If said merchant does not want to give you some credit find a replacement.
frup, you nailed it.
If my understanding is correct Google is trying to determine which is the most important url regardless of having or not having an ID. If true to their philosophy I can't see why they would consider affiliate links less valuable. They probably do not consider them more valuable either, just another url that must be scored according to their parameters. In the end, if they want to be fair, that score should vary per link and per keyword but this seems like a gargantuan task. Then, they could credit every individual webmaster/sponsor under the same light.
> I do the SEO for the company and I compete in a similar fashion as affiliates do, only i am an in-house employee.
I don't mean any offense, but how in the world could you possibly compare yourself to the affiliates you seem to manage? You have access to all their information, all their work, not to mention you have at your disposal enourmous resources that affiliates lack. Yet, in your tiny conception of the world you truly believe you and affiliates compete in the same ground and that the fact that you are *just* an in-house employee makes no difference at all. I do not want to sound rude but reading your lines requires that I have an extra dose of patience. Had I been your boss I would have either asked you to stop or resign, unless I misunderstood your role in the company. If you are a really good seo -by the book- and could truly compete with the rest of the affiliates and in the same ground, why not quit and do it 100% of your time? Then, there would be no conflicts of interest.
Also, by stating a maximum of 60 keywords being used by your potential prospects you might be leaving out the long tail. It sounds incomprehensible to me how could anyone in any industry can come up with a precise number of targeted searches... or did you mean the 60 most important ones out of a universe of thousands?
|BigDave, saying Google is the benefactor paying ocassional commisions -at their own will- is plainly ridiculous. |
Yeah, that is plainly ridiculous, so why did you address that to me? That has nothing to do with what I posted.
I never said that google was "paying" the commission. I said the traffic that is sent to the manufacturer by google, belongs to google.
Every stats program out there credits traffic from google in a specific location, and traffic from your site in another location. The traffic from google is commonly referred to as "Google traffic".
The user chose to use Google. They did not choose to use your site. It is Google traffic.
Google chooses not to collect the affiliate commission on their referrals. While they were listing your affiliate ID, they were giving you the gift of a commission on their traffic.
Sure, google was willing to list affiliate IDs, so lots of people took advantage of that, and that's okay. Just don't think that somehow google owes it to you.
You got a bonus while it was happening, and now it's over. You still get paid for the traffic that comes to your site that clicks on the link, start optimizing for that.
I think this is very easy. Affiliates pay for traffic delievered to specific urls on their site. When traffic is delievered to YOUR specific URL you are paid a commission. This is the common model.
If you go out and plaster your affiliate id all over the place and someone else changes it are you entitled to the comission? I believe the answer to this is of course not.
If I post an affiliate link to 10 directories, and 9 deny my listing and the 10th one changes the listing to be a direct link to the sponsor and removes my affiliate tag, am I entitled to the commision? Heck no.
Your agreement is to deliver the content to the affiliate URL. If you are unable to do that, it is on you. If Google changes things and delivers it to another URL that is unfortunate, but it is entirely unreasonable to claim you deserve to be paid on that traffic.
|If I post an affiliate link to 10 directories, and 9 deny my listing and the 10th one changes the listing to be a direct link to the sponsor and removes my affiliate tag, am I entitled to the commision? Heck no. |
We've had that happen in some reviews that have been posted to a non-commercial site, and we always change the URLs. Actually, most of the time we remove the link entirely and replace it with the text.
I am not going to contribute to your post after thuis one last time.
You seem to think you have it all figured out. You only seem to want to hear one side of the situation when you were asking for input. I provided my storiy because it sounded on topic, only not exactly the same perspective.
You absolutley mean offense, you are basically lashing out on different opinions because you got a bad deal from your affiliate program.
I am also glad you are not my boss because you are only looking at one side of a story and taking nothing in to objection except what ever benefits your plight. I could not work for a person that can not look outside of the box.
"I do not want to sound rude but reading your lines requires that I have an extra dose of patience. Had I been your boss I would have either asked you to stop or resign, unless I misunderstood your role in the company. If you are a really good seo -by the book- and could truly compete with the rest of the affiliates and in the same ground, why not quit and do it 100% of your time? Then, there would be no conflicts of interest."
I am not going to resign, I like what I do. And beleive me when i say this, if I was not performing, i would not be working where i am. Like I said in my first post, my employer is fair and just, but i left out that he also demands higher than normal performance from his employees. I have no conflict.
[edited by: 300m at 9:04 pm (utc) on Dec. 27, 2005]
You are right. I could have said the same thing in a different manner, sorry for that.
BigDave, I think your logic is flawless but incomplete. Google's traffic cannot be separated from the fact that it relies on other people's resources, thus it's not really owned by them. The owner of this forum delisted (temporarily) its pages from the index and where did that traffic go? Google could not deliver one hit to the thousands of webmasters searching day and night. Had the traffic been really owned by Google, referrals wouldn't have been lost. Multiply Brett's decision by 100k webmasters and all of a sudden an important part of the mighty index is gone. And so are the users. How many here started searching yahoo and other engines when the listings disappeared? So the question remains, who owns the traffic? It looks as if it is co-owned by several entities: the builders of the index that provide the referrals AND the site owners who make possible the existence of the index in the first place.
This may never happen but the point is that google's traffic can't be thought of as something unto itself but in combination with other people's work. From all their public sayings and from the founders themselves, I can't see them fooling around with webmaster's efforts.
While google accepts your input, that does not give you any inherent claim on the google traffic.
It really is that simple.
Google, just like any other webmaster has the right to list whatever they want on their site, however they want to list it.
Google does not owe you anything for using using your site to gather your opinion, nor do you owe google for the traffic they send you.
The reason that a user chooses a search engine is that they value the opinion of that search engine, not because they value the links that google depends on to formulate that opinion.
What google is looking for is the best page for their searcher, they want to provide the best, most authoritative link to that page. They get to choose what that link is. If they want to provide a link with your aff ID, they rejoice and enjoy it while it lasts. But don't think that they owe it to you, because they don't.
Feel free to hide your opinion of that page from Google to punish them.
BigDave, thank you. It does make sense.
And one more time, my apologies to 300m
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