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Sudden drop in traffic - would sitewide affiliate banners do it?
Illah




msg:717329
 12:14 am on Apr 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

I run a site that was slowly incresing in traffic from Google, even through the Big Daddy update. Last week we had a sudden and sharp drop in traffic, mostly from Google. The only major change we've made is the addition of some affiliate banners on the sidebar of our site.

I know Google doesn't like all affiliate sites, but we're definitely NOT an all affiliate site. We have loads of original content, though we wanted to supplement that with some appropriate banners (and yes, these banners are very appropriate for our audience). If it's not the banners themselves, could it be that we use a javascript randomizer to rotate several banners?

We have some pages of our site that are more affiliate-ish, featuring a number of products along with content, and that's never hurt us before (the majority of the site doesn't have any affiliate products).

Could the site-wide banners have tripped an alarm? If so, would the problem fix itself if I just left them up (perhaps it's a probationary period of some sort)? Or do you think the javascript randomizer housing the banners is the issue? Would a PHP solution that inserts the code into the page be a better idea rather than a call to a javascript function?

Thanks,

--Illah

 

superpower




msg:717330
 2:16 am on Apr 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

IMO, Google does not want publishers to have affiliates.

They want publishers to have only Adsense and the mothership affiliates will have to switch more money into Adwords.

That is how Google gets a bigger $ cut of the affiliate action.

related thread on pages with affiliate links being removed from main index:
[webmasterworld.com...]

Illah




msg:717331
 5:10 am on Apr 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yeah, I've known for a while that sites that are heavy on aff content have been penalized, but my site is like 95% original content - it's not an affiliate mall or anything like that. I don't doubt that they are killing affiliate sites but I have one tower and one 125x125 banner in a global include, so only two links per page! That's hardly much at all IMO. Do you think the javascript randomizer would have done it?

Strange...

--Illah

Illah




msg:717332
 6:55 pm on Apr 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I want to test not using javascript to rotate the banners - is there a simple way to rotate the banners using PHP so the code is hardcoded into the site? Right now the
code where the banner is is something like:

<script type="text/javascript">write_randtower();</script>

Which calls an external .js file. I've actually had an affiliate banner in that spot for a while before rotating multiple banners in with no problems, perhaps the java did it. Also I know Google doesn't like the affiliate links - if I were to hide them with redirects do you think that would trip any alarms?

I know Google is rolling out Big Daddy to all the DCs so this might not help, but I want to try something like this before I just rip them down.

--Illah

jrs_66




msg:717333
 7:03 pm on Apr 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

---- Google does not want publishers to have affiliates.

Illah,

Please don't believe this. It's pure nonsense, affiliate links are fine. Just add them in a 'value added' context. The sour grapes of these forums is getting ridiculous.

Swanson




msg:717334
 7:11 pm on Apr 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree, banners are fine - this is one thing that Google hasn't a fault with.

Any drop in traffic at this point may be due more to Big Daddy and the effects of updating than anything else - remember Big Daddy is the start, not the end of an update.

superpower




msg:717335
 7:51 pm on Apr 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

jrs_66, how is what I said ridiculous?

It's ridiculous to ignore that there is growing anecdotal evidence and a trend that publishers with affiliate content are being punished disproportinately in the rankings. Not all of course, but it's something to watch especially in competitive areas. Also I agree a link here and there isn't going to kill you, mainly I am seeing problems when there are multiple links/content on a lot of pages.

My view is that the definition of "a lot of affiliate content" is shrinking and will probably continue to shrink (ie tightened filters from Big Daddy). Therefore subsiding on affiliate content and adding more affiliate content vs. unique content (all things being equal) to a site may be a cause of lowered organic rankings.

Google has the means and the motive and there is not much that can be done if that is there decision (which is actually probably smart for their profits) except to find out the truth and adapt.

People selling products are getting pushed to Froogle and Adwords. Oh yeah Google is not doing any evil. Then why on just about any commercial search you get a stack of Froogle and Adwords above regular serps? It's clear Google places it's economic/commercial/profit interests above non-paying publishers (literally). Meanwhile the the regular serps are moving toward less commercial/more informational listings.

WebFusion




msg:717336
 10:29 pm on Apr 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Oh yeah Google is not doing any evil. Then why on just about any commercial search you get a stack of Froogle and Adwords above regular serps? It's clear Google places it's economic/commercial/profit interests above non-paying publishers (literally). Meanwhile the the regular serps are moving toward less commercial/more informational listings.

Well gee.....you mean they're acting like a business?

*gasp*

You make it sound as if Google has no right to attempt to push commercial websites into actually paying for traffic.

Or do you offer free advertising on your site to anyone that asks?

superpower




msg:717337
 12:46 am on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

You make it sound as if Google has no right to attempt to push commercial websites into actually paying for traffic.

Well.. golly gee... maybe you'll get an award for Google Defender of the Day.... I'll write up a petition right now and run to the Hague to join you in your crusade for Google's RIGHTS.... What an amazing idea, glad you brought something useful,and lighthearted, to the table.

I'm not talking about their *rights*.

What I'm talking about is what Google *may be* trying to do (because it's good business for them) and how to avoid getting squashed by them (because it's bad for webmasters with affiliate content).

The OP said: "We have some pages of our site that are more affiliate-ish, featuring a number of products along with content"

I tried to help with an idea regarding this issue, some logic and pointing to some anecdotal evidence related to this. Perhaps I am wrong. I just threw it out in the public sphere to help the poster and get some comments.

Reid




msg:717338
 5:12 am on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

IIlah - before you jump to conclusions about the affiliate banners check for anything else.
Does the js produce any HTML verification problems?
Is googlebot choking on the script for some reason?
Don't just assume you are being penalized - check your code diligently. It may be just a simple problem.

europeforvisitors




msg:717339
 8:56 am on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

My view is that the definition of "a lot of affiliate content" is shrinking and will probably continue to shrink (ie tightened filters from Big Daddy).

Google has made it clear that boilerplate affiliate pages (a.k.a. "duplicate content") aren't considered an asset for the index. However, that shouldn't be taken to mean that Google in any way penalizes sites that use affiliate links or banners. (My own "anecdotal evidence" suggests otherwise.)

ct2000




msg:717340
 9:18 am on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think you may have just been hit by the recent update on Google - did your traffic drop on the 30th of March?

my site had the opposite effect - traffic went up two fold from google on the 30th ,

HiltonHead




msg:717341
 9:51 am on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google penalizes sites that use affiliate links or banners.

Otherwise folk would not be on here wasting their time trying to discuss it.
Since the Fall of 2003 my affiliate sales have decreased 95% and all my
web pages are and have remained super clean.

Google decided to kill affiliates and they are doing it.
Google apologist and anecdotal evidence statements are really insulting
to those of us who were accepted by Google before, have done nothing wrong,
and are now thrown into the black pit without explanation.

Google is a public company serving all and a question has been bothering me.

Why should any website/web page be placed in a "supplemental index"?
If the website/web page does not meet Googles printed guidelines why
doesn't Google just not accept it/just delete it?

If it meets Googles printed guidelines the website/web page should be
included in the general index and allowed to compete for SERP position
on its own merits.

Suppose a person visited BestBuy or Sears, both public companies, and
the "doorkeeper" said "I just don't like the way you are built but you
can come in, but by the way you cannot buy anything".

A response from Google is not expected.

europeforvisitors




msg:717342
 12:28 pm on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google penalizes sites that use affiliate links or banners.

If that's the case, why are there so many sites (including mine) that haven't been affected by the alleged penalties?

HiltonHead




msg:717343
 1:38 pm on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

If that's the case, why are there so many sites (including mine) that haven't been affected by the alleged penalties?

I have no idea. Would you pls send me on of your urls. I need help badly
thanks

Illah




msg:717344
 4:23 pm on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I too suspected the update except that previous spot-checks on the big daddy DCs were OK (admitedly it was a while ago) and another site of mine with no affiliate content is just fine, but it's updated far less frequently that my main project.

I tend to agree that Google doesn't like affiliate content. I've always been really light with it but I really feel that's what's hurting us right now. Just checked my site with the Firefox Java console and it's 100% error free, clean code, no spider traps or anything like that. So either they don't like the java randomizer (maybe they think I'm trying to 'hide' the affiliate links in an external javascript file) or they don't like the affiliate links themselves.

--Illah

superpower




msg:717345
 5:04 am on Apr 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Maybe change your randomizer to php and the links to submit buttons.

Illah




msg:717346
 6:44 am on Apr 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yeah, I just switched to a simple PHP code randomizer - it was so simple I actually prefer it to my javascript solution!

<? $imagevar=rand(1, 4); if($imagevar==1) { print "<img src='URL of image 1'>"; } else if($imagevar==2) { print "<img src='URL if image 2'>"; } else if($imagevar==3) { print "<img src='URL of image 3'>"; } else if($imagevar==4) { print "<img src='URL of image 4'>"; }?>

In my case I just have it print whole sections of code rather than just the img and just backslash cancel any quotation marks.

One other thing that could be getting me is scraper and article sites. I don't have *that* much affiliate content, my content is 99% original, my code is clean, all white-hat SEO, etc. But my RSS feed is scraped by several sites, and I've submitted a few articles (like two, hardly any) so there's the possibility of dupe content penalties, but it's never been an issue before. Since Big Daddy was supposed to make things better I just assumed all would be well, but maybe it has backfired in my case!

I just recently moved servers so maybe it's seeing my content as 'newer' than the scraped or syndicated content, which would give the impression of the scraped/syndicated content being the original? A search for a key term of mine pops up an article site in the Top 10 while my site (the original) isn't in the Top 100...

--Illah

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