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Thin Affiliate Site and dofollow affiliate links penalty?

 3:02 am on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)


Is there any penalty for "thin affiliate sites"?

Recently all of my domains (3) were penalized and I've no idea about the reason. All 3 domains do participate in affiliate programs.

1. The affiliate links are masked like click dot php id=2 and they are dofollow. No following them will help?

2. Is it possible that Google does a manual review and says, OK, this is just a thin affiliate site, let us penalize it?

Let me know your thoughts on this. Although none of my sites are "thin" as they have all original content which I've not copied from anywhere. All the research is genuine as well as reviews.



 3:24 am on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Although none of my sites are "thin" as they have all original content which I've not copied from anywhere. All the research is genuine as well as reviews.

What did you mean by "thin affiliate site" in the thread title? Do you mean you think you've been incorrectly identified as a thin affiliate?


 3:27 am on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

I believe It might be possible as there is no set criteria being a "thin affiliate". One penalized website had 60 pages of unique content (written by myself) and all unique content. That site was penalized first of all. One month later, two other also penalized.


 3:51 am on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thin affiliate usually is one that offer no extra value to the user. No real review, no comparison, or other benefit. If google feels that you slapped a few links or feed and wrote some gibberish they will ban /penalize you. As soon as they see the site one can usually tell if you're a thin affiliate or not.

P.S. Google has penalized lots and lots of automated link site owners today that had escaped Panda so far. If you did that, that *may* be it. I was amazed reading how they had ranked for years using those black hat tools.


 5:57 am on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

P.S. Google has penalized lots and lots of automated link site owners today that had escaped Panda so far.

Are you saying there is a new version of Panda being rolled out today?


 6:19 am on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

As far as I am concerned, devaluing automated link building would not be a Panda phenomenon - just another one of the many algo changes that Google rolls out regularly.


 6:26 am on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Probably not Panda, I should have clarified it, but Panda or not it's a bloodbath in black hat forums. If I had to guess, G did a really deep scan this month and put 2+2 together. 100% of my pages for example are in site:domain.com for example.

Most had widget-review.tld and really-cheap-widget.tld type domains, cheesy content for that one product and lots of spammy links. We're talking batches of 1000s in forums, comments and profiles.


 3:05 pm on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've heard the same - and I wonder what safeguards are in play to prevent "disruptive SEO" from being effective. Google has long said that there are such measures. I guess we'll soon see how effective they are.


 3:14 pm on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing quite a few similar threads describing situation exactly as me. Seems like Google is nailing many websites for their backlinks profile.


 4:06 pm on Jun 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

The affiliate links on my site are dofollow. Can they hurt me? Can they considered as paid links?


 4:18 pm on Jun 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

The affiliate links on my site are dofollow. Can they hurt me?


Can they considered as paid links?


Please watch this video:


At the One Minute mark of the video, Matt Cutts explains specifically that sold links that pass page rank can violate their terms of service and to be safe you should nofollow those links.

Personally, I believe this is so important, that I don't let my affiliates (who link to me) use dofollow links. I require them to link to me using nofollow links.


 4:18 pm on Jun 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

My pandalized site nofollow all affiliate links.


 6:37 pm on Jun 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't think that having nofollow on affiliate links will prevent someone from being affected by Panda.

It probably WILL help prevent you from getting a MANUAL penalty, though.


 8:21 pm on Jun 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Since affiliate links will usually pass thru the affiliate network site first which then redirects to the merchants site, how does this come into play as far as a merchant is concerned? Does a merchant need to be concerned about an affiliate using nofollow or follow?


 4:09 am on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

< moved from another location >

I'm trying to resolve mystery of Google penalty on several of my sites. These sites doesn't have anything wrong and I've checked everything and improved a few things but reconsideration was declined saying some pages still violate quality guidelines.

The thing now I see is affiliate links on the sites and they are are Dofollow. Here is how I'm doing that :

I've a script like click.php?33 which does the redirect to affiliate site and the redirect is 302 redirect.

My questions :

1. I've read on forums that 302 doesn't pass link juice, still the affiliate links on my site can pass the juice ?

2. Should I add rel=nofollow to all affiliate links despite the fact that they are doing a 302 redirect?

3. Am I using the 302 redirect in the wrong context?

4. The redirects are in place for well over a year. Does it mean that now google treats them as 301 and passes the juice?

5. It doesn't matter that a affiliate link is 301 redirect or 302 redirect, they must be no-followed?

I'm working very religiously to get this penalty lifted because all my sites have 100% unique content. They have affiliate links, but no more than 1 affiliate link on a page with more than 1000 words of on-topic content.

Please share your thoughts on this.

[edited by: tedster at 4:34 am (utc) on Jun 22, 2011]


 4:43 am on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

learnseo81, the bar is MUCH higher for such sites.

Do you have a mechanism for real reviews? Do you have real reviews?
Do you compare 2-3 similar products from competitors?
Unique content does not mean quality content. I don't know your site and I'm the type that assumes the worst without knowing it but think like Google.

Redirect and nofollow are not the problem IMO


 4:57 am on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

To address the technical issue about 302 and 301 - 302 is a temporary redirect, but there's nothing temporary about this.

Even more, Google indexes the URL which is the source of the redirect, but with the content of its target. This doesn't sound anything like what your intentions are. You don't want yourdomain.com/click.php?33 to be indexed at all - and certainly not with the information at your affiliate program's website.

As I understand things, the main point of using a redirect script is that you can Disallow /click.php in robots.txt - and then it doesn't get indexed at all.


 5:01 am on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi walkman,

I fully understand what you are saying.

I've read on Google forum (JohnMU) when he said to a guy that he has nofollowed affiliate links on his site and when he nofollowed them, the penalty was lifted.

I fully agree with your approach but the definition of a quality site is just what google thinks. The sites ranking in top 10 right now are WAY worse then my site but they are ranking higher and higher. It all depends on what google and their manual reviewers think.

I believe "quality content" has no definition but Google can deem any content as quality. Google news has the most worst (and duplicate) content on the planet IMO so according to the law, It should be the first one to receive a penalty. But its google property and partially is everywhere.

My site is not a review site but It helps people with their computer problems and their solution.


 5:06 am on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well, nofollowing and adding a robots.txt line takes 30 seconds. Why even ask, just do it ? :) Pray that this solves it. It doesn't matter how bad others are, YOU got caught now and need to survive a manual review.


 5:12 am on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi walkman,

I've already done that. I don't know why they CAUGHT me since I'm not doing anything wrong. You are absolutely right that It doesn't matter what other are doing since they are more lucky then me.

One more thing, If google thinks that my content or any content anywhere is not QUALITY, manual penalizing doesn't make any sense to me atleast. Why not let the site rank where it naturally does?


 5:34 am on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

@ learnseo81

One more thing, If google thinks that my content or any content anywhere is not QUALITY, manual penalizing doesn't make any sense to me atleast.

I don't think that quality has anything to do with penalizing, in my humble opinion. Quality is judged by the Algorithm, and even with the latest Panda update, it doesn't appear by what people are saying to be a PENALTY.

If it is a penalty (like a -50), then I m going to echo what others have said; it is probably due to too many inbound links TO your site, or cloaking of some sort.

@ Kenneth2

My pandalized site nofollow all affiliate links.

Again, if you are a victim of PANDA, you are PROBABLY not being PENALIZED for dofollow affiliate links. You are losing your ranking due to google thinking your site is of poor quality (including an "unhelpful" design, is what most people seem to speculate, such as too many ads).

What I am saying is not gospel. I have not had any direct experience with either penalties nor with losing rankings due to Panda updates. You may take it with a grain of salt

But I do encourage you to look at the numerous posts here about Panda and about Penalties and decide which one (if either) might be affecting your rankings. There appear to be different remedies for both - although there has really only been one poster on this forum who claims to have "beaten" Panda.

Anyway, I hope this helps.


 5:43 am on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi Planet13,

Thanks for the response.

In both panda updates my sites gained lot of traffic so I believe Google's algo treated my content as quality keeping in mind that panda targeted content farms, scraped content etc...

I'm not a victim of panda and after sending reconsideration request, i was informed that my site was manually penalized and I don't see any reason behind it except the affiliate links.


 6:01 am on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

What learnedseo is saying it's true, many of sites like his were caught after Panda, and my guess is BACKLINKS. Backlinks might have earned you a manual review. Aff links alone don't cause you any problem.

You have to understand that what Panda thinks of your content may be totally different from what a G human thinks. Panda is a robot, even if you said grab the hammer and beat the computer with it Panda would not have penalized your computer help site for 'shallow or not-helpful content.'


 6:23 am on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

From my understanding in the industry and watching a presentation about this in a Pubcon last year, there are extra levels of assessment placed on affiliate websites.

Value is the first one.

If you review three products, talk monumentally about the first, less so about the rest, send the user directly to their website to buy without offering value in terms of user reviews, researched opinion / facts then in essence you are simply a bridge page either way.

You can have the best supporting content in the world, but if a manual reviewer for standard 'review type queries' finds your site and does not believe it provides value, I believe that affiliate sites get hit with a -30 to -60 drop. I have seen this specific drop often in some verticals, and 8/10 times those websites consistently used too specific of a funnel to drive the user to a specific offer, without choice.

Panda could definitely be another factor and so could links independently.

If the websites were patterned similar (same template, layout) and shared the same owner domain registration, these could be other reasons why all of them dropped at the same time.


 6:30 am on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think what happens in adwords will often flow to the organics.. My adwords rep tried to force us to make a lot of changes to our sites because of the affiliate bridge. Image sizes, remove the search box, placement of affiliate links and so on. It all became too hard in the end so I gave up..


 9:19 am on Jun 22, 2011 (gmt 0)


I don't say you are wrong that Backlinks might have earned manual review but these days google is telling more about the cause of penalty. One of my friend receive a notice that their site was penalized because of unnatural links pointing to their website.

I'm receiving a message that "some pages still violate quality guidelines" and I'm trying to resolve this thing.

One more thing, since the affiliate links are masked with a script, can google consider this "deceptive" or "manipulate" or something similar? Comment from JonhMU in an old thread where he is replying to someone whose site is penalized.

"You're hiding links from Googlebot. Personally, I wouldn't recommend doing that as it makes it harder to properly understand the relevance of your website. I also doubt that you'd see any kind of visible change with regards to PageRank. Ultimately, that's your choice, just as it would be our choice to review those practices as potential attempts to hide content & links. What's the advantage for the user?"

Makes me think If aff links masking is causing penalty. Frankly, I think my content isn't problem and I'm ruling out things one by one.


 4:12 pm on Sep 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

I want to know if your penalization was minus 50 and if lift your penalization?

If you lift the penalization what did you made? You remove the aff links or put no follow to them? you add more fresh content?

You send to google a reconsideration request?

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