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Do follow affiliate links inside an iframe cause a penalty?
proboscis




msg:4447701
 9:55 pm on Apr 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

Could affiliate content in an iframe that includes a do follow link to the affiliate site between the opening and closing iframe tags cause a penalty?

 

Andy Langton




msg:4448182
 11:13 pm on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm not much of a supporter of nofollow. I find it somewhat in conflict with Google's stance of building for visitors and "don't worry about the tech stuff".

As for dumping content in the hidden section of an iframe, that could be a different matter. Sounds a bit ropey to me, but then what sort of volume of this are we talking about?

proboscis




msg:4448204
 1:00 am on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks Andy. I have one iframe in the sidebar of around 150 pages, and they each have one link between the tags for "browsers that don't support iframes" I suppose. I didn't write the code, they're automatically generated affiliate links from the retailer.

I read that affiliate links without the nofollow can cause a penalty, what do you think in this case?

FranticFish




msg:4448305
 8:28 am on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Last I checked for myself (admittedly May 2010), iframes are by default spiderable and indexed, and links in them pass anchor text.

This doesn't mean you can't use robots.txt or other methods to keep Google out though.

Andy Langton




msg:4448318
 8:37 am on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

This doesn't mean you can't use robots.txt or other methods to keep Google out though.


Not for an external iframe, though.

The extra code is how iframes should work, and between the opening and closing tags is correct placement for user-agents that don't support frames or iframes. But realistically, that isn't any modern browser.

If you're concerned, is there a reason you can't just add nofollow to the links?

FranticFish




msg:4448329
 8:52 am on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is the iframe hosted on another site?

jimbeetle




msg:4448431
 1:19 pm on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Why would you nofollow an affilate link?

Nofollow was originally meant to be used for links you could not vouch for, that might not be trusted,such as those added in comments on a blog. So, if you nofollow an affiliate link you're basically telling a visitor that you want them to click on that link to buy something from the vendor but that you don't really trust the link.

I have a problem getting my head around the reasoning.

proboscis




msg:4448602
 6:47 pm on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yes, the iframe content is hosted on another site.

Why would you nofollow an affilate link?


That's kind of what I'm trying to figure out. I would vouch for the site, I've purchased products there myself and would recommend them but honestly I wouldn't link to them prominently on every page of my site unless they paid me. I don't care either way myself but apparently Google cares a lot.

If you're concerned, is there a reason you can't just add nofollow to the links?


Yes, I can do that and I think I will go ahead and do it. I just wanted some opinions on whether or not it's necessary and if that could actually trip a penalty. (Site has one, so sort of wondering what the chances are that this could be one of its problems.)

netmeg




msg:4448611
 7:17 pm on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Why would you nofollow an affilate link?


Because I do not wish it to be mistaken for a paid link (which in essence it kind of is) and as it will make no difference to most users who won't notice anyway, I prefer to err on the side of caution. I got bills to pay, and I pick my battles. This is not one I choose to fight.

(AndyA slipped in while I was writing this)

[edited by: netmeg at 7:18 pm (utc) on May 2, 2012]

AndyA




msg:4448612
 7:17 pm on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

I recently did some research on affiliate links and nofollow. I decided that Google views affiliate links as "paid" links, and therefore, they should be nofollowed. John Mueller of Google posted something to that effect in the Google forums.

I'm in agreement with Andy Langton, as this goes against Google's "build for your visitors and not for search engines" philosophy. However, with all the drama surrounding Google lately, I decided to take the safe route and add nofollow to links going to merchant sites, just in case they are indeed a sign of spam or poor quality for Google.

I waited a long time to do this, because I felt like it wasn't necessary. My visitors don't know if a link is nofollow or not, only the SE's do. And, if a product appears on the pages of my site, I felt like it was a recommendation to visitors on my part for that item, so why not also recommend the link?

I noticed that some of my pages with affiliate links didn't rank well, so that moved me to add nofollow to the affiliate links. I'm going to watch to see if that makes any difference, one way or the other.

For a company who tells us to build with our visitors in mind, and consider the user experience on our sites, I've sure been spending a lot of time lately doing things for something other than my site visitors, because they can't see any of this, and likely wouldn't care even if they could.

Google has to understand for many with sites, we need to make money too. Affiliate links are one way of doing it. I would hope those alone wouldn't harm a site in the SERPs, but who really knows for sure?

FranticFish




msg:4448613
 7:22 pm on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

If the iframe is not hosted on your site, then would Google consider its content (links etc) part of your site?

AndyA




msg:4448617
 7:30 pm on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have some pages on my site with iframes that include other pages on my site. Those iframed pages have javascript affiliate links on them. I haven't noticed any issues with any of my pages with these iframes, in fact in some cases they perform better in the SERPs than similar pages without them. I checked several while in the process of dealing with affiliate links, and could find them on page 1 of Google's SERPs.

So, I would say they aren't harmful but of course that could change at any time.

proboscis




msg:4448630
 8:04 pm on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

If the iframe is not hosted on your site, then would Google consider its content (links etc) part of your site?


I don't think so, but the iframe tags have alternate content between them which are straight links to the merchant site. Javascript might be okay, but these are just regular links. Oh but they do redirect...and I see that some of these type of affiliate links are actually in the index with the aff id code and all, not many just a handful.

I think instead of adding nofollow I will just remove that alternate code, I don't think it really needs to be there.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4448634
 8:21 pm on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

I refuse to use nofollow anymore because there is a better alternative and I'll explain why.

The alternative: sending outbound links through a redirect page.
- Can act as a url shortener
- Can be blocked by robots.txt (or meta tag if you prefer but I don't recommend it, see below)
- Can have filtering and tracking applied etc.

In short I have full control and I MUCH prefer to block the redirect page with robots.txt than to use nofollow in part because I believe Google is selective on their obedience of nofollow. If you link to the NYTimes with a nofollow link for example Google likely trusts them and so may ignore the rank blocking of the nofollow attribute (if it blocks rank at all). This may be a problem if you link to the same affiliate site 50+ times.

Robots.txt is also the suggested method of blocking paid content in various Google webmaster guideline descriptions. John Mu has recommended it as the go-to method in the Google webmaster forum a couple of years ago. Nofollow may say 'this is a link I don't vouch for' but you really shouldn't have any of those to begin with right? It's better to stop googlebot cold imo.

Warning: noindex may not be enough. Big sites with affiliate programs, like ebay, saw a major traffic jump after forcing affiliates to redirect via 301 permanent instead of the browser default 302 temporary code(2010/11). That suggests Google is passing rank through redirects with noindex applied even through obvious affiliate links. I looked at all popular ebay scripts, all used noindex instead of robots.txt. IMO there is robots.txt and then there are all the second best options.

jimbeetle




msg:4448664
 9:36 pm on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Many of my affiliate links were up well before Google came along and I guess I see no reason to change just because it wants to unilaterally reinterpret the original intent of nofollow:

Indicates that the referred resource was not necessarily linked to by the author of the page, and thus said reference should not afford the referred resource any additional weight or ranking by user agents.

Okay, so I might be a stubborn old fool, but it ain't hurt anything yet.

netmeg




msg:4448676
 10:19 pm on May 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

The alternative: sending outbound links through a redirect page.


That's actually what I do now; but I have some old ones I haven't gotten around to redirecting, and they're nofollowed.

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