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>>One of your pages was once ranking #2 for "fine widgets."
>>Your site and page are example.com/fine-widgets.html
>>Your page title, H1 and text include "fine widgets" and the page is relevant enough to rank well - maybe even #1, #2 or #3.
Page title: Buy fine widgets online
Meta description: Find fine widgets for any room of the house or for your garden at the Wonderful Widget Store.
Page text: Includes relevant original text, part of which is included in the snippet.
Enter the search engines indexing the affiliate URL in the page HTML code <a href="trackingurl" >link</a> instead of your page. It will appear in the index as:
Description: the search term (sometimes maybe, sometimes not)
You're gone, and that cannot remain ranking for you. First, it is not your site, your page is gone for the search term, and what factors are there in a phantom, script generated page to stay ranked?
Then: if the page slips out entirely, there goes your IBL credit for your internal navigation, including PR, backlink credit, semantic connectivity, theming and anchor text, among other sitewide factors.
It's been suspected by many that all the engines are deliberately trying to hit affiliates sites and downgrade them. It may not be prejudice, after all; it may be a failure in proper site management and technology on the part of either of, or both of, the networks and the search engines.
For those whose affiliate sites have gone south that you know aren't "thin" or "crappy" or autogenerated, duplicated pages or "spam", take a look and see if you can find if this is happening to you.
It doesn't hurt the network at all, they've got over 3 million URLs showing in the index, some with thousands coming up for certain keywords with a site: search. Of course, tracking URLs aren't pages, they're generated by scripts but those are what's being erronously indexed.
Try it yourself:
or in the case of the network that uses a subdomain for tracking, do a site: search on that. MSN shows it most graphically. Those all represent affiliates' pages that have been replaced by those "phantom" URLs.
But there are 3 *big* networks around and one smaller one that's popular and frequently mentioned. It's not affecting the 4th one that I've seen, but URLs from the other 3 are appearing in the SERPs, especially so for one of them.
People post there (Live) generally to find out why they got dumped, BTW, not to report bugs or crawling problems.
>>starting over a month ago. Maybe there's a different explanation for why your page or pages were
Actually, I figured out what was happening before October 6th, early October is when I first started noticing it.
My sites didn't fall out (except for one with a downtime/DNS/hosting 302 issue), and neither did sites of a few other people I know of.
BUT like for one certain search, for example, I've been #2 for ages - and now, instead of my page, it's the tracking URL that's sitting at #2. So no Adsense clicks/income for the page, no traffic to send to other merchants on the page, since traffic to my page never gets there for the search - and that merchant the link is going to isn't converting from that link in the SERPs.
It hasn't happened to all pages 100% (which is slightly peculiar, it's an algo quirk or two I've spotted), but bad enough to kill MSN traffic for affected pages - like for one that was getting constant, steady monthly sales from a merchant on another network.
Added: Yahoo has 2,660,000 of those URLs indexed, for just that one network. Unfortunately, the networks haven't kept bots out of areas they shouldn't go to, though I put up a couple of jump links to test, and one of my jump links got indexed (verbatim), so they're getting them off the aff pages they're crawling.
I didn't post to "whine" - not at all. I posted as a heads up, so that if it's happening to other people, they'll know to look and see if it's the case for them. It may not be engines deliberately picking on affiliate sites, as many have suspected.
[edited by: Marcia at 4:05 am (utc) on Dec. 12, 2007]
Is this about affiliates actual landing pages that contain links through to a merchant site? And that wherever the page would normally show up in the search engine, now it just shows a link straight to the merchants site (and without your affiliate id)?
If so that's worring. But what happens if there's affiliate links to several merchants on the same page? And what happens if you've set up internal links that redirect you to the appropriate merchant program when clicked on?
No, not the landing (or content) pages, just affiliate tracking URLs.
>>And that wherever the page would normally show up in the search engine, now it just shows a link straight to the merchants site (and without your affiliate id)?
Yes, that's what's showing, but it's got the affiliate id in the URL.
>>If so that's worring. But what happens if there's affiliate links to several merchants on the same page?
Sure it's worrying. If they pick up just one link off our page and show it in the SERPs, the user never sees *your* page, they end up at the merchant that link is redirected to (by the network).
So if it's the OTHER merchants (or other products) on your page who convert, the user didn't come to your page, so they have no opportunity to see your other links - or your Adsense, if you're running it.
>>And what happens if you've set up internal links that redirect you to the appropriate merchant program when clicked on?
I found a jump script and tried it on 2-3 links, they fetched a jump.php? link. ;) But, I haven't tested more to see if robots.txt exclusion (or maybe a 403) will have any effect.
Commission Junction - which uses some other garbled domains for tracking
Linkshare - which uses linksynergy.com
Shareasale - which uses shareasale.com
Avantlink - which uses avantlink.com
Affiliate Future - which uses affiliatefuture.com
Share Results - which uses shareresults.com
Try other networks you know of too, and if you find them add your keyword(s) to the search and dig in a few pages into the SERPs since the listings have on some tend to drop down some.