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Affiliate-tagged links and search engines

resulting in duplicate content?

4:10 pm on Jul 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm about to start my own affiliate program, and the script I'm using tracks referrers by grabbing the variable in the link that was clicked, e.g. domain.com/index.php?ref=MRSMITH

Now domain.com/index.php will look exactly the same regardless of variables in the link, so if I have 1000 affiliates, then the search engines may find 1000 "pages" with identical content.

I did some search on this topic here at webmasterworld, but all I found was ancient discussions. The solution that was mentioned was to scrap the variable all together and track affiliates by referrer url instead. The limitation would obviously be that each affiliate must notify me of where his traffic originates, else I can't track him.

Is this considered the best solution nowadays, or what is the view on this?

1:49 am on July 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Are you worried about duplicate content, or referral strings? If your affililates all had the same content, then it's dupe content no matter how the variable or referral string looks.

Of course you could look at different software that would provide you with different tracking capabilities, but if you are worried about dupe content, make sure your affs change their page.

8:05 am on July 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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No, what I mean is that my website will be considered to have duplicate content. If I have understood correctly, then the main issue here is that I will not gain the advantage of having 1000 links pointing to one of my pages (they will point to 1000 "different" pages), rather than being penalized for duplicate content (as they are all on same domain).
2:06 pm on July 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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You can use mod_rewrite to remove the affiliate code IF the user agent is one of the major search engine spiders (do a 301 redirect to the URL without the affiliate code). This is probably the most popular way of dealing with the issue.

OR you can put your affiliate code after a # sign. So the URL would look something like this:


10:25 am on Aug 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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in the end I put this in my files:

if (isset($_GET['ref'])){
setcookie ($c_name,$c_value,$c_expire,$c_path,$c_domain);
header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
header("Location: http://www.example.com".$_SERVER['PHP_SELF']);

seems to work just fine...


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