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What exact IS an "affiliate link" in the eyes of Google? And how are they treated?
For example, when I design a web site for a client and place my logo at the bottom of the page does this constitute an affiliate site?
If my link is on every page of the site does that harm me and result in zero benefit as opposed to being on only one page, or does it simply provide no additional benefit but not cause any damage?
In the context usually accepted, an affiliate link is one where the host site gains a cut of the profit when a user clicks on the link and buys something on the target site.
The dmoz guidelines [dmoz.org] are pretty specific in their definition. But do note that these are the dmoz guidelines and what Google does or does not do is in no way related to dmoz policy. I'm wondering whether you are confused between the two.
Putting your link at the bottom of the page as the webpage designer shouldn't cause a problem at all and will probably generate some PR benefit for your site on the side.
An "affiliate" is a business relationship - you send traffic to another site and if they buy you get paid a commission(Google, as far as I know, does not have a problem with this, but, as John pointed out, DMOZ does)
An "affiliated" site, according to document describing the the Hilltop algo, is a site on the same type C IP address (given that Google are associated with this document, they **MAY** have a problem with links between "affiliated" sites - ie on the same class IP address)
General rule of thumb: Look at the content on the site, mentally blocking out all affiliate links. If the remaining information is original and valuable informational content that contributes something unique to the category's subject, the site may be a good candidate for the ODP. If the remaining content is poor, minimal, or copied from some other site, then the site is not a good candidate for the ODP.
I have never had a problem selling a couple related books on any of my sites that I feel will be helpful and convenient to our visitors, and I've got several hundred sites listed in ODP.
As long as you provide quality content, I don't see DMOZ, Google, or any other firm having a problem with you making a few dollars.
PS: As has already been described, your small icon would not be considered an affiliate link. As far as recognizing your firm with a small icon at the bottom, it is a common practice by a myriad of successful firms, and I recall GG saying last year that it isn't a problem at all (although he didn't expand on any potential benefits).
The biggest benefit for our firm is from prospective customers who like a design - then follow the link.
I have a very informative page on my site. The site is a professional service site with lots of good content that highlights my services, examples of my work, and prices. I also have a page for those that are beginning work in my industry with a TON of information on how to start. Awhile back I decided to put up reviews and links to the different Amazon.com books that discuss how to learn the industry - all the proceeds from book sales are donated to a local charity I'm involved with.
Do others that have affiliate links to Amazon.com feel like it has hurt their rankings?
This argument was brought up because there was some information about Google penalizing sites with [lots of] affiliate links. While I don't believe it does, and see no reason why it should, especially considering that our site conforms with The rule of thumb, we still decided to make a hybrid solution:
We list a number of affiliate web sites, a user clicking on an affiliate link actually clicks on [our.web.site...] which is an URL rewriting trick that calls a script producing a HTTP 301 redirect. So even if that penalty exists, the particular URL that'll be penalized is the one above.
However, I think that this is a paranoid overkill. What are your opinions?
I was planning to hide affiliate links the next time I do a site. I like you're mod_rewrite solution. I was just going to redirect script that looks like buy.php?product=****xx
I'm curious though. Do affilaite programs track the clicks properly when using the different techniques to hide affiliate urls? I imagine the cookies are set properly but how about referrer url? Is the referrer passed through the 301 redirect?
I'll look up the expected agent behaviour on referer with 301 redirects...