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Affiliate-tagged links showing up in google results?

domain.com/?afid=XXX as a google result?

12:57 am on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have set up an affiliate program on my store, whereby people can link to me using the syntax of [mydomain.com...] where XXX is their ID. I put a paid ad on a site that was oriented toward my target audience, and gave the site owner an affiliate tagged ID so I could just track hits from the ad using my affiliate system already in place.

This morning, I noticed that the url, including the affiliate querystring with the ID I'd given the site owner, was listed in google. This brought up a couple of questions:

1) Does google see the affiliate tagged URLS as completely different pages? Could I get penalized for duplicated pages if I have a lot of affiliates linking back with different IDs?

2) Does google make efforts to identify sites that use affiliate programs and penalize them, for example sites that use a querystring variable named afid/af/affiliateid/referer/etc

I have been having doubts about whether to continue the affiliate program or shut it down, so any thoughts on this (or links to relevant topics) would be greatly appreciated. I did notice that of the few people who have set up affiliate links, none are really directly related subject matter. So that kind of kills off some hope for affiliate-donated PR, another reason I'm considering dropping the program.

1:48 am on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

You should be happy that you have a great affiliate who could make that URL appear on Google indexing (must be his site has huge PR or lot of incoming links). If I were you, I would love to have those affiliates especially if your affiliate program is cost effective for you!
3:31 am on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

we launched our program 10 months ago, not one exchanged link except for affiliate tagged referring links, we now have a Page Rank of 7. another words, don't worry about it. affiliate programs will grow your business like nothing else. go with it!
5:05 am on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

well people have said previously that with duplicate content the lower pr site would be penalised, if anyone. This wouldnt seem fair to me since having a lower pr than another site with the same content wouldnt mean that the lower pr site was one stealing it, he may just have fewer links etc. if i was you i would also worry about duplicate content since poeple have said just having domains redirect to a mian domain have led to the wrong one being dropped.
1:53 pm on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

where would duplicate content come into play? you'd have to elaborate on that. if you have 100 affiliates, each one arranges your base content/graphics differently. you know what i mean? not ever site looks the same. plus, most who offer affiliate programs, promote more than one. i just don't see where a 'penalty' would come into play.

now, if YOU set up 100 domains to promote YOUR own affiliate program, and content across each domain was exact, then you're in grave danger.

2:13 pm on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

i assumed he meant each affiliate hase there own page on his site..all identical except for private labelling
3:55 pm on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm sorry, I worded that really vaguely. Let me clarify what I was worried about:


All these urls above would be linked to from different affiliates. If google sees each URL as a different "page" on my site, since the url's are different (in querystring only), it might look to google like I have n different pages, but they're all just identical to my home page. Maybe I'm just being paranoid. :)

Another thing I was wondering is whether the pagerank donated would be split among all those URLs, or donated to the base url without the querystring. I would be very interested to know if anyone knows what would happen there.

Thanks for everyone's input on the Affiliate program, I was worried that maybe it was considered to be a bad practice by search engines. I did notice today that my affiliate page has a PR0 (empty white box), but none of the rest of my pages seem affected. I wonder if maybe the word affiliate is bad?

4:33 pm on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I would be surprised if google would penalize you for having the same content on the same URI. There are just too many pages that use query strings for changing things other than content.

GoogleGuy has stated that they are getting much better at crawling dynamic pages, so I would expect that they are also working on eventually figuring out which query strings cause duplicate content.

I think it would be more important to try and figure out which clicks come from google so you can reduce the affiliate payments, unless you want to give extra credit to those sites for giving you the high results in google. You could check the referer and do a reverse domain lookup.

5:13 pm on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ciml is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

> GoogleGuy has stated that they are getting much better at crawling dynamic pages...

Alternatively they're choosing to spider more of them. This will cause quite a lot of duplication, but Google is very good at putting the duplicates and other fluff at the bottom of the listings.

I guess that most people will only find the extra pages when using very specific word combinations, in which case the extra results will be a good thing.

5:27 pm on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

One my website, I add "?print=yes" to the end of many of my URLS to serve a print version of the article. I too was worried that this might cause a duplicate content penalty, so I use PHP to solve this potential problem by adding this to my header:

if ($_GET['print'] == "yes") {
echo '<meta name="robots" content="noindex">';

While I'm just a beginner with this sort of thing, if you are using PHP, this might work if you add it to your header:

if ($_GET['afid'] != "") {
echo '<meta name="robots" content="noindex">';

In other words, if AFID exists, the script will add:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

... to the header, thus preventing Google from indexing it.

At least that's what I want it to do!