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Article was #4 - I add affiliate link and it disappears entirely!

     
8:13 pm on Oct 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I think Google got upset that I added an affiliate link when I saw that the article ranked well.

Am I right in suspecting that my adding of the affiliate link is what hurt the ranking of the page?

Thanks,

8:37 pm on Oct 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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mmmm, think if you made other change last weeks?
8:41 pm on Oct 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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maybe you leaked some page rank outside your site. did you rel=nofollow it?
8:55 pm on Oct 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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sometimes urls just seem to go for further inspection when any chnage is made and if you pass that inspection you come back where you was. I would suggest you don't make any more changes for 3-4 weeks and if you dont come back remove the link.
4:39 am on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The affiliate link is the only thing that I changed. There are no other changes. The article was receiving good traffic and visitors were happily rating it and viewing other pages on the website.

I didn't do a rel=nofollow on that affiliate link. One thing the provider of that affiliate link did was including a JavaScript that masks the affiliate details and only show the homepage of the affiliate when you hover over the link. I'm wondering if Google maybe doesn't like that.

I removed it now, along with all the other affiliate links on my site. I'll look more into this and monetizing the site once I have enough traffic.

7:59 am on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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they can still read the code and as i said, imho dropping does not mean they dont like it. It seems to mean that often they need to chuck that url through some sort of standalone algo and while you are being screened there you wont show.
8:10 am on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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santapaws, I think your explanation makes a lot of sense. I removed the link anyway because there were other unrelated reasons for removal. Like you said, I'll wait on it and see what happens...

But how did you learn about this inspection mechanism and standalone algos?

8:27 am on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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maybe you leaked some page rank outside your site. did you rel=nofollow it?

There are good reasons for nofollowing an affiliate link... but the idea of not leaking PageRank outside your site, IMO, is not a good way to think about linking.

Not wanting to take this discussion off topic, but I couldn't let this one go. There's a new discussion about "leaking" PageRank here...

How do I protect the ranking of a page with 30 outbound links?
[webmasterworld.com...]

3:34 pm on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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But how did you learn about this inspection mechanism and standalone algos?

i didnt. It is just something that seems to make sense and fit with my observations of pages coming and going consistently with even just minor changes. Other pages that have remained untouched for years never budge. Anyway these days you mustn't panic when a page goes awol, in the old days this was bad news but in modern times its very much part of the everyday running of google.

<disclaimer>
IMHO
</disclaimer>

btw. No need to have that link on the page anyway. Just create a new page with the link and disallow it by robots and link to that page.

7:21 pm on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Google despises affiliates.
8:26 pm on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Not all affiliates - there are plenty who do quite well with Google. Here's a quote from Google's Adam Lasnik, from a discussion called "Avoiding penalties against 'thin affiliate' pages":

Some general truisms when it comes to Google:

- If a site provides compelling information, entertainment, or tools and is then sprinkled (reasonably) with affiliate links, then it's likely to do well over time.

- If a site *starts* with affiliate links as the foundation, the chances for success are more slim *unless* it provides compelling info, entertainment, tools, etc.

In other words, if you're building an Amazon.com store, are there any strong reasons why someone would visit -- or even bookmark -- your site instead of just going straight to Amazon.com? If not, why would our users want us to prominently list your site?

Getting "fat" means adding value... and, more specifically, a value that is distinct or greater than the value derived from the actual ecommerce site itself.

[webmasterworld.com...]

I have no reason to think that advice is not still valid. But I am concerned about the report that opened this thread. If the article was worth good ranking before, then the addition of the affiliate link should not have harmed it, according to the above quote.

So what is going on? As Adam also said in the linked thread, be careful about assumed causation. Just because one event is followed by another does not mean that it caused the second event. Other events may also be involved. For example, was the article scraped and published elsewhere?

At any rate, since msafi has now removed that link, it will be interesting to see if the traffic returns.

9:38 pm on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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it would have been even more interesting if he had left it alone for a while. My guess is the same thing would have happened with whatever link he added if indeed that was the reason.
1:42 am on Oct 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Every time I changed anything on a page that ranked well it crashed.
3:35 am on Oct 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I update my homepage once or twice a month. Every time I update, the page slumps from it's position somewhere in the top 4 to somewhere down in the bottom 4. When Google updates it's cache of the page, it often returns back up to the top or else it slowly climbs back up again.

I once tried to add 2 adsense units forming a vertical column on the left hand side. The page almost immediately plummeted from #2 to #7. I took them off and it returned to #3. I have not been able to regain that #2 position which was very stable.

12:08 pm on Oct 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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An interesting thread, but on balance, it seems most unlikely that the affiliate link has anything to do with it.

Instead of just looking at the one page, it might be wiser to look at the whole site, and see if anything is going on that is more likely to have caused the problem.

Do other pages on the site link to the same (or related) affiliate?

Is the affiliate a quality page?

Does the article where the link was placed have unique and original content?

How old is the page? And the site?

There's something we don't know, and msafi needs to look again at the link, the page, and the site; If Google has started strong penalties against pages because of one javascript link to an affiliate site, then there should be thousands of panicking webmasters joining this thread!

5:43 pm on Oct 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The article is back to its high position! It no longer has an affiliate link, but the website template has some relevant affiliate links that appear alongside the article. I won't be making modifications to it at this time...

Thanks for the help everyone...

9:44 pm on Oct 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Why not send the affiliate link out through a redirect script hosted on your site and "noindex,nofollow" the redirect script? Has a secondary use aswell if you use many affiliate links as you can keep them all in one text file and have your redirect script read and filter accordingly. Just a thought.
8:45 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I placed the affiliate link once more, and the article disappeared. It was ranked #2 this time. I won't remove the affiliate link. I'll keep it and see what happens.

The strange thing is that I have the same affiliate link in the sidebar (template), and Google doesn't seem to have a problem with that...Does Google know the different between template content and individual page content? It seems so...

Also, this time I'm sending the affiliate link through a redirect script as advised. I'm also nofollowing the href.

I'll see what happens with it this time...

9:19 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I placed the affiliate link once more, and the article disappeared. It was ranked #2 this time. I won't remove the affiliate link. I'll keep it and see what happens.

As Tedster said, be very careful about assuming causation, and also about how you view your test. Essentially, you're conducting a different test now, on a page that is adding and removing affiliate links, and make other minor changes frequently ;)

Also remember that the fact the rankings have been so unstable means this page is unlikely to be highly "trusted", and hence is more subject to ranking fluctuation - both because of changes you make, and changes Google make - as has been happening recently.

9:24 pm on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I once had problems with a page in which I had inadvertently doubled up on some of the affiliate links.

[edited by: ChicagoFan67 at 9:25 pm (utc) on Nov. 4, 2008]

8:43 pm on Nov 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I had always thought of this as a scare story put about by search engine/webmasters to try and stem the flow of affiliate (i.e. less-than-valuable-or-unique-content-for-users) content sites.

However, I had never read that quote by Adam Lasnik (I assume it is from a verified source otherwise one of the big guys in this thread would have picked up on it) and am intrigued enough to test the theory on one of my sites.

It has 450 or so pages, 120 or so of which had between 1-7 affiliate links on each page. Some of those pages ranked, some didn't but I could never find the apparent cause. I have now set the coding to only show 1 affiliate link on each of those 120 pages. As this problem has been going on for over 6 months and I have made no other drastic changes recently I will most likely attribute any dramatic change over the coming weeks to the dropping of affiliate links ... whether I'm correct in doing so is just as much of a guessing game as I'm already in! ;)

9:37 pm on Nov 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The article is back to its high ranking. Google has recently cached it with the affiliate link and everything.
 

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