Apologies if this a stupid n00b question... I'm still learning SEO.
I only now heard that Google will snub your site if they think it's too affiliate-heavy. At a glance about 40% of my articles come with an Amazon Associates product link, but since my niche site uses a blog-style format with multiple entries (including ones with affiliate links) on the home page, I'm afraid that could be killing my SEO.
Also read in another WW thread ([webmasterworld.com
]) that Google doesn't like seeing AdSense and affiliate links on the same page.
To support that theory, I once had to fight with AdWords staff because they had flagged my site for "bridge" issues. In other words, their algorithm had picked up too many AMZ affiliate links, and they assumed I was just a portal site with low-quality content. In fact, I spend hours each day writing original media-rich content. Once they did a human scan of my site I got my AdWords flags cleared, but I still wonder if the AMZ stuff is killing my SEO? 1. Can anybody confirm that affiliate links (with or without simultaneous AdSense) can seriously hurt your Google traffic? If so, how severe is it? And if I stop using affiliates, how can I inform Google of this?
2. P.S. Started using a social bookmarking (?) site to submit one article per day to 25 sites. It's supposedly above-board, and supposedly 25 is too few for Google to get suspicious about unnatural link building, but what little traffic I had has been cut in half since I started using it. Coincidence, or is this a -50 penalty? P.P.S is this considered gray hat or black hat? In either case, worth abandoning?
Sorry if any of this is too n00b or even shady-sounding--if the consensus is that it's stupid or wrong I'll drop the practice; I'm still pretty new to web dev/etiquette/strategy and wide open for feedback/criticism. Thanks.