How Google Treats Affiliates In Web Search?

Sep 16, 2009 • 8:28 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

There is a featured WebmasterWorld thread on the topic of how Google treats affiliate links and if there are ways to hide your affiliate links from Google.

There is discussion that Google will lower your rank of a web page, if it has an affiliate link on that page. I honestly do not know if that is a true statement. The typical issue with affiliate links, is not the link, but the fact that Google wants to show the best single unique result in the search listings and not the same ten results from ten different web sites. Affiliates typically sell the same product and often have the same content on their site, with various changes to the template and content. Google wants the searcher to get one of those sites and not all of them.

So I really do not think an affiliate link is the signal Google uses to "demote" a page in the search results. It is likely more about how unique that page is.

But let's say Google does look for affiliate links. The thread discusses how you can possibly hide that link from Google, so that you don't suffer any loss for having it.

Some suggest using JavaScript, but Google now crawls JavaScript. Some suggest using a special directory for the link and then robots.txt that directory out and also nofollow the link. Some even go as far as suggesting cloaking the link out for GoogleBot and showing it to everyone else.

Whatever route you go, be careful with all these methods. And think hard, how unique is your page from the 300 other affiliates selling the same product or service?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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09/16/2009 04:16 pm

I do think that Google definitely lowers your ranking if there's an affiliate link (and based on my experience, that is the case), and I don't think it has much to do with duplicate content (again, based on my experience, duplicate content doesn't do much harm). To say that Google "doesn't like" affiliates is a bit crude, but all the recent Google slaps (on PPC), Google bans and the Draconic measures they've taken pretty much speak for themselves (a lot of information online, so I won't elaborate on that).


09/16/2009 05:22 pm

I would guess if Google looks at affiliate links, it would have to do with how many affiliate links are on the page (and/or % of links that are affiliate), and how the content/link is differentiated from others linking to the same product. Then again, that's just my thinking of maybe how they should do it--they don't always seem to agree with me (see their policy on paid links--how is a relevant but paid link bad? how is an irrelevant but free link good?)


09/16/2009 11:28 pm

I thought Google had been very clear about this subject. They have nothing against affiliate links just thin affilates that offer little value. The problem is there are a lot of affilates who want to earn money for nothing. They automate to within an inch of their lives, steal content and launder it through pipe mashups, get their pages built by automated software then wonder why they get Google slapped. If you wanna make money from affilate sales, write your own content, conduct white hat seo, and put in the hard work. And if you can't be bothered pay one of us to do it for you lol.


09/25/2009 09:15 am

I'm not sure they penalise in search if you have decent content as there are loads of comparison sites all with loads of affiliate links with high search placings. Where they do seem to make a penalty is on pages with affilate links who are using adwords.


12/09/2009 07:11 am

For adwords i have always struggled to get decent page score for pages with affiliate links but for search results to date i have never had a problem and agree with Sean that it is important to have unique content and plenty of content. Sites with no content just affiliate links will probably always struggle.


07/02/2012 01:40 pm

Google spam team head Matt cutt has recently cleared the matter.If you can then update the post with his video.

Barry Schwartz

07/02/2012 01:44 pm

Yep see

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