Google To Affiliates: No Added Value, Then You Violate Our Webmaster Guidelines

Jan 28, 2014 • 8:37 am | comments (38) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google PenaltyLast night, Google published a blog post on their webmaster central blog notifying affiliates that if their sites do not add any value, then they may be penalized.

Google said it pretty clearly:

If your site syndicates content that’s available elsewhere, a good question to ask is: “Does this site provide significant added benefits that would make a user want to visit this site in search results instead of the original source of the content?” If the answer is “No,” the site may frustrate searchers and violate our quality guidelines.

Google's webmaster affiliate guidelines can be read in detail over here.

Google hinted twice, one in the blog post and once in Matt Cutts tweet that this is seen a lot more in the adult industry. Matt Cutts said, "good reminder about thin affiliates, esp. in porn." Matt added, "Cookie cutter sites usually don't add value."

Google's Zineb Ait Bahajji added on Google+, "if your site is syndicating content from another website and does not add any value to the users, Google may take action against it."

So it seems something is going to happen shortly to affiliate sites in the adult industry. This is Google's way of breaking spirits in a slow and repetitive way.

Forum discussion at Google+ and Twitter.

Previous story: Google's Matt Cutts On When Old Sites No Longer Rank Well


Harsh Wardhan Singh

01/28/2014 02:23 pm

Lols :) Believe me I was wondering about the sites that use to have posts and information with nothing added about something that is already on another site. Fe not even do research and analyze and just write the content with considerable changes. Probably last month I had posted a tweet following a blog post that "Spammers have no idea the Suffering that Awaits for them in 2014" . #Ilikeit :)

Stuart David

01/28/2014 02:46 pm

Yeah you're spot on, I wonder if this includes sites like Zimbio who get away with publishing Google News RSS as individual pages then ranking highly for such things. major annoyance how often end up on those type of pages, I wish Google would outright ban that pratice.

Lee Robertson

01/28/2014 03:08 pm

Does that include RetailMeNot Google? They constantly rank for nothing more than MERCHANT Coupon searches but add nothing but pages of often out dated and expired coupons. Of course who is one of the major investors in RetailMeNot, oh right Google. Google has no problem telling small webmasters to follow these rules, but the sites they have investments in get to not follow them, add no value and still rank at the top of the SERPS.

Python Rudy

01/28/2014 03:19 pm

My website already got penalty from google, the traffic drop a lot, maybe because of this

Stuart David

01/28/2014 03:40 pm

You have the word Google in the name ... they don't like that stuff

PM Fiorini

01/28/2014 04:21 pm

All this means is that affiliates will have to use more AdWords. What's wrong with that?


01/28/2014 04:27 pm

Google financially backed through Google Ventures. That's why I believe it ranks so great along with the other websites Google has a financial interest in. Check out to see the who's who of preferential treatment in the SERPS. Back on topic... I think 3, 4 and 5+ Amazon listings in a row frustrates searchers. Quality guidelines are a one way street - do as I say and not as I do. The only thing worse than thin affiliate sites are thin search results that lack diversity. Google's got that one down pretty good.


01/28/2014 05:16 pm

I wonder if this is to fight the sneaky backlink techniques that are so effective like what Jim Stewart at Stewart Media found for 'best web host' searches. If the affiliate site is penalized then all of the .gov and .edu backlinks no longer matter.

Mark A Warner

01/28/2014 07:39 pm

They also own the chrome brand which their spam team has given manual penalties before, this doesn't seem so preferential.


01/28/2014 09:28 pm

i not sure if google add value now. with that quality of their serp better i will use bing.

Larry Fish

01/28/2014 10:21 pm

expect a major update from the googler, usually right before the quarter ends, so mid feb is my guess.


01/28/2014 11:22 pm

Which practice? You want google to ban the practice making money money while everyone else doesn't? I would bet a good lot of sites syndicate content what...kutos to the ones that put it out, and screw everyone else down the syndication pipeline? hell, google, just de-rank all sites to new stats by de-ranking any site that uses syndication, which does not make sense. Just because the content is syndicated does not mean the entire god damn world has seen it at the source, unless google things the entire population always goes to the source. I see syndication content all the time written years ago...too me its new, not duplicate, google, you are a bunch of dumbass turds.

Stuart David

01/28/2014 11:31 pm

I'm on about the Google News RSS ... as in, the small snippets, which create individual pages, add no value, and merely link to the content which Google already link to in Google News


01/28/2014 11:46 pm

I am reading it another way..If you scrape content, then google will crap all over you.... If your site syndicates content that’s available elsewhere, a good question to ask is: “Does this site provide significant added benefits that would make a user want to visit this site in search results instead of the original source of the content?” If the answer is “No,” the site may frustrate searchers and violate our quality guidelines.

PM Fiorini

01/29/2014 12:16 am

Google is exhausting.

Fede Einhorn

01/29/2014 12:54 am

Yeah, and their penalty lasted a few days while if we get one it will affect our site for possibly a year after it is revoked...

Soni Sharma

01/29/2014 04:46 am

That will be Good. You should definitely add some value for your users.

Jitendra Vaswani

01/29/2014 05:05 am

Google is now torturing us

Jitendra Vaswani

01/29/2014 05:09 am

why do you think it is good ? can you tell me


01/29/2014 06:15 am

I think then Google should penalize their own website,, doesn't it scrape (Crawl - In their Language) the whole web and shows the SAME content to its users. They even shows lots of crappy (Relevant - In their language) PAID, SPONSORED advertisement ABOVE THE FOLD. Ohhh I forgot its Google's who makes the rules so it won't apply to them as they are the Rulers..

David Black

01/29/2014 07:39 am

I'don't think this is really 'news' from Google - it's just another way of saying 'we don't like duplicate content' It's like listening to a stuck record.


01/29/2014 10:16 am

DIVERSE RESULTS is what we want to see. not 3 results for amazon and 4 results for ebay.


01/29/2014 10:25 am

they (and sites like amazon/youtube/wikipedia/google sites) not need to follow any rules. amazon have lot of links (50) at homepage with keyword, it was reported lot of time to google - but nothing happens. Wikipedia have lot of thin (aka doorway) pages with one or two sentences of text (or even without any text) with lot of internal links, etc. If you will check backlink profile of youtube you will see how really very spammy links profile looks like. If you check % of ads at google above fold you will see how real MFA (thin affiliate - adwords, amazon, etc...) site looks like. I even not speaking about scrapped content at google, and low quality serp. So that rules is just "rules", google not follow any rules itself.


01/29/2014 10:32 am

with all this penalizations google not see what it become low quality MFA/Thin Affiliate search engine.


01/29/2014 10:36 am

yes, but they are unable to separate white listed sites from normal sites, because of $$$. So they continue penalize regular sites and backlink profile and behavior factors is not important anymore. When elephant want to eat imported gold bananas him not care what walking on and killing billions of mouses and cats.


01/29/2014 10:38 am

they are thin affiliate. but google "rules" is only "rules". white list override standard ranking algorithms for "low quality not google sites".


01/29/2014 10:43 am

amazon with their 50 links with keyword in anchor on homepage (and internal pages) even not was penalized. Also if you check their link profile - it where really unnatural links (created for $$$ via affiliate program). Even wikipedia ranks good because of unnatural links (and because whitelisted). It happen because lot of small sites need to link to top10 serp sites, and as wikipedia everywhere - it get most of such unnatural links. So how we see - google rank sites in unnatural way.


01/29/2014 11:15 am

Yes Smarty, I can see why Google is behaving like this now a days, its all can be judged on Google RND & Investment in new sectors year by year. They just wanna eat all food on the table by forcing every single small and big companies paying for their PPC traffic, they landed first in Flight Industry, then Online Hotel Booking, then Car Insurance in UK and now in Coupon with Google Offers


01/29/2014 11:38 am

yes, google is lying us. they ban sites not because of quality, but because of money.

Jérôme Verstrynge

01/29/2014 12:41 pm

Can't agree more...

Some guy

01/29/2014 02:41 pm

Google lying us, it ban even sites on unique content, with active forum and huge number of unique articles in wiki. Real example: They using their rules selectively, and never ban really spammy high authority sites. They want what everybody watch movies only on youtube and buy things in amazon using google affiliate links. Google become huge personal collection of crappy high authority sites by Matt Cutts. Welcome to google 2014, really low (or no any) quality search engine,

Daniel Foley

01/29/2014 05:45 pm

Again, Google at it again, monopoly right? Sorry, but why would Google bother, why not just index and rank sites on their content quality, oh wait, sorry, I forgot big brands always seem to have the edge, and these little affiliate sites suffer even if they have unique content. Tell you what Google, howabout you ditch the humming penguin bullcrap! put your index back to the days when small businesses could rank legitimately, instead of allowing big businesses to back hand their way into the top organic spots whilst making stupid rules up to penalise smaller sites for having a pop at the big terms, its called forcing businesses into adwords, low and behold the platform that costs lots of money!

Some guy

01/29/2014 07:31 pm

google is cheater today. we need to prohibit google to index all sites without owner authorization (by default). And let they live with empty serp and display only wikipedia, youtube and other high authority crap.

Gracious Store

01/30/2014 01:04 am

This is Google's own way of eliminating affiliate marketing simple and short

Soni Sharma

01/30/2014 03:55 pm

Users should get extra information and added value to the stuff he is looking for.

F the liars

01/30/2014 09:35 pm

Dear losers, ignore what MUTT CUTTS and Barry Sullivan say. Google wants to kill all non-paid traffic that can be monetized. Once again ad clicks increased by 31% over 2012 and that's coming out of your pocket. Adwords only.

Mike Gracia

01/31/2014 02:54 pm

Hmmm, but... What's THIS if it's not a thin affiliate site?!profile=ANY_CARD Yet it ranks above all organic listings (it's sponsored, I know - but I doubt Google is paying itself for the ad!) I posted more about this here recently I know Google's site is a PPC listing (or, erm, NPPC - Not Paid Per Click?!) but even so, I think if Google REALLY want affiliate sites to work hard and add value rather than being 'thin affiliates', then they SHOULD lead by example with their own affiliate sites! Otherwise its hypocrisy. Unless they are okay with the fact that Google's own offerings may 'frustrate searchers'... Personally, I agree thin affiliate sites look rubbish and think people should add value to ensure a good UX for their site... guides, videos, ratings and other UGC all help. Shame Google itself doesn't bother too much with their own aff sites though! Maybe they don't have the resources to have nice guides written?


05/07/2014 03:40 pm

At the end of the day their business will suffer. Chinese search engines will give them a kick-in with one third of the world's population, Th EU is also being strongly pushed to curb Google in a big way which it has started to do. Basically they don't appreciate anti-competitive practices from U.S monopolies. We shall see a non-partisan search engine coming soon - not if but when. Google have become greedy as one would expect. It is a U.S corporation with shareholders. I notice that their shopping pages are featuring ever more prominently. That really is the death of affiliate marketing if you depend upon Google.

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