Affiliate Links On Your Site? Does It Hurt Your Google Ranking?

Jul 17, 2012 • 8:19 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

Google Affiliate NetworkA Google Webmaster Help thread has one webmaster being a bit obsessed about making sure Google does not know he has affiliate links on his web site.

He is under the belief that once Google figures out his site links out as an affiliate, Google will automatically downgrade the site.

Over the years, webmasters have come to learn that affiliate sites are hard to rank in Google. But why? Is it because they are linking to other sites that sell the same product? Or is it because the content is often not unique?

Google's John Mueller said in a Google Webmaster Help it is because of the unique content not being there. John wrote:

Generally speaking, using tools like that to obfuscate your links isn't something that we'd worry about. That said, it doesn't change anything from our point of view: Our algorithms expect unique, compelling, and high-quality content on your site. Whether you're an affiliate or not, it's important to us that users are able to find what they're looking for on your site -- otherwise they might be better served by having the final destination in our search results. It doesn't matter so much that a link is an affiliate link, or where the ultimate target is (and with that in mind, it doesn't provide any additional "SEO" benefit to hide that from search engines), it's really much more about the additional value that your pages add.

We have more about affiliate programs at http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=76465 & in general about duplicate content (a common problem with many affiliate sites) at http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66359.

Personally, given that hiding affiliate links like that is not going to sway our algorithms, I'd try to avoid those kinds of games (with the associated maintenance hassle) and instead spend time working on the website overall.

This is pretty obvious stuff but when SEOs get so deep into their daily grind, they don't always step back and look at the whole picture.

As a side note, I'd nofollow affiliate links just to be careful.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Previous story: Google: Ignored Links Can Confuse Google's Algorithms
 

Comments:

Tad Chef

07/17/2012 12:37 pm

Nofollowing affiliate links is a good idea by itself, otherwise you push the site you advertise in the SERPs thus competing with yourself. Redirecting affiliate links is good because some people do not click them otherwise due to poor user experience (cryptic URLs etc.)

Praveen Sharma

07/17/2012 12:53 pm

Having affiliated links on website won't hurt your rankings, after all you are just trying to make some money by selling some products. And don't think Google would have any issues with that. As Barry mentioned, content could be an issue, as sometimes its out of control of the publisher. So best thing is to tag it nofollow- safe and secure. :)

Nick Stamoulis

07/17/2012 01:16 pm

Once again it all comes down to content. E-commerce sites often have the same problem--there is nothing unique about the product descriptions on one site versus another. It's important to look at the big picture and not just chase the algorithm.

Ant

07/18/2012 10:21 am

There is actually a small ranking factor for affiliate links on a site though, or at least this was confirmed by John Mu last year in a webmaster help thread - its also worth remembering the addition of a negative score for excessive adverts / affiliate links above the fold.

SLight

07/31/2012 03:08 pm

Generating large affiliate sites with oodles of crap content is 'touch of a button' easy these days. A higher percentage of affiliate sites is going to be crap than other types of product sites. If I was Google would I try and determine if a site was an affiliate site and align a specific set of criteria to this? Well of course.

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