Written By: Adam Dince
The other day, my good friend and affiliate marketing master, Marty Marion, asked me a fantastic question about affiliate marketing and SEO and I thought it worthy of a well-written response. Essentially Marty’s question was regarding whether affiliate marketer blog links could positively or negatively affect a merchant’s organic search rankings.
Over the past few years, Google has cracked down on Websites attempting to manipulate rankings through unnatural link building. Why does Google care about the links pointing to a Website? Because links are a major part of Google’s ranking algorithm (PageRank) and that’s not changing anytime soon. When links pass positive PageRank, they can significantly affect how well the Sites they link to rank in organic search results.
In Google’s nirvana, a Website would only receive a link when the quality of its content warrants it. In other words, if you’re putting out great content, you should get links naturally. Any links acquired through barter, payment or other unnatural method goes against Google’s guidelines. As time goes on, Google continues to refine how it assesses what is natural and what isn’t. Recently, Google announced that links coming from guest blog posts and low quality blog posts would not be tolerated and Google has taken action.
Affiliate Websites (especially blog) links, if not coded correctly, can cause a merchant Site to be penalized by Google. Why? Because merchants pay affiliates for sales. If an affiliate hyperlinks to a merchant in a way that passes PageRank, Google might consider it a paid link which can lead to site-wide penalty levied against the merchant.
“If someone is paying for links that pass PageRank (which violates our quality guidelines), that can affect both the source site and the destination site.” – Matt Cutts, 2013
If you’re going to link to your merchants, whether it be on your primary Site or blog, your best bet is to append a no-follow attribute to the HREF. Here’s an example of how the no-follow is coded.
- Default HREF: <a href=”http://www.adamdincecom/”>Adam Dince</a>
- No-Followed HREF: <a href=”http://www.adamdince.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Adam Dince</a>
If you’re using WordPress as your Website’s CMS, this plug-in makes no-follow’s a cinch.
There’s no doubt that Google will continue to update and refine their guidelines, so it’s important to stay on top of what’s going on. Two awesome resources to help are Google Webmaster Guidelines and Matt Cutts’s blog.
I hope this article was helpful. If so, I would appreciate a share on your social network of choice. No need to “no follow” those.