Monday, 16 March 2009

Google and the SEO Benefits of Affiliate Tracking Links

September 10th, 2008 by CarstenCumbrowski | 14 Comments
Brian Klais wrote in June, 2008 in his post “Amazon’s Secret to Dominating SERP Results” at the Natural Search Blog about how leverages the inbound links of their vast number of affiliates for their organic SEO advantage by 301-redirecting BOTs for the URLs that include the affiliate tracking code to the single primary URL of the same page that they want to be indexed by the search engines.

Some folks think that what is doing violates the Google Webmaster Guidelines, because what they do is a special kind of cloaking, but I would argue that. The webpage where the bots and the user end up are the same. Amazon is not deceiving anybody, not the users and not the bots either. If you 301 only bots and not everybody who access your site via to to prevent duplicate indexing of your website homepage and PageRank leakage, is that cloaking? Is it unethical? I am sure that most people would agree with me when I say that it is not. So technically everything should be cool and peachy, or shouldn’t it?

Source :

Magid: Google Voice offers one phone number, many features (San Jose Mercury News)

In 2007, Google acquired a start-up known as GrandCentral and, as far as the world could see, did nothing with it. But that lackluster appearance was deceiving. Last Wednesday, Google relaunched GrandCentral as Google Voice as its next major foray into voice communications.

Link to the original site

Source :

Google Swallows DoubleClick Performics, Spits Out Google Affiliate Network (GOOG)

Dan Frommer|Jun. 30, 2008, 4:00 PM|3
PrintTags: Advertising, DoubleClick, Google, ValueClick

Google has finally launched Google Affiliate Network, its new name for Performics' affiliate ad network, which it acquired with DoubleClick earlier this year.

What is it? An ad network that pays publishers based on leads or sales -- "cost per action" -- not based on clicks or impressions.

Advertisers like this system because they only have to pay up when they make a sale. And publishers like it because of the variety of ad formats, including text-based links that can be included in editorial content. (It's also an easy way for a no-name publisher to get big-name ads on their site.)

"Amazon, watch out," is Erick Schonfeld's first take in TechCrunch's post about the relaunch. We're not sure what he's talking about: Amazon's (AMZN) affiliate program is handled in-house, without help from an outside network, so there's no overlap with Google's (GOOG) program. (Unless he's talking about the fact that Barnes & Noble is a Google customer. In which case, whatever.)

Who should watch out? Rival affiliate networks LinkShare, owned by Japan's Rakuten; and Commission Junction, owned by ValueClick (VCLK) -- who could easily lose their big clients, or attention/ad inventory from publishers. ValueClick is already down: In March, it lost a big account in eBay (EBAY), which took most of its affiliate ad program in-house.


Google Drives Affiliate Network Users to Google Accounts

By Chris Crum - Mon, 02/09/2009 - 15:29

Encouraging Log-in Changes

Users of the Google Affiliate Network can now access the network through a regular Google account. This means uses will be able to access Google's other products like AdWords, AdSense, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, etc. with the same log-in.

"Users who have updated to Google Accounts have the option to bookmark their new sign in page or select the link marked Already Updated? Sign in with my Google Account from the legacy sign in page," explains Product Manager Sheila Parker. "In addition, if you are already logged in to your Google Account (via another product) and navigate to either of these pages, you will be brought to your Affiliate Network dashboard (no need to enter login information again)."

For now, Google Affiliate Network users still have the option to continue using their existing log-ins. In fact, Google will not be updating the Affiliate Network Sign-in pages until all users have updated. Once a user updates their Account, they'll no longer be able to use their old Google Affiliate Network username and password.

It seems like an interesting way to get more people signed up for real Google accounts. It could prove to increase the amount of use of other Google products, as I'm sure that's the idea.

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Affiliate Marketing Basics

The latest and greatest area for home-based marketers is affiliate marketing. What is affiliate marketing? Have you seen the ads that pop up on the side of the page when you do a Google search? These ads are written by "affiliates" - marketers who sign up with a company and agree to promote their products in ads. Affiliates write these ads, usually for Google, and then bid on keywords. When searchers click on a keyword, their ads come up. When the searcher clicks on their ad, the marketer is charged his or her per keyword bid. If the searcher buys products, the affliliate marketer earns commissions based on their purchases.

Another way affiliates can make money is by putting advertisers links on their site - but this is a slower process.

Obviously, the name of the game is to earn more in commissions than you pay in keywords!!

There are many books for sale on the Internet that pitch affiliate marketing as an "easy" way to earn money. There is a lot of possibility here, but there really is no free lunch! You will have to work at it!

How do you get started?

1) Go to - buy this ebook and read it carefully from cover to cover. Some of the material here is antiquated, but it still is the " Bible" of affiliate marketing.

2) Make a list of product types that you feel comfortable with. You cannot "sell" a product you don't really believe in.

3) Set up an account at Commission Junction - Read through their CJ University pages to learn more about how successful affiliates structure their businesses.

4) Search through the companies available keeping your list in mind. Look for high commission rates and high payout amounts, both of which are listed on the site. Select your advertisers and establish a relationship.

5) I suggest steering clear of Clickbank ( even though Googlecash tells you to go this path. I have earned nothing here.

6) Go to Googles advertising programs, and set up an account.

7) Do a search for your advertisers, and look to see how the ads are worded that come up first. What do they say? How do they capture their audience?

8) Now, write your ads being careful not to plagiarize the ones you saw. Bid for your keywords but try not to go past 10 cents per word. Use misspellings, these often have little competition and drawn large crowds. Set up a maximum of $5 per day so you don't blow your budget with tire kickers.

9) Monitor your ads carefully to make sure that you are getting more in commissions than you are paying out! Run several ads at the same time for the same product to see which one gets more showings - Google runs better ads more often!

10) Review your results and be sure to kill non performing programs quickly. Being an affiliate means spending a lot of time reviewing your results! I suggest tracking them in Excel so that you always have a handle on your new business.

technorati tags: affiliate marketing, affiliates, affiliate, commission junction, cj, clickbank, googlecash, google, google adwords, adwords, affiliate advertising tags: affiliate marketing, affiliates, affiliate, commission junction, cj, clickbank, googlecash, google, google adwords, adwords, affiliate advertising

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The copyright of the article Affiliate Marketing Basics in Marketing/PR is owned by Brenda Keener. Permission to republish Affiliate Marketing Basics in print or online must be granted by the author in writing

Read more: "Affiliate Marketing Basics: How to Get Started with Google Ads and More!" -


Dealing With Google's New Affiliate-Linking Policy

Dealing With Google's New Affiliate-Linking Policy
By Kevin Lee, ClickZ

Last week, Google announced a major policy change regarding influences the way users interact with the AdWords portion of Google's SERP (define). Marketers and their affiliates will be even more affected. E-commerce marketers will likely feel it the most, given they're the heaviest users of affiliate programs.

The rationale for the policy change is poor user experience for searchers exposed to duplicate ads with similar or identical landing-page experiences. With Google's single-minded focus on user experience, it's easy to see why the company would make such a change.

The Problem

Many marketers empower their affiliates to engage in pay-per-click (PPC) affiliate arbitrage. The affiliate pays for traffic and earns commission on the sale. In some searches, this results in half the results links being for sites that appear more than once in the SERP's paid portion.

The old policy allowed multiple ads with the same final domain or landing page, so long as affiliates identified their relationship with the marketer/merchant with an "AFF" designation within the ad copy. If you search much on Google, chances are you've seen AdWords listings with "AFF" in the title or description. Google's new policy limits AdWords results to one listing per URL. The affiliate designation in the ad copy will no longer be required.

In contrast to Google's old policy, Overture has long had a one-ad-per-domain policy, with a clarification that "Web sites may not replicate the exact appearance of another site." This means affiliates using Overture for arbitrage have had to generate sites with useful content and landing pages that added value to the purchase decision. Such a labor-intensive process made Google an affiliate favorite.

Google's wording of the announcement leaves some room for interpretation:

With this new affiliate policy, we'll only display one ad per search query for affiliates and parent companies sharing the same URL. This way, users will have a more diverse sampling of advertisements to choose from. As always, your ad will be displayed based on its Ad Rank for given searches, which is determined by a combination of your ad's maximum cost-per-click (price) and clickthrough rate (performance).
What qualifies as a distinct URL? Consider the following examples. Which constitutes a different URL based on Google's new policy:

Domain: vs.

Host name: vs.

Filename: vs.

Directory: vs.

Most industry experts believe for most sites, the domain will act as the core identifier. Generally, the root domain is considered the identification of one unified site. Obviously, there may be exceptions, such as eBay stores, Yahoo stores, or other sites that provide microsites for small businesses. I checked with Google on this and was told that generally "the display URL is de-duplicated on a root-domain basis."

Affects on Marketers

Let's focus on the change and how it affects marketers. First, we must break down marketers into two groups (there are subgroups, but simplicity is better).

Marketers with no affiliate programs may see improved PPC search opportunities. With all but one of the competition's listings removed, marketers may be encouraged to expand the breadth of their campaigns.

Marketers with affiliate programs who empower those affiliates to bid on keywords (branded, unbranded, generic, etc.) face the greatest negative consequences. Affiliates displaying the destination URL in AdWords gain the brand benefit of the marketer's URL, resulting in high CTRs (define). When the higher CTR combines with a good user experience on the marketer site, the affiliate sees higher positions and profitability.

To continue in the affiliate arbitrage business, affiliates must develop sites that add value and maintain both a good CTR and excellent post-click conversion. A slip in either area makes arbitrage a money-losing proposition for affiliates.

Are Affiliates Ready?

The affiliate networks think so. Jeff Pullen, general manager of Commission Junction pointed out big power affiliates tend to be smart and often diversified across different revenue-producing methods. Many have already built sites specifically to tap the arbitrage opportunity presented by Overture and other engines with similar policies. These affiliates are well positioned to make the transition to Google's new policy.

Stephen Messer, chairman and CEO of LinkShare, had this to say about the change:

We don't foresee any significant impact to our affiliates, but we do anticipate an acceleration to distributed commerce. The biggest challenge facing merchants now is the ability to secure effective inventory on a search results page. Previously, consumers clicked straight to the merchant's site. Now, it's more important than ever for merchants to help affiliates create effective jump pages; this will effectively lead to syndication of a merchant's Web site directly to their affiliates.
James Crouthamel, CEO of Performics also feels better affiliates will have no problem making the transition. "Effective affiliates have their own landing pages and create some value to the consumer. These affiliates still have an opportunity to compete."

One thing's clear: Merchants who empower affiliates to effectively monopolize Google search results must prepare for the possibility some affiliates will abandon PPC search in Google.

We'll get a better idea of the consequences once the policy is in effect. One of my biggest concerns is that major marketers who are building Web services and other affiliate tools to empower "distributed commerce" will provide (intentionally or not) those affiliates with tools that lead to organic SEO (define) spam. If Google sets its sights on affiliate SEO spam as the next target for improved user experience, an even more important source of revenue for affiliate marketers may suffer a huge blow.

Your best bet is to ensure you're doing the best job running your search marketing campaigns as possible. Make your site organic-search friendly. You may not be able to rely on affiliates to do the job for you in the future.


Google To Restrict Affiliate Ads

Google is to limit the number of affiliate ads that show up in search results, as has been rumored over the past few weeks. Advertisers are now being notified of the change, and it will go into effect over the coming weeks, Google says.

With the change, Google will allow only one ad to lead to a particular web page per query, whether that ad be from an affiliate of the web site or the web site owner.

"We've seen and heard from users that there are many cases where we are showing the same creative with the same visible URL linking to the same page, said Salar Kamangar, director of product management at Google, explaining users don't like this. "Just like with search where we have duplicate removal, we want to make sure we aren't showing duplicated ads."

Which exact ad gets selected depends on which ad has the highest "Ad Rank" within Google's AdWords system. That is, the cost per click they are willing to pay multiplied by the clickthrough rate. If an official site has a higher Ad Rank than affiliates, then that will be the ad selected. If it is an affiliate with a higher Ad Rank, the affiliate ad will be shown.

The program will not prevent multiple affiliates for the same company from bidding on a term, as long as they want to drive traffic to their own sites. However, the affiliates will have to drive people to original content. Just linking to a page that has little content other than a link outbound to Amazon -- that isn't allowed.

The Up Close On Google Affiliate Ad Changes article for Search Engine Watch members provides additional details on the changes, along with some illustrations and examples of how things work now and what will be allowed after the change. If you're a member, be sure to check it out.

Want to discuss the changes or learn more from what others are discussing? Visit our forum thread: AdWords Restriction Of 1 Affiliate Per Merchant Announced. A copy of the letter Google sent out to advertisers is also posted in that thread.

Posted by Danny Sullivan at January 7, 2005 2:15 AM