SEO Link Building in Affiliate Marketing – Merchant's Perspective

An affiliate wrote:

I am one of your affiliates and have an affiliate link on my web site for your store. My site is new this month and I’m working on building traffic (which would benefit both of us) by getting others to link to my site.  I was wondering if you could add a link to my site.

No, it would not “benefit both of us”, and here are the 3 main reasons why:

1. Leakage + Conversion Attribution Problem. By adding a link to your site, we will add a window for the traffic to leak from the merchant’s website to yours. The if the visitor that “leaked out” clicks the merchant’s link on your website (which will obviously be an affiliate link), returns to the merchant’s website and makes a purchase, the merchant then has to pay you a commission on the visitor that they initially referred to you.

2. Unfair Advantage. If a merchant adds a direct link to one affiliate, why are they favoring only one out of hundreds or thousands of others?

3. No SEO Value. Finally, there is actually no SEO value in exchanging a direct link for an affiliate link. If the merchant links to you through your URL, whereas you link to them through an affiliate URL (this particular merchant runs their affiliate program through ShareASale; so your link to them will look something like this:, the merchant doesn’t gain any SEO benefit from such a link exchange, whereas you do.

7 thoughts on “SEO Link Building in Affiliate Marketing – Merchant's Perspective”

  1. This is a really interesting post. I agree with most of what you said but there may be opprotunities for merchants if an affiliate has a unique opportunity for a merchant on their site that goes beyond most affiliations.

    So I would say that 99.9% of these types of requests don’t benefit the merchant but don’t overlook that .o1% that may slip away.

  2. I agree that it makes no sense for a merchant to link to one of his affiliates and is of definitely no value to them. But i would like to suggest to networks like SAS and other merchants that they should implement Canonical URLs. That way when all affiliates link to their specific affiliate url, the SEO juice will still flow to the merchant’s URL mentioned in the canonical link section.

  3. Darsh,

    I appreciate your comment. It addresses the question from the other angle (speaks to the value of “SEO juice” from affiliate links to the merchant). I have just finished shooting a video on this question, and will upload shortly. My biggest question in this case is: what value would such a method bring to the affiliate‘s table?

  4. Geno,

    This method (of merchant linking to affiliate) is definitely of no value to the merchant. I was suggesting that the merchants could instead gain from the affiliate urls pointing to their website. The affiliate has to link to the merchant, no matter what, so why not use this to the merchant’s benefit. Looking forward to your video.

  5. Yes, I got exactly what you implied, Darsh. However, just as in Scenario A (merchant direct-linking to affiliate) there is no value to the merchant, so is there no value to the affiliate in Scenario B (affiliate direct-linking to merchant).

    I posted the video and accompanying post 4 hours ago here.

  6. I agree with this post, if the affiliate is just one out of many so there is no reason to link to him, if he is one of your main traffic source so it is a different story.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *