5 Reasons Why SEO Experts Curse Affiliates

Yesterday Josh Braaten, an Online Marketing Manager at Rasmussen College who also writes about SEO and web analytics on Big Picture Web tweeted:

His tweet was a part of our brief conversation on how some of the online marketing-related professions are being misunderstood by people, but the wording of it got me really interested. So I emailed him to discuss what exactly he meant.

Josh mentioned 5 situations to me. Here’s what wrote back:

SEOs tend to curse affiliate marketers when:

  1. When you have better content than me. Affilates realize that great websites mean great content. You may not have the luxury of a super authoritative domain, so you know that content is your key to success. Some brands are still playing catch-up in this area, opting to create content is fun to create, not necessarily content that their customers will love.
  2. When you use tactics I can’t/refuse to use. I strongly believe that great SEO means creating the best content for the user. It’s not uncommon for affiliate marketers to take advantage of exact match domains to rank for keywords on the same target. The quality of the content is marginal but you know that search engines reward exact match domains while I fight an uphill battle on my domain.
  3. When you downright cheat. As a white hat SEO and ambassador of my brand, I get peeved when I come across black hat tactics by an affiliate. What do I mean? Search for viagra site:.edu to get an idea for what some people will stoop to to rank for a topic. Darn you, black hats.
  4. When you take my data! SEOs lose our ability to learn from customer behavior with web analytics when they’re not on our site. Tools like Google Analytics, 4Q and PostRank Analytics spew insights on how to improve my marketing. No customers means no insights for me.
  5. When you compete with me… and win. Ultimately, one of the main objectives of SEO is rank number one in the search engines for our content. In fact, some SEOs even have it in their job title — Make <insert company name> number one in the Google, Yahoo and Bing. It’s a fundamental goal of my job. And I love my job. As a result, it’s hard for me not to look at affiliate marketers as competitors and be frustrated when my efforts aren’t enough to overtake you.

The above looks like an interesting mix to me. Some of Josh’s points describe things for which some affiliates hate other affiliates (e.g.: black hat SEO tactics, keyword stuffed domains), while others (winning by creating better content, winning on the SEO front by simply being better, etc) actually prove that affiliates are just sometimes doing a better job at SEO than company-hired SEO experts.

In our follow-up conversation Josh has mentioned that he actually has “a great overall respect for affiliates” and plans “to become one in the near future” as well. I don’t blame him. If you’re good at SEO, you can turn into a really successful affiliate. We’ll be looking forward to welcoming you to affiliate marketing, Josh.

5 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why SEO Experts Curse Affiliates”

  1. What a fun idea for a post, Geno. You’re right. When I see black hat tactics, I get mad. When I see an affiliate out-SEOing me, I’m more envious than anything. I look forward to using your awesome catalog of blog posts to help me on my way with affiliate marketing.

  2. When I wrote that your tweet got me “interested” I wasn’t 100% sincere, Josh. It nearly got me mad, because I expected to hear about things like these (or similar), and, in part, I did… There will always be rotten apples (regardless of the industry or type of online marketing). It is better to focus on the positive, and I am actually quite proud that there are affiliates that outrank you. 🙂

  3. As for #3 those are hacked wordpress sites. It’s pharma hack I believe. I had to recover a bunch of such sites for clients.
    I guess you can call it Affiliate Marketing but I wouldn’t do smth like that.

  4. SEO’s must hate it when merchants give their datafeed with product descriptions the same as on their site, and affiliates outrank them. Jump into a program at the early stages, and (if you know what you’re doing) it’s not that difficult.

    1. This is definitely something that more affiliates should read/understand.

      Just the day before yesterday I had someone asking me if the “oversaturation” in affiliate marketing even makes sense starting as a new affiliate. “What oversaturation?” — I asked… There are still plenty of opportunities to succeed as an affiliate.

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