Google has had a love–hate relationship with affiliates since the dawn of affiliate marketing [some of which is reflected in/on this SEObook’s infographic on how Google views affiliate marketers].
Just a few months ago (on January 27, 2014 to be exact) that they put something in “web ink” too — by publishing a blog post on their Webmaster Central in which they clarified that affiliates whose websites do not add value may be deemed violators of Google’s quality guidelines and, as a result, they may “suffer in Google’s search rankings.” You may find the full post here, but here is an excerpt from it:
Our Webmaster Guidelines advise you to create websites with original content that adds value for users. This is particularly important for sites that participate in affiliate programs… Google believes that pure, or “thin,” affiliate websites do not provide additional value for web users… Not every site that participates in an affiliate program is a thin affiliate. Good affiliates add value, for example by offering original product reviews, ratings, and product comparisons.
So once again the subject of added value
or lack thereof was brought up and underscored as the centerpiece of Google’s approach to indexing affiliate websites. I fully agree with the ungergirding principle of such approach.
Furthermore, I believe that there are two facets of value that should be taken into an account here:
1. Value to web user – Be it original content (textual or visual) or a comparison shopping functionality of the affiliate website, or anything else that enriches the end users’ experience saving them time, money, or adding value in some other way — all of these would “provide additional value for web users” that Google encourages affiliates to contribute through their sites.
2. Value to advertiser – Whether any search engine cares about this or not, merchants who run affiliate programs should look at affiliates through the prism of value too. Is it going to be beneficial to the advertiser’s brand and constructive to the pre-sale process (involving their product or service) to be promoted on this or that online affiliate property? These are important questions to ask.
I elaborated on both of these facets in more detail in my recently-released Lynda.com course on “Affiliate Marketing Fundamentals” and the video on “adding value” is one of very few that is available free of charge. You may view it below:
As always, your comments are warmly welcome. That’s what the “Comments” area below is for. So if you have thoughts to add, I encourage you to use it.