Google, Affiliates, and Two Facets of Value

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].

Are you adding value?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 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.

2 thoughts on “Google, Affiliates, and Two Facets of Value”

  1. Pingback: Marketing Day: Retailers Predict Strong Holiday Sales, Facebook Adjusts News Feed & More

  2. Nice article Geno on a very important topic. Also thanks for linking over to that infographic. I’ve heard for the past year+ that Google has made it increasingly hard to rank affiliate-based websites, but I’d never seen the quotes to back it up.

    We have a few affiliate properties that have had Panda, Penguin problems due to these policies. We’ve worked hard to bulk them up with truly quality content yet we wait for Google to change their minds on our sites. Not to mention that almost an entire year has gone by since the last penguin update. That’s unacceptable.

    Its frustrating, to say the least, that Google has taken such a hard stance to target affiliate driven sites. I believe it has started to affect the quality of their search results as well. I routinely use Bing these days simply because I’m more likely to find what I’m looking for. Unfortunately, I don’t see Google softening its stance anytime soon so affiliate reliant sites will continue to suffer.

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