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Here’s What Google’s Matt Cutts Says About Affiliate Links And Nofollow

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Google’s Matt Cutts participated in a keynote discussion at SMX Advanced earlier this month. Among various other topics, Cutts talked briefly about affiliate links with moderator Danny Sullivan.

SMX just uploaded the relevant clip of the discussion to its YouTube channel today, and to reiterate the point Cutts made, fellow Googler John Mueller posted the video to Google+:

John Mueller

Regarding affiliate links and "nofollow" – here's what Matt had to say:

"We handle the vast majority of affiliate stuff correctly because if it is a large enough affiliate network we know about it and we handle it on our side. Even though we handle I believe the vast majority of affiliate links appropriately if you are at all worried about it, I would go ahead and just add the nofollow because you might be earning money from that."

In Google’s quality guidelines (the basis for the Penguin update), affiliate programs come up more than once.

“Avoid ‘doorway’ pages created just for search engines, or other ‘cookie cutter’ approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content,” Google says. “If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.”

Google has a page about what it means by “little or no original content,” which talks about “thin affiliate sites”. There, Google says, “These sites collect pay-per-click (PPC) revenue by sending visitors to the sites of affiliate programs, while providing little or no value-added content or service to the user. These sites usually have no original content and may be cookie-cutter sites or templates with no unique content.”

Here’s What Google’s Matt Cutts Says About Affiliate Links And Nofollow
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  • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

    I think what he said was a bit misleading. Imagine you have a blog where you only blog about affiliate offers. So you talk about the product or service and all it has to offer and how great it is and really get people to be interested in the product or service. So you also would include your affiliate link so you can track any sales to your site and get paid by the affiliate when the desired action (usually a sale, request for more information, or email list sign up) has occurred by the visitor that clicked your affiliate link on your site. So do this as your primary reason for your blog and Google realizes you’re basically posting ads on behalf of the affiliates that you wrote to drive people to the affiliate’s website. I mean nothing wrong with that, except that you’re not doing a real review as most bloggers that do this kind of affiliate marketing don’t actually use or try and product or service, and even when some of them do, they really just want you to buy in so they can make money.

    If I asked you if you like chocolate or vanilla ice cream and the vanilla ice cream manufacturer told you if you got people to buy vanilla from them they would pay you, wouldn’t you tell people you liked vanilla ice cream the best and what brand you should be buying, even if you didn’t? So even if you were to nofollow all those affiliate links, Google would still look at your site as an affiliate doorway. Sure you can try and hide the links in all sorts of ways, but don’t expect Google not to know what you’re up to. I’ve even saw one affiliate blog go so far as to serve up regular direct links to websites when search engine bots would look at the page and then turn around and serve up affiliate links to everybody else. It’s not that hard for Google to figure it out, and they typically do. It’s not like these sites are going to get a warning, just see their pages rank lower or their site completely de-index from Google.

    • Pattrick Lewis

      Steve said, “So even if you were to nofollow all those affiliate links, Google would still look at your site as an affiliate doorway. Sure you can try and hide the links in all sorts of ways, but don’t expect Google not to know what you’re up to.”

      Steve, I don’t think Google necessarily cares whether a site links to all those affiliate pages, but if the links are there, Google would rather they be nofollow-ed just so the page rank won’t pass through, and skew future search results for those affiliate links. If you own a web page, you can darned well link to anything you like. Google isn’t trying to control what we do and don’t link to. They just want to try to preserve their page rank from dripping from your site to the affiliates. Remember, for Google, it’s all about preserving the proper use of linking for page rank purposes.

  • http://www.pinadd.com/development.html Pinadd Global Media Corporation specializes in digital marketing, viral networking, design, video and film production.

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  • http://www.redirectbacon.com Bill Allen

    I think the whole idea is to try and stop thin 3 page affiliate sites using exact keyword domains and really just being a super large ad. Review sites are a much better idea I feel because you’ll have a lot of original content over time. I use a redirect script called http://www.redirectbacon.com that automatically creates a no-follow clean looking link per G’s instructions. This way I don’t need to worry about checking my links to see if they comply.

  • http://thebiztimes.com Robinsh

    Like before if the webmaster will not add value to the web page where he/she promoting the affiliate links, now also verified by the google too so people will not spam now.

    It’s a good move I think !

  • http://ytnuke.com/resellers/ ytnuke

    What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable experience on the topic of unpredicted emotions.