If you do blogging and affiliate marketing together, you’re going to have inevitably put those affiliate links in your posts. But if SEO part of your site (and it is if you’re blogging), there has been speculation that if you have too many affiliate links, that it can hurt your rankings and if it’s true, how then are you supposed to make money?
Here is the answer on whether or not affiliate links hurt (or help) your SEO:
Affiliate links generally do not negatively impact your SEO directly. You can literally have as many affiliate links as you want on your page.
However, the problem can come when you incorrectly place your affiliate links throughout your blog or site in a way that looks like spam or lowers the reading experience your users have and if that occurs, then Google can see your site as being low quality and this can affect your SEO.
So the solution is to intelligently know where and when to place affiliate links on your site to make sure that you:
- Don’t ruin your reader’s experience.
- Keep your content high quality.
- And make sure Google sees this so they don’t negatively de-rank you.
What my experience in SEO has taught me regarding affiliate links:
I’m going to get into a few more details about the above stuff I said, because there more circumstances to consider regarding this subject:
1) Websites that are new and getting built with SEO should avoid having them initially.
I help a lot of people create their very first websites and the training I always refer them to the Wealthy Affiliate program. However, nowhere in the beginning lessons of that program does it ever say to start spamming affiliate links (aka promotions) all over your site (and there’s a reason they don’t) and out of all the people who build them, I would say about 30-40% of them do it anyway.
Here’s what happens:
People who don’t understand SEO, what high quality content is, what it means to get website authority, and so on set up a few pages, add a few hundred words on each at best and then for the remainder of the time, go around, set up beautiful banner ads, promotions in every single paragraph and basically put more effort into advertising products on their site than they do writing actual content.
Then either they don’t do anything else, or they continue to build content, but just can’t seem to see their rankings climb. And also because they don’t see their rankings climb and they have no traffic, when they apply to affiliate programs, their affiliate applications get disapproved because of that.
What in the world is going on?
Well that’s where we get to the main points of #1, which is:
- It takes about 6 months for sites to do well with SEO.
- And adding affiliate links too early, doesn’t penalize the site, but it does slow it down.
I find that if you add too many affiliate links, too early, you create far too many external doors to other websites and Google may view your page as:
2) A bridge page. And that type of page typically does not rank well.
What is a bridge page?
Well remember what I said about affiliate linking so much throughout your site that makes it look like spam and ruins your reader’s experience? Well that’s one way of looking at it.
Typically a bridge page is a term that is used regarding websites that do pay per click. In those cases, when a website tries to put up an add and is littered with too many promotions, Google will view it as a low quality site and often not approve your ad to be shown.
Does it happen in SEO as well? In my experience, possibly! Typically there is always a long period in what I like to call a website’s “authority growth” where over a period of several months, your website is stuck in a Google dance where it just can’t seem to reach 1st page rankings and it is in my experience also the most frustrating period a website owner will go through in the SEO life cycle.
But should the website owner continuously add content to their page, this period will not last long and the website owner will witness a steady growth into what eventually will turn into a boom in traffic. This is the period where your site matures enough that Google now trusts it more to rank it higher, meaning 1st page Google rankings!
But this process can be slowed down if the person during the trust period begins to set up tons of affiliate links where each time Google visits it, it’ll see this and view it as a lower quality site that is more so aiming to “bridge” people to another source that aims to sell vs another site that aims to inform.
Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that you should NOT add any promotions until your website hits that boom period. If you do intend to link somewhere, it HELPS a lot if they go to authority sites that are not selling anything and/or through internal links within your site. In other words, if you’re going to send people somewhere, send them to an informative page, not a sales page:
So based on that image above, only add them if:
You are just starting a niche site and stumble across a product that is in a popular trend period where it’s selling like crazy, where by following the general rule of not adding any promotions early will hinder any profits you can make.
Let’s say a new popular book comes out that deals with a genre you are covering on your site. It is selling like crazy! But your site is new and therefore shouldn’t risk putting any affiliate offers to sell it because you’re worried it won’t get to the authority period as quick.
In this case, I recommend (only if you have money) to actually put up some affiliate offers to that product (on one page only where you review that product, in this case the popular book…) and send paid traffic there through Bing and Google. It’s worth doing this because if it sells, you’re going to be making good money and it’ll be worth delaying the SEO growth of your site for this, otherwise, you’re missing out on the hot selling period that a product is going through and in that case, it’s way better to hold of on your site’s SEO progression in exchange for many, early profits.
Note: Either way, if you’re worried about a slower progression in organic rankings, you can make up for it by writing many more other pages which the paid traffic won’t go (it’ll only go to the one page on your site where you’re selling that one hot product).
3) Even when the time is right to add them, add them sparingly.
How sparingly? This much:
Check ANY page on my site where I link to an affiliate offer. Count how many outgoing URLs I have and you’ll see I do it very little. Yet I have done case studies on this and the sales were amazing.
4. Do not “riddle” every page on your site with affiliate links either.
This basically means that you shouldn’t go around every single page you have and add promotions every chance you get. You can totally have a single banner on your site that is not part of your pages or posts show up as an affiliate link, but just like using them sparingly within the body of your content on actual pages where you promote, use them sparingly throughout your site.
What I typically do is I often write posts like these where you will not see a single promotion and lately I have been doing that a lot more often. Any link you see on this article is always going to go to another article I have already written before.
But what about affiliate pages!?
Well I have very few of them, but here’s how it should work:
Understand? Basically what you’re doing here is making less of a bridge site and creating a more tight funnel. A good sales funnel is supposed to lead people to a specific place and in this context, we are aiming to lead them to one (or maybe a few pages) where they can buy something.
But wait a second Vitaliy, if I do too little selling on my site, don’t I hurt my chances of making more money?
Logically, the answer is yes, but it’s not ironically IF you do this:
If you provide quality content on all your other articles which all link back to your affiliate page/s through excellent call to action words, that affiliate page will then get a lot more traffic.
And if on that page itself, you also use great call to action links and/or images to send people to the offer, you’re going to see a great number of conversions.
Trust me, I have tried this on several niche sites and it always works. You are not “breaking” any SEO rules by doing this. You are just sending traffic on your site that comes to whichever article, to the right affiliate page which is then going to the actual offer so they can eventually buy. This is NOT the same as spamming your whole site with promotions!
Banners can improve these numbers too. Images with call to action wording inside them can also do this.
My final thoughts:
There is always room on your site to add affiliate offers, but understand that with the way SEO works today, there is a way to under do it and a way to overdo it.
My opinion is that my approach maintains a high quality element for your site and shows Google you aren’t just there to sell it, but at the same time maintains the selling element in the right places such that you can and will still make good money because it’ll improve your SEO which will improve your traffic numbers and with a proper call to action funnel going to the sales page/s as well as the right ones being on the sales page/s themselves, you will make a lot of money.