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Affiliate Marketing & Search
Engine Optimization Issues

by Internet Marketing on September 15, 2009

“I only use Affiliate sites to market my affiliate products. Do I even need to concern myself with SEO and rankings because of the way I market? Can I get an organic search (engine ranking) with my site?“ ~ Robert Kunces

Hi Robert,

The simple answer to this one is no, not directly.

Just to clarify for other readers; Robert submitted a “cookie cutter” styled affiliate website that I’ve chosen not to link to simply because it’s irrelevant to the question. This is the type of website some affiliate programs give you – a site that contains the exact same content / format and layout that all other affiliates also receive.

It sometimes comes with a unique domain of it’s own (which generally redirects to the affiliate page), is a sub-domain of the primary sales website, a unique folder within that domain, or a plain old affiliate link (unique identifiers appended to the primary domain to identify the affiliates – in which case there is actually only one true website).

The trouble here is the content is exactly the same as all other affiliates.

In the event that you do have a unique domain name for promotion, it’s still not going to fly because of the duplicate content issue.

At the start of the day Google is only going to index and rank the first website it finds (or has already found) as it will see it as unique content.

At the end of the day this would become replaced by the affiliate website that has the most (and better) incoming links pointing to it to give it more “authority” than all of the other clones out there. Every other “clone” of this website is going to fall into the “supplemental index” as a best case scenario, or simply not be indexed at all.

Even if you managed to give your affiliate site the most (and better) incoming links than all of the clones, you’re essentially helping to build the asset of the website owner (you don’t have any real control over the page you’re trying to rank – the affiliate owner could kick you out of the program at anytime), in which case all link building becomes a wasted investment.

The situation differs slightly if you’re able to add unique content to your cookie cutter website.

You’d stand a better chance of being ranked well if you can make the content look as unique as possible but ultimately it’s much better to start with fresh, unique content from day one.

As such, the only real way to go about using organic search engine rankings to help promote affiliate websites is to setup your own totally unique website (and/or blog) – using your own unique domain name.

That way you can add your own unique and interesting content, present your affiliate offers to visitors and build incoming links to a website you own and control (if the affiliate program stops converting or something else happens you can find a suitable replacement).

You can also tailor the content you create around strategically important keyword terms you’re looking to obtain high search engine rankings for – then apply that to your link building strategies by linking to that specific content with the respective target terms as anchor text.

It does mean you then need to focus on building that website (creating and adding content), and promoting that website (rather than just using Pay Per Click campaigns etc to generate affiliate sales) but if you do this in addition to your existing marketing techniques it’s a definite benefit.

It would then allow you to tap into the benefits of traffic that organic search engine rankings can provide, not to mention the fact that you’re also building a business asset that has real value as an entity unto itself.


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Duncan Carver -

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