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Paid links, affiliate links & Google

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Tuesday December 4, 2007 )

From a recent post on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog:
Q: Is buying or selling links that pass PageRank a violation of Google’s guidelines?
A: Yes, it is.

Thus spaketh Google’s Matt Cutts and Maile Ohye. Back in November 2006, Matt Cutts strongly hinted to this and more recently, Google gave indication via Danny Sullivan that it was penalizing some sites offering paid links.

Google’s lengthy Webmaster Central post just makes it all the more clear that it very much frowns on paid links for the purposes of passing PageRank.

In order to stay sweet with Google’s quality guidelines, Matt and Maile state paid links should be flagged through a “rel=nofollow” or other means such as doing a redirect through a page which is robots.txt’ed out.

But what about affiliate links?

I’m starting to wonder whether “paid links” would include affiliate links – and if not now, perhaps soon? Hrm. Has anyone seen this specifically mentioned by Google anywhere?

Straight-through affiliate links with the affiliate ID just appended to the merchant site URL *may* somewhat satisfy their “no-no” criteria, which is:

– Inaccuracies: False popularity and links that are not fundamentally based on merit, relevance, or authority
– Inequities: Unfair advantage in our organic search results to websites with the biggest pocketbooks

Hrm. The intent isn’t quite the same I guess, i.e. no cash is paid up front and the affiliate’s intention isn’t to pass PageRank, but it’s still an issue worth considering.


About the “nofollow” tag
How to create a robots.txt’ed redirect for affiliate links (you’ll need to scroll down through the article a bit as the focus of the article was on link cloaking and covered a few options)


1 comment for Paid links, affiliate links & Google
  1. Thank you Michael, very useful info.
    We are a couple of months away from my daughter Yvette considering affiliates for her products, and information like this is invaluable, as we have worked so hard to get this far, anything that could upset google needs to be known before we start. Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by Ern — December 5, 2007 @ 8:28 pm

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