There has been an awful lot of speculation around the Internet that Google is against affiliate marketing and that they summarily delist web sites which engage in such methods of making money on the Internet.
While a number of websites which were heavily engaged in affiliate marketing have been delisted, Google’s official policy doesn’t penalize affiliate marketers. They just don’t like certain tactics which are commonly used by the people who like to use affiliate marketing programs.
What is Affiliate Marketing Anyway?
For those not in the know, affiliate marketing is one of the most common ways of making money on the Internet. People get links from websites like eBay and Amazon or from aggregators such as Commission Junction and Linkshare and place them on their websites to sell products on behalf of other companies.
Even large companies such as Allstate Insurance and ING Direct have affiliate marketing arrangements and are advertised through these programs on hundreds of thousands of websites all over the world. Clearly then, affiliate marketing isn’t the slimy sort of thing one might assume it is from the way Google seems to go after it.
What Google is Really After
Google search doesn’t exist to provide you with free advertising in the form of search results. They’ll sell you ads on their adwords program for that. The search results exist instead to provide useful information to the people who visit their website. After all, that’s what search is supposed to be all about, right?
Some people however, who are really aggressive affiliate marketers will try to take the easy way out and think they can make bucket loads of cash by putting up websites with thin (or no) content which are piled high with every affiliate ad they can find. The theory is that people will find them based on a keyword search and buy the products they’re advertising.
Spammy Websites with Little Worthwhile Content Get Delisted
The thing is, when people go searching for information on Google, they’re not after your spammy ad filled website. They’re looking for high quality information. Google therefore tries to weed out the websites which are designed for nothing but making money without providing value and they delist them to protect their listings.
The problem is that Google has found that those using affiliate links are proportionately more likely to have thin web sites with very little content and as such, when you stuff your site with dozens of affiliate links, you can and should expect Google to be taking a much closer look to make sure your site is really worthwhile.
How to Avoid Being Delisted for Having Affiliate Links
Good examples of this include putting up sites where it’s a one page squeeze letter trying to get people to sign up for some affiliate marketing or MLM program which is the same ad that 50,000 other websites already have is going to get you delisted. Another kind of site Google delists regularly is the ad farm with nothing but ads and keywords.
On the other hand, if you provide real, useful content which is original (copying from other websites, even doing a mashup is not going to fly) and you also have affiliate links in order to make money, you won’t have a problem with Google delisting you.
It’s just a matter of putting up a website which has real value and which offers something people really want to see as opposed to a site which provides nothing but page upon page of advertising from affiliate marketers.