Affiliate Programs · WebMaster Resources

Fixing Google Web 2.0 Style II

How to fix what is broken and not break what is not 

This post is part of a series. See Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4

Collateral Damage
A change in policy would only result in two things. One, the people that traded links for the wrong reasons are SEO and on top of it and find ways to do what they have to do and hide it from Google. Making selling of cannabis or making copies of copyrighted software illegal did neither stop people from buying dope or from making copies of copyrighted software. It happens much more in secret now, together with all the other seriously bad stuff that always happened in secret.

Two, because link buying and selling will continue out of the eyes from anybody, will Google have no other choice and increasingly make decisions based on assumption rather than knowing. This will increase the number of false positives[i] and hurt the wrong people. If it would not, Google would not have any reason to change its policy, because they already do a good job in detecting them.

Often forgotten and left out of the discussions is one group of webmasters, affiliates.

Many marketers do not understand affiliate marketing[ii] very well and a lot of misinformation and bias surrounds it. Prejudges that is sometimes warranted but too often misdirected.

Affiliates played a big role in helping Google to become what it is now. They were the early adopters of Pay-Per-Click and promoted merchants that did little or nothing know about it.

Since search marketing become big and even the last advertiser realized that search is something he should care about, did Google did start treating affiliates differently. This by itself might be okay, but what is not okay is the fact that they get a different treatment from Google than other advertisers, penalized, for no transparent reason. It started with paid search[iii] and now continues with organic search.

Matt Cutts said once “The best links are not paid, or exchanged after out-of-the-blue emails–the best links are earned and given by choice”.
end quote[viii]

Affiliate links are in a sense paid links. Maybe “to be paid” links would be more accurate, because affiliate marketing is based on performance where the affiliate only gets paid either a bounty (CPA) or a share of the referred business (CPS), if the referred traffic converts or does what the advertisers want users to do on their website.

An Oxymoron
The statement “It is an affiliate link and it was given by choice” is an oxymoron in the eyes of Matt Cutts.

The problem is that in contradiction to paid non-affiliate links that are giving for SEO purposes must affiliate links in context be as highly relevant and targeted as possible in order for the affiliate to earn money from them.

An affiliate can simply not afford not to be relevant, because it would put itself out of business.

By enforcing the use of NOFOLLOW on affiliates would Google in effect deny affiliates the right to vote[iv] and while sustaining their business. The two choices “free and broke” and “oppressed, but maybe in business (with penalties)” do not sound very appealing.

No Discussion Is like a Statement
I asked Matt Cutts more than once directly about the role of affiliates in the paid links and use of NOFOLLOW discussions. I am an affiliate marketer and take things that seem to be an unjustified dislike of affiliates by Google a bit personal.

Expressing my position by comparing methods[v] used by Google to strong historical examples to demonstrate the possible but extreme consequences of using such methods might seem to be a bit harsh. I did cut down on that[vi] to avoid the discussion to take a different direction, but without thinking that they are incorrect or unwarranted.

I compared methods and not people[vii]. I never said that Google is like this or that, but that Google uses the same fundamental methods for their purpose as somebody else did for theirs.

To avoid addressing the issue is like a statement to me, a statement that makes me sad. It also makes me lose more of the respect and trust Google once had.

Apropos trust, may Google looks for answers in the wrong place. Trust might be something to work with and find a solution that will benefit webmasters, users and search engines alike.

Continue with Fixing Google Web 2.0 Style – Part 3 of 4

Carsten Cumbrowski
Cumbrowski.com – Internet Marketing Resources



[i] Rae Hoffman (15. April 2007), “Why Google Shouldn’t Penalize Us for Their Incompetence“, Sugarrae.com (see post and comments) 

[ii]Affiliate Marketing” article, Wikipedia.org

[iii] Carsten Cumbrowski (14. April 2007), “If Two Marketers Do The Same Thing Is It Not The Same“, ReveNews.com 

[iv]  Carsten Cumbrowski (7. April 2007), “Are Affiliate Links Paid Links? Are They A Vote? Or Spam?”, ReveNews.com

[v]  Carsten Cumbrowski (7. March 2007), “Affiliate Genocide In the 21st Century” , Cumbrowski.de

[vi]Carsten Cumbrowski (7. March 2007), “Is Google Thinking That Affiliates Are Worthless”, SearchEngineJournal.com

[vii] Carsten Cumbrowski (4. March 2007), “Affiliate Genocide – SEJ Post 3-3-2007 – Comments“, RoySAC.com

[viii] Matt Cutts (1. September 2005), “Text links and PageRank”, MattCuts.com

e6149739a0ceadb8fde822225838bd26 64 Fixing Google Web 2.0 Style II
Carsten Cumbrowski has years of experience in Affiliate Marketing and knows both sides of the business as the Affiliate and Affiliate Manager. Carsten has over 10 years experience in Web Development and 20 years in programming and computers in general. He has a personal Internet Marketing Resources site at Cumbrowski.com. To learn more about Carsten, check out the "About Page" at his web site. For additional contact options see this page.

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2 thoughts on “Fixing Google Web 2.0 Style II

  1. No offense really intended by this, but you REALLY need to proof read your stuff before publishing it.

    Regardless of what you’re saying, people don’t want to read it or won’t get far if they have to stop and think what you mean by poorly written paragraphs and sentences.

  2. Ozymandias,

    thanks for the comment. English is my second language, but I am getting better and better at it. The blogging helped it a lot.

    I did double checked this post using Word 2007 and the Google spell checker and by going over it a couple times, but that does not make it necessarily 100% error free .

    I use a professional editor and proof reader for other stuff I do, where it is important and appropriate. I was thinking about using an editor for my blog posts, but then decided against it.

    Blogging is for a big part a personal thing and I want it to be my real voice with the flaws and the errors, because that flawed English with the thick German accent is also what you will hear, if you meet me in person. I continue to improve on my English skills, much to the delight of the people that follow my writing.

    I hope that the content and message is more important than some flaws in the spelling or grammar. At least when it comes to my blogging.