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SEO 101 by Dennis S,: part 1. mask your affiliate links.

Discussion in 'Search Engine Optimization' started by denniss, Aug 4, 2007.

  1. #1
    Hi all,

    I'm feeling really good today (SUMMMMMMER + weekend + beer + bbq later on today = yaaaaaay!!!!!), so I've decided to write this guide exclusively for Digitalpoint forums members, in order to share an SEO secret that works VERY well for me. Well, it's not a secret really, for some people it might be common knowledge (in which case stop reading this thread right away, so you wouldn't waste any time -- not like I didn't warn :p), but I came to this trick myself just recently, through research+experience (even tho I've been working for online sites since 2000... now the knowledgeable ppl will probably laugh :))).

    Anyway, closer to the thing...

    Who should read this: This trick mostly concerns owners of affiliate/referal-based online stores, or owners of sites that have affiliate/referal links advertised on their site (or any other direct link ads).

    Why should you read this: When you put direct affiliate links on your site, search engines don't like it for a variety of reasons.
    #1 of them, is because many other sites can have similar affiliate links to the site you're advertising with some url name like www.advertisedsite.tld/affiliatelink_affilid####.php, and that can be caught as spam by search engines.
    #2 well, imagine that you have a PR3 website. You have maybe 10 link partners links which bring PR back to you, and then you have another 5 direct affiliate links that don't link back to you (in addition to potentially being spam links according to search egines as specified in #1), this creates a PR leak from your site to the advertisers' sites (so in effect you're not only advertising their sites, but also giving them a completely free PR boost together with that). Now you need more backlinks to get to PR4...
    Note: this won't concern people that run Google or other dynamic scripts-based ads based programs... However folks that link to casino affiliate, or amazon.com referal links, for example, will know what I mean.

    Concrete case: http//www.freeiphone.ca
    I've been doing some revenue streams adding work on the site, which happened to be referal-based. Basically the site was online since jan. 2007, not monetized until late june, now whole site's revenue system consists of approximately 7 affiliate programs at "free *" sites, that were gradually added over time (as I found/joined them). The URL's have to be linked to directly, thus creating the PR leak situation above.
    As an immediate result, after adding all 7 affiliate links in different parts of the site, I've dropped from average Google SERP #2 for "free iphone" to #4 average SERP (the situation continued for 2 weeks and only stopped when I resolved it, so it couldn't have been a "random fluctuation").

    Concrete solution explanation: http://www.freeiphone.ca
    This solution was based on implementing .htaccess and robots.txt access configuration files. (for newbies: these files can be added on any website, for more basic knowledge on them check out www.wikipedia.org or google search).
    As a basic theory, robots.txt restricts bots from accessing any local URL's on your server that you don't want them to -- you write any filename you'd like search engines not to cache, and they won't access it. Whereas .htaccess file deals with access/rewrite server rights, so it could allow you to for example make a permanent (302) redirect from your site to the affiliate link (for example: if accessed http://y0urserver$.com/affilink.html leads to http://advertis3ds1te.com/long-ass-affilink_linkid##### as a 302 redirect).

    Concrete solution example: http://www.freeiphone.ca
    So if you've read the theory explanation above, you probably already understand what I did...
    #1
    First of all I've modified .htaccess file to make permanent local 302-redirect URL's on site that lead to the affiliate links. My .htaccess file example:
    So basically whoever accesses http://www.freeiphone.ca/yourfreeiphone.html will automatically be redirected to my affiliate link address.
    #2
    And secondly, I've made sure that the newly created URL http://www.freeiphone.ca/yourfreeiphone.html won't be accessed by search engine robots by making an appropriate robots.txt file. My robots.txt example:
    So basically now if robots try to access http://www.freeiphone.ca/yourfreeiphone.html , they won't be able to, as it is restricted by the mandatory robots.txt exclusion.

    Then I rerouted the original affiliate link to the newly created http://www.freeiphone.ca/yourfreeiphone.html and did the same thing with every other affil link.

    Concrete case results overview: http://www.freeiphone.ca
    As a theoretical result, at the moment affiliate links no longer exist on www.freeiphone.ca for search engine bots. Well, they do, but bots can't read them. And there are no penalties for links to robots.txt restricted files, as compared to affiliate/referal site links....
    As for concrete results, which Immediately followed (in less than a week). Don't mean to brag, but check out http://www.google.com/search?q=free+iphone .

    Conclusion / Copyright
    This article was written by me in approximately 25 minutes as I was sipping good Canadian beer and thinking about various things, including how awesome this forum is.

    This SEO trick has done VERY good results for my site by reducing PR leaks to minimum and improving my global SERP. I hope this trick will help someone else, otherwise I wouldn't write all this. Peace and best of luck to all your sites:)

    Copyright notice: This article is only meant for Digital point forums members, and I explicitly do not allow to repost it anywhere else.

    Green rep is appreciated if you've found this article useful ;)

    Dennis

    P.S. I'd appreciate some responses to this guide... Was it useful, was it relevant, was it easy to understand? If I get positive feedback, I will certainly write more SEO guides based on personal results and with concrete examples every time.
    SEMrush
     
    denniss, Aug 4, 2007 IP
    SEMrush
  2. trichnosis

    trichnosis Prominent Member

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    #2
    it looks a great article.

    is it going sticky?;)
     
    trichnosis, Aug 4, 2007 IP
  3. denniss

    denniss Well-Known Member

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    #3
    Thank you for the feedback:) I doubt sticky will happen, but I sincerely hope this helps at least a few people.

    So folks, plz, I need more responses about the text, content, etc...

    Dennis
     
    denniss, Aug 4, 2007 IP
  4. jakomo

    jakomo Well-Known Member

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    #4
    Hi!

    Very good article, I'll go to try it....

    Best,
    Jakomo
     
    jakomo, Aug 7, 2007 IP
  5. Awareness

    Awareness Banned

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    #5
    thanks for sharing!!
     
    Awareness, Aug 7, 2007 IP
  6. trueman

    trueman Well-Known Member

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    #6
    great post !, rep add :)
     
    trueman, Aug 8, 2007 IP
  7. rosiee007

    rosiee007 Notable Member

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    #7
    That was a good post, but I want to know how you can tackle this problem if you are using affiliate links in your content or body? Do you use no-follow with those affiliate links? In your case, you made a new page and redirected it to your affiliate page. I have a site where I want an individual page for every product and then have an affiliate link on that page for that product. Is there any way to resolve that affiliate link?
     
    rosiee007, Aug 9, 2007 IP
  8. broker

    broker Peon

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    #8
    Good post, very informative.
     
    broker, Aug 9, 2007 IP
  9. PokerForFree

    PokerForFree Peon

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    #9
    Hey,

    Good article, but you should be aware of the fact that a 302 is not a permanent redirect.

    Here's a quote found on Matt Cutt's blog:

    Here's an example how to do a 301 in your .htaccess file:

    RewriteEngine On

    RewriteRule ^yourfreeiphone.html$ http://www.YourFreeiPhone.com/index.php?ref=3946441 [NC,R=301,L]

    [NC] stands for "no case"
    [R=301] stands for "redirect=301"
    [L] stands for "last rule"

    Sources:
    http://forum.modrewrite.com
    http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/seo-advice-discussing-302-redirects/
     
    PokerForFree, Aug 9, 2007 IP
  10. Synchronium

    Synchronium Active Member

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    #10
    I was thinking about some affiliate based schemes recently and never thought about this. Thanks a lot.
     
    Synchronium, Aug 9, 2007 IP
  11. givancy2002

    givancy2002 Peon

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    #11

    I want to ask the same question as you do. Currently I use nofollow tag for affiliate link, but not sure if this is good enough for SEO. I won't consider 302 redirect cause so many websites have been punished by doing it. If you really want to do it, 301 redirect is the right way!
     
    givancy2002, Aug 9, 2007 IP
  12. gmansky

    gmansky Peon

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    #12
    This article exposed my htaccess weakness. I should try to learn htaccess and robots.txt more. Also, made me more conscious on PR drain.

    Maybe for SEO102, you can discuss PR drain.
     
    gmansky, Aug 9, 2007 IP
  13. Mihai

    Mihai Active Member

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    #13
    Good article, I must say. Green rep given, looking forward to more of these publications.
     
    Mihai, Aug 9, 2007 IP