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Is Affiliate Links Damaging Your site?
First, why might there be a problem with having affiliate links in a site? Well, I don't think that the damage affects the entire site, just the pages with the links on, but I'll go in to that more when I show you my evidence.
But we do know that Google and other search engines don't want to present to their visitors page after page of results that are actually all the same. Their aim is that whatever you search for, the second and third search results are not in effect showing the same as the first result did.
And this is the trouble with affiliate products. It is a way of filling search engine results with the same product from the same supplier time after time. So if you look for Acme Widgets, then you might end up with a page of the widgets all from the same shop. This is not the level of choice that the search engines (Google, Yahoo etc) want to provide.
This is not some basic conspiracy theory that I've dreamt up during the night. It is based upon years of experience with sites and affiliate selling. But a while ago I made a discovery that made be certain it is true.
I have already looked at why Google would penalize pages with affiliate links and I was interested in a discovery that I made a while ago when I set up a new site. It had a directory on it with links to a few suitable sites. All directory pages were made the similar way and all had about the same amount of links and content. But a few pages I didn't have sites ready to link to, so I filled them with affiliate links thinking I may as well make an income if I could!
So they must all have been equal. But I noticed after a PageRank update that the PageRank was not equally distributed across the pages. Some pages had PR2 while others were still grey bar. Strangely, in each case, the grey barred pages were the ones with affiliate links and those with ranks were without links.
My conclusion was, therefore, that Google must be penalizing pages that do have affiliate links, so use them with care.