With Google appearing to favour ‘brand building’ do you think we will continue to see affiliates struggle in the new year?

by Peter Young on January 12, 2011 · 2 comments

Last year saw many blogs denote the end of affiliate seo (along with a lot of other sites suggesting the end of SEO – Steve Rubel you know who you are :) ) with many of these suggesting Google were now looking at brands more favourably within the search engines. Whilst there is no doubting it was a hard year for affiliates – lets face it it was a hard year all round – I wanted our experts to air their views on whether they thought this year was going to be a good year for affiliates, or another year of toil….

With Google appearing to favour ‘brand building’ do you think we will continue to see affiliates struggle in the new year?

David Harry

Oh fer sure… they really did get spanked some with the changes last year I don’t expect that to change all that much really. The problem was the massive amounts of thin affiliate garbage sites that have cropped up over the years. Not to mention many a spammer relies on them as well (affiliate programs). They just don’t have a lot of trust/authority. You will need to find more creative ways of attracting the engines (content, resources, value) and users alike. But really, this goes for a lot of markets. The thin sites with a shit load of links thrown at them will continue to find it tough going in the years ahead IMO. The internet has evolved past simple billboards. Success at any level will require you to do ‘more’ than the status-quo IMO (lyrical huh?).

Ben Bisco

Affiliates will need to become brands in their own rights. Only those that offer something ‘different’ in their content will do well.

Paul Reilly:

Now you know that I don’t subscribe to this belief. I’ve seen no evidence to support it. In fact, all the evidence I’ve seen suggests this to be an SEO myth. Just Google: “Cheltenham Betting” “World Cup Betting” (note: World Cup was more popular than porn last year)” Online Roulette”, even “Online Casino” to a lesser degree – just see how many exact and phrase match affiliate domains are sitting pretty on page one and then tell me affiliates are struggling. ;) it’s happy times for affiliates my friend! – BTW.. do you want any links? ;)

Bas van den Beld

Yes, affiliates will have a strange year. The weird thing is that Google is not handling affiliates to well but has become one themselves. I don’t think it’s specifically ‘brand building’ which makes it harder, it’s more the general changes.

Nichola Stott

None of my affiliate clients are struggling! In fact, we have one up for an iGB award at the end of January.

Judith Lewis

I wish I could say no and that affiliates will succeed but I think we have to define what kind of affiliate. I don’t see some super or mega affiliates being penalised because they have become brands in and of themselves and I think a lot of smaller affiliates can be “brands” or already are without realising it. What happened was that so many scraper sites who were affiliates polluted the SERPs with low quality results that Google had to act. This harmed the legitimate affiliates by tarring them all with the same brush but they attempted to balance that with the brand bonus.

I’ve met a few affiliates who have become brands and have become in their niche a destination for information as well as sales of related things. While this means often disguising URLs to avoid penalties, affiliates shouldn’t be penalised for being affiliates. I’d like to see that changed but it won’t in 2011.

Andy Beard

It is not just brand but quality sites… you can have a trusted branded quality affiliate site.

Affiliates will have to be more laser targetted in what they try to rank for..

Andy Redfern

Big year for affiliates; were they need to adapt to changing weather conditions at Google – however if it’s one area of our industry that can adapt well its affiliates. Social gaming and social networking sites will see a noticeable influx of large scale super-affiliates as affiliates start to spread exposure to Google and develop other more stable revenue channels.

Shaun Anderson

Yes. i think Google is pretty clever at classifying the intent of your site these days, so I think affiliate sites need to mimic regular business sites better, to mask their intent better. Or, just to be better sites – to become online entities too. The latter is probably the better advice. I am not an affiliate as such quite yet – I am a seo. Good affiliate marketers will still make money – their sites just need to be better probably.

Peter Young

I can see some affiliates (particularly the super thin fraternity) continue to struggle to dominate terms unless they are willing to develop their frameworks for the long term. Certainly I would hope to see the Churn and Burn sites seeing some loss of traction during the course of 2011 even on longer tail niche searches. That said there is no doubting old school tactics such as exact match domaining still work just fine – despite word to the contrary.
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Will Critchlow

I think thin stupid affiliates will have a dreadful year. Affiliates who are prepared to invest in their brands will do fine and the fast-moving smart players will have an awesome year manipulating social media.

Other parts in the Experts View series:
Q1 : Do you think a viable competitor to Google will emerge in 2011?
Q2 : Where do you think the growth area in search will emerge in 2011?
Q3 : Do you think Social media’s influence on SEO will continue to increase or fade away?
Q4: With many recent figures suggesting a ‘mini-revival’ – do you think 2011 will be a bumper year for search
Q5: What do you think will be the 3 biggest challenges facing search practitioners in 2011

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Barry Adams January 12, 2011 at 10:01 am

Great question, and coincidentally we discussed this topic in the State of Search radioshow yesterday evening. It’s indeed a hot topic. I’m pretty sure affiliates will continue to exist as for some businesses and industries it’s just too damn profitable, but perhaps Google’s fight against crappy affiliate websites will indeed separate the wheat from the chaff.

Pete Gronland January 13, 2011 at 10:09 am

All I can say is thank you Google, these rubbish sites have been affecting the search experience for consumers for far too long.

They do the perception of the industry no good at all and any efforts to reduce their exposure has to be applauded.

Hopefully, in time, this will reduce the number of BS spammy sites that have populated the indexes in recent times.

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