Written by Brook Schaaf
Adam Riemer is a veteran marketer with one foot in the search engine optimization (SEO) world and the other in affiliate. He recently wrote an extensive piece on SEO site Search Engine Land that offers strategies to regain lost traffic while boosting profitability.
Succinctly put: Affiliate content can improve the user experience and boost a page’s ranking on SERPs (search engine results pages) if implemented properly. This contradicts a long-held misperception that posting affiliate links may harm your SERP ranks. Even Search Engine Land itself warned affiliates back in 2014 that production of “thin-content” with “little-to-no value-add” might be subject to penalty.
It seems evident to me that many publishers have long been afraid of including affiliate links in their content. According to Riemer, they might sooner think twice of link-constraining policies and page-bloating banner ads that worsen the user experience. As proof, he contrasts decreasing traffic numbers for unnamed “established publications” with increasing traffic numbers for the “affiliate sections” of “new players.” He notes some of the publications with decreasing traffic “only work with certain vendors to add affiliate links.” A “lack of diversity … provides a worse experience for consumers, and the sites that did this all have the same traffic-dropping patterns.”
This is, of course, Riemer’s personal interpretation of the data he provided. In my experience with him, which goes back many years, he is obsessive about the space and neither shy nor insincere with his opinions. In a private email exchange he emphasized that he hopes to help the end user with variety, relevance, author experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, and balance content and monetization.
“Getting SEO traffic is more about making sure the content around the affiliate links add[s] value to the user. And remember, Google is in the business of selling ads and has one of the largest ad networks in the world. If ads penalized a website, Google would lose themselves.” Affiliate may actually be one of the best ways to monetize such content while aligning with Google’s “helpful content” algorithms.
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