Affiliate Google Slap

affiliate google slapIn the last week I was Google Slapped for the first time in my many years as a pay per click marketer.  I now know how it feels and I must admit I don’t like it.  But… It happened for a reason.

Google made some major changes to their search algorithm so that anyone who had a landing page that’s primary purpose was to promote an affiliate link had their Google Quality Score go from high numbers down to a 1 meaning that the page is not worthy of showing on the google search or content networks.

Effectively for affiliate marketers using Pay Per Click the main options now are either Yahoo Search Marketing or Microsoft AdCenter in the short term (although I believe they will follow suit over time), or to build a long term strategic affiliate marketing business. By this I mean strategies such as niche specific blogs and creating new relevant content and doing list building so that you can market to that list again and again.

So effectively the very easy days of Affiliate Marketing are effectively over.  Affiliate marketing is not dead, but what it does mean is that affiliates need to approach it long term strategically, not just do ‘the google cash method to your own landing page’ like what I was doing successfully until the last week.

While this sucks for affiliate marketers like me and many of you, I think Google has actually done the right thing in terms of their own mantra of ‘relevancy’ and ‘experience of the searcher’.  By having less clutter of 10 people promoting the same product with different URL’s the reality is that many other genuine products and services will now be able to rise to the front page.  This will ultimately give a better user experience.

What this means for the CPA business (Cost Per Aquisition) is yet to be seen. Most of CPA marketing was about using Adwords to drive traffic to free trial type offers using affiliate links.  The CPA business just got a big slap in the face too, but like anything the experienced players with the big lists in the right niches will be fine and the little guy will have to say ‘Next’ and move on to find another opportunity or make a decision to build a long term strategic business.


  1. Great post Greg.

    Just goes to show we shouldn’t have all our eggs in one basket hey! Keen for a future update from you!

    Cheers – Bret Thomson

  2. G’Day Greg,

    Not that I have been playing much in the PPC arena, how do you feel that Google has changed its quality score on the landing pages with links to affiliate offers?

    Provided the page title, meta’s, H1, body copy it tightly themed for the keyword phrase in question, and the link pointing to the affiliate offer is not a direct link, but more a cloaked style of link using a self URL, how do you think they determine you are linking to an affiliate offer?

    This is pretty interesting, because if you have supporting article page links in the footer of the landing page, or even snippets of articles under the offer, I wonder how they slap you for this or even how they can tell?

    Have you tested the above methods or are you doing straight direct linking from the landing page?

    Cheers – Dallas

    • Hi Dallas,

      Google never really reveals too much about their exact algorithm so its hard to say. The landing pages that we had designed were quality score of 10 as we had built them with the tool, so meta tags etc don’t seem to be much of an issue. We had articles, RSS feed etc on the landing pages.

      Cloaking of links and PHP re-directs are what is being discussed in the blogosphere, but I guess that needs testing. All in all it seems that the ‘google cash’ type affiliate method days are nearly over and now its about choosing multiple niches and promoting affil products in those from your blog etc.

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