Natural Affiliate Linksby Lutfal Hoque on May 15, 2010
How is a "link" related to an affiliate system? What is an affiliate link?
Here is a quick review on how an affiliate system works.
- the merchant sets up promos (advertisement materials in the form of banners, text links, etc.,) that contain links to the product information pages in the system
- the affiliate copies the HTML code from the system, pastes it on his web page, or emails the code to display the promos containing the links
- the affiliate site visitors eventually click on the link to visit the merchant site
- If visitors buy something at the merchant site, the affiliate gets a commission
The affiliate site visitor (the prospective buyer of the merchant product or service) must click on a link placed inside the promo in order to reach the merchant website. This is called an "affiliate link".
What is a natural link? How it is different from a standard affiliate link?
A standard affiliate text link appears as follows:
A natural affiliate link is just like any other natural link that points directly to the merchant's sales pages. And no trailing ID or reference code is appended to the URL. A natural affiliate link appears as follows:
Please notice that for a standard affiliate link, the link URL is different from the actual destination page URL. Instead, the link contains the tracking page URL. The "Affiliate ID" and the "Promo ID" are appended to it in some way. When an affiliate site visitor clicks an affiliate link, he unknowingly is first taken to the tracking page. From there he is redirected to the destination page corresponding to that promo.
- It is a well-known fact that search engines do not like redirection. The moment a crawler sees a redirection it suspects a paid link. There are genuine reasons for web crawlers to consider a redirected affiliate link as a paid link, and the affiliate site may have to pay a penalty for it if they place such a link on their site. This fact stops a quality affiliate from generating more business for you. You, as merchant, receive a minimum or zero SEO benefit from a redirected link.
- The prospective big affiliates normally do not want to kill their own brand image and so they want to hide the fact that they are affiliates of other sites. They find some way to link that does not look like an affiliate link. At the same time they want to earn the affiliate commissions.
Natural affiliate links are the only solution to all of the above problems. Since a link does not contain a query string, it is directed to the sales pages without any redirects. There is no reason for crawlers to treat it as a paid link or even as an affiliate link. Even the visitor will never know that the host website is an affiliate of the destination website. The trust level will be high to both human visitors and search engine crawlers.
With natural affiliate links, you can give 100 percent assurance to your affiliates regarding link safety. Not only that, but you get 100 percent SEO benefits from any natural link placed by an affiliate.
Euraffiliates allow for natural links to the affiliates with some additional involvement from the merchant and the affiliate. The merchant requires pasting some tracking code on the footer of his website and the affiliate has to confirm the ownership of his website through a small verification process.