On August 6th, 2021, Google published its most recent English SEO office-hours. This video is part of an ongoing series of Q&A sessions that Google holds with webmasters and marketers.
The webmasters and entrepreneurs who attend these sessions can ask questions pertaining to search engine optimization, site building, and Google updates. People who aren’t able to attend the live session also have the option of submitting their questions early.
Of the numerous submissions, one of them asked, “How many affiliate or sponsored links are good to have on a page? Is there a perfect ratio of links to article length to maintain here?”
“You Need to Have Some Useful Content on Your Page as Well.”
Google’s John Mueller, who was fielding the questions, responded: “There is no limit.” He continued, “From our side, it’s not that we’re saying that affiliate links are bad or problematic, it’s more a matter of, well, you actually need to have some useful content on your page as well–so, that’s kind of the angle that we take there.”
This makes sense, from 2 perspectives:
One: you’ve probably heard about unique content. Why would Google show a search results page that had 2 results that were the same? Instead, it aims to show a results page where each result is different enough to be distinct from the rest.
Two: you want to add to the customer journey, not just have a rehash of a product description. I know this echoes what I stated in the previous paragraph, but the point I’m making here is that you want to offer something (your content has to say something) that’s not said elsewhere.
If that seems impossible, it’s probably not. I probably made it sound harder than it is. I’ve written affiliate posts before, and what I do is try to gather as much information about the product I can (information that may be found across multiple pages of the manufacturer’s site), and try to structure that information onto one page.
So, effectively, I saved the potential customer some time, because instead of them having to go through 3 or 4 pages on another site, I presented them that information, structured in a logical sequence, on one page.
That means you don’t have to say anything new per se, you just have to present things in a new way.
In fact, Mueller eventually confirmed my points, by saying that “Essentially, what we need to find is a reason to show your site in search for users who are looking for something, and that reason is usually not the affiliate link but the actual content you provide on those pages.”
And, as mentioned earlier, that content should be unique. “We care about the content…if the content of your page is essentially just a copy of a description from a bigger retailer site, then there’s no reason for us to show your site, even if you had no affiliate links.”
So, as I said earlier, you don’t just want to have a product description (even if it’s rewritten), you want to have more than that.
Try to look for things that the manufacturer isn’t doing, and do it. For example, if the manufacturer’s page doesn’t have reviews, but you find some on Amazon (or TrustPilot or company reviews on the Better Business Bureau), then you may wish to summarize those reviews to your content. (Now, I said summarize, not to copy or plagiarize.)
And if you were wondering about the number of affiliate links, or the ratio of links to article length, Muller said, “The amount of affiliate links you have on your site, that’s totally irrelevant. The ratio of links to article length is also totally irrelevant.”
Before I forget, since we’re on the topic of affiliate links, be sure that they have the right attributes. That is, that in the HTML, your links are attributed as nofollow or sponsored. Not long ago, I wrote a news piece about a link update that pertains to affiliate marketers and link builders, titled ATTN: Affiliate Marketers and Linkbuilders: Google Announces New Link Update.
So, affiliate links aren’t bad. You just have to provide value and make sure they have an appropriate HTML attribute.