Affiliate Linking: How To Link To Affiliate Products Properly

by John Hoff on January 24, 2011

Most bloggers eventually get to a point where they have hopes that their blog will provide them with a little side (or more) income. Many times this entails setting up banner ads and advertising affiliate products like you see in this blog’s sidebar on the right.

Be warned: take caution when linking out to too many affiliate landing pages, doing so could get your site severely penalized in Google’s returned results.

You see, there’s been a lot of talk lately about Google penalizing websites for being “too affiliate”; sales page sites only; paid link sites; and more. Just check out all the talk on the Google Search, is Google penalizing affiliate sites.

The First Thing You Need To Understand is Google

To start, you need to think like Google.

Once you understand the thought process behind the creators of Google’s search algorithm, then you can not only know what you should do… but understand what you should do.

See the difference?

So what does Google want?

It’s simple. They want to be the best search engine on the Internet.

And how do they get to be the best search engine you ask?

By providing the best and most relevant content (preferably free) to anyone who uses their search engine.

For example:

If you were to sit down at your computer and use, say Bing, to do a search on “How to make a paper airplane” and all you got back were one page affiliate sites which gave you nothing but a sales pitch on why you need to buy this ebook for ten bucks which will show you how to make a paper airplane…


You go to Google and type in the same “How to make a paper airplane” and all you got back were a number of websites showing you (for free) in text, video, and images how to make paper airplanes…

Which search engine would be your search engine of choice?

So how should you link out to affiliate offers?

Okay so now you understand why Google doesn’t like sites which are “too affiliate”. It prefers informational websites over sales pitch websites (and sites which are created in its eyes as solely built around linking to those sales sites).

There are 3 ways to ensure Google won’t penalize you for your affiliate links.

  1. Use the rel=”nofollow” tag in your links
  2. Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file
  3. Use the meta tags nofollow

Here’s an example of how to properly use the rel=”nofollow” tag:

Here’s my affiliate link for Niche Profit Classroom which I put in a text widget:

Niche Profit Classroom

By using the rel=”nofollow” in the link, I’m telling Google that I’m not voting for this site to be pushed up in the returned results… and by doing this, you’re telling Google to effectively “ignore this link”.

Therefore, if all your affiliate links are nofollow, then Google won’t shouldn’t consider your site to be an affiliate based website (assuming you have valuable content on it).

And just in case if you’re wondering, yes you can have lots of content plus lots of affiliate links and still get penalized. In other words, just because you have lots of valuable content it doesn’t mean you won’t get penalized. It happened to one of my niche sites.

Yep… that’s what inspired this post. I got penalized on one of my niche sites which has a ton of valuable content, but I had too many affiliate links which I forgot to make nofollow. Here’s my Google Analytics screen shot of the day it happened:

Nevada Incorporations Center

This particular article, The Different Types of Corporations, LLCs, Partnerships, & More went from getting about 25-30 hits a day to around 2 or 3. It also went from being in the number two spot in Google for “types of corporations” to somewhere around 6 pages deep.

Not ideal.

So if your blog contains a number of affiliate links, keep in mind Google doesn’t like to see too many of them without the nofollow tag.

Related posts:

  1. 1 Awesome Way To Find Products To Make Money On Your Blog
  2. Choosing The Best Kind Of Affiliate Marketing For Your Website
  3. 2 Firefox Add-Ons Which Can Get You To The Top of Google

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Bishwajeet @Comptalks January 30, 2011 at 5:10 am

You should use gocodes to shorten the urls


Kirsty January 30, 2011 at 5:23 am

Google don’t like linking out to too many affiliate landing pages. If you do this then sooner your site will be penalize by Google’s returned results.


John Hoff January 31, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Hi Kirsty. That has been my experience. A few is fine… Google knows that legit websites and blogs do often times recommend products.

But if there’s an excessive amount then yeah, you need to be careful.


John Hoff February 1, 2011 at 8:15 am

Hi Bishwajeet. Shorten codes are good as far as cleaning up the appearance of an affiliate link and I see the plugin also includes the nofollow tag. Good plugin, thanks for sharing.


rita @ telescope for kids February 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm

what about php redirect scripts. since the url is my site how does google feel about that?



Tom Buczak @ roof cleaning Cleveland February 10, 2011 at 8:31 am

The fact that you can make money is still new to me. Can you make a decent income blogging? I would love to here your story on how you started out and how your income grew.


Sire February 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I understand what you’re saying John, but in the long run it doesn’t make sense, but a lot of things that concern Google doesn’t make sense.

So, let’s take your paper plane example. Google doesn’t want a page pushing an affiliate link on making a plane and would rather those that supply content on how to do it for free. So you place an no-follow tag on your paper airplane making affiliate and now Google is happy with that? Seems to me that in essence all we’re doing is fooling Google and if that’s the case he’s going to be pissed when he finds out ;)

Naturally I could be looking at this all wrong and if that’s the case I’d love it if you would straighten me out.


John Hoff February 26, 2011 at 9:04 am

Hi Sire.

I see what you’re saying but I think you’re looking at it from the wrong perspective.

From Google’s eyes, this is how it looks.

If your website is a legitimate website and provides useful information to people online (i.e. is not a spam or sales page only site), then it wants your site.

Now remember Google favors SEO very heavily on backlinking.

So let’s take that paper airplane site and let’s say it’s only a one page squeeze page designed to get you to buy a product. Google doesn’t want to return this page in its top return results when someone types in “How to make a paper airplane”.

If there was no such thing as the nofollow tag and thousands of people linked to this site (or it was done artificially), then theoretically it should be the number one site in the returned results for such a query.

But Google doesn’t want that.

That’s why the nofollow tag was created in the first place (and to fight spammers).

It’s not about tricking Google, it’s about telling Google “Don’t give that site a backlink credit because I know you don’t want it pushed up in your search engine.”

So in essence, you’re helping Google do what it wants to do rather than tricking it.

Does that make sense?


Sire February 26, 2011 at 3:38 pm

It does but I think it’s somewhat flawed and all Google is really worried about is it’s market share of the advertising dollars. That affiliate paper plane site could well be the best site out for making planes but Google doesn’t care because it’s not making any money from it. If the guy with that affiliate had the money to pay Google it would be quite happy to put it on top of the list.


Julie March 2, 2011 at 12:41 am

Thank you so much for that John – what a great post. I’ve been trying to find out how to add that ‘no follow’ code and out of the blue, there is your terrific post. I agree 100% with you. I had a very successful site and recently its almost disappeared from Google’s radar and I believe it’s because of all my affiliate links. I’ve now added to the code and I’ll do some article marketing and see if it comes back up. BTW I’m also a NPC member. Thanks again.


John Hoff March 2, 2011 at 5:02 am

Hi Julie…

Nice to have a fellow NPC marketer here, it’s like a fellow family member. And hey, watch for me over at NPC, Adam interviewed me a few days ago and I think the interview will be posted soon.

Glad to help with the linking. Yes, this isn’t a problem that has only happened to me. I know a few others this has been an issue with.


Clark Hetherington March 16, 2011 at 1:51 am

Great tips! I am a newbie blogger who is a very curious on running my website online effectively. I will really use your hints here and it will surely help my company. Cheers to you!


John Hoff March 16, 2011 at 11:46 am

Hi Clark, no problem and thanks for stopping by.

Hey since you’re a newbie blogger, I have a new site I’m building (membership website) which will be about learning how to blog, use WordPress, make money online, etc. If you think you’d be interested in joining, let me know and I’ll put you on the contact list for notification when it’s released.


Ben March 26, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Great post! I use pretty link on my niche site and I am working my way to page 1. I just changed all affiliate links to “no follow”. Now I need to test the affiliate link satruation on my site.


John Hoff March 26, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Hi Ben.

Thanks for stopping by. I see you’re into niche marketing. Did you find me by way of NPC by chance?


Adam October 7, 2011 at 7:08 am

Did your niche site recover from the penalty once the links were made nofollow and directoy blocked inrobots.txt? If so how long did it take? I’m in the same situation, have just fixed the links but still waiting..


John Hoff October 8, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Hi Adam. Yeah it took about maybe 2 months (or a little longer) before I saw the traffic come back. I not only changed my links to nofollow, but I also removed a page which had a list of offers (kind of like a product index) and now only promote 2 products.


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