What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Updated May 1, 2024

Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting another company’s product or services. Affiliate marketers typically earn a commission or percentage of sales from the products they promote, which makes it a viable income stream.

And in our digital world, it’s increasingly important to know about every form of marketing out there. Affiliate marketing has become a widely successful avenue of marketing for businesses, as social media and other online platforms continue to be deeply ingrained parts of everyday life.

Affiliate Marketing: Low Cost and Low Risk?

Affiliate marketing has been popular because it was seen as a relatively low-risk and low-cost form of marketing. There are very minimal upfront costs in affiliate marketing – it can be as little as the cost of a website, or even a simple social media account. Businesses only owe money to their affiliate marketer if they generate sales or leads.

The Types of Affiliate Marketing

  1. Unattached affiliate marketing – This model of affiliate marketing is one in which the marketing partner doesn’t have any attachment to the product they’re promoting. They have no known expertise, interest, or skill relevant to the product, which ultimately can absolve their obligation or ability to make product-based advisements.
  2. Related affiliate marketing – As implied, this model of affiliate marketing involves a partner that has some relation to the product they’re promoting. With some level of expertise on the product or service they’re marketing, the affiliate partner has the ability to generate traffic, and they’re often viewed as a trusted source on the subject.
  3. Involved affiliate marketing – Involved affiliate marketers have a connection with the product or service they’re promoting. Because of their connection, they’re able to make recommendations and claims about the product or service, and it’s likely their audience will trust their authority. This is the riskiest form of marketing for an affiliate partner, as their reputation could be affected if customers make purchases and disagree with the quality or effectiveness of the product or service.

How Using Too Many Affiliate Links Can Get You Penalized in 2024

As we know, affiliate links found on websites or shopping reviews serve as a prevalent method for blogs and publishers to monetize their website traffic. However, after Google implemented its Helpful Content Update, some websites were starting to see a decline in their SEO visibility.

Ultimately, websites were experiencing a decline after Google’s Helpful Content Update mainly because of the frequent insertion of affiliate links that lacked substantial material to demonstrate genuine content or product reviews.

While using affiliate links is perfectly okay, it’s important to qualify these links as sponsored, as well as sprinkle each link organically throughout the copy for the best results possible. If your website is failing to qualify affiliate links appropriately, keep in mind that Google may issue an action that your site is not compliant with Google’s spam policies.

Why Is This Risky?

Facing penalties from Google due to an excessive number of affiliate links can significantly harm your business. Some of the negative effects this could cause include:

  • Reduced organic traffic
  • A decline in site visibility
  • A flag from Google for Manual Review

How Can I Assess and Fix Impacted Links?

If you are being penalized for too many affiliate links due to Google’s recent updates, it’s important to take action by following these steps:

  • View your Manual Actions report on Google to see if your site has any manual actions issued and review your site’s action history
  • Be sure to fix the issue on all affected pages
  • Use the URL Inspection Tool to test your links’ accessibility
  • Request a review of your report once all pages are fixed

To prevent this from occurring in the future, qualify your affiliate links with rel=”sponsored” in order to clearly tell Google your business’s relationship with the linked page.

Sixth City Marketing

About the Author

Sixth City Marketing

This post was written and edited by employees at Sixth City Marketing, a full-service SEO and digital marketing agency helping clients across all industries since 2010.

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