Placing affiliate links in your blog to earn a little extra cash (or even a lot of extra cash!) is tempting, but it can have some very nasty effects and worst of all search engines might punish you.
On their own, they are generally ‘safe’
One or two affiliate links in a blog of a thousand pages isn’t going to cause any real stress to anyone. However, most website owner don’t stop there and some will go to the extent of dozens of links on every page, plus many more in the global navigation.
Then the problems begin
In order to then drive traffic to the affiliate sites, the affiliate then starts to take part in dubious practices, such as:
- forcing through clicks that the visitor didn’t want to make
- stealing / copying / spinning content to fill the site and make it look up-to-date
- partaking in link farms for Search Engine Optimisation
The danger with writing a blog for an income rather than just because you want to be writing to a blog is that you get distracted by trying to earn an income. I’ve already written about how I accidentally destroyed my blogs with paid content so I know what I’m talking about here!
But this monetary focus means that you focus solely on where and how you can earn cash. Quality of posts drops, they even become off topic, and the “value” of the site fails.
That’s what can be so wrong
So that’s what can go so wrong with a site with a lot of affiliate links. This means that a site with a lot of affiliate links can be seen as lower quality, which is why a Google Penalty could occur.
For example, this blogger freely admits that his site’s ranking took a huge nose dive after adding hundreds of Amazon affiliate links, but it quickly resumed it’s place once the links were removed.
What’s the answer?
Hiding the links isn’t the answer. Hiding anything from search engines can result in a penalty, but then I’m not against making sure that the links are distanced from search engines.
The real answer is to stick to the basics. Run your blog because you want to run it and add odd affiliate links here and there, but keep the number at a reasonable level.
And don’t forget that you should also disclose all affiliate links!