Google ranks first in the United States as the most popular multi-platform web property accounting for nearly 83% of U.S. desktop search traffic—a market share of more than 61% among the leading U.S. search engine providers. With such a stronghold on unique visitors within the landscape, Google prioritizes continuous improvement of the quality of users’ search results, most recently completing an algorithm update that improves sites’ compliance with their quality guidelines and spam detection systems. More specifically, the changes deprioritize commercial links that are not correctly annotated—compliance updates that may negatively impact affiliate links.
Google’s improvement known as the “link spam update” identifies and nullifies link schemes that serve up sponsored content or posts featuring generic copy and a coupon code that provide lesser value to the end user. As a result, ranking is improved for partners’ product-related searches and high-quality content in organic search results—an enhancement that paves the way for content creators to be equitably rewarded for their uniquely valuable perspective.
Good news for affiliate partners that rely on organic search results to amplify monetized content: there is a workaround. By including rel=”sponsored” or rel=”nofollow” in tracking links, these tag identifiers tell search engines to overlook your affiliate links and enable your content to rank organically.
Here is an example of implementing rel=”nofollow” for the Santa Cruz VS Skateboard:
<a href=”affiliate link” rel=”nofollow”>Santa Cruz VS Skateboard</a>
Partners leveraging rel=”nofollow” communicate to Google letting the engine know that this link is not to be eliminated from search results.
Affiliates in the partner channel can adhere to Google’s algorithm update while ensuring the best possible outcome for SEO ranking by:
- Creating valuable content. As mentioned earlier, sites with limited unique value are deprioritized in organic search results. Curate content that delivers a fresh perspective to consumers to rank higher in search results.
- Implement recommended linking tags. By adhering to Google’s Page Experience Algorithm core web vital timing thresholds, affiliate partners increase chances of ranking as the most relevant content.
- Update your most effective affiliate links. Google ranks on a URL-by-URL basis. Rather than making a global change to all partner channel tracking links, update links that have previously proven to be the most valuable on your traffic-driving pages.
- Test. Altering tracking URLs will not provide a standardized solution for ranking above the fold. Test tag identifiers on what you deem your most valuable content to improve amplification efforts within search results.
- Stay educated. Much like the partner channel, SEO is constantly evolving. Keep up to date with the latest news regarding organic search results to maximize the benefits of your digital mix.
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