Keep Your Affiliate Sites Safe From Google Panda & Penguin

Google’s Panda and Penguin updates put a lot of online marketers out of business when they were first implemented, and each new refresh prevented the unfortunate webmasters from ever recovering, finding that their sites losing their search engine rankings or even being deindexed completely, after Panda’s content-oriented algorithms and Penguin’s link-oriented ones deemed their sites unworthy.

One of the hardest hit sectors is the affiliate marketing industry. Many of the strategies that were employed by affiliate marketers were penalized by Google, and it was not limited to black hat tactics. Even marketers who employed only white hat tactics like guest posting and organic link building were hit. Worse still are those who were saw their traffic and ranking affected simply because they had a lot of traffic and backlinks (that they didn’t build themselves) coming from sites that were heavily penalized by Panda and Penguin.

If you’re one of those affiliate marketers who survived the google Panda and Penguin updates, or if you’re a new one wondering if there’s a future for you in the industry, here are some things you can do to keep your affiliate sites safe:

1. Remember Panda and Penguin’s Real Purpose – it’s going to be difficult avoiding something if you don’t know where it’s coming from, so you should always remember Panda and Penguin’s real purpose. The thing is Google has already admitted that they aren’t specifically targeting affiliate marketers.

It was only designed to weed out irrelevant and low quality results from showing up so high on search engine results, and it’s just a coincidence that there are many affiliate marketing sites that are low quality and irrelevant to the keywords that they are targeting – they only succeeded because they managed to game the system.

With this in mind, you have to take a hard look at your site – is it low in quality? Is it using unethical SEO methods to rank higher on Google? If it is then you may want to change your approach immediately as your site is living on borrowed time. If not, you can relax a little bit as you’re not in danger, but you still need to do a few things to keep your site safe, such as:

2. Remove or Improve Low Quality Pages – as implied above, content is still king. It doesn’t really matter if your site’s main purpose is just to sell an affiliate product, but it should still offer some kind of value to readers. Don’t bombard your page with thin and irrelevant content thinking that you can get good rankings simply through volume. Write longer text content. Even if your main sign up page or CTA page only needs a small amount of text, you can still create other pages with longer text content and just point those to the thin CTA pages. Google’s Panda and Penguin updates emphasize that they only want to index relevant and high quality content, so give them something to index.

3. Remove Duplicate Content and Pages – sites with redundant content and pages will come off as spam. This also applies to content that is already found word for word on other sites (basically, don’t plagiarize other people’s articles). Your pages should be unique not just over the Internet, but also within the site itself.

4. Fix Broken Links – a site with way too many broken links – both interior and exterior – will get flagged. So make sure you comb through and find any broken links and redirect “not found” pages via the 301 method.

5. Disavow Backlinks from “Bad” Places – If you aren’t using Google Webmaster Tools yet, sign up. With it, you can check the places that are linking back to your site. Look at sites with way too many links back to you (you might also find sites that are plagiarizing your content through this tool), see if they are the kind of site that Google may frown on, and then use the disavow tool to tell the search engine that you don’t want to be associated with these sites. It won’t remove the links, but Google will no longer acknowledge them when ranking your page.

6. Improve Site Loading Speeds – the search engine’s algorithm now takes into account site loading speeds, on the principle that a slow loading site will cause readers to click away due to impatience. Additionally, lots of visitors clicking away before your site loads completely also means that your site will have a very high bounce rate, which is also another demerit as far as search engines are concerned.

7. Nofollow Your Affiliate Links – additionally, you should also ensure that you’re not using way too many links to your affiliates, as spamming your own site with these links –especially if they’re not nofollow – can be constituted as bad linking practice, which is one of the things that the Penguin update is designed to penalize.

At the end of the day, the one thing that Panda and Penguin emphasizes, particularly with regard to affiliate marketing, is that marketers shouldn’t rely on one traffic source exclusively. There are many affiliate marketers who were hit by the algorithm updates but didn’t lose income, because they have other traffic sources. There are various social network sites that, when used together effectively, can bring you even more traffic than Google could. There are also other search engines, though they pale in comparison to Google, will also provide a healthy amount of traffic together. Lastly, newsletter campaigns can also bring massive – and regular – traffic to your sites.

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