Making Affiliate Links Good for Blogger Search Engine Optimization

Remember the workshop we had at Rakuten Marketing? Our bloggers wanted to learn more about the nofollow links that Ivan Pena mentioned during his presentation. Today Ivan, a Senior Manager at the Rakuten Affiliate Network, is elaborating on the topic to answer the questions we had.

We can agree that we want the same thing: to attract the most relevant web traffic to our sites as possible. To this end, search engines continually develop ways to make search result pages as relevant and objective as possible.

As a blogger, you are the most crucial component in this continuum, as search engines can only drive relevant traffic when they know where the most relevant content a person might be looking for is.

In this article, I will tell you why and show you how easy it is to use the “nofollow” attribute in your affiliate links to ensure that search engines don’t penalize your blog.

Are Affiliate Links Bad for SEO?

Plainly, no. One of the signals search engines use to determine how popular a particular web page is by counting up the number of quality incoming links (links pointing to the page) it has. A quality link is usually one that comes from another web page that offers valuable content and hasn’t been flagged by the search engine crawlers as trying to manipulate the search engine algorithm for ranking. For the longest time, a debate on the quality of affiliate links raged on.

In 2012, Google’s Matt Cutts – aka the SEO Authority – shared with the world that using affiliate links from a reputable network wouldn’t negatively impact a site’s ranking. However, this didn’t exonerate anyone from following all the other SEO rules. You still need quality content. You still need quality traffic. And you still should use something called “nofollow” on your affiliate links.

I don’t speak code. What is “nofollow”?

All the “nofollow” attribute does is “tell” search engine crawlers that a specific link shouldn’t be followed, or factored into the page’s quality score. Due to the fact that all affiliate links point to the same top level URL ( in the Rakuten Affiliate Network case), crawlers could assume you are trying to game their algorithm by pointing all traffic to that domain, and thus, negatively impact your page rank. Yikes!

Not overlooking the fact that content providers have to make a living, the adoption of the “nofollow” attribute is the approved way to maintain site quality and use affiliate links. Everyone wins. And here’s how you do it.

Let’s look at a sample tracking link:

<a href=”; >Shop Great Styles from Top Merchant now!</a><IMG border=0 width=1 height=1 src=”; >

All we need to do to make this link nofollow is add rel=”nofollow” at the end of the opening <a> tag:

<a href=” id=AbCd3f6&offerid=99999.10078&type=3&subid=0″ rel=”nofollow” > Shop Great Styles from Top Merchant now!</a><IMG border=0 width=1 height=1 src=”; >

That’s it! Same should be done with banner codes:

<a href=” id=AbCd3f6&offerid=99999.10079&subid=0&type=4″ rel=”nofollow” ><IMG border=”0″   alt=”Top Merchant Sale” src=” id=AbCd3f6&offerid=99999.10079&subid=0&type=4&gridnum=13″></a>

You can do this manually for all affiliate links as they are added to a post, or if you have a WordPress site, you can use one of the many plugins on the market.

Hope this post was helpful. Now go grab some affiliate links and start making some money from your hard work!

Ivan Pena is a Senior Manager, Client Services at Rakuten Affiliate Network. Ivan has over 15 years of online marketing and web development experience, learning many things the hard way. When not driving traffic for the top merchants in the ecommerce game, Ivan plays bass and guitar to de-stress. And he thinks Mr. Robot is the coolest show on TV right now.

About Rakuten Marketing

Rakuten Marketing is the global leader in omnichannel marketing, delivering its vision of driving the omni experience – marketing designed for a streamlined consumer experience. Offering an integrated strategy that combines consumer centric insights with e-commerce expertise, Rakuten Marketing aims to inspire better marketing. The omnichannel services Rakuten Marketing offers include Rakuten Affiliate Network (formerly LinkShare), Rakuten Display (formerly MediaForge), Rakuten Attribution (formerly DC Storm), and Rakuten Search.

Operating as a division of Rakuten, Inc. (4755: TOKYO), one of the world’s leading Internet service companies, Rakuten Marketing is headquartered in New York City, with additional offices in Australia, Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, and throughout the United States. Follow us on Twitter or learn more at