Friday, April 29, 2011

Is A Blog That Uses Affiliate Networking A Spam Host?

The World Wide Web - the most popular service that runs on the Internet - contains millions of websites, all interconnected. Why do they call it a "web", anyway? This blog, and my blog cluster, are a microcosm of that concept. Many blogs, and static websites, participate similarly.

Affiliate networks are, likewise, a part of the web. This blog has several casual affiliate links, with other blogs providing similar content. Affiliate networks let the publishers of one website say to their readers
Hey, here's another website with similar information!
and the readers of one blog can read another blog / website for different / more insight.

Some blog owners confuse the concept of affiliate networking with a similar (but not extremely so) concept - affiliate marketing. Both concepts involve affiliate relationships. In effect, "affiliate marketing" is one purpose of an "affiliate network".

In my article Blogger Blogs, And The Hall Of Mirrors, I wrote about affiliate marketing networks, and why they are not preferred in the Blogger Blogosphere. In my complementary article Blogger Blogs, And "Affiliate" Networks, I wrote about spam classification, and analysis of affiliate networking relationships to identify other members of an affiliate marketing network, when one spam host is identified, using fuzzy classification.

You'll want to look carefully, at the "affiliate" link URL, too. If the link includes a "referer ID", which is used to reward you, the blog owner, for providing traffic into a link farm, then you better ask where the funding for the traffic fees come from. If you look deeply enough, you'll find another system of hijacked ads, fraudulently stealing money or traffic from the ad hosting companies.

To the question
Is "affiliate networking" forbidden, in Blogger blogs?
I would answer
No, Blogger has no problem with affiliate networking, between blogs that are entertaining or useful to your readers.

In a slightly longer explanation, I would offer a contrast.
  • No Problem: If your blog contains information that's relevant and useful to your readers, your "affiliate networking" links are between blogs of similar content and / or structure, and all blogs are designed to entertain or instruct, or to sell a legal product to your readers.
  • Problem: If your blog contains information that's random and useless to your readers, your "affiliate networking" links are between blogs filled with random and useless information, and all blogs are mainly designed to serve ads, to randomly redirect traffic to other websites and reward you for the traffic, or to sell fraudulent products or services to your readers.

As an authoritative reference, I will provide the Spam Appeal Guidelines - January 2013, which cites "Affiliate marketing" as a known spam ("abusive / inappropriate content") category.

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4 comments:

storm said...

did they just shut a bunch of blogs down? I'd be curious on the stats of how many blogs they flag and get rid of.

Matt Lenzman said...

I don't understand the meaning of "affiliate marketing" in Google's use here.

I do place a number of ads in my sidebar as an affiliate of clothing manufacturers, and write a post about once a week highlighting and linking to new offerings by one of the companies of which I'm an affiliate.

Does that make me a disallowed "affilate marketer" and expose my blog to being classified as spam?

Chuck said...

Storm,

They are constantly shutting blogs down - some righteously ("true positives"), others spuriously ("false positives"). That's the reality of spam mitigation.

Chuck said...

Matt,

Please read my "No Problem / Problem" contrast, and see if that's more relevant to your question.