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  1. #1
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    Linkconnector removal - too close in SE?
    I was just informed the other day that one of my programs on there decided to remove me from their program because "due to the effect of your optimization efforts, your site is appearing too close to the merchant's website in the search engine result pages."

    So now, the only bread and butter program I had on there has decided to remove me and I'm left out in the cold.

    WTF? How are affiliates supposed to generate sales if we rely on natural search as our main form of promotion? If my page ranks too high in Google, doesn't that say something about the optimization efforts of the merchant?

    They just wanted to use me to get some recognition, then dump me to the curb.

    Why start an affiliate program if you aren't going to honor your contract with an affiliate and pay them for sales?

    - Racer

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador sjangro's Avatar
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    So someone from Linkconnnector sent this actual email to you?

    This is pretty incredible. Is there more to this story? You must be beating them out on their brand terms. Is that what they're reacting to?

  3. #3
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    There really isn't any more to the story.

    I started to see sales ramp up about a month ago and had my best sales day about a week ago. Then, a day later, the network rep informed me I had been removed from the program.

    I didn't violate any TOS or anything, and currently I'm not doing any PPC for the merchant program. My SEO isn't really all that great, but since not too many sites were promoting them, I guess I had found a bit of a niche.

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador sjangro's Avatar
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    Are you beating them on their own name in natural search?

    I'm certainly not suggesting you did anything wrong. I'm just trying to make some sense out of it.

  5. #5
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    No. I'm about 5 links down from them and not even the top affiliate when you search for "merchantname coupons." They actually come up first for both "merchantname" and "merchantname coupons" and I'm not even on page 1 for "merchantname" by itself.

    I was definitely sending them some business, but not even all that much (about 5-7 sales/day at my peak). I just find it VERY ODD.

    If you're gonna offer an affiliate program, then be prepared to pay affiliates for the traffic they send you. Ugh. What a PITA!

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador sjangro's Avatar
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    Even the most insane merchants don't deactivate affiliates for simply doing well with SEO.

    If you really don't see what you're doing that they're reacting to, you should ask.

  7. #7
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    Does the merchant have a coupon???

  8. #8
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    Yep.

  9. #9
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    RacerX you should definitely contact the merchant and ask for an explanation. There have been a few other cases where a merchant THOUGHT an affiliate was doing something in violation of their TOS and dropped the affiliate without providing them with an opportunity to explain or defend themselves.

    You should also revisit the merchants TOS. It's quite possible that they do have restrictive terms that you may have overlooked or that the terms have changed since you signed up for their program. If their terms have changed than it is their responsibility to notify you of those changes and to give you ample time to make any adjustments necessary.

    It's also possible that they are just clueless and don't understand that if one of their affiliates isn't occupying on the SERPs, than one of their competitors probably is.

    Good luck, I hope this works out for you. Please keep us up to date on what happens.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  10. #10
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    sjangro- Even the most insane merchants don't deactivate affiliates for simply doing well with SEO.
    I've seen that not so long ago. And, it's not the only case.
    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=108092
    Some merchants are just plain stupid and some networks reps not better.

  11. #11
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    With LinkConnector, that was part of the selling point to merchants since affiliate links to merchants are straight links, which help the SEO for the merchant, but straight links can also help the affiliate out in a way since you're linking direct, sort of linking to authority sites. Linking to nike.com (straight) vs. linking to clickserve.cc (nike via performics link). Probably doesn't have anything to do with it all, don't know, it only helps slightly. But it's kind of funny, not for the affiliate if you're making money and getting dropped but for the merchant complaining about something like that, when they're using the program for SEO help themselves.

    "Even the most insane merchants don't deactivate affiliates for simply doing well with SEO."

    Some do. Connie posted something like that recently with a SAS merchant. Some merchants don't want affiliates ranking well on their site name/TM.

    **Actually didn't drop her but didn't want her ranking well and emailed her about it - http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread...highlight=rank

  12. #12
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    Maybe it's because I have a rather low Google PR (2) and they only want websites with high PRs so they can rank higher themselves?

  13. #13
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    Natural SERP should not be penalized unless there is some underlying gray hat tactics being used. Rematt's right that they may think something is going on...

    I've seen an increase in scraper sites listed in google SERP - the link simply redirects the user to the affiliate link without a landing page. This could be also called an "optimization effort"..

    They're easy to spot (for me) when I do a search on my own domain name.. dozens of *.info sites below mine obviously using my sitemap. The link redirects to another merchant. It's an uphill battle for me (I'm not saying all *.info sites are guilty, just the ones using my domain).

    Maybe they thought you were doing something similar? As everyone else has said, you should def get in touch with them.

    Send a screenshot of your natural SERP.. and ask for clarification.

  14. #14
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    Agree with the point that this is what linkconnector is selling merchants. They do not believe in affiliate marketing. They believe in getting ignorant affiliates to link to merchants for free. Linkconnector is not a neutral third party, they are squarely on the side of the merchant. This is why I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever promote a linkconnector merchant.

  15. #15
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    RacerX, we have a series of in-house programs that direct link. One of our merchants does nothing for SEO and affiliate are organically ranked for their site. They do significant business for this merchant. The platform we use employs direct links and you can see that it completely benefits the affiliates who are all content sites.

    Linkconnector definitely advertises the naked links benefit and I have launched a program there but no longer manage it. So you need to do two things, get a straight answer from the merchant and the network. Linkconnector had a forum here that they removed when affiliates took them to task for questions about naked links.

    If you feel you need to put the heat on the merchant for unethical practices you can use this forum: http://forum.abestweb.com/forumdisplay.php?f=470 Just make sure you do your homework by reading all policies of the merchant and network.

  16. #16
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    LinkConnector and our reps work very hard to represent the interests of our affiliate and merchant customers equally. In this particular case, the merchant believed having an affiliate listed on the first page of a coupon search (containing their trademarked name) was taking sales from them they would have otherwise gotten without the affiliate. While we strongly disagreed with this opinion and feel that having one of your affiliates on the first page of search engines is better than having your competitors there, we were unable to convince the merchant to retain this relationship. Ultimately, and as is with all Affiliate Marketing Networks, the decision to work with the affiliate falls in the hands of the merchant so we notified the affiliate of the merchant’s decision. It should also be noted that this link was a standard link (99% of LinkConnector merchants use standard linking campaigns—a small percentage also have naked link campaigns as an option for the affiliate too) and provided no SEO benefit for the merchant or affiliate. Discussion in this thread on naked links is irrelevant to this issue.

    On another note, and with as much respect as I hold for Chuck, he is mistaken about our reason for abandoning our ABW forum. We left the forum in ABW because of combative discussions which were very counter productive to receiving productive feedback on our network and ideas. We welcome (and receive) much feedback from our customers and find it essential to improving our business and our service to our customers. We accept when negative feedback comes in the form of an attack. But, we have no patience for ill-informed diatribe meant not to improve understanding of a subject, but instead meant to breakdown and dismiss a party. Numerous posts on our ABW forum, by several parties, were profoundly reductionist and meant to discourage rational thought and discussion by any person (LC and otherwise) willing to invest the time to try to have a lively conversation about the pros and cons of certain points. chetf’s post above serves to illustrate this well. How does one have an intelligent conversation with such prejudice? Our thousands of customers (affiliates and merchants) who have taken the time to research or work with LC know that there is no truth to his post in this thread.

    I will be at Affiliate Summit next week if anyone would like to connect to talk about this issue or any other issue related to Affiliate Marketing or LC.


    Choots Humphries
    LinkConnector Corporation
    Last edited by Choots; August 7th, 2008 at 05:27 PM.

  17. #17
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Choots, thanks for a reasonable response. Haiko and I will both be at the summit and would be happy to speak with you about perceptions on the forum.

  18. #18
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Choots, please don't take this as combative, because it really isn't meant that way, but there needs to be some additional support for the affiliate by the network here. While I understand that you made an attempt to enlighten the merchant in this case, ultimately the affiliate was penalized for doing his job too well.

    That's absolutely ludicrous. And don't get me wrong, this type of issue is shared by all of the networks. But the bottom line is that networks work for the merchant and the affiliate has no advocate that can insure that they are treated fairly. I would really like to hear your opinion as to why networks like to regard themselves as "trusted 3rd parties". Who do think can really trust a network when an affiliate loses a portion of his livelihood because a merchant feels threatened by their own inadequacies in SEO and the network just stands by and says "Well, we tried"?

    RacerX, if you can rank fairly high for this merchant I have no doubt that you can get comparable rankings for their nearest competitor. I would strongly suggest that you seek out that competitor, promote the hell out of them and bury your former "partner".

    -rematt

    BTW, please post the name of this merchant as I'm sure many here would like to avoid them like herpes.
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  19. #19
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    As far as that, Choots is right, with this kind of thing, it's up to the merchant. Ultimately it's their program and they can run it as they see fit. I don't agree with the merchant in this case and I think a time when a network should step in, is if that merchant didn't pay on commissions already earned. If there was ever a case like that, the network should remove them from the network and try to get monies owed. I don't think LC could have done anymore than:

    "While we strongly disagreed with this opinion and feel that having one of your affiliates on the first page of search engines is better than having your competitors there, we were unable to convince the merchant to retain this relationship."

  20. #20
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    This is an issue that goes beyond being a LC issue. This smacks of the tenuousness of the affiliate/merchant relationship. I saw it first hand with the NY issue, and we're seeing it more and more in cases like this.

    Affiliates can't make a living this way, and crap like this needs to stop. The contracts need to be looked at again. I hope Affiliate Voice will head down that road.
    Kevin Webster
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  21. #21
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    What's the alternative? That merchants can't decide who their partners are? They don't need a reason to drop an affiliate. I don't agree with it in this case but it is completely within their rights and usually in the agreements that any party can terminate whenever they want to, usually the merchant has to notify the affiliate.

    "Why start an affiliate program if you aren't going to honor your contract with an affiliate and pay them for sales?"

    If it's a case where he generated sales and they didn't pay, that's an issue. Rereading the thread and it seems as if he was getting paid since it was his bread and butter program but then they kicked him out of the program. If they paid all money owed to that point from the sales generated, then it just looks like a poor decision on their part but still within their rights. But if they didn't pay everything owed, then that's a problem where a network should step in and some action should be taken.

  22. #22
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    Ultimately it's their program and they can run it as they see fit.
    And that's the big problem, merchants can arbitrarily remove affiliates from their program. Merchants should not be allowed to remove affiliates without a clear violation of their TOS.

    Let's suppose that this were GM and a GM dealership. Both parties are protected by contracts, not just the manufacturer. If networks are truly a trusted 3rd party then they need to insist on parity in regards to contracts to insure that affiliates are treated fairly. We can comment on clueless merchants all we want, but while talking about some of the stupid things they do at times may be good for a laugh, it isn't funny when it affects your income.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  23. #23
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    "And that's the big problem, merchants can arbitrarily remove affiliates from their program. Merchants should not be allowed to remove affiliates without a clear violation of their TOS."

    We don't get into any type of contract where it says once we're accepted into a merchants program, that we can't be kicked out unless we violate some rule. As an affiliate we can remove merchants anytime we want from our sites for any reason and they can as well. That's just the way it is. Each of us can run our businesses as we see fit and can stop working with our partners whenever we want. A network can't come in and tell merchants they can't drop affiliates, it's none of the networks business. We're all individual businessess.

  24. #24
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Merchants should not be allowed to remove affiliates without a clear violation of their TOS.
    To my point, Trust, I think Rematt has it right here. Certainly, we can't ask merchants to just blindly partner with any affiliate (That's LS and CJ's job). What we can do is ask for a better set of operating parameters so that the reasons for terminating affiliates can't be "for any reason at the sole discretion of the merchant".
    Kevin Webster
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  25. #25
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    "What we can do is ask for a better set of operating parameters so that the reasons for terminating affiliates can't be "for any reason at the sole discretion of the merchant"."

    This isn't to be taken the wrong way but I expect it might. But sometimes I think people bring their employee type mentalities into this business. Whereas let's say you were working for somebody and felt you were wrongly fired, some people bring lawsuits. But this is different. We're independent contractors. Let's try the reverse. Would you be alright as an affiliate if you couldn't remove a merchant from your site because you wanted to? I'm going to work with whatever merchants I want to and will remove them from my site anytime I want to. So I have no problem with the reverse, merchants doing the same. I might not like it, especially if I'm making money with the merchant, but it's within their rights.

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