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  1. #1
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    Is it an unfair clause? No SEO on our name
    We knew about restriction on using Merchant name or TM name on PPC but this is new:
    Just saw that in a merchant agreement:
    Publishers are prohibited from optimizing websites and pages for the term "MerchantName" in any variation.
    How do you define "optimizing"? If you have "MerchantName" on a page, is it optimizing? This merchant don't want their affiliates to get traffic related to its brand name. It's not even a TM name, just three common names in their vertical. In that case I think it should be easier to promote "CompetitorName"
    Do you think it's an unfair clause?
    Anyway, I'm not going to promote such a merchant.

  2. #2
    http and a telephoto
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    One of the best things affiliates *do* or should do, is SEO on a merchant product, which would include their name. Yes there are TOS restrictions about using merchant names and misspellings in top level domains, but you need to allow affiliates to create pages and optimize those pages for the merchant. That's my opinion of course.

    What types of promotion *is* this merchant allowing?
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  3. #3
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    I've no idea how they want affiliates to promote them. It's not an easy vertical.
    btw, they have no banners.

  4. #4
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Sounds a rather uninformed or naive to me - but as Debbie says, "That's just me." We would love to see a whole group of affiliates promoting our program via SEO - to push all the competitors down and out of sight.
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  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador ladidah's Avatar
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    If the three common names that is part of their name are critical keyword names and would have to occur in a certain order together, then I would say it would be hard to promote without mentioning these words.

    BUT since their company name is not TM protected they can occur in any combinations on a page and you can still rank for them.

    If merchant name is "keyword1keyword2keyword3" and you can't use it that way you can still use in your title, h tags, metas, content - Buy keyword1 keyword2 keyword 3 today! The benefits you will get are keyword1, keyword3, and keyword2, blah, blah.

    Will that work?

  6. #6
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    The risk with this merchant is to get deactivated once you get the traffic going.

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    To each his own I guess. As we know, all merchants can make whatever rules they want and you are doing the right thing...avoiding them.

    But I don't get it. I look at it this way:

    No one is ever going to out-optimize our own site for our trademark names and company name.

    So that gives us the #1 position.

    Now I want positions #2-40 to be affiliates saying GOOD things about us, so I encourage what they discourage.

    Personally, I think it's a very naive and destructive move. If you think there is hope for them, take a minute to educate them.
    Matt McWilliams
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  8. #8
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    They have the #1 position for their brand name on Google, but behind it's the wild west. All competitors or I guess dissapointed affiliates ranking for "MerchantName is not active with us, we suggest you to look at similar stores + a list of competitors".
    Matt, usually these merchants have a strong opinion and are hard to convince. I did my missionary work a long, long time ago... now with so many merchants... I'm taking the easiest way.

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador bettylou's Avatar
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    Zeus,

    I received an email like this just yesterday. It was in a vertical that I have thought for years about creating a site for. I even had a really good start on it once, but didn't finish the project. I am glad that I didn't now.

  10. #10
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    Good bettylou, I believe a big part of the success of an affiliate is to know how to avoid merchants smelling trouble.

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador Georgie Peri's Avatar
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    Question
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    Good bettylou, I believe a big part of the success of an affiliate is to know how to avoid merchants smelling trouble.
    Who is the said Merchant .. so we can avoid ..
    OpA! Giasou Ti kanies!

  12. #12
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    More important than the merchant name is the way the agreement is drafted. The merchant is new. They don't deserve, at this time, to be blasted. What's important is to read the agreement closely. They are not the only one. I can see a trend and accepting such a clause would be bad for the future of affiliate marketing.

  13. #13
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    More important than the merchant name is the way the agreement is drafted. The merchant is new. They don't deserve, at this time, to be blasted. What's important is to read the agreement closely. They are not the only one. I can see a trend and accepting such a clause would be bad for the future of affiliate marketing.
    I have had similar with merchants that I had already put effort into and just ignored it. I just assumed that if they knew what they were doing that they wouldn't do it. I felt they just didn't know they were asking you to promote without using organic traffic from search.


  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador bettylou's Avatar
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    The merchant that I received the email from has been in business for years. Not really sure what has driven them to add this to their TOS.

  15. #15
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    This should make things easier for competitors/non-affiliates who optimize for traffic in their name.
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  16. #16
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    I've come across that with some CJ merchants. When I did I kept reading it over and over because I kept thinking I read it wrong. I didn't. It lacks logic no matter how many times you read it.

    Therefore - I believe it was written so at anytime the merchant can deny commissions.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador bettylou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeann View Post
    Therefore - I believe it was written so at anytime the merchant can deny commissions.
    Convenient, huh?

  18. #18
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    I would love to know who this merchant is. I do think ABW is a great way to inform (not blasting) ABWers when stuff like this happens.

    There's nothing like a little PR for that merchant. Let them know their policies are being discussed.

    If they put those terms in there, I believe it's fair to discuss it, after you have tried contacting them and explaining why their TOS should be restated.

    Merchant names should be made public.

  19. #19
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    I would post the merchants, but I don't remember who they were. One was a big company though, that much I remember. I didn't sign up with with any of them.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  20. #20
    Affiliate Manager bcwaller's Avatar
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    I bet I got the same email and had one of those WTF moments. Here is what it said:

    Hello,

    We have a new SEM restriction policy that will take effect 7 days from today (May 11th). The policy is as follows:

    "Applications will be considered on an individual basis. RESTRICTIONS - Do not bid on or show up for any queries containing our brand or domain. This includes any misspellings and variations of our brand or domain (XxxxxxXxxxx, Xxxxxx Xxxxx, xxxxxxxxxxx.com, etc) or our trademark terms in sequence with any other keyword (i.e. Xxxxxxxxxxx coupons, XxxxxxXxxxx promo codes, etc). Please add all branded terms to your negative or excluded keyword list. "

    We appreciate your promotion of Xxxxxxxxxxx.com
    I understand the "bid" portion, but how do you ensure you do not "show up" for search results other than not even mention their name or link to them? If I was promoting them (I'm not) I would have emailed and asked for more information. I might have told them that there is no way to effectively promote them and follow these guidelines.

    Searching for them and coupons, I see a TON of results. I wonder how they are going to handle this in a week even if the affiliates have changed their sites. The index will still have these results.

    Then again, they are only a few miles from me. I could knock on their door and ask!
    Brad Waller | VP, Business and Affiliate Development
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  21. #21
    Outsourced Program Manager Sarah Bundy's Avatar
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    It's very possible that this merchant is just new and possibly confused about trademark bidding being exclusive to PPC rather then SEM in general. It is an extremely strong asset to have and affiliate with strong SEO on your side as a merchant. I think this merchant's intentions might be good, but they may simply be confused over the PPC / SEO terms. Maybe they think it's the same thing.

  22. #22
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    Here's the full text. I believe the merchant is confused about the PPC / SEO terms but it's not the first time I'm seeing this.
    Restrictions: Publishers are not permitted to bid on the The Medical Supply Depot.com name, including any variations or misspellings. Publishers are prohibited from optimizing websites and pages for the term TheMedicalSupplyDepot.com in any variation. Publishers are not permitted to display our website URL TheMedicalSupplyDepot.com or MedicalSupplyDepot.com, including any variations or misspellings in PPC or paid advertising. Publishers found to be in breach of our usage guideline will be permanently excluded from the program. Any sales generated from a violation of these terms and conditions will not be paid.

  23. #23
    Affiliate Manager bcwaller's Avatar
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    Interesting. Two different merchants. My email told me not to even show up in the SERPs, where yours says not to optimize your site or pages for their term.

    At least with your merchant you can claim that you are optimizing for many other things, and they just happen to show up in the SERPs.
    Brad Waller | VP, Business and Affiliate Development
    EPage: Classified Ad Affiliate Program | uBuildApp: Build your own iPhone App

  24. #24
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    As merchants hire inexperienced SEO "experts" and consultants, these kinds of things pop up. The SEO "expert" claims affiliates are hurting the natural rankings of the site, when in fact they are not. Those same experts ask merchants to do untold other stuff that I spend half my days explaining to merchants that shouldn't be done.

    And yes, some merchants have no clue about the difference between the different types of SEM - PPC and SEO.

    Those types of terms are usually the result of too many cooks, not enough understanding of the search market, and from customers calling and saying "I searched Google for your name and got to that site" and the merchant thinking that it shouldn't have had to pay an affiliate for that type of click. When of course the customer searched for something else and ended up on the affiliate page and then on the merchant. Customers either don't remember or don't understand how they got from one place to the other.

    It's a challenge to stay on top of merchants, I have long established clients that suddenly ask me to change something related to affiliates in natural search and have to spend a good deal of time explaining why it happened and why it is a good thing and that that is what affiliates *do*.

  25. #25
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    Agreed, the definition of SEM is so varied in certain companies, many assume it means purely PPC... so an email to the merchant for clarification might help.

    I've seen quite a few references to "SEM & SEO" which makes me chuckle sometimes.

    My guess is that the "new SEM restriction policy" is supposed to be specific to PPC, and they just don't realize the difference.

    The other, where you are not allowed to "optimize" to the keyword likely needs more specific direction (e.g. do not included brand name in TLD, do not attempt to position yourself as the "official site", etc.) because the concept of "optimize" is too generic. This is likely a knee-jerk response to someone's complaint about affiliate traffic via a branded keyword.

    This is especially troublesome when you are dealing with a name like the one listed above... what other words (or variations) are you supposed to use???

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