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  1. #1
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    Brand names in URLs, meta tags, etc.
    Hi all,

    I completely understand a brand restricting bidding against their trademark and terms. I also understand not allowing their trademarked terms in domain names. However, as I have been going through more and more merchant programs, I see that a lot of vendors are restricting the use of their brand name in URLs, meta tags, etc.

    For example, take a look at these new OfficeMax terms:

    1.MISREPRESENTING OFFICEMAX'S BRAND: Unauthorized or infringing use of brand names, trademarks, service marks, proprietary graphic images, or content not owned or licensed by the Affiliate Company. Some examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Use of OfficeMax marks including, but not limited to, OfficeMax, Office Max, OfficeMax.com, Office Max.com, CopyMax and OfficeMax ImPress alone or in conjunction with other words. or phrases, for any purpose beyond establishing and maintaining a hyperlink to OfficeMax on your Web site(s). This specifically includes:
    • Use of OfficeMax marks in the title tags or meta keyword tags of your Web site(s), including doorway pages.
    • Use of OfficeMax marks in the domain names of Your Web site(s).
    • Use of OfficeMax marks as keywords in pay-for-placement search engine listings (e.g., Overture, FindWhat.com, Kanoodle.com, LookSmart Sponsored Listings, Google Ad Words, and others as they become available).
    • Use of OfficeMax marks as search keywords linked to online advertising.
    • Use of OfficeMax marks in the search engine listing descriptions or meta description tags for your Web site(s), unless the term used is, "authorized OfficeMax Web Affiliate." A search engine listing includes titles, descriptions, URLs, etc.
    • Use of non-approved text to describe OfficeMax and our services.
    • Use of a non-approved hypertext reference and format to create the hyperlink from Your Web site(s) to OfficeMax.com.

    So, we cannot have a URL of the form domain.com/office-max-coupons or use their name in our meta tags.

    As I mentioned, this is appearing in more and more merchant terms and seems to be designed to cut down on any SEO efforts by affiliate sites.

    Now, I see a ton of major sites doing exactly this, so my questions are:
    • Is this something relatively new?
    • Is this heavily enforced?
    • What happens if you do it? Can you fix it or are you dropped?


    Thanks.

  2. #2
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spreadsave View Post
    Now, I see a ton of major sites doing exactly this, so my questions are:
    • Is this something relatively new?
    • Is this heavily enforced?
    • What happens if you do it? Can you fix it or are you dropped?


    Thanks.
    • Seems to me more so in the past year
    • Yes
    • They can drop you, reverse your commissions. More than likely you are done for with that merchant.
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  3. #3
    notary sojac Herb ΤΏΤ¬'s Avatar
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    Lightbulb
    and this is why you must read the Terms of Service.

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  5. #4
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    What happens if you do it? Can you fix it or are you dropped?
    It takes a while for a merchant/AM to find everything so if you know you are in violation go ahead and fix it.

  6. #5
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    Thanks. We have built an automated system which pulls in the feeds and builds out the site. It now seems that we will have to add a manual override to that as well as manually review all merchant terms. A lot more manual work...

  7. #6
    ABW Ambassador Georgie Peri's Avatar
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    The way they word the terms makes it so if you use "OfficeMax" anywhere on your site you can be in violation.
    OpA! Giasou Ti kanies!

  8. #7
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    The way they word the terms makes it so if you use "OfficeMax" anywhere on your site you can be in violation.
    This is brand protection, brands spend $M creating and maintaining their brands. They don't want to pay affiliates for sales they feel would come to them due to their name. So if you can drive sales for the product names or generic terms you would be alright.

    I have to ask if you are making good money from their program otherwise why not drop it for one less restrictive?

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    I have to ask if you are making good money from their program otherwise why not drop it for one less restrictive?
    I'm seeing this more and more - Target, Newegg, etc. all have prohibitions on their name in URLs, meta tags, etc. It would be hard to drop some of these bigger merchants. We'll have to find ways to work within the terms.

  10. #9
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    One point that they miss is the organic authority that affiliates bring to them through their branded landing pages. I get asked by merchants how to get backlinks from affiliates to boost their SERPs. Let them use the brand name on the pages and in the URL!

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  12. #10
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    One point that they miss is the organic authority that affiliates bring to them through their branded landing pages. I get asked by merchants how to get backlinks from affiliates to boost their SERPs. Let them use the brand name on the pages and in the URL!
    How do affiliate links pass any authority and, in turn, boost SERPs - especially when rel="nofollow" tags are used? My understanding is nothing is gained by the merchant. Am I missing something?
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  13. #11
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    The copy on the landing page gets indexed and adds to the SERPs of the merchant to give them more authority and branding.

    Another thing greatly overlooked is the impressions for text links and banners to merchants. That is pure branding and hence why we write the brand in the links whenever possible. Even my own forum posts work to help brand the merchant through the titles.

  14. #12
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    The branding portion makes sense for user recognition. I don't see how affiliate links give any backlink value and, in turn "boost their SERPs." -

    Recognition, yes. Increase in the SERPs I don't see. Unless SEs are taking into consideration how often a term (brand) is being mentioned, even without a link. Again, am I missing something?
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  15. #13
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I ran the affiliate program for FetchDog for four years but they decided to discontinue last quarter. If you search Google for fetchdog you would see 200 affiliate pages in the first 250 SERPs. There are still some affiliate pages listed but they are driving traffic to competitors since there is no FD affiliate program.

  16. #14
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spreadsave View Post
    Hi all,
    So, we cannot have a URL of the form domain.com/office-max-coupons or use their name in our meta tags.

    As I mentioned, this is appearing in more and more merchant terms and seems to be designed to cut down on any SEO efforts by affiliate sites.

    Now, I see a ton of major sites doing exactly this, so my questions are:
    • Is this something relatively new?
    • Is this heavily enforced?
    • What happens if you do it? Can you fix it or are you dropped?


    Thanks.
    Even if you see terms like this, you can reach out to the affiliate manager. Explain your intended use and they might give you permission. Last year, I reached out to over 200 merchants and a decent amount gave me special permission to create a URL like MyDomain.com/merchant.

    In my case, I was creating specialized pages dedicated to the particular merchant on ,my site and i argued that it was appropriated to have a URL like the one above.

    Many merchants will still prohibit the use but you would be surprised how many will be OK with it if you ask.

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  18. #15
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    I actually had a brilliant domain name which had a trademark in its name. the policy prohibited against PPC and all that, but never specified domain. Well, worked for a while until I got the dreaded email informing me I had to stop using it effective immediately.

    And I got the impression that I got off easy from other stories I've read.

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