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  1. #1
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    My Aff links in search results ???
    This has been showing up on two separate merchants and I have no idea how it happens.

    In my reports at SAS, it shows the last link clicked for the merchant. I have seen last night and again today links from search results (MSN) that just show my SAS aff link and no referring link from my site. I don't do PPC so how does MSN find the link and how does it show up in the search results?! It doesn't even say the search term in the link, just shows my aff link code. Weird ... anyone else seeing this?
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  2. #2
    You are in, or you are out ... choose!
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    This is a problem with MSN incorrectly indexing redirects, meaning more traffic for both the merchant and the affiliate. Just check to make sure your merchant(s) will honour the click throughs from third party sites.
    [url=http://www.dWoz.com/][b]dWoz[/b][/url] - serious webmaster tools & resources.

  3. #3
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woz
    This is a problem with MSN incorrectly indexing redirects, meaning more traffic for both the merchant and the affiliate. Just check to make sure your merchant(s) will honour the click throughs from third party sites.
    hanks for the explanation, Woz!

    The only way I'll know this is happening is if I see it in my reports as the "last referring URL" - And yeah, it's pretty cool getting free clicks like that without paying for it but the merchant has to be wondering WTF the same as me. Or not. LOL - No biggie unless sales start coming in I suppose so I won't fret. :-)
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  4. #4
    You are in, or you are out ... choose!
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    >sales start coming in

    Just keep an eye out for voided sales and the reason given. (Heads Up!)
    [url=http://www.dWoz.com/][b]dWoz[/b][/url] - serious webmaster tools & resources.

  5. #5
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woz
    >sales start coming in

    Just keep an eye out for voided sales and the reason given. (Heads Up!)
    Will do thanks!
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    We have an affiliate whose links (not through SAS, but on our in-house program) show up in the top 20 for some pretty big keywords in both yahoo and MSN...

    They show up higher than his main sites in many cases.

    We LOVE it
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    Unhappy
    I had an affiliate link showing up in google a few months ago for a 3 word search term.

    Just checked and its gone.

  8. #8
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [left
    MattMcWilliams[/left]]We have an affiliate whose links (not through SAS, but on our in-house program) show up in the top 20 for some pretty big keywords in both yahoo and MSN...

    They show up higher than his main sites in many cases.

    We LOVE it
    Good to know someone isn't threatened by it. Thanks for that Matt.

    Now I'm wondering how it happens. Why only specific links? It doesn't read as any keywords, just the
    aff
    CODE.
    Why
    would that specific link be picked up? Bizarre stuff.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  9. #9
    Crazy like a fox suzigeek's Avatar
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    Congrats Rexanne I hope they honor the sales. I just found out the same thing is happenning with me except on Google. My affiliate link is the first commercial link, the two above are government safety info. I couldn't figure out where ALL the sales were coming from. Then decided to search the generic broad term on Google and there it is #3 on the first page for a VERY competitive term.

    Well Merry Christmas to us -hopefully- Rexanne!!

    Added: The merchant isn't on the first 3 pages. I'm hoping my affiliate link didn't bump them...I haven't monitored this keyword in about a year now. so I was surprised when all the clicks were showing up without the traffic to my site to match it.
    Suz~~GearGirl~~

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rexanne
    Good to know someone isn't threatened by it. Thanks for that Matt.
    Threatened? No way...he sends us 150 leads a month just from those links. It makes everyone involved a lot of
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  11. #11
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    This is a common issue with search engines. In the past, Google would pick up the link URL and basically the first URL it used to locate the page was what was included in the index -- so if it was an affiliate link, the affiliate got credit for all Google searches. In other cases, multiple versions of a page would be indexed with different URLs, if there were content changes on the page (e.g. Google indexed the site with one affiliate tag, then later followed another affiliate link and saw a different version of the page).

    Google fixed that, mostly, a few years ago, but the issue continues to arise occasionally at Google and more frequently at other search engines.

    I have never had any merchant refuse to pay affiliates for this traffic -- but most merchants do submit their own sites and site-maps to Google and other search engines before making them available to affiliates, to try to reduce the problem.

    Note that there are also situations in which a browser will report the wrong referring URL, essentially "forgetting" an intermediate site and showing an earlier site or page as the referring URL. I can see it in my log files where I own multiple sites that cross-link. In this situation, a visitor may go to www.site-A.com, click a link to www.site-B.com, and then click a link from there to www.site-C.com -- and when Site-C gets the request, it shows www.site-A.com as the referring URL, even though the visitor actually clicked a link from site-B (usually, there is no link to site-C from site-A, yet site-A is shown in the referring URL).

  12. #12
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    This has started to become more of an issue the past few weeks.

    Not only has one of my SAS affiliate codes generated sales for a merchant, but the same thing has happened with an indy merchant.

    In the indy merchant's case, my affiliate link is replacing his URL in organic SERPS. This link is first in the SERPS and began to generate sales a few weeks ago, when no sales had come through before on my account. Definitely raised a red flag for me and when the merchant investigated, he found that my aff code was showing up as the link for his natural first listed SERP for the search term. Very weird.

    I've pointed the merchant's program manager to this thread. He might post and ask if anyone can help with this situation. We're both baffled by how it happens.

    While it would be sweet to have a bunch of sales credited to my account because of a search engine snag, I don't see where it's warranted. This is not me doing PPC and out ranking the merchant, it's the merchant getting the natural first listing for his keyword and me getting the credit for sales because Goog is showing MY aff ID in the link code.

    I'm thinking it's because my site is considered an authority site for people who would be looking for this type of product, but I in no way actually deserve credit for these sales because they didn't come from my site but because my aff ID overrode the merchant's basic URL, however, if because Goog crawled MY site and found the merchant's site there, is this why the merchant got the #1 listing in the SERPS and so Goog gave them a top listing for the search term??? That seems way presumptuos on my part. LOL

    Any information on clearing this up would be greatly appreciated from anyone who knows how to rectify the situation.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  13. #13
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    How to prevent this will depend on exactly what is being indexed by the search engine.

    If the indexed URL is on your site, and is a redirect to the merchant including the affiliate code, then you can prevent indexing with your robots.txt.

    If the indexed URL is actually the merchant site URL including affiliate code directly, that's a tougher nut to crack.

    I looked around to see if a link tag can include rel="noindex", but I think only rel="nofollow" is available. Perhaps nofollow would work, although it doesn't necessarily prevent indexing.

    If in fact the merchant URL is directly appearing, I'd like to see the format of the affiliate link. Does it look more like http://somewhere.com?affid=1234 or more like http://somewhere.com/affid1234

  14. #14
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Hi Bayview - thanks for trying to help.

    The link showing up in the SERPS looks like this: www.merchant.com/?kbid=?????
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  15. #15
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    This might help
    This article at Matt Cutts' blog makes it sound like using rel="nofollow" on the link will prevent GoogleBot from spidering it, although that doesn't match my previous understanding of what nofollow does.

    He also links to the Google URL removal tool, which could be used for your purpose.

  16. #16
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bayview
    This article at Matt Cutts' blog makes it sound like using rel="nofollow" on the link will prevent GoogleBot from spidering it, although that doesn't match my previous understanding of what nofollow does.

    He also links to the Google URL removal tool, which could be used for your purpose.
    Hmmmmm - The issue is not stopping Goog or any SE from indexing my pages, it's that the link showing up for the merchant's search term that he rightfully has first placement SERP on Google for is being replaced with my affiliate link. Not my text or directing to my page but going directly to the merchant's site through my affiliate link. To clarify: The merchant has first SERP placement that is showing up with MY aff ID in his listing. While this looks great and seems an awesome windfall for me, they're not legit sales coming from MY site even though the link clicked is my aff link. It's a mistake made by Goog identifying the merchant's site URL with my aff code included.

    It's very weird and hard to fathom. I'd love to know how it happens and why. Seems to be happening with my affiliate codes a lot lately so it affects me. Otherwise, it's pretty much a merchant problem unless they catch it and dig around to find where the click originated from. Bottom line is that I'm getting credit for sales that are not generated by my site and the merchant is paying commissions that normally would be in house sales. I feel like an unwilling parasite. LOL

    I appreciate your trying to help however. Thank you!

    Does anyone else know how this can happen and how to fix it for the merchant?
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  17. #17
    You are in, or you are out ... choose!
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    How the engines treat rel="nofollow" is entirely up to them and very much open to interpretation. I don't think it is a viable solution.

    I wouldn't use the URL removal tool as apparently Google have linked that URL to the merchant, removing it might remove the merchant which would probably stir up quite a hornets nest.

    As Mark says above, the Engines had some problems some time ago in how they treat redirects and supposedly have fixed those problems. However, what we are seeing here are straight links that are then redirected by either the merchant or network. How they rediect may be causing the problem and is beyond our)the affiliate) control, so obviously the problem still accurs from time to time.

    If this results in more listings for the merchant, some direct and some through aff links, then I would view it as a bonus for the merchant. Rather that then opposition links in the serps.

    If the Aff link is REPLACING the merchant listing, then the merchant needs to look at what they are doing with the link once the user arrives at their site and if they are doing any redirects that may be causing the problem. If so, methinks they need to honour any sales made through those listings until they fix the problem.
    [url=http://www.dWoz.com/][b]dWoz[/b][/url] - serious webmaster tools & resources.

  18. #18
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woz

    If the Aff link is REPLACING the merchant listing, then the merchant needs to look at what they are doing with the link once the user arrives at their site and if they are doing any redirects that may be causing the problem. If so, methinks they need to honour any sales made through those listings until they fix the problem.
    This is what's happening Woz. Thanks for your explanation and insight.

    Hopefully the program manager will find something in this thread to help identify the problem and why it's happening. It's certainly nothing I've done and while I would love to claim or expect credit for all the sales that came through with my aff ID attached, it doesn't seem right unless there was something about MY site that made their listing show up first in the SERPs, even though it contains my aff ID.

    This is all way beyond my tech knowledge but I want to understand why it's happening to more than just one of my aff link codes and on different platforms (network and indy).

    This business is insane! LOL
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  19. #19
    Affiliate Manager Textbooks's Avatar
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    The affected affiliate manager
    Hello everyone and thank you for the great conversation. I am said affiliate manager. First, thanks to Rexanne who has been more than noble in helping us identify and work through this situation.

    Just to make sure things are clear we have held number one position for that term since our site has launched and up until Dec 31, 06 it had the right referring url.

    It is strange and we would love some insight. The term is "textbooks" and we are textbooks.com. you can see the listing is clearly from our site and not Rexanne's. If they were, I would agree that she deserves the sales.

    To me, a non-technical person, it seems like google was indexing her site, followed the link to my site, indexed my site but since her url was still in the title bar pulled that as the referring URL instead of ours. Of course nobody at google has any wisdom they would want to share.

    If you are technical and want to look at our code, feel free. We are open to any suggestions that would help us fix this problem and keep it from occuring in the future.

    Thanks

    Jeff Cohen
    Textbooks.com

  20. #20
    You are in, or you are out ... choose!
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    Jeff, I just did a quick header check and the response is "200 OK", which means you are not doing any redirects to cause the problem. It is just a listing error with Google. Not sure what else you can do other than contact Google about the error and see if they can rectify it. Wouldn't hold your breath though.
    [url=http://www.dWoz.com/][b]dWoz[/b][/url] - serious webmaster tools & resources.

  21. #21
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Bottom line is that I'm getting credit for sales that are not generated by my site and the merchant is paying commissions that normally would be in house sales. I feel like an unwilling parasite.
    Rexanne, clearly this is something that is beyond your control. There are plenty of situations that are beyond our control that cause us to lose sales.

    Accept this as a temporay windfall and enjoy the addition revenue. I'm sure the merchant will find the problem eventually and it will all go away.

    --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

  22. #22
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    I have seen this issue many times.

    Imagine you're a search engine and as you crawl you arrive at a single page on a particular domain from many links pointing to it... and each link is different...

    You take content off the page to create the organic results you show to people, but you're uncertain in today's dynaamic content world, which link you should use as the page's url... you assume that it'd be the one displayed in the browser when you're crawling, but remember, it's not a person doing this indexing work...

    Because of what I've seen in the past, here's my guess... Rexanne has a link to her merchant with that kbid url in it... that url is getting crawled and indexed along with many others... and Rexanne has backlinks to her page (the page that contains that link and content about that merchant's site) and those backlinks have anchor text in them that is very, very closely related to the search term that has the problem... and it's likely that the anchor text in those backlinks (which is the same as the search term at issue) is the merchant's brand name or domain name...

    Here's an example:
    go to MSN and search for "dishnetwork" (without the quotes)
    you'll see this listing in ~4th position:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    DISH Network Satellite TV - DishPronto
    Dishnetwork Satellite TV offers from 155 to more than 250 channels of popular programming choices in packages varying in number of channels. Each package contains an expanded variety of ...
    www. dishpronto.com /?kbid=XXXX · 1/2/2007 · Cached page
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    So DishPronto has had their site crawled, indexed and is ranking well for the search term "dishnetwork". But their organic listing is a myap affiliate link - affiliate 9981 is getting credit for all those sales.

    In this case, it's not by accident. 9981 is juicing backlinks that he controls to cause these results.

    In Rexanne's case, because I know her personally and because she's here asking how to fix the issue, it's obviously just a mistaken case of her seo being strong for that merchant's name (ie the problem keyword).

    The solution is:

    +for the merchant to pay Rexanne, her links and her seo are a major contributing source to the merchants own seo efforts (as evidenced by her own url being the one chosen as the strongest / most popular link to that merchant).
    [note, her myap link in this case points to the merchants domain, not a third party (CJ, LS, SAS) tracking network - she IS contributing to his seo.]

    +for the merchant to examine their backlink strategy, with particular attention paid to their anchor text variation and concentration for target keywords including this one problematic one.

    +if the merchant's sees this as an ongoing problem, they might consider switching to ShareASale or AvantLink (or other 3rd party tracking network) - but they need to realize it's a trade-off, they will loose seo strength in order to decouple their affiliate referral url domains to avoid the "Rexanne" situation going forward...
    Last edited by Trust; January 5th, 2007 at 02:14 PM. Reason: edited affiliate link

  23. #23
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Thanks Woz and Donuts for your input.

    Donuts knows my site and knows me personally and so he understands how little I understand about anything technically oriented. :-) However, I can't claim credit for these sales because of anything I've done to generate them. I know my site is strong although it is not necessarily strong for the keyword(s) associated with this merchant, just for the demographic so I don't understand why I should get credit for these sales that I did nothing to generate. Thanks anyway Donuts for believing I should get paid for these sales. :-)

    I do believe that the merchant had the first position in the SERPs before my URL came along to replace it, although I have no way of knowing this. If the link directs to my page and I somehow nabbed the first placement in the SERP for this keyword OK then I would say I deserve credit for these sales, but it doesn't and so it seems to be a glitch within Goog.

    What I find very interesting is that this is happening with quite a few of my merchants, although this particular case is the most blatant. In other instances, my SAS affiliate code is showing up in search results on MSN, no keywords, just the affiliate URL and is generating sales for some of these merchants. In these instance, I feel I DO deserve credit for the sale since my aff code is not replacing the merchant URL but is being listed as a link that will get the visitor to the landing page they're looking for and I can assume it's because of my SEO for the keyword that my aff code link is showing up.

    Bottom line is that this merchant's URL in organic search has been replaced by my affiliate link and the sales are not being generated by my site, even though the link has my aff code attached. I think this is a case of a Goog screw up and am willing to work with the merchant to clear it up. If I had been making sales for this merchant before this happened, I would probably have a different opinion but I made NO sales before this so there is no true loss for me.

    The "fix" at this time is this:

    The merchant has given me another affiliate account with a different code which will not interfere with their SEO for the current link showing up in the SERPS with my prior aff code. OK sure, I might have helped them get (or stay) at the top of the SERPs but it is not my work or site generating the sales so I'm willing to give up the affiliate account code to them. A noble woman I am. LOL
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  24. #24
    Affiliate Manager Textbooks's Avatar
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    I agree with Rexanne.
    Thank you for your insight. Many great ideas.
    As Rexanne said, she is a noble lady. Offering to us that this must be a mistake prior to us finding out the problem. We have offered Rexanne a commission for her trouble equal to a signifiant dollar in sales for a site such as her.

    Your example of Dish makes sense and if the organic listing was Rexanne's you are right, it would be hers to have. Our site doesn't backlink or sent any external links. We do like the value the MYAP9 gives us in SEO strength and speaking with Kowabunga they have not seen this before.

    Just seems to be something out of our control.

  25. #25
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    >I can't claim credit for these sales because of anything I've done

    Yes you can. You built a site good enough to get noticed by Google such that they somehow tragged your your link as higher poriority that the Merchant. I think it is a mistake to give up that account/link and replace it with a new one, you are throwing away the results of your hard work. I do not think it unethical to accept commissions from sales through that link. And who is to say the Google will not replace it with your new link next refresh? What will you do then, change accounts again, and again ... ??

    Were I the merchant I would honour commissions on those links whilst working towards rectifying the situation.

    >We do like the value the MYAP9 gives us in SEO strength

    Oops. Sorry Jeff, but you just crossed the line. Affiliate marketing should be about Marketing and Sales, not using the affiliate's links for SEO unless you are also compensating them for the SEO value somehow. Something along the lines of Cake and Eating it comes to mind.
    [url=http://www.dWoz.com/][b]dWoz[/b][/url] - serious webmaster tools & resources.

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