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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador flamingoworld's Avatar
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    Idiots at Linkshare - Forced clicks?
    My site is database driven as are many sites. Links on my site are as such:
    Code:
    www.flamingoworld.com/coupon/American-Express/149224/?afsrc=1
    www.flamingoworld.co.uk/coupon/Gaiam-Direct/216238/?afsrc=1
    So today I get an email:
    We have received several complaints about the way you are sending traffic to your LinkShare merchant's partners. Below are just example of URLs:

    http://www.flamingoworld.com/coupon/...49224/?afsrc=1
    http://www.flamingoworld.co.uk/coupo...16238/?afsrc=1

    The complaints allege that the above URLs are automatically redirecting a site visitor to the merchants web sites without the visitor actually clicking on
    the merchants links. We consider such redirects to be forced clicks, which
    constitute a direct violation of our Terms and Conditions. Please make sure to check our policy by reviewing our Resource Center Memo:
    http://www.linkshare.com/affiliates/...idelines.shtml


    WTF?

    And if those links are somehow spidered by google on my site and showing in natural search results not much I can do. I don't do any paid search so that is not the issue.

    Seems once a year I have to deal with something similar, such as me ranking above the merchant in natural search and they tell me to stop bidding, when it is natural search, not paid.

    I don't understand what I can do except remove the merchant links completely from my site so the links don't get spidered.
    Last edited by loxly; August 25th, 2007 at 12:56 PM. Reason: edited out the hotlinks but preserved the examples

  2. #2
    general fuq mrbshouse's Avatar
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    is this a late reaction to the testing you were doing previously?

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador
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    Someone doesn't know what they are talking about. Who is the email from? I would respond by giving them lots of examples of other affiliates doing the same thing and ask what is different about your site.

    I can't help but think that complaints were made as a result of the testing you were doing and documented elsewhere earlier this month. Someone at Linkshare misinterpreted that and provided an erroneous explanation.

    I realize you are providing full disclosure, but in doing so, you've posted affiliate links which aren't allowed at ABW. It's hard for me to believe it's a coincidence that you chose the first link that you did considering the $200 commission earned from a conversion.
    Last edited by Snowman; August 24th, 2007 at 09:44 PM. Reason: Added last sentence

  4. #4
    MasterMike HardwareGeek's Avatar
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    my guess since you were doing pop-ups directly to the merchants website with out them clicking the link a few weeks back, they complained about that and just now have contacted you about it.

  5. #5
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    Exclamation
    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman
    I realize you are providing full disclosure, but in doing so, you've posted affiliate links which aren't allowed at ABW.
    One can voluntarily post their own links. But not others'.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herb ԿԬ
    One can voluntarily post their own links. But not others'.
    Herb, read the policy in RED on the quick reply. You are confusing this issue with posting an affiliate's website link. This is an issue of an affiliate link which is not allowed.

  7. #7
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    Lightbulb
    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman
    Herb, read the policy in RED on the quick reply. You are confusing this issue with posting an affiliate's website link. This is an issue of an affiliate link which is not allowed.
    let's let a Mod answer.

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador flamingoworld's Avatar
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    A mod can change the links if they want, I was just posting the email they sent and they had the links in there.

    This has nothing to do with anything I was testing, it has to do with them, I believe seeing my links get spidered by google and being indexed. I know others have had this issue. Nothing much we can do to make google do things or change how they do things.

    I don't know how many times I have had to explain this type of issue to merchants in the past. And if they are talking about the links on my site, that is how all database driven sites have their links, they are links with our domain in them, not linksynergy links.

    I also got another email, that talks of an attachement that was not attached so I can't see what they are talking about:

    One of our UK merchants has noticed FlamingoWorld accidentally using a redirect link (see attached). As you can see the listing below is fine, but the 3rd placed position directly links to Gaiams site which they feel contravenes their T&Cs. Unfortunately despite being a mistake, it is also a rather cunning SEO technique.
    Can you remove this URL as quickly as possible, please drop me an email when you have.


    I only have 2 links up to Gaiam UK, so they have to be talking about search engine links. I can't remove links from google.

  9. #9
    Full Member ske9963's Avatar
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    I think there are at least a dozen affiliates who are masking their URL. Doubt that the testing have anything to do with it as I can point out that ABC affiliate is doing the same thing like Connie.
    Ma, where the beer? :escape:

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador flamingoworld's Avatar
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    It is not really masking urls to hide the affiliate link, any site that is database driven that I know of does links this way. There are thousands of affiliates with things this way.

    Since no one from Linkshare has sent me the supposed included attachment, I don't know for sure, but from all information I have it seems they are concerned about my links being in Google.

    I don't want to block Google from my site obviously, and can't control what they choose to list.

    And if Gaiam is worried about trademarks, they should do a Google search on Gaiam coupons, lots of paid search bids there on the Gaiam name.

  11. #11
    Member jrb16915's Avatar
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    I think if you just sent a link to the actual page that the links are located on, so they can see that you are not misleading on where the links are going to, that the Linkshare people will understand that they shouldnt have a problem.

    I think someone who just looks at the link itself could be confused into thinking that the user thinks they are going to a flamingoworld page and instead is being taken to a merchant page, which clearly is not how the webpages are set up.

    good luck

  12. #12
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    One of our UK merchants has noticed FlamingoWorld accidentally using a redirect link (see attached). As you can see the listing below is fine, but the 3rd placed position directly links to Gaiams site which they feel contravenes their T&Cs. And if Gaiam is worried about trademarks, they should do a Google search on Gaiam coupons, lots of paid search bids there on the Gaiam name.
    A small side note, as I am sure it will get mentioned, while amwso manages the US program we do not manage the UK program. Not for lack of asking though

    Cheers

    Chriss
    Affiliate Marketing by AMWSO. Skype - chrissanderson ::: TEL 1-720-336-1784 ::: www.amwso.net
    Join our affiliate programs :Vaper Empire, Iolo, Art of Tea, or See ALL our Programs here

  13. #13
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    If the problem is Google indexing direct click links somehow, where a visitor hops directly to a merchant site through one your redirects, why not hide those links with a more-restrictive robots.txt? On my site, I have a redirect script as well, and I tell Google to not follow any of my redirect links. I'm not sure how or if that helps your situation.

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Google says all affiliate links should have a rel="nofollow" attribute to comply with their system.

  15. #15
    general fuq mrbshouse's Avatar
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    I did a couple of quick searches and found links in google that do go directly to the merchant. The Url appears to be yours but the destination is that of the redirected url to the merchant. Seems like communication is the key here and I know Gaiam is active here on abest ;-)

    2busy, as stated previously in numerous threads the nofollow is for page rank only and does not stop the bots from following.

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Not according to Google:
    http://www.google.com/support/webmas...36&ctx=sibling

    Why should I report paid links to Google?

    Google and most other search engines use links to determine reputation. A site's ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to it. Link-based analysis is an extremely useful way of measuring a site's value, and has greatly improved the quality of web search. Both the quantity and, more importantly, the quality of links count towards this rating.

    However, some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying links in order to improve a sites ranking is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.

    Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such. This can be done in several ways, such as:

    * Adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to the <a> tag
    * Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file

    Google works hard to ensure that it fully discounts links intended to manipulate search engine results, such link exchanges and purchased links. If you see a site that is buying or selling links, let us know.Well use your information to improve our algorithmic detection of paid links.

    -------------
    I looked it up after I saw that some of my redirect files were showing up. Maybe I am completely missing the point, but I started adding the tag to my redirected URLs because the robots.txt file was not handling the problem.

  17. #17
    general fuq mrbshouse's Avatar
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    2busy

    your 1/2 right but the real solution (i think) here is as mentioned by BargainJack and listed in your own post:

    * Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file

    It really seems like google is the problem maker as I've seen them index to many parts of pages as full pages...take any embedded flash file for an example, but hey an elephant sits where it wants.

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador
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    Working within search engine guidelines for SEO or PR is one thing but we're talking about an affiliate network's rules for crafting affiliate links. Since when does Linkshare or any other network for that matter have any rules that relate to SEO or PR in the context of crafting an affiliate link?

    The message specifically refers to a forced click. IMO, this discussion has become off topic.

    I think there is one big misunderstanding here with Linkshare that I'm sure Connie will address with them on Monday.

    By the way, I'd think twice before calling a network and Idiot when you rely on them for a significant amount of your income and if you want to be treated in a professional manner. The subject line of this thread is certainly not a professional way of addressing this issue in a public forum.

  19. #19
    Full Member Code Monkey's Avatar
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    Simple...
    This is not a complicated issue at all. Simply direct Google bots to not follow your redirects. That will keep those links away from search results and this entire issue becomes void.

  20. #20
    http and a telephoto
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    Any affiliate using a jump script can run into the same situation, at Linkshare or any other network, and there are WAY more than a dozen affiliates as noted above. Search here at ABestWeb and you will see that redirects are highly recommended as a standard practice. And you can block the script with robots.txt, but that doesn't mean it will work. Those links can still make it into G, Y and M. The same way links to an indy can show up with your ID attached at the end in search results.

    If it's natural search you can follow all the rules and still get links that other people don't like showing up.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  21. #21
    http and a telephoto
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman
    I realize you are providing full disclosure, but in doing so, you've posted affiliate links which aren't allowed at ABW. It's hard for me to believe it's a coincidence that you chose the first link that you did considering the $200 commission earned from a conversion.
    Don't get me started Snowman. If others can post links to Connie's site, she can certainly post what she did quoting the email she received. These are clearly labeled as affiliate links and are not there to encourage clicking on them, they are there as an example of something. There *is* a difference.

    And unprofessional is in the eye of the beholder.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador
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    Why should I report paid links to Google?
    2busy, better to ask why you should find out what the difference is between paid links and affiliate links, instead of accusing by your own misinterpretation and lack of information.

    Links purchased for advertising
    2busy, how much per month do you get just for putting affiliate links up? You have special deals from Linkshare and get paid by the month instead of commission for sales like everyone else?

    Google says all affiliate links should have a rel="nofollow" attribute to comply with their system.
    WRONG!!

    Google is NOT talking about affiliate links, which affiliates do not get paid for. Affiliates get paid commission on sales, NOT for putting a link up. That nofollow is referring to paid links, not affiliate links.

    Another thing: Even for paid links (which are not affiliate links), one of the ways Matt Cutts of Google recommended at this week's SES is that paid links be redirected so that paid links won't pass PageRank.

    Of course, if affiliate links are redirected, then it kind of spoils LinkShare's "branded linking" scheme they've got to game Google by using sneaky 301's on Overstock's site for example. The idea is to trick affiliates into passing PR, which won't work if the aff links are redirected via the affiliate's site - which Google has no problem with. Google will have a problem with LinkShare's selling links to merchants that pass PR, which has nothing to do with the affiliates being deceived into doing it.
    Last edited by webworker; August 25th, 2007 at 01:28 PM.

  23. #23
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    might try using google site maps, so the indexing of pages and their related urls is something you provide to G making them more likely to index the desired url with your pages crawled and ranked.

  24. #24
    http and a telephoto
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    Donuts, site maps sometimes help and sometimes don't, and they don't tell google "only spider these links", they tell google, "these are the pages we'd like you to spider". The spiders still do what they want to.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  25. #25
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    Even using robots.txt isn't enough to exclude pages' URL from appearing in the index, regardless of the PR issue. Such pages should have the robots meta tag:

    <meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow">

    That covers the bases.

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