Google recently made updates to help ensure the quality of their search results by preventing link spam from damaging the search experience for customers, thereby improving page rank for legitimate publisher sites.
Link spam is the practice of misusing inbound or outbound site links to manipulate a page’s appearance in search result rankings.
Google is asking websites that host affiliate links to qualify affiliate links as being commercial in nature using the rel=“sponsored” attribute in their affiliate link syntax. Tagging your links will ensure proper disclosure of monetized content and prevent Google from manually or programmatically removing or de-ranking sites from search results for failure to comply with their quality guidelines.
What does this mean for publishers hosting affiliate links?
- First and foremost, content monetization through affiliate or sponsored links is 100% fine and good—it’s here to stay.
- Properly qualifying your affiliate links per Google’s best practices helps rid the ecosystem of bad actors and ensures the content on your site reaches the eyes of people searching for what you have to offer.
- Failure to tag affiliate links on your site may ultimately damage your organic search ranking, which could impede your ability to earn commissions by bringing fewer people to your site.
- The prior rel=“nofollow” standard is still supported, but the new rel=“sponsored” tag is preferred by Google, so it’s a good idea to update now.
- Finally, rest assured that CJ tracking is not impacted by the updates being requested of publishers by Google. We will continue to track conversions regardless of whether publishers make updates, however, we strongly suggest that all publishers adhere to Google’s guidance and add tagging to their links.