Do Pretty Links (or other such cloaking) get penalised by the big G?

9 replies
Hi Guys,

I've been involved with creating Amazon Affiliate sites for a while now but I've always used Pretty Links to cloak the links and make them, more 'pretty' to the user!

Recently I've read, on this forum and one other, that The big 'G' might be penalising sites for being Amazon Affiliates.

Can I ask all you good people this question?

Who thinks that I need to change all of these 'pretty links' on my site to something which is a bit more cloak and dagger?

I know there's other plugins out there which make these affiliate links more invisible to the search engines, at a cost of course, but is this really neccessary?

Out of interest, I haven't seen a big drop in Amazon income but I'm interested to here if other associates have heard about such sites being 'firebombed' because they have obvious affiliate links?

Appreciate all thought!

Cheers guys.

Jon Crimes
#big #cloaking #links #penalised #pretty
  • Profile picture of the author heavysm
    I have a health and fitness site that uses pretty links for the outbound affiliate links. In my experience having a site get penalized is only a reference to on and off page SEO, meaning your link profile and over optimization of yours site/posts. It's not a reference to the plugins you use, or how your outbound links look.

    Merely being an amazon affiliate won't be causing the penalty. If a penalty were to occur I would suspect it to be due to your site being perceived as being thin on content, where you are merely a doorway site for the amazon link (your site literally exists just so people click on the links) and offers little to no value for the visitor.

    Those are the types of sites getting slapped; micro blogs or otherwise whose content is either thin or nonexistent with a over abundance of outbound affiliate links. This comes across as spammy to visitors and so isn't conducive with positive user experience.

    In brief, however, simply using pretty links won't get your site hit. A lot of other factors would have to come into play if your site got hit while also using pretty links. But pretty links won't be the cause.
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  • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
    Pretty Links are just that - "pretty" with no SEO benefit and still an obvious affiliate link to Google.

    The fact is Google has repeatedly said it does not like affiliate sites. Even the new "doorway page" announcement included affiliate sites which do not add value beyond the merchant's site.

    Given Google's repeated statements, comments from SEO experts about Google going after affiliates, and a zillion posts, here and elsewhere, about affiliates giving it up because Google won't rank them - what else do you need? Guido to hover over your keyboard smacking you every time you use an exposed affiliate link?

    Every affiliate site I have hides affiliate links and the strategy has been one of the most profitable ones I have ever used. And I've been doing this a long time.

    Merely being an amazon affiliate won't be causing the penalty.
    Considering Google's own internal documents for rating websites have said otherwise, and my personal testing has shown big ranking changes with the only change being made is including or removing affiliate links, I think I'll have to go with Google, my experience, and the obvious SERP results in search after search.

    Personally, I consider it "affiliate malpractice" to use Pretty Links. Even if you disagree with me, there's no upside to exposing your links. But it's your business and bank account.

    .
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    • Profile picture of the author heavysm
      Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

      Considering Google's own internal documents for rating websites have said otherwise, and my personal testing has shown big ranking changes with the only change being made is including or removing affiliate links, I think I'll have to go with Google, my experience, and the obvious SERP results in search after search.

      Personally, I consider it "affiliate malpractice" to use Pretty Links. Even if you disagree with me, there's no upside to exposing your links. But it's your business and bank account.

      .
      There's literally no reason for me to think that using the plugin, or any other tactic that cleans up the appearance of my links, has negatively affected my site rankings. I'm not talking about theory online either, but performance of my sites ranking over several years (my sites have thousands of indexed pages each, so these aren't thin sites by any means)

      If it's obvious that I am an affiliate, which is stated in the content on the page, I see no reason why simply having cleaner looking links should be a detriment to my rankings, visitor experience, or any other factors that would affect my metrics.

      Originally Posted by Brent Stangel View Post

      Back when all my Adwords affiliate landers got nuked, they were calling them "Bridge pages".
      I forgot about that specific term lol
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    • Profile picture of the author drschool
      Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

      Given Google's repeated statements, comments from SEO experts about Google going after affiliates, and a zillion posts, here and elsewhere, about affiliates giving it up because Google won't rank them - what else do you need? Guido to hover over your keyboard smacking you every time you use an exposed affiliate link?

      Every affiliate site I have hides affiliate links and the strategy has been one of the most profitable ones I have ever used. And I've been doing this a long time.



      Considering Google's own internal documents for rating websites have said otherwise, and my personal testing has shown big ranking changes with the only change being made is including or removing affiliate links, I think I'll have to go with Google, my experience, and the obvious SERP results in search after search.

      .
      In Google Webmaster guidelines, they give a description of what they feel is an acceptable affiliate site

      Can you give me a link to where Google said they don't like affiliate sites? I'd be interested to see if they said something that contrasts their webmaster guidelines.

      As for Pretty Links, could Google consider using it as cloaking or a a sneaky redirect? If so, then Pretty Links would violate Google webmaster guidelines depending on how you used them. Like if the link appeared as www.mysite.com/free-bonus-offer but really sent users to amazon, then the site would be penalized.
      If the link looks like it is going to another page on your site, but directs you offsite, it could be considered a sneaky redirect as well, right?
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  • Profile picture of the author Brent Stangel
    Banned
    the new "doorway page"
    Back when all my Adwords affiliate landers got nuked, they were calling them "Bridge pages".
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  • Profile picture of the author ACandi
    Hi Jon,

    If Google is against services like 'pretty links' why would they offer a URL shortener? Check it out at https://goo.gl

    LB.
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    Turn $50 into $500!
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  • Profile picture of the author heroboy
    I've personally not seen an issue with affiliate links on my website. In my view it depends on content. If you have low quality content and spammy backlinks, you will suffer. If you have good content, your site will survive regardless of using pretty links or not. I have not seen any difference in search results while using pretty links. I guess pretty links only make your link look pretty. They neither help nor cause damage, but it's strictly my opinion based on personal experience.
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  • Profile picture of the author vashcool
    Pretty Links wont be causing any problem for you ^_^ so keep calm and keep on making pretty links.
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  • Profile picture of the author oniram
    I never had much luck selling Amazon products because of Mr G rules and regulations for webmasters. G considers all affiliate sites as bridge sites whether your links are cloaked or not. I used Adwords to promote my Amazon store and all the keywords were removed within 2 hr of running. According to G rules they inferred that I have to purchased the product and write an "original" product review before they will approved any keywords.

    My work around was to build a WP blog using my own content and add a few Amazon products on the side bar.

    As a side note: If you are selling Amazon products, do a keyword search for that product and you will see that G favors the big box stores and Amazon including the manufacture of the product. You will not find any affiliates sites listed on the top 10 pages.
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