Merchant has contacted me

by beccol
98 replies
Hi Warriors,

I need your advice. The merchant for a product I am promoting has contacted me to say that they are changing the rules. Namely:

1. The use of the brand in the domain is not allowed

2. The used of the brand name in the title, description or keywords is not
is not allowed

3. No heading with the brand name are allowed

4. having a review is not allowed

I can understand 1 (which I am not doing) but the rest is so extreme that bascially it means SEO is not allowed. I have spent a lot of time and money ranking for their keywords is there anything I can do?
#contacted #merchant
  • Profile picture of the author AnniePot
    That's completely crazy. You can't write a review????

    If the merchant in question is heavily reliant upon affiliates for sales, he's going to go out of business in a hurry!

    Ask him to provide you with his thinking behind that change in particular, AND, why he is basically saying you cannot even mention the name of his product on your website.

    Maybe it's a knee-jerk reaction to some negative reviews.
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  • Profile picture of the author yulypis
    Well it sure does sound like they got "bought" by a larger company.
    Legally there isn't much you can do - but you can contact the merchant and explain your side - investment wise - and ask for specific permission to continue doing what you did so far.

    See what they have to say - and post back - it sure is interesting since all these steps are leading to severely decreased traffic - they don't want to sell through affiliated any more?
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    • Profile picture of the author beccol
      They have given me a few days to comply and to be honest I am gutted as I have done really well and the getting to rank for these keywords means it will be useless after the change.....Thansk for the advice I will contact them and let you know what happens
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    • Profile picture of the author Bill Farnham
      Basically, what the merchant is doing is trying to shut down what I call Interception Marketing where traffic that would normally go straight to the merchant is intercepted by the affiliates.

      This is common with merchants I've seen on CJ, as an example.

      If they feel they want you to bring them sales outside of search engine traffic then that's their perogative. If you think about it, someone who goes to Google, as an example, and types in the merchants keywords will easily find what they are looking for. What's the point of the merchant having you trying to intercept that traffic?

      The merchant would much rather you create your own traffic to earn your commission. It's a reasonable expectation for them to trade you money for something you bring to the table. Intercepting traffic they would already get through the search engines isn't bringing diddly to the table.

      You as an affiliate have the choice to either create a traffic stream via lists, or ads on your website, among other means, or perhaps find something else to promote.

      Don't begrudge the merchant because they don't want you intercepting traffic that would find them anyway. If you want their commission money scare up some sales outside of the serps.

      ~Bill
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      • Profile picture of the author beccol
        Hi Bill,

        I take your point but many people searching are looking for independent reviews prior to making a decision to buy, so I feel these sites do have value if done properly ( a quality article going over the pros and cons of the chocies available).

        But at the end of the day it is the merchants choice and I feel they will regret the decision as I have just emailed to tell them that it will result in less traffic for them.
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        • Profile picture of the author Bill Farnham
          Originally Posted by beccol View Post

          Hi Bill,

          I take your point but many people searching are looking for independent reviews prior to making a decision to buy, so I feel these sites do have value if done properly ( a quality article going over the pros and cons of the chocies available).

          But at the end of the day it is the merchants choice and I feel they will regret the decision as I have just emailed to tell them that it will result in less traffic for them.
          I think it gets down to the business model they believe will be the most profitable. Remember, they could easily be mistaken about their metrics. They may not even realize the value of having others recommend their product through review sites and articles.

          As to this point, "that it will result in less traffic for them", I think the better argument is it will result in less social proof for their product. The traffic is already there on the serps for them to get. So keeping the competition off the first page will not result in less traffic.

          Best of luck going forward,

          ~Bill
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          • Profile picture of the author Kay King
            I take your point but many people searching are looking for independent reviews prior to making a decision to buy, so I feel these sites do have value if done properly ( a quality article going over the pros and cons of the chocies available).
            No, those sites have little, if any, value. Most are not any type of "independent review" these days. The companies know that. Most of the "quality review articles" are only a rewritten sales page with points from the sellers sales copy. You don't see many such sites with facts from testing or a timeline of how well a product performed - because most of the people who own those sites have never purchased the product.

            Instead the "review site model" has become widespread as an attempt by the site owner to insert himself - and his link - between a potential buyer and the product seller. That's why Bill calls it "intercepton marketing" and I like that term.

            What we see are "don't buy until you read this" or "is (name of product) a scam?" or "does (name of product) work"? These aren't reviews in the real sense - they are attempts to lure a visitor to click on your little affiliate site INSTEAD OF sellers site to begin with. Not EVERY affiliate review site follows this model - but the majority do.

            It's no different than if you stood on the sidewalk just outside the door to a busy offline store and handed customers your card as they enter the store so YOU would get credit for a "referral". After a time, you'd be asked to leave.

            kay
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            • Profile picture of the author Justin W
              Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

              What we see are "don't buy until you read this" or "is (name of product) a scam?" or "does (name of product) work"? These aren't reviews in the real sense - they are attempts to lure a visitor to click on your little affiliate site INSTEAD OF sellers site to begin with. Not EVERY affiliate review site follows this model - but the majority do.

              kay
              I don't think that's always the case. For instance, a page with a title like "Is (product) a scam"? may be targeting searchers that specifically typed in the question of "Is (product) a scam?" as those type of searches can be quite common. In those cases, the visitor has likely already made a visit to the homepage and is looking for a second opinion from someone else.
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              • Profile picture of the author AnniePot
                From what I can see in the replies above, no-one has asked the question, "Why is beccol promoting this merchant's product in the first place?"

                Surely, he isn't doing it out of the goodness of his heart. The merchant MUST advertise an affiliate program. This being so, the merchant must realize that writing a review, mentioning the product name etc., is all part of the affiliate promotion process. :confused:
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                • Profile picture of the author Willie Crawford
                  Originally Posted by AnniePot View Post

                  From what I can see in the replies above, no-one has asked the question, "Why is beccol promoting this merchant's product in the first place?"

                  Surely, he isn't doing it out of the goodness of his heart. The merchant MUST advertise an affiliate program. This being so, the merchant must realize that writing a review, mentioning the product name etc., is all part of the affiliate promotion process. :confused:

                  Not necessarily.

                  The merchant has the right to specify the terms for promoting his product,
                  although those should be clearly stated upfront. Some don't want to compete with affiliate for organic traffic on their names/brands.

                  That's there choice and affiliates have the right to choose to promote other products.


                  Willie
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              • Profile picture of the author Willie Crawford
                Originally Posted by TruthW87 View Post

                I don't think that's always the case. For instance, a page with a title like "Is (product) a scam"? may be targeting searchers that specifically typed in the question of "Is (product) a scam?" as those type of searches can be quite common. In those cases, the visitor has likely already made a visit to the homepage and is looking for a second opinion from someone else.
                That may be partly true but many merchants view deliberately associating
                their brand with negative terms as doing more harm than good to their brand,
                and they expressly prohibit it, and it is ground for terminating an affiliate in
                many cases.

                When someone searching for reviews on a particular brand see lots of reviews
                using terms like scam or ripoff, many will incorrectly assume that there
                wouldn't be so many mentions of the product using the term unless it was
                a problem product.

                It's the implication perceived by those who don't even bother to read the
                webpage that does most of the harm. Those who do read the review pages
                often see that they are very thinly veiled reviews and discount them anyway.

                Willie
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            • Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

              It's no different than if you stood on the sidewalk just outside the door to a busy offline store and handed customers your card as they enter the store so YOU would get credit for a "referral". After a time, you'd be asked to leave.
              True, but actually, it's worse than that.

              You're standing on the sidewalk just outside the door to a busy offline store wearing a signboard that says IS JOE'S SPORTING GOODS A SCAM? and handing out your card as people enter the store so you get credit for a referral.

              Passersby who might otherwise be tempted to step inside will be turned off by the word SCAM. You're damaging Joe's brand and his sales with your sign, just to call attention to yourself.

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            • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
              Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

              It's no different than if you stood on the sidewalk just outside the door to a busy offline store and handed customers your card as they enter the store so YOU would get credit for a "referral"
              Recently there was a major editorial in the Sacramento Bee proclaiming all online affiliate marketing was of this type - really just a loophole that should be banned.

              The Bee also recommended that no one sign Amazon's petition to overturn California's sales tax tax. Although, oddly, the paper couldn't add 2+2 and figure out if affiliate marketing was banned then a basis for forcing out of state retailers to pay the sales tax would disappear.

              .
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      • Profile picture of the author ebony66
        Originally Posted by Bill Farnham View Post

        Basically, what the merchant is doing is trying to shut down what I call Interception Marketing where traffic that would normally go straight to the merchant is intercepted by the affiliates.

        This is common with merchants I've seen on CJ, as an example.

        If they feel they want you to bring them sales outside of search engine traffic then that's their perogative. If you think about it, someone who goes to Google, as an example, and types in the merchants keywords will easily find what they are looking for. What's the point of the merchant having you trying to intercept that traffic?

        The merchant would much rather you create your own traffic to earn your commission. It's a reasonable expectation for them to trade you money for something you bring to the table. Intercepting traffic they would already get through the search engines isn't bringing diddly to the table.

        You as an affiliate have the choice to either create a traffic stream via lists, or ads on your website, among other means, or perhaps find something else to promote.

        Don't begrudge the merchant because they don't want you intercepting traffic that would find them anyway. If you want their commission money scare up some sales outside of the serps.

        ~Bill
        Then why bother to offer your product for affiliates to promote? Why not sell it all yourself?
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        • Profile picture of the author Bill Farnham
          Originally Posted by ebony66 View Post

          Then why bother to offer your product for affiliates to promote? Why not sell it all yourself?
          A lot of merchants who venture into affiliate sales for the first time mistakenly believe that the affiliates will bring in sales from within the affiliate's circle of influence exclusively.

          The truth of the matter is that both the merchant and the affiliates are looking for sales from the low hanging fruit first.

          This tends to set up a situation where they both are looking for first page rankings, e.g. free traffic, so the work they do once continues to pay off with a diminishing need for additional work.

          What ends up happening is there is a disconnect between the two parties expectations and the resulting relationship between the parties.

          The prudent thing to do before one enters into an affliate relationship as the merchant is to A) understand how the game is played, B) lay down the rules as far as the affiliates' leeway is concerned, and C) have a clear understanding of the what, where, and how as to a mutually beneficial relationship with the affiliates will transpire.

          The prudent thing to do before one enters into an affliate relationship as the affiliate is to not only pay attention to the above items, but also to understand the dynamics of choosing a particular merchant to associate your efforts with.

          It appears (I'm making a guess here) this particular merchant may have been more suited to keeping the sales in-house as opposed to creating an army of affiliates given the restraints they have put on their affiliates. So to answer your question, perhaps they should have.

          ~Bill
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  • Profile picture of the author Bill_Z
    If it was me, and I spent a ton of time/money and had already ranked pages using their brand as keywords and the brand in NOT the domain name, I would drop the merchant and and instead sell competitors products.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ducksauce
    Along the lines of Post #10, if you have good serps, you may want to consider changing to a comparison site with another good quality product.

    Along the lines of, I used to use product A, it was great but now I use product B which is better. Cut you sites ties as an Affiliate with product A but keep all of what is working for you to get the traffic.

    You may want to go one step further and in your site, link up an affiliate site for Product A that does tick the boxes with the terms and conditions instead of the manufacture.

    What ever you do, understand, it is just a biz, don't take it personally and do not do a revenge hate site. You will loose all credibility as so you should if doing so.

    Good Luck buddy.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      And that's the difference. If you have a good review site that is drawing traffic on the "topic" or "general need for the product" you can easily switch to another product.

      If the only purpose of your review site is to catch visitors by using a specific brand name they might be already be looking for, it's a thin site.

      kay
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  • Profile picture of the author HeySal
    I think Bill has it right on the interceptive marketing. But reviews might me another story completely.

    Merchants also have to watch out for the FTC. I can see them not wanting affiliates writing product "reviews". If the merchant is being held responsible for what the affiliates do and say, they can't afford people making claims that they can't prove average results for. An affiliate posting a product review is not the same as a purchaser posting a review and might be looked at as merchant responsibility.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    You should have asked before spending all the time and money. Also, just because they may not have had these specifications in the affiliate agreement doesn't mean its right to use their brand to get sales. Not pointing fingers at you.

    This change could be due to the new updates by Google regarding Panda. It has a lot to do with building your brand and I for one would want to control as much as possible the usage of my brand to avoid any confusion in the market place.

    Originally Posted by beccol View Post

    Hi Warriors,

    I need your advice. The merchant for a product I am promoting has contacted me to say that they are changing the rules. Namely:

    1. The use of the brand in the domain is not allowed

    2. The used of the brand name in the title, description or keywords is not
    is not allowed

    3. No heading with the brand name are allowed

    4. having a review is not allowed

    I can understand 1 (which I am not doing) but the rest is so extreme that bascially it means SEO is not allowed. I have spent a lot of time and money ranking for their keywords is there anything I can do?
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  • Profile picture of the author 1million1
    Take your talents to another affiliate offer where you can and not waste your time with them anymore.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rich Struck
      Originally Posted by 1million1 View Post

      Take your talents to another affiliate offer where you can and not waste your time with them anymore.
      Yup. There are plenty of sponsors out there who would love to have you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob Whisonant
    I have had this happen to me before. Here is what I did. Please note I did not have the product or company name in the domain name.

    1. Left all pages up.
    2. Removed all links on the pages to buy the product.
    3. At the end of each page I put something like... "Hold on! I found something even better!" Check it out here!
    4. Linked that to a new page promoting the new product that explained why it was better than the other product.

    Re's
    Rob Whisonant
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    I realize a lot of you guys are affiliates and maybe you also own products as well.

    Think of it from this perspective.

    Lets say we have a regular brick and mortar business that has a product it sells in the city they are located in. They have spent money on advertising to generate foot traffic into the retail location.

    Business owners decided its time to crank it up and capture a larger part of the market and hires some people to bring him new business.

    So the owner cuts his deal with his new sales people/affiliates, all they have to do to get paid is too have given their business card with their name on it to all the people they talk to. When some one comes in with their business card and buys, bingo they get paid!

    The deal is struck and so the sales people venture out and quickly realize that there is a nice flow of foot traffic already coming into the store and so they position themselves in front of that traffic and start handing out cards left and right.
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    • Profile picture of the author Norma Holt
      Having read through this thread I can add that merchants spend a lot of money to develop their sites and to select keywords that bring traffic back to them. So why should they allow affiliates, who have spent virtually no money on research of keywords, capitalise on their efforts and outlay? If you use their name and keywords and the traffic flows to you instead then they would probably go out of business paying commissions to free loaders. Wake up!

      It's easy to get traffic for products without plagiarising the keywords and names of companies by building lenses, blogs and so on and writing articles leading people back to your site where you have a banner or link to the merchant for their product. That way everyone is happy and you capture a sale that the merchant would not have otherwise received.
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      • As a merchant, this thread could be titled "Why I Don't Have an Affiliate Program."

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      • Profile picture of the author mijagi
        Originally Posted by Norma Holt View Post

        Having read through this thread I can add that merchants spend a lot of money to develop their sites and to select keywords that bring traffic back to them. So why should they allow affiliates, who have spent virtually no money on research of keywords, capitalise on their efforts and outlay? If you use their name and keywords and the traffic flows to you instead then they would probably go out of business paying commissions to free loaders. Wake up!

        It's easy to get traffic for products without plagiarising the keywords and names of companies by building lenses, blogs and so on and writing articles leading people back to your site where you have a banner or link to the merchant for their product. That way everyone is happy and you capture a sale that the merchant would not have otherwise received.
        That is a bull if you ask me...

        Review sites HELP merchants develop brand awareness and increase trust in the brand. People want to know what others feel about the product BEFORE they buy it. Thats what review sites are for.

        So, merchants are not losing money - insteadm they're gaining new and more customers. I hate the SCARCITY mentality!
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        • Profile picture of the author joseph7384
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          • Profile picture of the author beccol
            Hi Warrirors,

            I have one approach in mind and wanted to know in your opinion if it will be ok. As you know I was a direct affiliate with the merchant and now the merchant as band the use of the brand name or the use of reviews.

            I have found a retailer that stocks the product and has an affiliate program. The affiliate program with the retailer allows me to use brands in the title and reviews. So if promote the product using the retailer will I be ok?
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            • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
              Originally Posted by beccol View Post

              Hi Warrirors,

              I have one approach in mind and wanted to know in your opinion if it will be ok. As you know I was a direct affiliate with the merchant and now the merchant as band the use of the brand name or the use of reviews.

              I have found a retailer that stocks the product and has an affiliate program. The affiliate program with the retailer allows me to use brands in the title and reviews. So if promote the product using the retailer will I be ok?
              Maybe, as long as you have some evidence that the retailer still has permission to use brands in the title and reviews. Otherwise, you may be switching one frying pan for another just as hot.
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  • Profile picture of the author mijagi
    I would find a competitor's product and promote it on that same affiliate review site...

    Then I would notify the merchant and write him/her:

    "Hello, your newly ENFORCED rules have made me not-recommend your product any longer. Insead, I'm sending people who are interested in your product to your competitors.

    Wish you a nice day and a happy life!"
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    • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
      Seriously?
      So now you justify damaging the merchant further?

      Originally Posted by mijagi View Post

      I would find a competitor's product and promote it on that same affiliate review site...

      Then I would notify the merchant and write him/her:

      "Hello, your newly ENFORCED rules have made me not-recommend your product any longer. Insead, I'm sending people who are interested in your product to your competitors.

      Wish you a nice day and a happy life!"
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      • Profile picture of the author beccol
        Thanks for your input I am still waiting for the merchant to respond...funny have quickly they were to reply this time last weekend giving me a few days to comply but when I asked them to just give me the reason why this has happened I am still waiting.

        I have spent 4 figures on getting my choosen keywords to the top of the search engines based on the terms of the program to change it all of a sudden given the amount I have spent is annoying to say the least.

        I will mostly likely promote a rival product now.
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      • Profile picture of the author mijagi
        Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

        Seriously?
        So now you justify damaging the merchant further?
        Affiliate put in the work and now the merchant is changing the rules of the game, basically forcing him to put down the site.

        So, to answer your question: yes. I do justify damaging the merchant further as they've just wasted the time and money that affiliate has spent on setting up the site and promoting it.

        You can always find better alternatives on the market, so as long as you provide honest review, I dont see a problem with recommending another (better) alternative.

        So, basically what you're saying is that merchant can change his/her mind anytime they want and the affiliates should just take the hit?

        Sorry pal, not the way I see it.
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        • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
          Ok, so let me get this straight,

          Merchant told affiliate to,

          Use his brand,
          Use his keywords,
          Use whatever to basically STEAL his traffic
          And said, spend 4 figures to outrank us.

          Its not the merchants fault its the affiliates fault and a RISK the affiliate took of his own volition.

          The merchant has the right to make whatever changes they see fit and to think otherwise is plain stupid. The affiliate deserves to take a hit because the affiliate was riding on the coat tails of a Brand he doesn't own or control.

          Your sense of right and wrong is all screwed up.

          Originally Posted by mijagi View Post

          Affiliate put in the work and now the merchant is changing the rules of the game, basically forcing him to put down the site.

          So, to answer your question: yes. I do justify damaging the merchant further as they've just wasted the time and money that affiliate has spent on setting up the site and promoting it.

          You can always find better alternatives on the market, so as long as you provide honest review, I dont see a problem with recommending another (better) alternative.

          So, basically what you're saying is that merchant can change his/her mind anytime they want and the affiliates should just take the hit?

          Sorry pal, not the way I see it.
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          • Profile picture of the author mijagi
            Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

            Ok, so let me get this straight,

            Merchant told affiliate to,

            Use his brand,
            Use his keywords,
            Use whatever to basically STEAL his traffic
            And said, spend 4 figures to outrank us.

            Its not the merchants fault its the affiliates fault and a RISK the affiliate took of his own volition.

            The merchant has the right to make whatever changes they see fit and to think otherwise is plain stupid. The affiliate deserves to take a hit because the affiliate was riding on the coat tails of a Brand he doesn't own or control.

            Your sense of right and wrong is all screwed up.
            You don't know me, so there's no need to be judgemental about my sense of right and wrong. I know you're american, but your ignorance and arrogance still surprises me.

            Like I said above, some customers prefer to read product reviews before they buy. So, even if they land on merchant site straight away, chances are they wont buy straight away because they don't trust the brand/product yet..

            And that's where review sites kick in.

            Anyways, don't want to argue with a (small and judgemental) mind like you. Wish you a nice day and a happy life!
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            • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
              I may come off as ignorant and a little arrogant but lets leave countries out of this because now it looks like this is your opinion of Americans in general, I'll leave that at that.


              Originally Posted by mijagi View Post

              You don't know me, so there's no need to be judgemental about my sense of right and wrong. I know you're american, but your ignorance and arrogance still surprises me.

              Like I said above, some customers prefer to read product reviews before they buy. So, even if they land on merchant site straight away, chances are they wont buy straight away because they don't trust the brand/product yet..

              And that's where review sites kick in.

              Anyways, don't want to argue with a (small and judgemental) mind like you. Wish you a nice day and a happy life!
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              • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
                mijagi, you're putting yourself into a real pot vs. kettle conundrum here. First you tell Rus that he's an arrogant American with a small and judgmental mind. At the same time you chide him about assuming things about your sense of right and wrong. You don't know him, either, so with your statements you won the choice - do you want to be the pot or the kettle?

                That said, we have only your statements here to judge you by, and some of them were incredibly petty. Particularly the one about promoting a competing brand and then sending a snide email to the original vendor. Not a particularly classy act, if you ask me.

                I'm not going to say that promoting a rival product or going the eBay route suggested above is wrong. Unless I were violating a trademark, I'd try to find a way to salvage the situation, too. What I would not do is deliberately burn bridges where it isn't necessary.
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                • Profile picture of the author beccol
                  It seems some of you do not like affiliates using product name keywords but a lot of the people are doing this and some decent super affiliates..........namely Andrew Hansen and Matt Carter........I can undestand if the reviews are poor quality this will be a problem but an in dept review definately adds value and will help make the merchant more ethical sales.....Are you saying these super affiliates are stealing the merchants traffic???
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                  • Profile picture of the author Bill Farnham
                    Originally Posted by beccol View Post

                    It seems some of you do not like affiliates using product name keywords but a lot of the people are doing this and some decent super affiliates..........Are you saying these super affiliates are stealing the merchants traffic???
                    A lot of it depends on the vendor's/merchant's business model. Some people want to create armies of affilates for their products and some just don't quite understand, appreciate, and/or care for that model.

                    It gets down to how the merchant perceives affiliate sales in many instances.

                    ~Bill
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                  • Profile picture of the author David Keith
                    i realize folks are bashing the merchant here, and rightful so to some degree.

                    but the ftc and other government taxing entities are changing the rules mid game too. which sometimes forces the hand of merchants. most have heard amazon.com is caught in the middle of a mess in California over some taxing issues with affiliates.

                    The best advice i can give about all this is to get people doing business with you (as an affiliate) and not base your business on one merchant.

                    they may decide to change something and you can't do much about it.

                    Truthfully though it seems this may be a case of the baby out with the bathwater. ie...losing good affiliates because of a few issue with some affiliates abusing things.

                    they might have been better served to get a good affiliate manager and try to working out more mutually beneficial solutions for the long term health of their company.
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                    • Profile picture of the author Black Hat Cat
                      Banned
                      Man, the stupid is strong in this thread.

                      The merchant has the right to make whatever changes they see fit and to think otherwise is plain stupid.
                      You're absolutely right. And guess what? As a result, the affiliate(or former affiliate, as the case may be) has the right to make whatever changes they see fit to adjust to those changes(within the law), and to think otherwise is plain stupid.

                      It's no different than if you stood on the sidewalk just outside the door to a busy offline store and handed customers your card as they enter the store so YOU would get credit for a "referral". After a time, you'd be asked to leave.
                      Actually, it's not even remotely the same. For one, unlike the sidewalk just outside the door, none of these merchants own the search engines, aren't entitled to search engine rankings, and aren't entitled to a single visitor via the search engines.

                      The comparison is, frankly, ridiculous.
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                      • Profile picture of the author affhelper
                        I remember when I promoted Efax on CJ.com 6 years ago.

                        First I promoted it through PPC. After making over
                        $7k in commissions with them they told me to stop
                        the campaign or I get booted.

                        I did bid for "efax" and some other variations but
                        I was providing a killer review comparing other
                        services side by side which resulted in more sales
                        for Efax.

                        Then I asked, "Ok, so can I rank organically?"

                        They said, "Yes, that's fair game"

                        Ok lol so I ranked and after 2 weeks of making more
                        sales for them I finally get booted for having my ranking
                        organically (I am guessing they didn't think I would be
                        able to get there)

                        Finally, they told me that I can still be their affiliate
                        but I need to drive traffic from other business keywords
                        and they gave me a few to consider.

                        Here are some they gave me:

                        "improve your business"
                        "business management"
                        "business tools"

                        As you can see totally untargeted and would not generate
                        sales even if the traffic was free.

                        I replied and told them to go you know where lol
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                      • Profile picture of the author jsmithii68
                        Originally Posted by Black Hat Cat View Post

                        Man, the stupid is strong in this thread.



                        You're absolutely right. And guess what? As a result, the affiliate(or former affiliate, as the case may be) has the right to make whatever changes they see fit to adjust to those changes(within the law), and to think otherwise is plain stupid.



                        Actually, it's not even remotely the same. For one, unlike the sidewalk just outside the door, none of these merchants own the search engines, aren't entitled to search engine rankings, and aren't entitled to a single visitor via the search engines.

                        The comparison is, frankly, ridiculous.
                        WOW!!!!!

                        i cant believe you said this... merchants have to power to approve you or disapprove you for any reason. if you want to work with a specific provider you have to follow what they want or find someone else. period!

                        and if you are out ranking them in the search engines, then yes it is exactly just like someone handing out a coupon with an affiliate offer right outside their door.

                        think about this, if the merchant is #1 in the serps they would normally get the traffic without having to pay you, if you are #1 and the merchant is #2 then they might click on you then click on an affiliate link and go to the merchant anyway.

                        the merchant doesnt want to have to pay you if they could easily get the traffic if your site wasnt right outside their front door. (#1 in the serps)
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                • Profile picture of the author mijagi
                  Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

                  mijagi, you're putting yourself into a real pot vs. kettle conundrum here. First you tell Rus that he's an arrogant American with a small and judgmental mind. At the same time you chide him about assuming things about your sense of right and wrong. You don't know him, either, so with your statements you won the choice - do you want to be the pot or the kettle?

                  That said, we have only your statements here to judge you by, and some of them were incredibly petty. Particularly the one about promoting a competing brand and then sending a snide email to the original vendor. Not a particularly classy act, if you ask me.

                  I'm not going to say that promoting a rival product or going the eBay route suggested above is wrong. Unless I were violating a trademark, I'd try to find a way to salvage the situation, too. What I would not do is deliberately burn bridges where it isn't necessary.
                  I admit, my statement about being an "american" was out of line. That is why I take it back and apologize for that. I don't have anything against USA or any other nation/person on the planet.

                  To move on, it's good to have class with people who appreciate and respect that.

                  But once someone hits you in the head believe me, its gonna be very hard for you to stay in a "classy" relationship any longer.

                  I'm sure you would defend yourself (or atleast try to defend yourself) if someone came over to you and hit you in the balls, right?
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          • Profile picture of the author cma01
            Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

            Ok, so let me get this straight,

            Merchant told affiliate to,

            Use his brand,
            Use his keywords,
            Use whatever to basically STEAL his traffic
            And said, spend 4 figures to outrank us.
            A merchant may own a brand, assuming he's actually built it and trademarked it.

            Unless those keywords include a trademarked brand, no one owns keywords and no one owns buyers or traffic, so to say that they are "stealing" it is a little extreme.

            If the persons ranking for something like "best widgets" or "best service to create widgets," etc, why wouldn't they redirect that traffic that they have worked to gain to someone who is willing to pay them for it?

            If they are outranking on brand keywords, I can see your point but there is a bigger problem than affiliates. No one should be able to outrank you for your own brand.
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          • Profile picture of the author THK
            Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post


            Its not the merchants fault its the affiliates fault and a RISK the affiliate took of his own volition.

            The merchant has the right to make whatever changes they see fit and to think otherwise is plain stupid. The affiliate deserves to take a hit because the affiliate was riding on the coat tails of a Brand he doesn't own or control.

            Your sense of right and wrong is all screwed up.
            So it is perfectly fine for the merchant to ride the coattail of affiliates to generate sales, but the affiliate should take the hit every time because they expected the same. I thought business relationships should be beneficial for both parties.

            Lets say that OP decided to comply with the new rules and generate sales for the merchant. Before paying him the merchant makes more adjustments to the rules and decided not to pay him. What does your "sense of right or wrong" say about that situation?

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            • So it is perfectly fine for the merchant to ride the coattail of affiliates to generate sales, but the affiliate should take the hit every time because they expected the same. I thought business relationships should be beneficial for both parties.

              It's not an equivalent relationship, though.

              The merchant, like many merchants, exists just fine without affiliates. The reverse cannot be said about an affiliate promoting merchants.

              Lets say that OP decided to comply with the new rules and generate sales for the merchant. Before paying him the merchant makes more adjustments to the rules and decided not to pay him. What does your "sense of right or wrong" say about that situation?

              My sense of right or wrong says that's a hypothetical situation that hasn't happened yet. Of course it wasn't invented because of any bias on your part, oh no.

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              • Profile picture of the author THK
                Originally Posted by fluffythewondercat View Post

                [i]

                My sense of right or wrong says that's a hypothetical situation that hasn't happened yet. Of course it wasn't invented because of any bias on your part, oh no.

                fLufF
                --
                It is not a very difficult question to answer and I came up with this hypothetical situation because of this statement-

                The merchant has the right to make whatever changes they see fit and to think otherwise is plain stupid.
                No body is "stupid" to think that the merchant cannot make "whatever changes they see fit". The changes have to be within reason and follow some guidelines. That is why we have law enforcement and other regulatory agencies.

                And the comments that followed the statement, directed towards the OP, was uncalled for.

                Anyway, the fact that you did not even attempt to answer a simple question and calling me "biased", gave me a good chuckle.

                Thanks for that

                Tanvir
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  • Profile picture of the author brunom
    Then just promote the competition. Stupid rules, really.
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  • Profile picture of the author THK
    #4 seems a bit of overkill to me. Even if you generate traffic from somewhere else (not SEO), you still have to tell your visitors what the product is. Since they are so uptight about mentioning their product on your site, maybe just move on and promote something else.

    Chalk it up to an experience.

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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    Why is number 4 wrong? And by what standard do you make this statement as fact? Or are you just offering your opinion.

    My feeling is that merchants have long let the actions of affiliates be kind of like the wild wild west. Pretty much do and say whatever you like just sell product. Don't get me wrong merchants also do the same thing.

    The result?

    The new FTC rulings about testimonials and reviews.

    Google has been on a mission to slap silly review sites and with good cause too.
    Many review sites are crap, many review site owners review the products without even owning them. Many review sites offer no value or substantial content and just clutter up serps and Adwords with tripe.

    More and more surfers looking for information about a product quickly identify these "types" of sites and don't trust the reviews anyways, and these types of sites end up damaging the reputation of the brand because many of the sites are crap.


    Affiliates should be building their OWN brand and reputation instead of riding the coat tails of the merchants brand, the merchants advertising and traffic they've generated based on their brand.

    Perhaps merchants should require affiliates to pay for the right to use their brand when marketing the product, its not the affiliates brand so they should not be using it to for anything.

    The problem is mostly the merchants faults who don't really run a real business and have no clue about building a brand. Just look at larger merchants like Walmart and the likes. Walmart for example, one of their prohibited things for affiliates is to not allow affiliates to design sites or ad campaigns that are designed to draw traffic away from Walmarts site. Funny how some affiliates are defending doing this but its prohibited by Walmart. Any clue why?


    Originally Posted by Chris Kent View Post

    On counts 2 to 4 they are wrong. But so long as (1) applies, not much you can do about it.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    Sounds like a merchant who has been burned by rogue affiliate(s).

    The first three items speak to Bill's point about intercepting traffic the vendor would have received anyway.

    The last speaks to the prevalence of splog review sites that are becoming as common as those fake 'news' sites that nearly killed info domain names for marketing.

    For many products, all you find are fawning reviews with affiliate links. Some will have scathing reviews with affiliate links to competitors attempting to redirect traffic. Finding an honest review on popular products often requires a trip to the depths of the SERPs to find a review more interested in honesty than SEO and commissions.

    There are exceptions, but they tend to prove the rule...
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  • Profile picture of the author FtlLuke
    I must say I'm a little take aback by this thread. We obviously have some strong opinions here but we need to remember, this Merchant made the conscious decision to establish an affiliate program and defined the terms and conditions of that program. Based on what I've seen above, I'm assuming beccol read and adhered to the terms of the affiliate agreement. I can understand the disappointment that comes with the merchant changing the rules of the program. However, I have yet to see an affiliate agreement that does not contain a clause stating the merchant has the right to change the terms of the agreement at any time with proper notification. As marketers, this is a risk we take in any affiliate program we participate in.

    That being said, I believe the merchant has had a knee jerk reaction to a bad experience with an affiliate. I would try reaching out to them and see if we could have a discussion about my specific site and how I promote their products. As long as you are promoting ethically and honestly (within the terms of the original agreement), I would think the merchant would at least give consideration to the idea of granting permission for you to continue. I have a few products where merchants have granted specific written approval for me to do things outside the standard affiliate agreement after a good discussion. If they don't, do your best to end things in an amicable manner and begin building your plan to move forward. You never know what will happen and it's best not to burn your bridges.

    The merchant is running a business and their brand name means everything to them. If affiliates are damaging the branding of their product through unethical marketing, you can bet their are going to put an end to their affiliate program or restructure it in a way that prevents this from happening. You can't blame them for protecting their brand. As marketers, we do the same.

    However, beccol is also running a business and needs to protect the income generated by that business. I don't agree with the malicious intent of some statements above but I do agree with promoting a related or competing product through another program if it is beneficial to do so. If the domain name was appropriate for promoting another product AND the off site/page SEO work I had done provided benefit for targeted traffic for the product AND there was a product worthy of my endorsement, you better bet I would salvage as much of the work and financial expense associated with the site as possible. Why would you launch a completely new site from scratch if you could utilize one that is already established?

    I was going to add some additional comments regarding the keywords, etc. but I now see that cma01 has already said it well.

    beccol, Whatever happens with the situation, I wish you the best of luck in moving forward.
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  • Profile picture of the author timpears
    Sounds to me like you need to find another merchant to promote. This one is an ass.
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  • Profile picture of the author NoBSGuy
    Originally Posted by beccol View Post

    Hi Warriors,

    I need your advice. The merchant for a product I am promoting has contacted me to say that they are changing the rules. Namely:

    1. The use of the brand in the domain is not allowed

    2. The used of the brand name in the title, description or keywords is not
    is not allowed

    3. No heading with the brand name are allowed

    4. having a review is not allowed

    I can understand 1 (which I am not doing) but the rest is so extreme that bascially it means SEO is not allowed. I have spent a lot of time and money ranking for their keywords is there anything I can do?
    Not much apart from contacting them and explaining your situation. Maybe they might tolerate your previously written content and give them a go. if it`s a digital product you`re promoting for the merchant, then relevant articles based on the product are also great. I profit from it since the beginning by simply putting one or two links to the product itself in each article (without brand names). It works very well.
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    • Profile picture of the author FtlLuke
      Originally Posted by cosmokid View Post

      I recommend seeing if the SAME product is promoted at Overstock, Amazon, Ebay, etc. and see if you can't salvage your site by continuing to promote the same product somehow. Of course, if you are using their brand name in your domain name you could still be at risk if they have trademarked the name, so you could still be in trouble -- but otherwise you might still be able to capitalize on the work you've already done and simply make money promoting the same product through different networks.

      That is an excellent point the rest of us overlooked!
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  • Profile picture of the author Sardent
    If you can find another product that goes with your keywords.
    Present companies loss, new companies gain.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob Whisonant
    CAT FIGHT!

    Re's
    Rob Whisonant
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob Whisonant
    This thread has got me thinking and actually getting a good laugh. Imagine how an affiliate could sell a product that he can't name.

    I know of these fantastic sneakers that will help you jump higher and run faster! I can't tell you what brand or model the are because it may accidentally get indexed by the search engines and that will get me in trouble.

    So you are just going to have to take my word for it that they are the best and you should buy them.

    Click here to buy the shoes I can't tell you what brand or model they are today!

    Doing a major face palm here.

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  • Profile picture of the author tmjoe
    When change comes, learn and adapt. As some members had suggested, try to get a win-win situation from the merchant. Or perhaps you can seek them to give you some time to implement those rules - where you can put up a web notice to your site visitors announcing a new site for future reference (or how about setting up a simple squeeze page). Salvage whatever you can. Do not despair.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rob Whisonant
      Originally Posted by tmjoe View Post

      When change comes, learn and adapt. As some members had suggested, try to get a win-win situation from the merchant. Or perhaps you can seek them to give you some time to implement those rules - where you can put up a web notice to your site visitors announcing a new site for future reference (or how about setting up a simple squeeze page). Salvage whatever you can. Do not despair.
      Adapting is extremely easy. If a merchant no longer wants YOUR traffic... Send it to their competitor. It's really that simple.

      Merchants and website owners DO NOT OWN traffic or "search engine rankings". Who ever HAS the traffic calls the shots. PERIOD... PERIOD... PERIOD...

      For example. If I get 1,000,000 visitors a day from search engines for the keyword phrase "Nissan Rouge Review" and Nissan has a problem with it, I'll send the traffic to Chevy or Ford. It's their loss and still my gain. It's very easy to replace a merchant. It's very hard for a merchant to replace a "major" affiliate that knows how to get traffic.

      Merchants have a tendency to think they are in control... When they are really not. It's who controls the traffic is who owns the show.

      Just keep trademarks out of domain names and don't violate any trademark laws.

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      • Profile picture of the author beccol
        Rob totally agree.........I was thinking about the same thing..........If i cannot use the brand what shall I replace it with.....'it', 'this product'..........a person reading it will think this guy is crazy...a review about a product he cannot name that really helps me.........hes comparing product 1 with product 2 and product 3 but what are they.....its a big secret.

        I am still waiting for the merchant to reply and they also owe me a bit of money as well so currently I am maybe making sales they are not paying me for (I was making on average a sale a day).....I will wait for the response and get back to you.
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      • Profile picture of the author Bill_Z
        Originally Posted by Rob Whisonant View Post

        Adapting is extremely easy. If a merchant no longer wants YOUR traffic... Send it to their competitor. It's really that simple.

        Merchants and website owners DO NOT OWN traffic or "search engine rankings". Who ever HAS the traffic calls the shots. PERIOD... PERIOD... PERIOD...

        For example. If I get 1,000,000 visitors a day from search engines for the keyword phrase "Nissan Rouge Review" and Nissan has a problem with it, I'll send the traffic to Chevy or Ford. It's their loss and still my gain. It's very easy to replace a merchant. It's very hard for a merchant to replace a "major" affiliate that knows how to get traffic.

        Merchants have a tendency to think they are in control... When they are really not. It's who controls the traffic is who owns the show.

        Just keep trademarks out of domain names and don't violate any trademark laws.

        Re's
        Rob Whisonant
        Exactly. And if a merchant doesn't want me to try to rank his brand as my keyword, then I will use my high rank and sell a competitor's product. If he cries about me outranking him for his brand, then tough. Work harder than me or spend more money than me and you'll outrank me. The fact that the OP's merchant says "don't use my brand name as your keywords" is laughable.
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      • Profile picture of the author EmilyRoseSanders
        Originally Posted by Rob Whisonant View Post

        Merchants and website owners DO NOT OWN traffic or "search engine rankings". Who ever HAS the traffic calls the shots. PERIOD... PERIOD... PERIOD...

        For example. If I get 1,000,000 visitors a day from search engines for the keyword phrase "Nissan Rouge Review" and Nissan has a problem with it, I'll send the traffic to Chevy or Ford. It's their loss and still my gain. It's very easy to replace a merchant. It's very hard for a merchant to replace a "major" affiliate that knows how to get traffic.

        Merchants have a tendency to think they are in control... When they are really not. It's who controls the traffic is who owns the show.

        Just keep trademarks out of domain names and don't violate any trademark laws.

        Re's
        Rob Whisonant
        This. The SERPs are Google's opinion of whom they think answers the searcher's query best... If it's you and not the merchant, there's a reason for that.

        Also, for all those bashing affiliates - note that the biggest affiliate program of them all, Amazon, would not have grown as large as it has done without their affiliates promoting them. The fact that some of their affiliates forget to no-follow their links just helps Amazon even more.

        What's more Amazon knows this - for their newer programs, such as endless.com, they are desperately trying to lure affiliates in with higher commissions. Getting affiliates to spread the word on your behalf works as a business model.
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Originally Posted by Rob Whisonant View Post

        Adapting is extremely easy. If a merchant no longer wants YOUR traffic... Send it to their competitor. It's really that simple.
        Fair enough, except that for SERP traffic you've pretty much given a public tutorial on how to generate that traffic. If said merchant also has the means to control whether or not you get to use the methods generating the traffic (like using trademarks in domains or posting reviews), there may not be anything to send to a competitor.

        Originally Posted by Rob Whisonant View Post

        Merchants and website owners DO NOT OWN traffic or "search engine rankings". Who ever HAS the traffic calls the shots. PERIOD... PERIOD... PERIOD...
        Half right, as I see it. Whoever gives that traffic value calls the shots under the circumstances described in this thread. Again, if the merchant has the legal ability to prevent you from using the methods that generate that traffic, you may not have any shots to call.

        Originally Posted by Rob Whisonant View Post

        For example. If I get 1,000,000 visitors a day from search engines for the keyword phrase "Nissan Rouge Review" and Nissan has a problem with it, I'll send the traffic to Chevy or Ford. It's their loss and still my gain. It's very easy to replace a merchant. It's very hard for a merchant to replace a "major" affiliate that knows how to get traffic.
        In the short term, you're right. In the long term, people actually looking for reviews of the Nissan product will bounce away from the Chevy or Ford pages, and the relevance drops out of site. So does the SERP ranking, and the traffic.

        Again, we're talking about SERPs where the affiliate pretty much has to give a public tutorial, and where the terms of the affiliate agreement can make such chest-pounding moot.

        Originally Posted by Rob Whisonant View Post

        Merchants have a tendency to think they are in control... When they are really not. It's who controls the traffic is who owns the show.

        Just keep trademarks out of domain names and don't violate any trademark laws.

        Re's
        Rob Whisonant
        Nope, a lot of affiliates have a tendency to think that they are in control, when really they are not, either. It has to be a partnership for both parties to prosper.

        In affiliate marketing via SEO, it's really who gives value to the traffic who owns the show.

        Please note that I'm restricting my observations to the case at hand, where the affiliate is generating search traffic using brand-named domains and 'reviews' AND the merchant has the ability to deny the affiliate the ability to use those things to generate traffic.

        If the affiliate is generating pre-sold traffic using non-proscribed methods, all bets are off and I tend to agree more with Rob...
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  • Profile picture of the author cma01
    The merchant, like many merchants, exists just fine without affiliates. The reverse cannot be said about an affiliate promoting merchants.
    That is an assumption. Affiliates are a pay for performance sales force. If merchants are smart, they would grow that sales force and at the same time improve their lead capture and community building.

    I've received an email in the past from a hotel chain demanding that I remove their trademarked name from my web site. It was a free directory listing on a community site that I publish.

    I thought, "Just how stupid are you?"

    I pointed out that it was a free listing and I told them that the benefit was solely on their side as no one was searching for their brand name here, but since they had a problem with it, I would be more than happy to remove their free listing.

    This had nothing to do with affiliate sales, but my point is that many business have no clue how to deal with publicity or promotion.

    You get some idiot making knee jerk reactions going around alienating people. The Google Plus account deletions that were posted about on another thread are a perfect example of that.
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  • Profile picture of the author dv8domainsDotCom
    This is sort of an interesting position, but I'll present a (somewhat vindictive) response:
    So, you've worked hard for your rankings: Fine, but:
    -You're not using their TM in your domain name (good job, btw)
    and they don't want you to do a "review" site to send them sales. Ok, all well and good (but it DOES make it harder to rank/sell for that product, I'm sure...).

    So, I would just stop sending them sales. Rewrite a counter-review for their competitor on the same landing page (that you are getting traffic through for that product), explaining why "product X" is better than their product. Rely on strengths of "product x" and place affiliate links for "product x" instead of the merchant that has problems with you selling for them.

    Continue to rank for THEIR keywords, while selling their COMPETITOR'S product. I'm sure their competitor wouldn't mind in the slightest (so I guess hopefully there is a competitor in this particular case; otherwise, definitely sorry to waste the minute it took to read )

    (you might need to remove their keywords from meta tags, possibly but IDK I'm not a lawyer).
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    • Profile picture of the author PotPieGirl
      What an odd and controversial situation! Lots of great input, too.

      If this happened to me.....

      I'd email them back and ask them what an acceptable affiliate page looks like (under their new rules)

      I'd also ask if my site could be exempt from the new rules since I had put so much effort into promoting their product, building their brand, and making them money (you have made sales, right? It's amazing what a good affiliate manager will do for a good affiliate).

      I might even mention the time and effort and expense I put in to make sales for them. That I'd hate to discontinue the affiliate relationship, but if an agreeable solution is not achieved, I'd have to pick another product to promote...or sell the site (hint hint, Mr Merchant, wanna buy a site? It's already ranking for your target phrases...lol!). Just a note tho: do your due diligence before directly asking them if they want to buy your site. If I'm not mistaken, there might be some cyber-squatting issues that could blow up in your face.

      If they aren't willing to play ball, I'd deactivate my aff links. If I'm not an affiliate, I can have whatever I want on my site (not including brands in domain names - which you don't have).

      While I decide what to do next, I'd pop my some AdSense on the site and let my traffic go to their competition (or at least that merchant will pay me SOMETHING if they are content network AdWords advertisers).

      Then, I'd regroup and see how I could re-work the site. Remember, if you are not promoting THEIR product, you don't have to play by THEIR rules (unless it's illegal, of course). Once my aff links to them were down, I can play by MY rules <grin>.

      I like the Amazon/eBay idea...that could work.

      All in all, this is just life in the fast lane of this crazy business. Affiliate programs, free-to-use sites, etc change their rules constantly. We have to be creative...and be able to bend and bounce so we can adapt to all the changes that are thrown our way.

      Best of luck with this - and be sure to let us know how it all turns out!

      Jennifer
      ~PotPieGirl
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      • Profile picture of the author beccol
        Merchant has respond by saying it is affecting all affiliates but looking at page 1 no other affiliates have implemented the change.............so to another merchant who has a similar offer
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        • Profile picture of the author beccol
          Hi Jennifer

          So if I undersrtood you correctly without their affiliate links I can keep the brand name in the title, headings and content allowing me to rank for those keywords...I do not have it in the domain so that is ok. Is this something I can really do??

          My site is a large site promoting different products and providing information so it will be easy for me to switch to another product.....funny thing was after I told the merchant I spent a lot of money on the site they asked me how much I wanted for it ....I really do not know what is going on.....why would a merchant wnat my site which does not have the brand name in the domain???
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          • Profile picture of the author PotPieGirl
            Originally Posted by beccol View Post

            Hi Jennifer
            Hiya!


            So if I undersrtood you correctly without their affiliate links I can keep the brand name in the title, headings and content allowing me to rank for those keywords...I do not have it in the domain so that is ok. Is this something I can really do??
            Why not?

            Let's stop and think about this for a minute, ok?

            Could you start a forum post about said product on some related forum and talk about the product with others?

            Of course you can.

            The merchant can "control" you when you are part of their affiliate program because they are in charge of whether you get paid for your sales or not.

            But if you're not in an affiliate relationship with them, how can they control you? Now, I'm not a lawyer - just presenting a different angle to look at and explore, ok? But what is the worst they can do if you continue to have a web page with their name on it? I would suppose they COULD send you a C&D, but from my un-expert opinion, how can they make you take down some random web page just because you talk about them? Would they go after FaceBook if someone posted something on their wall about said product? I doubt it - that would be silly.

            The internet is one huge conversation - they can't stop people from talking about them. However, they CAN control how you PROMOTE them - but you wouldn't be promoting them.


            My site is a large site promoting different products and providing information so it will be easy for me to switch to another product.....
            Great! Less stress for you. Just switch out your links to a competing product and move on, if that's what you want to do.


            ...funny thing was after I told the merchant I spent a lot of money on the site they asked me how much I wanted for it ....I really do not know what is going on.....why would a merchant wnat my site which does not have the brand name in the domain???

            I bet they want it! Why? Because your site ranks well for their target keywords. Believe it or not, ranking for their brand is easy, for the most part - but ranking for those targeted keyword phrases that are NOT brand-related is a whole 'nother ballgame.

            You've already done all the work. You rand where they want to be. If they had your site too they'd be able to have more control over the SERPs and their brand reputation if they had your site. Plus, if you've already made sales for them from that site, they'd be able to continue making sales - just cut YOUR commission out of the equation.

            If selling the site is an option you'd like to explore, tell them you really don't WANT to but they can make an offer, if they'd like. Remind them that you sell many products on your site and you'd have to check all your stats and site investment costs to see if their offer makes it worth it to you to sell.

            Also, if selling is an option, I would start promoting their competition right away. The site has more value if you take away THEIR traffic and send it someone else. Also might put a little more urgency into stopping your site from sending traffic and sales to their competition (ie, making an offer to buy your site, etc).

            I know if sounds hard to believe, but you actually do have the upper hand here - don't give it up. Protect your interests here, don't be the first to put out a number for buying the site - let them talk. If you can't come to a "sell the site" agreement, you've lost nothing - you just promote another product.

            Best of luck!

            Jennifer
            ~PotPieGirl
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            • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
              Originally Posted by mijagi View Post

              I admit, my statement about being an "american" was out of line. That is why I take it back and apologize for that. I don't have anything against USA or any other nation/person on the planet.

              To move on, it's good to have class with people who appreciate and respect that.

              But once someone hits you in the head believe me, its gonna be very hard for you to stay in a "classy" relationship any longer.

              I'm sure you would defend yourself (or atleast try to defend yourself) if someone came over to you and hit you in the balls, right?
              mijagi, you sound like a reasonable sort, so I'm going to make this my last contribution to the side track we're on.

              As for your last question, it depends. If defending myself is going to get me killed, I'll take the hit and run for the hills. If I can talk my way out of the kick in the first place, I'll take that route in a heartbeat.

              You have to pick your battles.

              If I were in the OP's shoes, and unable to salvage the relationship, I'd switch to a different vendor and move on. Sending a nasty email won't really accomplish anything. I might write it, but I sure wouldn't send it.
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  • Profile picture of the author stig57
    Originally Posted by beccol View Post

    Hi Warriors,

    I need your advice. The merchant for a product I am promoting has contacted me to say that they are changing the rules. Namely:

    1. The use of the brand in the domain is not allowed

    2. The used of the brand name in the title, description or keywords is not
    is not allowed

    3. No heading with the brand name are allowed

    4. having a review is not allowed

    I can understand 1 (which I am not doing) but the rest is so extreme that bascially it means SEO is not allowed. I have spent a lot of time and money ranking for their keywords is there anything I can do?

    Just curious here. Is the threat of non compliance legal action or just to terminate you as an affiliate?

    Cuz' the former is well covered by copyright and trademark law and they'd have to tread lightly, but the latter is ... well.. just business and you stepped in their sandbox.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Hill
    Originally Posted by beccol View Post

    Hi Warriors,

    I need your advice. The merchant for a product I am promoting has contacted me to say that they are changing the rules. Namely:

    1. The use of the brand in the domain is not allowed

    2. The used of the brand name in the title, description or keywords is not
    is not allowed

    3. No heading with the brand name are allowed

    4. having a review is not allowed

    I can understand 1 (which I am not doing) but the rest is so extreme that bascially it means SEO is not allowed. I have spent a lot of time and money ranking for their keywords is there anything I can do?


    First, are you sure it's from the actual merchant and not their competition contacting people with this story in hopes they (you) will promote the alternative? I know that sounds unlikely but it has happened.

    If it is in fact the real deal then drop them like a dab habit, but ask for your final affiliate check to be paid out ASAP as you will not be promoting them anymore.

    Other than that there isn't much you can do.
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  • Profile picture of the author mikkosant
    While some may say that interception seo or catching a visitor for a branded search term can have negatives for a visitor, there are also some big pros to having affiliates targeting brand names. When someone searches for a certain brand name or product they are going to be presented with several options... Most likely there will be some competitor ppc ads, and other competitors doing the same. yes, some competitors will create pages and target the product name's of others to transition them from product a to their product.

    So, having an affiliate force that keeps your product name in good standing is worth the dent in revenue from having them get a commission. Sure, some affiliates could go ahead and sell other products targeting a certain brand's keyword, but most of the time this is not the case. Letting affiliates do reviews, is like having a major positive pr campaign that makes sense in most situations. One problem that can rise up though, is when affiliates over-promise on the product or claim it does things that in reality it can't fulfill. This is what really pisses off product owners, and should be addressed somehow...maybe the dawn of stricter affiliate programs and regulations will be soon upon us.

    Unfortunately, if it becomes too much of a problem, especially when the ftc connects affiliates with the actually product owner as the same entity...things can get messy. -- the cpa offer space(free trials, flogs, etc.)

    This is one example of affiliate reviews being unregulated and causing major trouble for the product owner...
    Firm to Pay FTC $250,000 to Settle Charges That It Used Misleading Online "Consumer" and "Independent" Reviews

    It seems to becoming more of a liability issue than an issue of losing out on revenue taking from affiliates targeting brand terms.

    Cheers
    Signature


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    • Profile picture of the author davezan
      Originally Posted by Black Hat Cat View Post

      It's no different than if you stood on the sidewalk just outside the door to a busy offline store and handed customers your card as they enter the store so YOU would get credit for a "referral". After a time, you'd be asked to leave.
      Actually, it's not even remotely the same. For one, unlike the sidewalk just outside the door, none of these merchants own the search engines, aren't entitled to search engine rankings, and aren't entitled to a single visitor via the search engines.

      The comparison is, frankly, ridiculous.
      While analogies can only do so much, isn't their point to help understand what is
      arguably the essential issue? Not that one has to like it, anyway.

      Originally Posted by mikkosant View Post

      When someone searches for a certain brand name or product they are going to be presented with several options.
      Who are those visitors intending to seek out when they type the brand name in
      search engines, though?
      Signature

      David

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  • Profile picture of the author Peter Gehr
    Sounds to me like they want to close down all competition and direct all traffic to their own site with no help from affiliates or reviews.

    If this letter came from their legal representative, then there's really no recourse except to comply.

    Sounds crazy, but legal clauses and policy documentation within their privacy/trademark/registration can be used against you if you ignore the request.
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    • Profile picture of the author jsmithii68
      Originally Posted by Peter Gehr View Post

      Sounds to me like they want to close down all competition and direct all traffic to their own site with no help from affiliates or reviews.

      If this letter came from their legal representative, then there's really no recourse except to comply.

      Sounds crazy, but legal clauses and policy documentation within their privacy/trademark/registration can be used against you if you ignore the request.
      Absolutely, the goal here is to pay affiliates, people who want to work with them, not people who are trying to out rank them for their keyords.

      what if i made a site and called it amazonextra.com and targeted the keyword amazon and amazon.com and somehow made it to the #1 spot or #2 spot. people specifically searching for amazon but they see my site that says amazon extra. most people would say that looks cool, what is amazon upto. i wonder what amazon extra is about. then they go to my site i any thing they click will take them to the amazon site. adn whatever they buy i get an affiliate commission???????????

      Excuse me! at this point, im not an affiliate, im a theif!

      These people are just trying to stop blatent theivery.

      if you have a good blog on something that is personal to you and it relates to something that amazon might have, and then you send them to amazon it would be like someone walking into your store, they are their for a specific reason, and you suggest they go to amazon to get what they need becuase it has a better price etc etc etc.

      in this way it becomes a referral and not a misdemeanor or felony.
      Signature
      Jim W. Smith
      Internet Marketers Oasis - My Personal Blog

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  • Profile picture of the author Justin W
    Is the product you are promoting through a place like Clickbank? That could change how to handle the situation. If you are promoting it through their own affiliate program, you pretty much have to agree to their demands. If you are promoting it through Clickbank though, is a vendor able to deny commissions to specific affiliates? As far as I know that can't be done.

    I don't see anything wrong with using product names in your website URL, however you really should contact them about it first. Of all my affiliate websites, I only created one with a product name in the website. Even then, I contacted them first to make sure it was okay with them.
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    • Profile picture of the author beccol
      Thanks for your views warriors. The merchant wants to know who my website host is.......sounds odd to me, why would they want to know this....can they contact my website host:confused:
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      • Profile picture of the author Bill Farnham
        Originally Posted by beccol View Post

        Thanks for your views warriors. The merchant wants to know who my website host is.......sounds odd to me, why would they want to know this....can they contact my website host:confused:
        Be careful, they may want to get your webhost to shut you down. Sounds too spooky for my tastes.

        ~Bill
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      • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
        They most likely want to know who your host is so they can send them a DCMA notice for some sort of violation for copyright or trademark infringement.

        Originally Posted by beccol View Post

        Thanks for your views warriors. The merchant wants to know who my website host is.......sounds odd to me, why would they want to know this....can they contact my website host:confused:
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        • Profile picture of the author beccol
          Thanks for your help warriors
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  • Profile picture of the author musicabonita
    This thread and some of its responses have got me confused. I don't understand how the OP did anything wrong. If he used the name of the brand in the URL I would understand some of the dissenting responses but I don't understand not being able to use a brand name in your keyword phrases.

    I think it is wrong to assume that everyone that searches for a specific brand in their phrase only wants to get information from that specific company. I can search for a Chi flat iron and never intend to go to the Farouk website and I usually don't.

    I almost always want a second opinion on anything I buy. I don't understand this concept of affiliates stealing traffic from the main company. I want to look at review sites to see if I'm getting a good deal or not because the main company will only tell me how amazing their products are. Hopefully some where I'll find an honest review before I spend my money on it. All affiliates are not dishonest with their reviews (me for one )
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  • Profile picture of the author dagaul101
    Some of the merchants unfortunately make up so many strict rules the product is simply not worth promoting
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  • Profile picture of the author ryellen4ar
    if you want to promote a product, you should the rule
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  • Profile picture of the author Floyd Fisher
    Find a competing product to promote, or create your own is the only answer I have.

    Otherwise, you would be well advised to just get out of there.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    This topic just affirms my position of just hand picking affiliates and screening them very well before they can have the privilege to promote any product I might decide to make in the future or own presently.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rob Whisonant
      Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

      This topic just affirms my position of just hand picking affiliates and screening them very well before they can have the privilege to promote any product I might decide to make in the future or own presently.
      Hopefully you are really good at getting traffic. Because products are a dime a dozen. Who ever controls the traffic wins every time.

      For example. Let's say you make a blue widget. Well... Most likely lot's of other people make blue widgets or something that can compete with one. The vast majority would die to get a ton of traffic.

      And they don't care if you where originally getting that traffic or not.

      So be very careful with your thinking that it is a privilege to promote one of your products because it's that way in YOUR mind only. An affiliate with traffic is not going to see it your way.

      I can send a few thousand prospects a day to blue widget 1, blue widget 2 or blue widget 3. The highest bidder is going to get that traffic since I control that traffic.

      Re's
      Rob Whisonant
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      • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
        Hey Rob,

        You are right products are a dime a dozen. Many products are sub par, some are OK, and some are great! Most likely the latter being more far and few between then the former. Also you are correct about traffic however traffic is just the beginning as I am sure you are well aware.

        Using the same line of thinking we can also say that affiliates are a dime a dozen as well. Many are sub par (new or can't create traffic), some are OK ( learned the ropes and could make it to great or not), and some are great! (you control lots of traffic, perhaps you've built your own brand)



        Originally Posted by Rob Whisonant View Post

        Hopefully you are really good at getting traffic. Because products are a dime a dozen. Who ever controls the traffic wins every time.

        For example. Let's say you make a blue widget. Well... Most likely lot's of other people make blue widgets or something that can compete with one. The vast majority would die to get a ton of traffic.

        And they don't care if you where originally getting that traffic or not.

        So be very careful with your thinking that it is a privilege to promote one of your products because it's that way in YOUR mind only. An affiliate with traffic is not going to see it your way.

        I can send a few thousand prospects a day to blue widget 1, blue widget 2 or blue widget 3. The highest bidder is going to get that traffic since I control that traffic.

        Re's
        Rob Whisonant
        Signature
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        • Profile picture of the author Rob Whisonant
          Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

          Hey Rob,

          You are right products are a dime a dozen. Many products are sub par, some are OK, and some are great! Most likely the latter being more far and few between then the former. Also you are correct about traffic however traffic is just the beginning as I am sure you are well aware.

          Using the same line of thinking we can also say that affiliates are a dime a dozen as well. Many are sub par (new or can't create traffic), some are OK ( learned the ropes and could make it to great or not), and some are great! (you control lots of traffic, perhaps you've built your own brand)
          I totally agree with you that affiliates are also a dime a dozen. Maybe even less. That is why I was basically trying to get across... Who controls the traffic is the one in charge and makes the rules. I'll even take it a step further. Who ever controls the targeted traffic that is BUYING a blue widget is the boss and can command the highest profits from a blue widget manufacturer or seller.

          Re's
          Rob Whisonant
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  • Profile picture of the author joan2009
    Maybe their product is not so good because they won't allow reviews. Why don't you look for another product unless you are making good profit from it.
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  • Profile picture of the author murtuza
    Probably they are having lots of searches for their product or brand name from offline advertising and they want to grab all the search engine traffic that comes from their brand name to land up on their site rather than coming thru an affiliate.

    Therefore they have imposed this rule so that the affiliates mostly strive to get traffic from other keywords in the niche to sell their products. But that is something strange.
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