Affiliate Links and Ecommerce: What Does Google Have to Say?

Updated 3 weeks ago
Lindsay Vine
September 9, 2021
4 min read

Google is changing the game for affiliate links for ecommerce marketing. Once upon a time, too many affiliate links meant that search engines would penalize your site's search engine optimization (SEO) ranking.

However, according to Google's John Mueller, you can have as many affiliate links as you want. There are just two conditions.

  1. You must ensure that the affiliate link is relevant to your audience. 
  2. The affiliate partner must utilize the "supported" connection properties to announce member joins. 

Now, don't let the technical jargon confuse you. In this article, you’ll discover what affiliate links are, their purpose, and some tips on how to leverage them to drive more shoppers to your ecommerce site. 

Furthermore, you’ll learn what to avoid when putting together your affiliate marketing strategy. You’ll also find the best tools for implementing the affiliate ecommerce business model. 

What is an Affiliate Link?

Before you dive into how to use affiliate marketing, let's discuss what an affiliate link is and why they are essential. 

Affiliate links are specific URLs that contain the affiliate's ID or username. Brands use these links as part of affiliate marketing programs. Advertisers use them to record traffic sent to their websites. 

The Purpose of Affiliate Links in Ecommerce Marketing 

Affiliate marketing is a paid advertising technique in which one or more third-party publishers (affiliates) get rewarded for each visitor they drive to your site.

To track each affiliate’s success, you should supply them with a specific link with tracking codes (i.e., UTMs). This allows both parties to track clicks, conversions, and how much revenue each affiliate helps you generate.

In short, affiliate links allow affiliates to make money by promoting your products in their content. And, most importantly, they allow your brand to expand your reach and increase sales.

Google Ads Policy for Affiliate Marketing 

Just a couple of years ago, marketers were told (by the big search engines like Google) that affiliate links were not good for your website. One reason for this was because advertisers often had little to no control over the content on the affiliate site. 

This fact posed many problems. The biggest issue was that if the affiliate content violated Google policy, both sites would be penalized, and the advertiser would no longer be able to advertise on Google. 

For that reason, marketers thought it was impossible to implement affiliate marketing with Google Ads successfully. Well, according to Muller, this is no longer an issue.   

The only rule of thumb that you must adhere to when implementing affiliate marketing strategies is to follow the rules. You can’t just copy and paste a URL from the affiliate network. 

Do your research and partner with affiliates whose content you can trust. Otherwise, you do risk penalties and even site suspension.

4 Tips for Affiliate Marketing for Ecommerce Brands

Online merchants and marketers are looking towards affiliate marketing to be the future of ecommerce. By 2022, experts agree that spending on U.S. affiliate marketing should reach $8.2 billion as a result. That’s nearly double of what it was only five years ago.

So, if you plan to use affiliate links in your ecommerce marketing strategies, here are some tips:

1. Focus on Products with a High AOV 

The average order value (AOV) for ecommerce businesses is roughly $113. You can boost profits by informing affiliates on what products bring the highest AOV and focusing on those. 

The affiliate directs traffic to your site by promoting products to increase your AOV. For them to do this effectively and generate conversions, here are some steps to follow:

  • Offer free shipping
  • Provide discounts for order minimums
  • Reward first-time buyers

2. Develop Banner Ads

Banner ads generate nearly 35% more responses than billboard ads. They’re also more likely to increase conversions. 

Building banner ads that coincide with what your affiliates promote will influence the buying decisions of your shoppers. Remember to include a call-to-action in your banner ads to increase your success. 

3. Employ Coupon Sites

Coupon affiliate marketing is a more inclusive method than the traditional one-by-one approach. 

First, you provide your promo code or affiliate link to an affiliate network. These sites then hand it off to well-known coupon websites like RetailMeNot and Groupon. 

Other coupon sites include:

  • Offers.com
  • Tech Bargains
  • Ebates

4. Maintain Regular Communication with Affiliates

Keeping affiliates in the loop about upcoming product launches, social media promotions, new banner ads, and video features will help grow your business. 

To make conversions easier, ask what they need from you. You can set a monthly meeting to talk with them regularly and understand what’s needed to maximize traffic.

To get your affiliates engaged, provide them with the best converting landing pages and offers. If a specific affiliate is driving a ton of ecommerce orders, make sure to reward them with greater incentives.

Finally, be sure to diversify your affiliates. Do not rely on only one or two affiliates in your network.

5. Calendar Seasonal Shopping Events

There are several valuable online shopping days throughout the year. Many surround national and international holidays, like Mother's Day and Christmas. 

Take advantage of these high-sales windows by creating a promotional calendar for your affiliates so they can capitalize on this massive sales opportunity as well.

Things to Avoid as an Affiliate Ecommerce Store

Now that you have taken the time to review the tips for using affiliate links, here are some of the things you need to avoid when implementing this advertising strategy.

Avoid:

  • Joining every program
  • Using forum comments 
  • Selling backlinks
  • Promoting too many products 
  • Using Pay-to-play content

One last thing to avoid is not adding anchor text. Anchor text is the words used for the link. You want to give buyers text that explains or describes the content. 

For example, you’ll want to use something like:

Rather than this: 

Implementing the Ecommerce Business Model

It's no surprise that online shoppers are looking to influencers and the internet for guidance when making ecommerce purchases. 

When working with affiliates, it's vital to keep in mind your brand values and image so you can ensure they align appropriately. That way, understanding which tools work best will enhance your business while driving more sales opportunities.

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