Rand Fishkin’s post on Pagination & Duplicate Content got me thinking about a problem that many e-commerce sites with a self-managed affiliate program have to deal with. These sites often have to add parameters to the page url to correctly identify affiliate referrers. This could in theory also be done by setting a cookie, but that would be a tough one to sell to your affiliates. Not to mention the loss of affiliate users that don’t have cookies enabled (about 5%). But what about the link love to the url identifying the affiliate? And the duplicate content issues that arise when you have the original source plus 1000+ duplicates?
The way I see it, affiliation has 2 aspects:
- The commercial aspect:
If the converting user was referred by the affiliate, the affiliate gets paid his or her fee.
- The content aspect:
But what if that user links to the affiliate url on the merchant domain? That link love should go to the original source of the content: i.e. the merchant domain without parameter.
It’s time for Google and other major search engines to step in!
They gave us link condoms in the form of nofollow tags to say: “This is a paid or otherwise non editorial link: I’m not vouching!”
They should also give us a link lubricant to say: “It’s great you found this link! However, the original source of the page content is on this other URL on the same domain. Do hang on a little longer, direct all love this way please! And no, we’re not creating duplicate content, we have a legitimate reason for having all these different urls on our domain with the same content!”
In other words: give us a tool to simplify our lives. Let us share revenue with those who give us additional visibility but do pass link love coming to our domain from a domain other than the affiliate domain (that would be a paid link in a certain sense - are you still with me? :))