Google has a complicated relationship with affiliate marketers. In this infographic from SEO Book, we see affiliate marketers were early adopters of AdWords, and helped make Google’s advertising service the revenue generator it is today.
But affiliate marketers without big brands are vulnerable. Google has carte blanche to suspend AdWords accounts willy-nilly. If Google decides that your advertising practices violate their rules, you can be suddenly shut down. That happened in 2009, when more than 30,000 AdWords accounts were suspended without explanation. Further, whenever Google tweaks its algorithm, the effects can wipe out years of work spent attaining high Quality Scores and top displays on search engine results pages. And Google is sometimes reluctant to confirm how updates to the algorithm affect affiliates sites’ ability to attract the right people at the right time.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Jessie Adamczyk, Marketing Services Manager at cleverbridge, had this to say about Google’s complicated relationship with advertisers: “It’s always difficult to figure out why Google bans certain affiliates and not others. I’ve seen sites that provide real value to consumers, and they still get penalized by Google. For merchants, the main thing is to protect your business.”
She offers the following advice to merchants: “Don’t rely on a single affiliate for all your affiliate channel sales. Start by analyzing your current affiliates and sort them by type. If your affiliates tend to be lumped in the same category, you should start diversifying your affiliate portfolio. Branch out to other types of affiliate sites like content producers, comparison/review sites, coupons, etc. That way, if Google updates their algorithm and it leaves a group of affiliates scrambling, your overall affiliate program won’t take as big of a hit.”
Affiliate marketing generates important revenue streams for many merchants. When done right, affiliates help you build long-term customer relationships with shoppers who fall outside of the scope of your direct marketing. If affiliates are a significant portion of your business, the key is to diversify your partnerships. Make sure you are choosing the right kind of affiliates to advertise your product or service. By focusing on key affiliates, you can identify unique partnership opportunities for your business that will result in more site traffic, more customers and more revenue.