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For a PC game review website would it be bad for SEO to have one Amazon affiliate link in addition to the game review? Since these links would be coded in the form of <iframe> would adding a rel="nofollow" be of much benefit? Lets say they were not iframe links and regular <a href="">link</a>.

A respected SEO equated affiliate links to "poison" for rankings and recommended they be pulled to a separate domain or buried deeper in the site away from root. So is it better to just remove all affiliate links and not risk any penalty from Google?

I have looked around and not really been able to find a direct answer to this from Google. Here is some information I did find:

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Thanks for taking the time to improve this question Zistoloen! – chainwork Sep 5 '13 at 18:00
up vote 2 down vote accepted

bybe, that's simply not true at all.

Affiliate DO links blackball your site. I could give a million example links pointing to case studies from ePN's forum, Amazon affiliates, PHPbay, Warrior Forum and more - it's just something that can't be ignored.

You will NOT get a penalty for cloaking links (cloaking = renaming the links to adapt to your domain name). Cloaking is completely legit. Read any TOS. Look at any affiliate site out there, big or small, there's hardly a single one not cloaking links. Using methods to force people into launching an affiliate link is a different story.

Google can punish whomever they want. We saw this with Panda & Penguin -- the number of innocent sites, especially those of affiliate marketers, was staggering. Nobody is going to sue one of the biggest corporations in the world for something they're doing on their own search engine, and win. A LOT of businesses went under after Panda. Many of them did nothing wrong besides being an affiliate marketer, which Google has a vendetta against.

A completely legal way to remove your affiliate links from the equation is to separate them and put them on a NOINDEXed page. Unfortunately this going to increase the number of clicks that a customer goes through to get to your affiliate links. So, you'd have a site with nothing indexable by search engines but pure content, with the affiliate stuff on NOINDEX pages which are not being mixed into part of your site's ranking. Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing you have to do if you want to continue being an affiliate marketer on a search engine that is doing everything possible to make sure you don't succeed.

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You should re-read: http://www.nichepursuits.com/how-to-get-a-google-penalty-using-affiliate-links-and-how-to-recover

I should also point out that all of these links were “cloaked” affiliate links

Generally affiliate links do not harm SEO unless they are coming from a harmful network... The biggest reason many sites get slapped with a penalty is because they try and hide (Cloak) the links from either the search engines or its visitors with one method or many.. Which of course is against their policy.

Google can't punish genuine affiliate networks as they would soon find themselves with endless court cases with Google pushing affiliates out of market place and arguable would be because it would seem they would rather see everyone monetizing out of Adsense rather than using other monetization methods.

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Thank you bybe, I appreciate the answer. I don't so much see Google penalizing genuine affiliate networks but I could easily see them imposing a negative content quality score that factors into rankings. Would be great if Google came up to clearly define their position on this. I am likely going to try to remove the affiliate links and monitor rankings carefully shortly thereafter to see what happens. – chainwork Sep 4 '13 at 20:24

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