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I was wondering how bad are affiliate links for SEO.

I remember several years ago, I thought it might be a great idea to make a few extra bucks with eBay affiliate program on my ecommerce site.

Within a month or so I was heavily penalised by Google and the site hardly ever recovered.

Since then, I've never touched any affiliate programs. I am now running a travel blog and I am quite tempted with having a few Tripadvisor links through my travel post, but scared with the outcome.

So how is now Google looking at the affiliate links? Are they bad for SEO? Should these links be nofolllow?

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Affiliate links are not bad for SEO. Your previous site might be penalized for other things, for example spammy backlinks.

There are few general things you need to consider.

  1. Use nofollow link in paid links.

    Google hate sponsor links because it pass pagerank, and may be your sponsor don't want to do marketing, but they want link juicy from your website. So such a links should be nofollow. With popular affliate networks like amazon and ebay, if you don't use nofollow attribute then it is fine, because Google have algorithm which detect such a thing easily like affliate anchor text (Buy from Amazon) or buy button. So such a link don't pass pagerank, and it is fine if you forgot to use nofollow attribute on popular ad network. But for safety purpose I always use nofollow links on it.

  2. Don't build backlinks.

    Almost all people will say build backlinks to your affliate site for higher ranking. But low and spammy backlinks can invite Google penguin penalty anytime, may be someone else report it to Google because you're out rank them.

    And maybe you're not building spammy backlinks but your competitor doing, so for that purpose add your website into search console, and check "who links to" option to know how many website link to you. If there are spammy links then use disavow tool.

  3. Write quality content.

    No matter how much SEO you know, but without quality content, you won't ranks for years. So make sure your content helps user to decide which product/trip is best. Only write content if you test it yourself. Because when you test the product yourself, then you can write something different from others, which help you to avoid any future automatic penalty like Google panda.

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The guidelines are very clear from Google.

If you will provide unique content which will add value to the user then it should be fine.

Put it this way, it should be OK provided your implementation is right so that it will add value to users.

More here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/76465?hl=en

Hope this helps.

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