I run a money site, and we also offer an affiliate program system.

My question is, will the backlinks created from people posting my affiliate links on their website hurt or help my ranking?


My site is www.example.com and I have a product on www.example.com/product1. An affiliate link to that product would be: www.example.com/product1=?trackingaffiliatekey.

Do these links (in case my affiliates do not block them or use nofollow) count as backlinks to my site?

As an example, Amazon use this method, and to avoid duplicate content the page www.example.com/product1=?trackingaffiliatekey is CANONICAL to www.example.com/product1.

However, this is Amazon, not a small business like me so I think Google might treat them differently.

So do you think it's OK for SEO to use this method with Canonical to the original product URL, or do you think it is better to implement a separate domain example-affiliates.com and from that the affiliate links should 302 redirect to the appropriate example.com product page?

I could go either way, I just don't want my site penalized by Google in case they think the affiliate links found on other websites are paid links. Do you think this is their approach?

1 Answer 1


Requiring your affiliate partners to use rel=nofollow with their links would be the best and safest option. Using redirects or canonicals would not solve the issue, since Google does and will follow either of them. In this case, I'd go for the canonical. Especially since Google might regard 302 redirects as permanent redirects if they are implemented for a longer period of time.

  • I understand. So from this I understand that backlinks received from affilaite links are NOT good and i might get penalized, correct ?
    – ClawDuda
    Oct 2, 2015 at 9:28
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    @ClawData Affiliate links are essentially "paid links" - the affiliate and yourself are likely to benefit financially from this link. So, this affiliation should be declared by some kind of "nofollow" (as stated) - although this doesn't necessarily mean the link itself needs to be rel="nofollow" - it could be blocked by robots.txt etc - although rel="nofollow" on the link is the easiest and most obvious. Note that this is in the interests of your affiliate as well as yourself. The affiliate does not want to be seen to be endorsing a link that they are likely to benefit financially from.
    – MrWhite
    Oct 2, 2015 at 19:44
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    @ClawData: There is no way to "make" all affiliate links pointing to your site rel=nofollow-links. What I'd suggest you to do on a regular basis (say every four weeks or so): Use a backlink tool and pull ALL incoming backlinks, do the same with the Google Search Console, combine the data (for a more comprehensive data basis). Extract all affiliate links, and other bad links, and use the Google Disavow Tool to disavow them. Oct 5, 2015 at 8:01

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