As everyone may be aware by now, Google released an algorithm change in March 2011 called Panda (a.k.a. Farmer) that changed rankings in many sites, maybe even yours. Then Google pushed out another change called “Penguin”. These changes pushed many sites down in rankings, some up and a few that were not affected at all. Several affiliate marketers have been concerned about this “new” approach ever since and rightfully so. There are some great articles and blog posts out there that you can find but this has certainly changed the way SEO will be done in the future but here are some key things to remember.
1.) It’s always been about delivering original, valuable content. Having overly optimized web pages could cause some issues.
2.) Titles need to be authentic. They need to sound real. They need to sound like a human being wrote them and was not intending to necessarily simply rank for phrase after phrase.
3.) Use your footer wisely. Use your footer to link to the things that people expect to find in the footer. If you really need to get anchor text on pages, find natural ways to put it in the real menu at the top, in the content itself.
4.) Multiple pages that are targeting very similar, kind of modified versions of keywords and keyword intents, with only slight variations. Contrary to popular opinion this does not help with Google search.
5.) Watch for your backlinks. The ‘Penguin’ release especially is now paying close attention to this. If you’re spending the time and effort to build a strategy around this be sure it’s nothing that can be considered ‘black hat’ or even grey. Go for quality, not quantity.
Just like in life, there are no guarantees. You should not rely on any one method to drive traffic to your site. You need a combination of things including email list building, using social media appropriately and building sticky sites that people want to come back to or giving more “value” to your site. In short Google is a very valuable asset, but you should set up your business as if Google was going away tomorrow. Obviously, Google plays a major role in the lives of affiliates, but diversifying is always important in everything we do. There is no doubt that Google plays a huge role in affiliate marketing but for those looking for short cuts will surely be cut short. Go to Google’s webmaster tools to find out more on “quality guidelines”.
The main takeaway should be to be informed but also stick to the fundamentals. There’s no guarantee that you won’t be affected by changes Google makes now or in the future but at least you won’t be ‘caged’ by them.