Skip to main content

When working in digital PR, we all know that feeling of seeing a piece of coverage with a link… only to find out it’s an affiliate link.

An affiliate link is essentially a tag that allows publications to make a commission from any sales made through that link.

To check whether an affiliate link has been added, right-click on the page > select view page source > ctrl+f to search for your URL, and then check to see if anything has been added to the front of it. For example, the highlighted part of the link here shows the affiliate:—23753012-&

Although affiliate links can still drive traffic and awareness, they don’t pass any SEO value from the linking site. Google ‘neutralises’ the link, which means they won’t be recognised from an SEO perspective and therefore won’t have any effect on SERP positioning or brand visibility.

Affiliate links also tend to go through a series of redirects which devalues them even further so if your KPIs are to build links to increase site authority, affiliates aren’t going to do what you need them to do in the long run.

Building links when your brand has a list of affiliate programmes with news sites can feel frustrating, but the good news is that there are multiple tactics you can implement to help get around them, so you can still diversify your backlink profile and broaden your visibility scope against competitors.

Try the following strategies to avoid affiliate links in your outreach:


Have a list of all the titles that you are in an affiliate programme with, and make sure this is regularly updated, so you know exactly where to focus your time when it comes to pitching stories.


Whether affiliate links are added or not can depend on the journalist so try and find other journalists from different news teams. For instance, if the consumer news team is giving affiliates, is there a story you can shape that might be more suited to lifestyle journalists at the same publication?


Broaden out your stories so you can reach out to niche publications that won’t typically give you affiliate links. For example, if you’re an e-commerce brand that sells anything from food and drinks to home furnishings, create media lists and ideas that target publications in those sectors. Diversifying your backlink profile will also have a positive effect on your SEO strategy, just make sure the sites are still relevant.


Alternative Publications

Think of other sites outside of the news publishing world that you can target. Can you share internal business achievements with business, HR, and relevant industry sites? Or interview expert members of your team and send the commentary to industry publications to give them the latest insights on fresh news.

If you’re running a story on the best cities for students, could you look to send the top areas to corresponding university blogs? Or if you have a study on cooking, you could look to send this to local cookery schools or bakers that have news sections on site.

Link Reclamation

It’s important to remember that any page on the internet can provide a link, not just publications. So, for example, if you work with a list of brands, try link reclamation on their sites, asking them if they will include a link back to your website so customers can get more information about the brand.

For further information, check out our guide to technical link reclamation.


Affiliate links aren’t all doom and gloom. Yes, they don’t pass the SEO authority from one site to another, but they can still bring in other results for your brand. If you find you’re building a lot of affiliate links but want to show the value they have, here are some things to look out for:

  • The readership of the news site to understand the potential number of people you’re putting your brand in front of, as well as the fact that, if the link goes to your site, those people can still click through.
  • On that, you can also look at the number of people coming through to your site from certain links using Google Analytics. You can use this number to show that, although the affiliate link doesn’t pass SEO value, it’s providing site traffic. You can also track to see if any sales were made through this link as well using analytics.
  • Having an affiliate programme can help in getting mentioned in important product roundups such as Christmas gift guides, some affiliate journalists may be more tempted to include your products if they know they can potentially make some money off the back of the link.

Ultimately, affiliate links can be frustrating but there are multiple tweaks we make to PR strategies to try to get around them and although they’re not passing value, affiliate links do still contribute to increasing brand awareness and viewership of PR content.

c3’s Content Marketing Director, David White, shares his top three tips for building affiliate links:

For more of our digital marketing insight, check out the rest of our blog, or get in touch with any questions.