When working in digital PR, we all know that feeling of seeing a piece of coverage come in, finding out there’s a link in it… only to find out it’s an affiliate link.
An affiliate link is essentially a tag that allows publications to make 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:
Although affiliate links aren’t that bad, they don’t pass any SEO value from the linking site. This is down to affiliates typically being nofollow. This means Google won’t consider them as part of the overall link graph, and therefore, no SEO value is being passed.
Affiliate links also tend to go through a series of redirects which devalues them even further. Therefore, when 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, even more so when publications are placing affiliates in pieces that aren’t product listicles.
The good news is, that there are multiple different tactics you can implement into your outreach strategy to help get around affiliate links, as detailed below:
1.Understand the sites you are in an affiliate programme with
Firstly, it’s good to make sure you have a list of all the titles that you are in an affiliate programme with, and make sure this is regularly kept up to date. This way, you know exactly where to focus your time and energy when it comes to pitching stories to the press.
If you’re wanting to avoid affiliate links altogether, then you know to miss out these publications from your media list!
2. Find new journalists in different news teams
Whether affiliate links are added or not can completely depend on the journalist. Try and find other journalists from different news teams. For instance, if you’ve been focusing on the consumer news team and find they’re giving affiliates, is there a story you can shape that might be more suited to lifestyle journalists at the exact same publication?
3. Broaden your stories to focus on niche news titles
When ideating new campaign ideas, think about broadening out your stories so that they can focus on more niche publications that won’t typically give you affiliate links. For example, think about writing a story on pets, so you can contact pet titles. Just ensure that your client still has the authority to talk about the given subject.
4. Think outside of the box
Think of the other sites outside of the news publishing world that you can try to target instead. Can you reach out to business sites, university blogs or perhaps local directories?
If you’re running a story on the best cities for students, could you look to send the top universities 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.
However, you may need to prepare for the site you’re approaching to want an incentive for helping, such as using them for comments in your story, to prompt them to link back to your brand in return. Essentially just try thinking outside the box of where you can build links if your client’s affiliates are on the majority of authority news titles.
As mentioned earlier, though, affiliate links are not 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, and 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, as long as 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 numbers. 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. For more our of digital marketing insight, check out the rest of our blog, or get in touch with any questions.