The most succinct way an expert on affiliate marketing stated how affiliate marketers can enhance direct marketers' search positions was, "Affiliate marketing IS search." So, basically, marketers can benefit a great deal from partnering with affiliates, says that expert, Jeff Molander, CEO of Chicago-based Molander & Associates.
Building on Molander's comments, Koki Mourao, search engine optimization specialist with Miami-based affiliate marketing network FlexOffers.com, says, "By joining an affiliate network as an advertiser and allowing other Web sites to offer your products and services, a merchant is significantly increasing its online presence, which ultimately helps SEO efforts." Basically, having more than one site mentioning the business logically increases the company's search presence.
Molander, Mourao and other authorities in this space detailed pros and cons for direct marketers to pay attention to while perfecting this option.
1. Note the distinction between search engine optimization and search engine marketing. The difference between SEO and SEM is especially important in the relationship with affiliate marketers because search engines may mark some SEO attempts as SEM.
That can, thereby, cause the search rankings for the affiliate (often a publisher) to drop "off the map," says Jonathan Levine, co-president of New York-based affiliate network LinkShare. Then there goes that publisher's ability to help the marketer's search results.
In other words, while Levine advises marketers to offer higher affiliate commissions to those who agree to provide direct links to the merchant's site, he strongly advises against paying for specific links that feed into the affiliates' natural search results. "Google is very clear that paid exchange of links is bad," Levine says.
2. Pay attention to the affiliates' content. "Not only will displaying ads of little interest lead to poor conversions," says Mourao, "but placing ads for products that are not closely related to the interest of the site's visitors while relying on duplicated, database-driven content alone will not help the Web site receive better search results or earn the site revenue."