Worse, says Shari Thurow, founder and SEO director of Omni Marketing Interactive of Elgin, Ill., rankings could disappear. "The thing you have to watch out for, though, is affiliates tend to, of course, offer the same products and services that your Web site offers and that could end up getting your site caught up in a search engine duplicate content filter," she says.
Offers.com Publisher Steve Schaffer says his site makes an effort to provide offer details, reviews and comparisons, and even keywords that the advertiser doesn't have on its own site. Offers.com updates its site daily and promotes its work via SEO and pay-per-click advertisements.
3. Think about links. SEO is based on four building blocks: text, links, popularity and searcher behavior, Thurow says. "What affiliate marketing really helps with is link development," she says, "if the two sites are linked together in a very search engine-friendly way."
4. Whose keywords are they? To avoid trademark infringement concerns, iron out an agreement with the affiliate marketer beforehand, advises Christine Magtoto, director of affiliate marketing at Santa Ana, Calif.-based Internet marketing firm SEOP. "Provide a comprehensive SEM guideline in your terms of agreement with the affiliate partner, outlining trademark and bidding restrictions," she says. "While most advertisers frown on affiliate bidding on their trademark names, some allow this—especially when their own competitors are bidding in the same space."
But, she cautions, don't let affiliate campaigns go on autopilot. It will "inevitably lead to bidding of the advertiser's trademark name, driving up the advertiser's own bid campaigns (usually noticed too late) and making the advertiser responsible for commissions on sales they could've gained from their own campaigns."
5. Finally, avoid pressuring affiliates into providing free links and keywords. "Affiliate marketing, at least from my point of view, is fundamentally about the relationships between the advertisers and the publishers, right?" asks Levine. "And I think that a lot of advertisers try to muscle the publishers into putting these kinds of links up.