Going by word on the Search Engine news group, alt.internet.search-engines, it’s looking like Google is getting better at spotting and demoting affiliate content. It could well be that because the same text content is repeated over and over on
every affiliate site that carries it it gets demoted by Google purely for being duplicate content. I see this as being a problem, a growing problem, for every affiliate merchant and client using a data feed to power the pages. While the templates folk use may well vary in detail due to individuals customising them to their taste, essentially they’re all variants on the same theme and of course they all contain the same few lines of text content in the same order.
Repetition of this kind shouldn’t be too hard to identify and either ignore or remove from the listings or do whatever with which may well mean in the future that the idea of affiliate sites as we now have them is simply no longer practical.
My crystal gifts site is powered by a feed from GoCollect.com using a Cusimano script. I’ve personalised the templates so if you know me you’ll recognise the standard BB layout of the individual product pages. Visually, therefore, it isn’t like any of the other sites using the same feed. It still has the same text content, though. Inputting a sample into Google produces “about 584” results, all of which, or the majority of which we must suspect as I’m not going to go through them all to check it absolutely, are built around the same feed. The problem here for both affiliates and for affiliate merchants and for Google is, what’s the point in having them at all? If there’s one site that has them,
namely, the original, where’s the point in Google having the rest of them in the index? They all sell the same product for the same price, so why bother to index them? At the moment, it’s the battle of the SEO’s. Why should someone buy product A from my site as opposed to anyone else’s? The answer would be, because when they search for product they find my site before they find any of the others, and there are ways of promoting sites with which we are all familiar here. But this can’t really last. The world only really needs just the one web site for these custom-made products and speciality items, and that’s the one from the original manufacturers. All the rest essentially constitute duplicate content and we know what happens to that, it gets filtered out.
So, to counter this problem, you could substitute your own text for the original, and you could take your own photographs of the product. Not a problem for a small site, however, many have tens of thousands of pages. How is anyone going to re-write that lot? Obviously any lone affiliate can’t begin to, so the idea of affiliate sites as we now have them, I think, must inevitably give way to niche sites where the affiliate presents a small range of items in an individual style that will appeal to certain of the buying public. The idea would be to create a brand of presentation that clients would get to be familiar with and feel comfortable with. If you look at the items on my crystal gifts site they’re all photographed out of context. In your home they are unlikely to be suspended in mid-air against a white background, which is how they’re presented in the data feed and thus on my site. I’m suggesting taking pictures of items as they might actually appear in situ, do a little mock-up of a down-lit corner table and snap that from a typical viewing angle, or have an item on a coffee-table against a background of muted lights, featuring an expansive sofa, giving a feel of general relaxed easy-living. This, by comparison with simply outputting the existing data from the feed, would cost a bundle, but it just might might be the only real way forward for niche affiliates. You know what that would result in? Quality sites. The kind Google professes to like.
Meanwhile, though, I suspect people who’ve built one multiple-product affiliate site, and seen it do well and are now busily engaged in building more and more multiple-product sites on the basis that they’ll all do well too, are in for multiple disappointments. I’m trying to go niche in general with my affiliate sites and I’ve picked on crystal and glass gift items to work with as I can break then down into categories and maximise the potential of each category. What I’ve got then, in effect, is a legion of niche sites all interconnecting.
For choice, now that I understand more of the industry than I did when I began with affiliate sites, I’d really like a site that does watches and jewellery, these are the items that people are happiest buying from the web, research has
suggested, but I don’t know a good feed other than Amazon and I’ve stayed away from getting too involved with Amazon as it has the high profile it does and will inevitably attract the greatest number of affiliates and so likely will be penalised in the earlier days of any affiliate purge. From what I’m hearing, this purge has already begun.