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Best Link Strategy For Incoming Referral-code Links?


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3 replies to this topic

#1 onitdev

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 09:44 PM

We run a referral program that encourages people to link to us - currently using a referral code in the URL string.

i.e. *websiteURL.com/landingpage.php?code=ABC (referrer 1)
i.e. *websiteURL.com/landingpage.php?code=XYZ (referrer 2)
I should mention the landing page content changes very slightly to show the advertiser/referrer logo and contact information, but the rest of the page content remains the same.

I want the SE's to see these links coming from the referring sites, and help increase the page rank to "landingpage.php".

Q1) Does Google/Yahoo/MSN count those links with the full query string? It seems like some of the full query string links ARE getting picked up by Google & MSN, but I thought they normally drop the rest of the query string after the question mark?


Q2) When spidering the referring website, can/do the spiders actually follow (and count) the full query-string links like this? Or is it better to be a mod rewrite/clean URL page?


Q3) Do the SE's index the full query string page (i.e. interpret this as a new, unique page),
OR
Do they (ideally) count the link juice toward the websiteURL.com/landingpage.php?


Q4) Is it bad that the content on the page changes a bit from each different referral source? Does that make it look like duplicate content/page spamming?


PROPOSED SOLUTION 1)
If I do the links with mod-rewrite, then you have *websiteURL*/landingpage/XYZ.htm (or something like that).
Then it is easier for the SE's to read, BUT it just looks like I have a whole bunch of extra pages on my site which I dont want to mislead SE's into thinking I have thousands of duplicate content pages.
If this is the best strategy - do you have any mod-rewrite strategy ideas for this?


PROPOSED SOLUTION 2)
I could try to put a 301 redirect from websiteURL.com/landingpage.php?code=XYZ ==> websiteURL.com/landingpage.php. But I still need to change the content on the page to show the referrer which will be tricky... Regardless of content issues, is the 301 redirect a better or worse strategy than the previously proposed method?


Overall, what is the best practice to get optimal link juice from these referral sources pointing to my site? Yeah, I know youre going to say "Drop the referral code", but unfortunately that is not an option....

Thanks for your time and consideration! lightbulb.gif



#2 Jill

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 07:49 AM

QUOTE
1) Does Google/Yahoo/MSN count those links with the full query string? It seems like some of the full query string links ARE getting picked up by Google & MSN, but I thought they normally drop the rest of the query string after the question mark?


Yes, they count them, but they count towards the entire URL.

QUOTE
Q4) Is it bad that the content on the page changes a bit from each different referral source? Does that make it look like duplicate content/page spamming?


It's not bad, but it won't provide link popularity to the shorter version of the URL.

Your best bet is to 301 redirect the longer versions to the shorter one but collect the referring data. I believe it's done via a cookie and we have lots of other threads on this.

You can try google's new rel=canonical element, but it's better if you can fix the problem where it lies when possible.

#3 Slugger

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 01:01 PM

Using a hash is another option available to you. Your urls would look something like *websiteURL.com/landingpage.php#ABC instead of *websiteURL.com/landingpage.php?code=ABC. The search engines should ignore the bit after the hash since it's generally just an on-page anchor.

I saw a blog post over at seomoz about using the hash. www.seomoz.org/blog/whiteboard-friday-using-the-hash

The comments section has a pretty good discussion and a couple of comments directly related to affiliates.

#4 onitdev

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:52 PM

Thanks Jill
Thats news to me that they started picking up the full url with the query string...

Ill give the 301 redirecting a try.
After thinking about it for a bit, it will probably be more feasable to do this with a PHP 301 redirect rather than htaccess b/c since Apache processes the htaccess rules first, I cannot capture the variables.

QUOTE(Slugger @ Apr 23 2009, 01:01 PM) View Post
Using a hash is another option available to you. Your urls would look something like *websiteURL.com/landingpage.php#ABC instead of *websiteURL.com/landingpage.php?code=ABC. The search engines should ignore the bit after the hash since it's generally just an on-page anchor.

I saw a blog post over at seomoz about using the hash. www.seomoz.org/blog/whiteboard-friday-using-the-hash

The comments section has a pretty good discussion and a couple of comments directly related to affiliates.


I have heard about this as well, and looked into it. The search engines cannot/dont follow it, however I currently haven't found a way for PHP to get the full URL using any of the _SERVER variables.

This could probably be redirected with the htaccess rules, however the problem still lies with getting the variable before redirecting, otherwise it won't work...

Thanks for the suggestion




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