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Blocking Google To Follow Affiliate Links


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9 replies to this topic

#1 SERPico

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 06:14 PM

I'm not sure how to tackle this, I've been reading this article www.seomoz.org/blog/google-says-yes-you-can-still-sculpt-pagerank-no-you-cant-do-it-with-nofollow rel=nofollow on SEOMOZ and in the article there was a mention of using links that calls a javascript redirect.

This way Google won't follow the link and because there isn't any nofollow usage it also wouldn't cause any PR evaporation.

Currently I'm using this code for a button link like this:

QUOTE
<div id="buttonholder"><a href="http://www.domain.co...ds/product.php" rel="nofollow" class="buttonstate" id="button"></a></div>


How would I do this using the javascript call Rand describes?

Thanks in advance!

#2 Randy

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 08:25 PM

There are numerous ways to do it, depending upon what you're after exactly.

You could use a JavaScript onClick event to make a link where none actually appears. Or you could use Javascript's window.location property to do the redirect and make the code more portable.

The issue is though that there's basically no way to prove if this is going to help out with the main part of your question. In fact there have been documented cases (see the whole TP situation where hundreds of sites got penalized in one fell swoop) that on the surface indicate Google can parse at least some things Javascript.

So it's at least a possibility that use javascript to mask links will have no effect. Or if done too much might even attract more scrutiny of the source site.

The moral being that once upon a time Google didn't attempt to parse Javascript, nor did they submit html forms. So a webmaster could use those methods to gain finer control over what was seen as a link and what wasn't. Neither of those is exactly the case these days. Even if the norm may be that Google doesn't submit most forms or process javascript --and both of those are debatable points-- they've certainly shown that they can indeed do both. And sometimes will.

The whole PageRank Sculpting thing is a zero sum game in my humble opinion. Worse actually. Because it's lots of work for little or no positive effect. Your time would probably be better spent on other things that actually stand a decent chance of being helpful.

#3 Jill

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 02:29 AM

For the record, the article and what they're advocating is a poor approach to SEO, imo.

#4 SERPico

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 07:00 AM

Thank you guys for chiming in. smile.gif

I see your point Randy, one thing I wouldn't want to have is more scrutiny. And Google like you said at some point can still go a little bit further with their crawling methods.

What about this?

1: I remove the nofollow from the affiliate link.
2: Instead of a regular php header redirect, I'll do a php redirect but include a noindex meta tag.

This way PR can't be passed to these redirect pages because they're not allowed to be indexed.
The destination pages aren't accessible by Google because of this, so I won't be vouching for competitors as well.

Wouldn't this cause the PR evaporation to stop?
Because there is no usage of rel="nofollow" on the affiliate link, and PR can't be passed on because of the noindex on the redirect page...essentially keeping the PR on the original page?

I guess the question boils down to: Would PR evaporate just the same as with a nofollow link if a destination page that is being linked to is not allowed to be indexed and blocked via Robots.txt?

#5 Katy

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 07:26 AM

Just to stick my 2 pence worth in - in terms of usability you need to be careful about using JavaScript for linking. If a user has JavaScript turned off they won't be able to navigate the links (as we found out to some amusement a few weeks ago)

#6 Randy

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 09:24 AM

Well, I've personally always wondered about the whole PR sculpting/evaporation thing and how that's been put forward by some within Google. Why? First because there's really no reliable method someone outside of the Googleplex Nofollow walls can prove how much or even if a link gets PR Flow Through, partly because there have been some highly conflicting statements put out there and partly because this is one of those areas where a little completely harmless fib on a single Google reps part would then make it simple as it can possibly get for them to tell if a site has been highly optimized. And no I don't optimized well necessarily, just highly optimized. Because PageRank Sculpting should be about the last possible thing anyone should need to get involved in.

Long story short, there's no way to prove if some of the statements made about PR Evaporation are even true. You have to take it on blind faith that it happens. And if you assume it's true and attempt to do anything to control it, your site is suddenly waving a big old red flag that screams out that someone who has control over it is very, very, very concerned about links, thus might possibly also be interested in trying to game Google.

No, I'm not saying that's the case. Just a possibility if this is one of those times someone at Google decided to put some information out there for purposes that might not at first be evident.

In the end, in the US anyway, does any of this really matter?

With the new FTC Guidelines that take effect soon you're supposed to be labeling those affiliate links anyway. And in a way that is obvious to normal users, who won't (generally speaking) be nearly as sophisticated as someone involved in SEO, IM or Search. Given those FTC requirements, again in the US, one could make the argument that the search engines should be able to pick up on the fact that those are affiliate links anyway. No matter how you tried to disguise them.

The whole thing has become a circular argument IMHO. And it makes my head hurt. lol.gif So for my own stuff I'll just link as normal, label them to meet the FTC Guidelines so I don't get fined and let the PR Sculpting chips fall where they may.

#7 Michael Martinez

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 06:49 PM

You cannot use Javascript to replace "rel='nofollow'". Google says it is now crawling and indexing Javascript links.

But stop and think about the whole PageRank Sculpting debacle to begin with. Google changed the way it handled "rel='nofollow'" in early 2008 or late 2007 after seeing many sites screw up their search indexing with it. All the way up until Matt Cutts' announcement in June 2009 revealing that they had disabled the sculpting efforts, all the pro-Sculpting people were claiming their tests showed that sculpting worked.

It wasn't working, it was just dissipating PageRank, spraying it in a wide path across the indexed Web.

So why on Earth would you even want to consider trying to implement a tactic that has been thoroughly discredited and shown to have been nothing more than an SEO myth and nonsense?




#8 SERPico

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 09:00 AM

Thanks guys for your comments.

Michael: The why behind it for me would be to prevent certain pages getting weaker PR scores, regardless if I can measure it or not...what we do know is it is there.

PR is still and will remain an ingredient that contributes to your rankings, how much or less is unknown, but again it is there:

QUOTE(Matt Cutts)


Like Matt said, it's better to make sure you have a good site structure. And that's fortunately something I always want to get right from the beginning.


QUOTE
The whole thing has become a circular argument IMHO. And it makes my head hurt. lol.gif So for my own stuff I'll just link as normal, label them to meet the FTC Guidelines so I don't get fined and let the PR Sculpting chips fall where they may.


Same here lol.gif

I will continue to use nofollow on affiliate links though, because these links only link to a redirect page that resides in a folder I've blocked out via robots.txt

I do the redirect page/folder setup in order to make sure maintenance is easy in case of needing to change an affiliate link for a specific product linked from different pages.

Other then that, I'll let the PR sculpting chips fall where they may as well. smile.gif

#9 Michael Martinez

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 04:08 AM

You only need enough PageRank to ensure a page is included in the Main Web Index. After that, what gets you to the top is repetition and emphasis. Most people get their repetition through inbound link anchor text.

There is absolutely no benefit to attempting to sculpt PageRank -- which cannot be done anyway. Remember: Google stopped the SEO community from using "rel='nofollow'" (and perhaps Javascript) because attempts to sculpt PageRank were hurting sites in Google's index.

That is the absolute best reason NOT to do it any way, shape, or form.

#10 SERPico

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Posted 18 November 2009 - 06:56 AM

Gotcha Michael. smile.gif

Thanks!




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