This is a question many bloggers will wonder as they start posting more articles. How many affiliate links should blog posts contain? We are doing this to make money but at the same time we don’t want to come across as spammy and get in Google’s bad books.
As with so many things in internet marketing, there is no hard and fast rule as to how many affiliate links blog posts should contain. Here is a quick summary answer:
It is a good idea on newer sites to restrict affiliate links to one every 300-400 words or so, and also have some articles on your site which are purely informational with no affiliate links. Older sites with more authority can rank with more affiliate links in their content.
This tells Google and your visitors that you are not in this just to make as much money as possible, but also to help people out and provide a good user experience. Too many ads, popups and affiliate links makes browsing a site annoying and puts visitors off. They can see you just want their money.
This is indeed a major weakness of so many of the big mainstream sites you visit, especially news sites. Their pages are always cluttered with ads, popups and auto loading videos and the experience of browsing these sites is becoming more and more irritating as the monetization is so blatant.
It’s like they are attacking the visitor as soon as they arrive, trying to make money off them in any way they can, but because of their high domain authority, they get away with it. A newer site would never rank with that level of “clutter” and monetization affecting the user experience.
As niche bloggers we have a chance to go against this trend and create a more enjoyable and uncluttered user experience, whilst also sprinkling affiliate links around where relevant to pick up some good commissions. Let’s look at ways to approach this issue of affiliate linking in blogs in more detail.
An example of an over-monetized niche site
Google Does Not Like Too Many Affiliate Links
The first thing to recognize is that Google can spot affiliate links in content, and they are perfectly fine in moderation. It looks on affiliate links pretty much the same way as it looks at ads – it doesn’t mind them as long as there are not too many. Google recognizes people need to make money online somehow.
There is lots of talk online about different ratios of affiliate links to keywords in articles. This post suggests one link every 100 to 300 words or so. Some people say even less, one every 500 words or so.
However, this is all guesswork and none of this is exact science, since Google have not made public any hard and fast rule about an acceptable ratio of affiliate links to words in content. It is largely trial and error, and you won’t know where the line is until you have crossed it and get penalized!
All we do know is that Google treats affiliate links pretty much like an advert, and so as with ads, if your page is too cluttered with them, then Google may see your content as spammy and penalize it accordingly. See this account of a blogger getting hit with a ranking penalty by stacking one of his pages with too many links.
So the key thing with affiliate links is to use them in moderation in blog posts, especially on newer sites with lower authority, and make sure they are truly relevant to the subject you are writing about and not just thrown in there in the hope of making money.
Of course, readers will point to plenty of articles they’ve seen which are full of affiliate links and still rank number one. I get this; I’ve seen these myself, but they can usually get away with this because they are established sites that have higher domain authority and trust with Google.
Once your site is more established and has been around a while, you can also start to add more affiliate links to posts. In the early days though, focus primarily on providing a good user experience and helping out the reader, and sprinkling in affiliate links here and there without going over the top.
Structure Your Site Properly
Another way to avoid getting hit by penalties for too many affiliate links is to build your site in such as way as to lessen the need for affiliate links in articles. What we mean here is that it is good to create a Resources Page for different categories of affiliate products, which you link to from your articles.
This acts as like a Monetization Hub for your site – the page you direct them that has the products they need to click off to on Amazon. That way you don’t have to put so many links in your actual articles; you can simply direct them to your resources page instead which has all the affiliate links on it.
You can still use some affiliate links in your articles when it really makes sense; once you have a resources page you can just use them more sparingly so you don’t get hit with penalties for using too many of them.
Another good tactic is to make sure you have some content that is not monetized at all by affiliate links and is purely informational.
This lets Google and visitors know that you are not all about the monetization and also want to provide useful resources and content to help people solve problems.
Again there is no hard and fast rules on the ratio here; some people suggest a 50/50 ratio of monetized versus purely informational content. This might be a push depending on how many articles you have time to produce. Two thirds to one third might be a better option but again there are no set rules on this.
As with so many things around online marketing it is about using some common sense and also creating a user experience for others that you would like yourself.
If a blog post you are creating feels like it is too spammy and is not a page you would like to visit yourself then try to pull the monetization back a little and remove some of the affiliate links and ads.
Affiliate Links Best Practices
Here is a quick summary of what we’ve mentioned so far as to the best way to use affiliate links in blog posts:
- Make sure they actually add value to the post and help out the reader. Would you include this link even if it wasn’t an affiliate link, just because it helps out the reader?
- Make sure your content is rock solid – good, reliable, detailed content that helps out the reader, regardless of any affiliate links.
- Make sure your affiliate interest is clearly disclosed both on your sidebar, and in the article.
- Always tell the reader where outbound affiliate links are going. (eg. Click to view on Amazon).
- Sell your affiliate links – explain in a few sentences why the linked product/service is useful to the reader before linking to it.
- Use them sparingly on newer sites with lower authority (once every 300-400 words).
- Once you build up more authority and trust with Google, you can start to add more (“top 10 X” style affiliate posts)
- Link back to a few affiliate heavy resource/gear pages when possible instead, to keep the number of affiliate links down in your blog posts.
- Have some articles on your site which are purely information, designed solely to help out the reader with no affiliate links at all.
- Google does not like thin, spammy, largely irrelevant content stuffed with affiliate links. They like a good user experience.