I’ve noticed in the past month a number of times when affiliate links in Google rank higher than official sites. The most prominent of these at present in the ProBlogging community (I get an email about it every day or two) is illustrated by when you do a search for Chitika in Google at present (in fact it’s the same story when you search for ‘eminimalls’ and ‘chitika eminimalls’).
Some Chitika affiliate with the id of ‘aglan’ is ranking first for the term so anyone who searches for Chitika hits their site and give this affiliate 10% of their earnings for 12 months not because he or she recommended it but because they have either been lucky or good at SEO.
I first noticed this phenomenon about a month ago when a search for ‘chitika’ resulted in my own affiliate link being number 1 – something I was both perplexed and if I’m honest, a little excited by.
This is not an isolated incident. On my digital camera blog I have noticed a similar thing with some of the affiliate programs that I promote where I rank first in Google as an affiliate in front of the official sites. I’ve spoken to a few of the affiliate program owners and to say that they are not happy about this would be an understatement – to not rank 1st for your own site’s title is a frustrating thing.
This is one of the down sides of running an affiliate program. Few people ever link to your site using it’s actual address so Google tends to rank which ever affiliate link that is most powerful as the highest one. Of course the product owner still gets sales but they have to pay the commission to affiliates.
The interesting thing is that once you’re in the top position as an affiliate you can actually have it reinforced by other people using your affiliate link to link up to the official site.
Take for instance a recent post by Robert Scoble who uses the aglan affiliate link to link to Chitika (at the time of writing this it’s still that way). I presume what has happened here is that Robert has looked up ‘Chitika’ on Google and has simply copied and pasted the link that Google serves (complete with affiliate link) into his own link – thus sending the lucky ‘aglan’ quite a few potential 10% commission possibilities (quite ironic considering the nature of Robert’s post). The other thing that Robert’s link does is reinforce the ‘aglan’ link at the number 1 position in Google for that term.