New Rules of (Affiliate) site architecture – Martin McDonald at A4U

New Rules of (Affiliate) site architecture – Martin McDonald at A4U

19th June 2012

At A4U Expo Martin Mc Donald talked about site architecture for Affiliates. The title might suggest it would be a very technical presentation, but in fact it was much more about getting affiliates to change their attitude.

There have been many Google Updates over the past few years, with Panda and Penguin of course sticking out. According to Martin McDonald, the way we are looking at the Google Updates is wrong. SEO’s act reactively to Google Updates like Panda. That is the wrong way around.

The first reaction to an update is panic. Affiliates say “Why have I lost all my traffic?”. When then asked what they have done it becomes clear that before they copied the hotel descriptions and ranked. This doesn’t work anymore.

“Life is not fair. We can’t get away with the crappy jobs we have been doing for years.”

We shouldn’t be looking at the updates with fear, but as an opportunity: to look at competitors and know how to beat them.

All posts are talking about why things didn’t work. That is a negative look. You have to look at those who is gaining. Martin wants to affiliates to outrank Collectively affiliates have combined more opportunity than the big brands.

Questions from Affiliates

Martin has two favorite questions he gets from Affiliates:

1. How much of my spun/copied/generated/templated/markov/scraped/ripped content can I keep?

Answer: all of it! As long as you de-index it. It is damaging the rest of the site. If people say its too much work start with 10% or even 1% and put original content on there. We need fleeds of people to write content. We are getting to where fluffy nice content brings us. There is plenty of companies delivering relatively bad content. Good content costs money.

Stop complaining and start going to work. Many affiliates don’t.

2. So, how many of my bought/rented/traded/acquired/widget/directory links can I keep?

Answer: it depends: there is no clear answer to this. It’s difficult to remove bad links. Real links: unless you are really extraordinary you won’t get the ‘good real’ links.

Stop chasing the algorithm. Work out where Google are going. Change from being reactive to getting there first.

Why social signals are important: who shot Pagerank?

It is much harder to fake social signals. It’s easy to buy 5000 sites. It’s a lot more difficult to fake a network. You can use for example Touchgraph, a free plugin on Facebook, to see how Facebook sees your connections, and they turn out to be scarily right.

If you are building a social network you are better off looking at what is good than finding the next trick. Authority is tough to fake.

Let’s think about “social-spread”

You have to figure out how people are connected to make maximum use of that. There are a few tools out there which can help you, like followerwonk and Google’s own social search tool, which shows your connections or the above mentioned Touchgraph.

A new tool spiders your new site and looks at social shares and gives you back nice information on what pages get most traction. This tool from @Ysekand:

Now you really need to do this shit properly.

You don’t want your own social profile?

One problem could be is that you don’t want you own social profile to blossom. Than look at the social networks and bring it in house. Look who has the most links to their profiles. There is a job site in the UK who has made great use of that by looking at the number of tweets pointing at specific people.

The key: use someone else’s profile.

Social signals can impact rankings temporarily.

We cannot ignore this anymore and we cannot treat social the way we treat links.

Key Points

Finally Martin’s key points:
– No, you can NOT carry on using “rubbish” content
– Stop going for the “easy” link
– Lets all forget about the “ago”. Lets build good stuff
– We shot Pagerank. Sorry.
– Faking social profiles is really quite hard
– If you don’t have your own network, use someone else’s
– Always be on the lookout!


After the presentation I talked to Martin McDonald to give us his biggest tip for affiliates. Find the talk below:


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.