Does Google hate affiliate marketers? ‘Hate’ may be a little extreme but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Google doesn’t want websites and web pages in its search engine index that it believes add no value to – or junk up – its search results. Unfortunately for many affiliate marketers, Google interprets many affiliate sites as doing exactly that.

Affiliate marketers have long suspected Google’s ire towards them, whether as a result of seeing their sites removed from Google’s index or of having to pay exorbitant pay-per-click costs to advertise in Google Adwords. Recently, a proprietary Google document surfaced on the Internet and in affiliate marketing circles that put all such doubts to rest. The document – which Google has subsequently sought to remove from those who have published it – indicates that Google distrusts, devalues and may even de-index websites that do little more than promote affiliate products or services.

Affiliate marketers can whinge and whine all they like about the powerful Google and its ability to destroy their businesses. The fact is, however, that if their business model is based on Google search traffic, they have to play by Google’s rules. And Google does not want to send traffic – organic or paid search traffic – to websites it sees as offering its search engines users a poor search experience.

So while we can argue that many affiliate sites do, in fact, add value – they may, for example, enable someone to find a product or service they’re looking for more easily than the upstream merchant – Google may not see it that way.

What should affiliate marketers do to get on Google’s good side (i.e. stay indexed and, ideally, get a high search engine ranking)? And, by the way, there are still some affiliate marketing companies and websites that appear to be doing very well in Google, so there does seem to be a way for affiliates to appease Google.

My suggestion lies, firstly, in what, ultimately, Google wants to see in its index: search results that match what its users are looking for. It’s simple: if you are targeting certain keywords make sure your website and web pages provide the type of content, products and services that people using those keywords are likely to want.

Of course, many affiliates would argue that they DO provide what people are searching for – after all, that is the whole point of targeting certain keywords – yet, this still doesn’t satisfy Google.

If so, then affiliate marketers must do more than simply provide, say, affiliate links for products that people are using Google to find. In this case, affiliates need to be more than just affiliate marketers and provide much more value than just affiliate links or, dare I say, lame ‘how to’ articles.

What added value looks like for a given affiliate marketer will vary according to the site, niche and products or services being promoted. It’s likely, however, that the key is to find an answer to the following question:

“How can I help the visitor MORE than if they simply go straight to the merchant’s website?”

In other words, how can you reconfigure your website in such a way that a visitor would rather come to your site – and buy through you – than going directly to the merchant? If you can, indeed, distinguish your site in this way then you will be enhancing Google’s users search engine experience and, hopefully, be seen by Google as having a relevant, authoritative website or web page for a given search term. Rather than have your site removed from Google’s search engine index, you’ll be more likely to see your site move up in the rankings.

Of course, that’s the theory… Google may still be biased against any affiliate websites and there’s not much one can do about that except leave the affiliate business or aim to get more traffic from OTHER sources. I recently discussed this with a major affiliate marketer who said his company intended to generate at least 40 percent of its traffic from non-Google sources in 2012. That may be a good goal for ALL affiliate marketers.