Would ranking for these terms bring SEOmoz additional traffic and take traffic away from affiliates? Would that be a benefit to the long-term SEOmoz brand?
The suggestion is that brands should try to rank for their own voucher codes and take that traffic away from affiliate coupon sites. Unfortunately in some cases that might be biting the hand that feeds you.
Many of the sites that offer various forms of vouchers & coupons are brand evangelists, and the page on their site which offers regular updated coupons to their audience also acts as a conduit to product reviews, in much the same way as product reviews would link to the most recent coupon codes.
If affiliates are smart, they also have access to coupons from competing products and brands.
Whilst you can stamp out the traffic pure coupon sites receive by ranking for your own brand… and that could quite easily make a visible “net gain” to justify SEO jobs, the negative effect is hard to quantify.
Lets take Tom’s example to extremes and rank for as many terms used by affiliates as possible.[brand] review [brand] sucks/scam/ [brand] vs [brand] compared [brand] cheap [brand] coupon/discount/bonus/rebate/voucher/promo
These are all bread and butter terms for affiliates, but if you cut off all the terms affiliates can rank for, many affiliates will just write about your competitors instead.
This also happens frequently in reverse when vendors don’t supply affiliates with coupons, affiliates will rank for your “[brand] coupon” and offer an alternative product instead.
By promoting the existence of coupons to your primary user base, that increases the traffic for the search term, which makes it more lucrative for affiliates to rank for the term.
Also a higher percentage of your existing client base will search for coupon codes for every transaction. It is much easier to do this on the internet than brick & mortar stores where the coupons might have ended up with the junk mail, or simply forgotten.
Many online brands have been created or significantly enhanced by strong affiliate partners, and coupons often are provided to ensure affiliates get the sale and to add urgency/increase conversion rate.
There is a danger that some advice that might seem obvious could backfire and be very difficult to repair.
In his article Tom mentioned Argos, who I found ranking much higher than stated with their current “voucher” page, however they were also targeting the term via PPC.
UK search for Argos Voucher Personalization off
The problem with their PPC listing? It doesn’t link to a vouchers page.
Argos are however a store that makes vouchers extremely prominent, displaying them in a section on their home page “This Week’s Highlights”
Of course SEOMoz itself doesn’t rank highly for any of the terms highlighted, maybe that is a “Headsmacking Tip” too (they have an affiliate program)
I don’t think it is the right question to ask. For me the important factors are:-
- Did coupon affilaites in some way in the past help create an ecosystem where price concious consumers actively look for coupons online in Google because they could find them?
- Should coupons always be available to affiliates?
I am sure Affiliates did help create an ecosystem, so it would be wrong to say they add no value.
Affiliates should never be in a position that someone using their links has to pay more for a product than if they went to a site directly.
I also still feel that vendors should be careful competing with affiliates on what might be “cream” search terms where a coupon site might be a final destination within an affiliate’s value chain, or part of their overall SEO strategy. If part of their revenue for a product line is stripped away, it could affect their willingness to promote in other ways.
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