Let me start by saying I'm NOT a Google 'hater'! I like much of what they do, but not all of it - I'm not a 'fanboy' either!
So in a change to my (often) praise for Google, here's a rant!
So I've been thinking... Google hates 'thin affiliate sites' right? I mean, they even go so far as saying this in their guidelines:
"Google believes that pure, or "thin," affiliate websites do not provide additional value for web users, especially if they are part of a program that distributes its content to several hundred affiliates. These sites generally appear to be cookie-cutter sites or templates with no original content. Because a search results page could return several of these sites, all with the same content, thin affiliates create a frustrating user experience."
So it's pretty clear, Google think that think affiliate sites are bad... So bad, they don't really want to rank them. Okay, so what does a good affiliate site look like?
Let's pick a pretty competitive market, say... credit card comparison.
Looking at my screenshot, Google's own comparison (affiliate site?) site is placed ABOVE all the organic listings (many of who worked hard for several years to get their ranking, following the advice Google gave them about UX, adding value, investing in content etc).
I know, I know, it's an ad, not an organic listing. HOWEVER Google is also (in my screenshot at least), placing this ad above all PPC advertisers! Nice!
So, surely Google had followed the advice it's been giving out for years right? Namely:
* Avoid being a 'thin affiliate site' that's just made up of aggregate data
* Add value - User generated content, reviews etc
* Affiliate program content should form only a small part of the content of your site.
*Ask yourself why a user would want to visit your site first rather than visiting the original merchant directly. Make sure your site adds substantial value beyond simply republishing content available from the original merchant.
(the latter two are from Google's guidelines to affiliate sites!)
Surely they have taken all this into account and are putting their site at the top as it's a bastion on all that an affiliate site should be, right?
Click this link and judge for yourself!: https://www.google.co.uk/compare/creditcard/qs?gclid=CPP5ndz3obwCFfMftAod40wAfg#!profile=ANY_CARD
Again, I know this isn't an organic search result, however I do take issue with the fact that Google has completely failed to follow all the advice it gives to others and has placed a site that they KNOW is much WORSE for users above all other sites (I say which they KNOW is worse for users, as they give examples of what's bad for users here - https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/76465?hl=en
and it looks like they followed all the "don't do's" and ignored all the good advice!).
With Google's recent (last couple of months) announcement that they're going to launch a travel comparison site (powered by Ryan Air I believe), I can't help wondering if they are going to do any better?
I mean seriously, just look at these guidelines about a good and a bad affiliate site: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/76465?hl=en
and compare it with Google's own attempts at an affiliate site:https://www.google.co.uk/compare/creditcard/qs?gclid=CPP5ndz3obwCFfMftAod40wAfg#!profile=ANY_CARD
My grade for that site is: "Could try harder"