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How-to 10 min read September 11, 2019

How to find affiliate sites and get out of the affiliate filter

Affiliates in SEO are sites that belong to the same organization, provide the same services or products, with similar content. Since they corner markets, search engines choose one site to display in the search results or ban the entire grid by applying an affiliate filter.
Affiliate sites are additional sites of the same company, which almost don't differ from the main one.

Affiliate sites are created to monopolize regional search results. In the distant past, webmasters tried to manipulate the search results in this way. They created several identical sites for one company to occupy all the places in the TOP.

But since search engines want to give the user a real choice, monopolized SERP is considered unacceptable. Therefore, special algorithms have been configured that prevent the violation of search engines' policies. This under-estimation complicates the SEO-promotion of other web sites.

As a rule, the filter is automatic, but when complaining about an affiliate site, it can also be applied manually. The algorithm determines affiliates according to several criteria. The coincidence of several or even one parameter may become a reason for aliasing a filter.

Criteria that the algorithm can pay attention to when identifying affiliation:

  • domain owner;
  • hosting provider;
  • contact info;
  • domain name;
  • identical product catalogs;
  • single owner of accounts in analytics systems;
  • Whois;
  • IP address;
  • domain age;
  • links to each other;
  • structure, design, content, and more.

The verification of information about the domain owner is performed by Whois. The service provides all the necessary information that is in the public domain:
Whois domain checking for the search of affiliates
You can find out the hosting provider through Hosting Checker. Contact information should be compared independently in the Contacts tab. You can check the domain name, structure and design, directory information, and other individual website parameters manually.

Any of the above criteria may cause a filter to be applied. In the main, the algorithm takes into account a combination of factors, but individually, each criterion may not work in your favor. For example, the reason for posing restrictions is likely to be the matching up of content (catalogs and products) in conjunction with the same company contacts.

Affiliate filter features

The suspicion that something went wrong arises precisely from the loss of position.

If your sites took certain positions in the search results by key phrases, and then an update occurs during which only one website remains in the TOP, and the rest fly out well over a hundred or are excluded from the index altogether, then sanctions have likely been imposed.

If one web site wasn't excluded from the index and retained its position, then it was most likely recognized as more relevant, so the rest of the websites were pushed to the end or completely excluded.
It's impossible to predict what will be more relevant for the search. Everything is automated here. Usually, older resources have more chances, but this is not an axiom.
For requests that don't intersect, several sites may remain in the search results. Search is cleared only of copies.

A significant minus of the affiliate filter is that the consequences remain for a very long time. It isn't always possible to return to the TOP for several keys. Some SEO-experts assert that complete filter removal almost doesn't work.

How to detect site affiliates

If you haven't created affiliates for the site and want to find them, proceed as follows.
1
Search for sites with similar contacts. Try to type the phone, mail, address into the search. If you find that other websites with similar content, besides your website appear, it's worth checking two sites for affiliation.
2
Check the uniqueness of the pages. Borrowed content, in conjunction with other criteria, indicates that the site is threatened by filters. You can use Copyscape for a quick online check.
Uniqueness check online on Copyscape
In the input field, paste the URL of the site, then click "Go". Rate the result. If the check revealed the presence of matching content with other online sites, the risk of sanction increases.

Search affiliates with the help of Webconfs

Use the similar page checker Webconfs. It helps to compare two site pages and define their commonality. Enter the original page URL in the first field, then the one that you consider as duplicated in the second. The tool will show whether it includes similar content parts.

How to prevent branch sites from being affiliates

As mentioned above, companies often launch separate websites to reach regional search results and identify specific branches. But this must be done correctly: so that the system doesn't consider your subdomains to be affiliate sites, do the following:
1
In the subdomain URL, specify its region:
  • london.example.com
  • newyork.example.com
2
Specify the regions using the Google Search Console, as well as the branch address in Google My Business.
3
Optimize content for users in the region: write unique texts for Londoners, for example.

Elimination of affiliate filter overlay causes

To get the affiliate site out of the filter, you need to find out the reasons for the sanction. All the methods that are described in the article will help you to find the most common scenarios.

  • Contacts. Contact information is often the reason why algorithms stick websites. Therefore, be sure to indicate different phones, actual addresses, mail. If you find your contacts on a foreign site, then immediately inform the search engine with the help of the support service.

  • Uniqueness. If you find that you have non-unique content on the pages, rewrite it if plagiarism is detected exactly on your site.

    Don't forget that you should also pay attention to the Title and Description. Each site should be as unique as possible; therefore, it may be worth even replacing styles. Pay attention to the structure, logos, and design. This doesn't guarantee absolute safety from the filter, but in aggregate, it can play a positive role.

    This item also includes URL uniquelization. If you used the same address generation template on two websites, you need to change it. Don't allow the same catalogs or products on different sites, because all online stores are alike. The most important thing for a search is to be unique.

  • Domain providers, domains, hosting, and servers. You need to buy domain names from one registrar for several web sites carefully, so it's better to close your personal information from everyone. The same domain owner, server or hosting provider talks about the connection between the sites.

  • Links to each other. Linking sites among themselves, in this case, doesn't play in your favor. Navigating from the main site differs from linking different sites using key phrases.

Imagine a situation where an affiliate filter was superimposed on two sites: example1.com and example2.com. Let us suppose that the Google algorithm recognized resources as affiliates for the following reasons:

  • same contact information;
  • same content;
  • the same prices and a common catalog;
  • incomplete whois match.

In this case, the owner must:
1
Completely replace the phone, mail, address, and more.
2
Change images of goods, their descriptions, and, if possible, prices.
3
Hide data about the domain itself.
4
Contact the support for help.

Conclusion

The affiliate filter is applied on sites that the search considered as copies. Often subdomains, namely, affiliate sites are exposed to this risk. When an algorithm detects that sites are connected, it selects the most relevant ones. It omits other sites down the ranking or excludes them from the index at all.

A sign of filtering is a recession in the positions of all sites except one.

To prevent affiliate sites from falling under the algorithm:

  • include the region in the URL;
  • write down different addresses and uniqualize the content;
  • set regional affiliation with the help of Google Search Console and Google My Business.

To remove the filter, you need:

  • to find out the reasons how the connection was discovered. As a rule, the reasons are cumulative, that is, there are several factors;
  • to eliminate existing deficiencies. You must completely uniqualize the site and its contents, edit the contacts, hide the domain information and so on.

It is worth noting that for duplication (identical phones, structure, products, etc.) of a site on marketplaces (for example, prom.ua), the filter is not applied.

This article is a part of Serpstat's Checklist tool
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