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Do Affiliate Ad Pages Need a Separate Subdomain?

  1. Will Apse profile image92
    Will Apseposted 2 years ago

    The way that HP uses affiliate is unique among larger sites that rely heavily on natural search.

    Here individual affiliate ads are scattered through the site in a pretty random way. On other sites affiliate ads are avoided altogether or grouped in special sections ('the shop', 'reviews').

    It is easy to explore this. Last week I looked at the top twenty pages on HP for the term 'apple pie recipe'. Then compared them with the top twenty pages in a Google search for the same term. These are the results:

    70% of the the Hubpage recipes had Amazon ads. There were a total of 33 ads ranging from cookbooks to Apple TV's (the last being an outlier, mercifully).

    Only one similar affiliate ad appeared in the Google search pages (a very, very small ad directed to Target). There were also 2 pages with magazine subscription links.

    17 of the sites at the top of Google search had no affiliate link anywhere on the site.

    One site, hxxp:www.foodnetwork.com, has a 'shop' tab in the main navigation menu that takes you to a separate site called hxxp://www.foodnetworkstore.com/. I don't know whether to regard this as an affiliate link or not. Maybe it should be seen as a gateway.

    Cooking,com has around 600 pages in its recipe section.and around 500 pages in its products section, each with one affilate ad. This site has poor quality descriptions of products but 'adds value' with reviews from buyers in the style of Amazon. It seems very successful in search for products as well as recipes.

    What does this tell you?

    It tells me that affiliate ads have a downside or they would be used on every site. It also tells me that those sites that use affiliate ad pages successfully keep them in a separate section.

    How does this apply to HP?

    I would make 2 suggestions:

    Cut the number of pages that can carry affiliate ads in each subdomain. Fifty per cent say, could  be allowed to have ads. This would force people to monitor which ads engage readers and get results (and thus keep). Each sub would then roughly mimic the balance of cooking.com ( and many other similarly successful sites).


    Have a separate subdomain, say reviews.hubpages,com, to which all affiliate pages were automatically located. This would have the advantage of allowing you see how the subs and the main 'hubpages,com' domain performed without affiliate ads.

    The latter option would scare me given the inevitable upheaval in the SERP's but it might pay off long term, especially if HP were tough on what pages could get into the review section. Scores of 80 or better would be the lower end for me.

    Anyway, long post, sure to be disregarded, lol. But there you are. I would like this site to succeed.

    1. TIMETRAVELER2 profile image100
      TIMETRAVELER2posted 2 years agoin reply to this

      When I hear people talking about having 10 to 20 ads on a page, I cringe.  What CAN they be thinking?  And why is HP allowing this?

      Since each ad is a portal for readers that can lead them to a site that they can use to shop for just about anything  at least on Amazon,, (and I have suggested this before), why not simply limit the number of ads per article to one or two?

      I'm sure the team could come up with an algorithm that would automatically wipe the extra ads off of a hub.  Certainly, they should not expect writers to eliminate them themselves, because most people just won't do it!

      The team did go from 50 to 100 words as a limit per capsule, but they also said people would not be penalized for not making the appropriate changes unless they edited their hubs. This means that while I went back and fixed everything, somebody else is still sitting there with tons of ads on his or her hubs.

      This is NOT the way to change things and is very short sighted.

      1. Will Apse profile image92
        Will Apseposted 2 years agoin reply to this

        I think limiting affiliate ads to just one or two a page is too blunt an instrument. As I said, before I reckon supplying ads that are appropriate is the key thing. In HP's case it would be best  to get them off the majority of pages altogether and only keep them when they are useful for the reader.

        1. TIMETRAVELER2 profile image100
          TIMETRAVELER2posted 2 years agoin reply to this

          OK...but how do you think they can do that?  It's a judgement call that no technology would be able to make...so??

          1. Will Apse profile image92
            Will Apseposted 2 years agoin reply to this

            It is not really a judgement call. If readers value ads, then they click them. That can be monitored.

            Individual writers should do this on their accounts but HP could do it if they really wanted to.

            I can certainly tell you that most hubs with affiliate ads will derive very little money from Amazon even with reasonable traffic. And the ads can harm them.

            You need people who already have the intention of buying to click an Amazon ad. People who search for stuff like 'lawn mower reviews' or 'best tablet for kids' are people who are looking to buy something.

            The rest dodge the ads as best they can.

            1. TIMETRAVELER2 profile image100
              TIMETRAVELER2posted 2 years agoin reply to this

              Although this seems to make sense, I can tell you that some of the hubs I write are not those types of articles and at the right time of the year (summer) I get a fair amount of clicks from them.  The rest of the year, they lie dormant.

              So, if people are not clicking on them at other times of the year, this could be construed by bots as not having value, when in fact, there's plenty of value.

              I know others here who are in this same boat.  One size is not going to fit all.

              1. Will Apse profile image92
                Will Apseposted 2 years agoin reply to this

                It ain't never easy, lol.

                Looking at the facts, though. If you compare HP's 'apple pie recipe' pages with Google search results for the same term, the affiliate ads stand out as the big difference.

                Many of the HP pages are excellent in terms of quality. They have had a huge amount of work with multiple original pictures and easy to follow instructions. Sadly, none of them makes it into the top fifty results in search. In fact, they seem to have been eliminated by one algo filter or another.

                There are other (non ad-related) possible reasons, of course. One is this warning from Google:

                'Minimize similar content: If you have many pages that are similar, consider expanding each page or consolidating the pages into one. For instance, if you have a travel site with separate pages for two cities, but the same information on both pages, you could either merge the pages into one page about both cities or you could expand each page to contain unique content about each city.'

                https://support.google.com/webmasters/a … 6359?hl=en

                We have separate subs here and the recipes are all slightly different but does this really protect us from this pitfall?

                Anyway, I would try tackling the ads first, before thinking about duplicate content issues.

    2. NateB11 profile image94
      NateB11posted 2 years agoin reply to this

      Good idea. It's occurred to me that many top pages in Google don't have affiliate ads. And also that sites put affiliate ads in a separate category. The logical solution would seem to be for HP to give Hubs with affiliate ads a specific location.

      I've wondered about this issue too, because it's come up in forum threads before; why a person can have a site with a lot of affiliate ads and the site is successful, but that many affiliate ads on a page can hurt HP (and other writing sites). Seems logical that it's because the person with their own site can restrict those ads to a specific section, a relatively small number of pages. Of course, with the number of writers here at HP, this must be why there are tighter restrictions on affiliate ads now; because with so many writers, you're going to end up with way more affiliate ads than is normal; and scattered.

      1. Will Apse profile image92
        Will Apseposted 2 years agoin reply to this

        That is the key question, Nate:

        'why a person can have a site with a lot of affiliate ads and the site is successful, but that many affiliate ads on a page can hurt HP'

        I think it is a lot to so with reader expectations. Readers expect to see links to products on a product, shopping or review page. They are probably looking to buy something and they actually want the link to do that.

        They are not expecting to see 'buy now' links on a recipe page or a 'how to'.

        Google does more than just count affiliate links, it works out engagement and tracks reader behavior. I would be amazed if it did not track affiliate link usage. If no one clicks affiliate ads then they are clutter, distraction, self serving and damaging to the reading experience.

        Even if the algos no not register this through decreased engagement you open your site to a manual slap.

  2. PaulGoodman67 profile image96
    PaulGoodman67posted 2 years ago

    I wonder if HP could develop something that detects affiliate ads that are rarely or never clicked on? 

    Just as HP unpublish hubs that lack views, they could flag or remove affiliate ads that are not clicked. 

    I have been doing my best to remove affiliate ads that seem superfluous, but suspect there are still a lot of affiliate ads on pages out there that are just there for the sake of it and need to be removed one way or another.

    The site needs to keep the number of affiliate ads to just an essential minimum to survive.  Squidoo failed to do that and suffered the consequences.

    1. janderson99 profile image56
      janderson99posted 2 years agoin reply to this

      It appears that HP will not act to de-index HUB pages that break the Affiliate rules (1 per 100 words, no more than 2 per capsule, and relevant only ads) UNTIL the page is EDITED by the author. HP has grandfathering policies.

      "Some content is grandfathered in under previous site standards.
      Such Hubs are subjected to the current site standards, rules, QAP, etc. once they are edited." see http://hubpages.com/forum/topic/131465#post2747130

      Even if hubs are reported or flagged for breaking the affiliate rules - nothing will change. Weird policy that is hampering any clean up of the site (Cargo Cult) while we await Panda 5. HP is its own worst enemy IMO, for not cleaning up spam! Panda slap remaineth.

    2. Will Apse profile image92
      Will Apseposted 2 years agoin reply to this

      We should try not to mention Squidoo.