Q: What are your thoughts on direct linking… the pros and cons? Do you have any cautions about this type of affiliate linking?
A: One con right away is that direct linking, where an affiliate links straight to an advertisers domain, rather than through a redirect, is not available through most affiliate networks. So, if this is something you wish to do, it’s going to limit your options.
Also, one of the pros of direct linking is a perceived SEO benefit to have hundreds or thousands of sites linking to you. I don’t have a grasp on the latest SEO issues, so I can’t say if this is something the search engines reward or not – having tons of sites link to your site overnight.
I use a company called Fusion Quest for the Affiliate Summit affiliate program where the affiliate links are direct to the domain. I don’t know that there has been any benefit from the inbound links, which are setup either as IFRAMES or direct links.
The IFRAMES from Fusion Quest give the appearance that there is no affiliate link. When not using IFRAMES, the affiliate links look like this (velocitynyc is the affiliate ID):
Anyhow, the SEO angle wasn’t a concern of mine in using this solution. I just liked the simplicity of the links versus using redirected links.
Also, the domains on the redirected affiliate links are sometimes targeted by anti-spyware programs, but that’s a whole difference can of worms.
Personally, I don’t see there being a great need for direct linking, and I don’t think I’m alone there when I look at the marketplace. There are not many vendors offering the technology for affiliate programs.