You thought that Google was all about bots checking around to determine the quality of content on sites, didn’t you? Well, according to a report in the AssociatePrograms.com newsletter, Google employs people at a rate of $10 to $20 an hour to check search results at Google every day.
There is a criteria guide for the Google checkers called the Spam Recognition Guide for Raters. It’s available at http://www.searchbistro.com/spamguide.doc (for now).
It seems that a Google employee broke an NDA to share this report, so you may well hit a dead link in the near future. I’d suggest copying it to your hard drive for future reference.
The Spam Recognition Guide points out what they refer to as “Thin Affiliate Doorway Pages.”
They elaborate that they “differentiate between affiliates that produce extra service, value, or content, and those that simply are duplicates of other sites, set up to boost traffic to other sites and earn a commission for it.
The former ones are not Offensive and should be rated on the merits to the query. The latter ones are Offensive.”
Offensive meaning sites that are not fit to be in Google’s search results.
As far as I can tell, the guidelines are fair enough. They’re trying to rid their results of affiliate sites that offer no unique value proposition, as described in the following passage:
“Thin affiliate doorways are sites that usher people to a number of Affiliate programs, earning a commission for doing so, while providing little or no value-added content or service to the user. A site certainly has the right to try to earn income; weâ€™re attempting to identify sites that do nothing but act as a commission-earning middleman.”
It almost reads like a Jeff Foxworthy skit. You might be a thin affiliate if…
“If the links are overwhelmingly leading you to one affiliate program, this is a strong signal that the site is a Thin Affiliate. If the pages on the site are homogenous, and the links go to one or more affiliate programs, this is also a strong candidate.”
The guide identifies a page that features links with any of the following domains as a possible Thin Affiliate: qksrv.net, bfast.com, myaffiliateprogram.com, webmasterplan.de, and zanox-affiliate.de
There is much more information in the guide that any affiliate marketing should consume and heed.
Lesson to be learned – if you don’t offer up unique content or some other kind of unique angle from your site, don’t expect to be in Google (for long).