How To Use Multiple Affiliate Programs Without Duplicating Your Sales Page

By | January 25, 2006

Edition #17 – 1/25/2006

One of my sites went from PR5 to PR0 in one day! And no that’s not a typo…

Yes I know, I normally talk about things like “how to take your site from PR0 to PR4 in 90 days”, but today I need to tell you about the opposite.

Did you know you can lose PR much faster than you can gain it? I just learned the hard way.

I recently discovered that one of my websites was under a “page rank penalty” from Google as a result of having multiple sales pages containing identical content. Actually the entire page wasn’t identical, since the prices and payment methods differed, but I guess it was enough for Google to call it “identical duplicate content”.

I’m also not sure whether Google discovered this through their spider, or if one of my competitors reported it. Either way, I suddenly have a PR0 on a home page that should have been a PR5. Likewise, the site has been removed from Google’s organic search results.

It’s too bad it has to be this way, after all I’m not the type of person they’re trying to target with this policy. I think they’re mainly trying to eliminate the abusers who are trying to hog search engine results with millions of pages. In my case, it was nothing of the sort. I was simply offering a special payment page for a different affiliate program, so that I could involve more affiliates. That page was never meant to be listed in the search engines, it was simply functional.

So I decided I’d better figure out a better way of doing this, so that my sites don’t get penalized for having duplicate sales pages. I discovered that my marketing friend Jon Leger was using exactly the system I was looking for. Since he uses multiple affiliate programs, he uses PHP to switch the payment links on the same page, instead of sending people to different pages.

For example, let’s look at his site for AdSense Gold. First of all, let’s see what it looks like if you visit the site via a ClickBank link:

(link no longer available)

As you can see, it brings you to the home page. Try clicking on the payment link and you will see that the payment links are for ClickBank. Now let’s take a look at what happens if you visit the site via a PayDotCom link:

(link no longer available)

As you can see, it’s the same page. However, click on the payment link and you will see that it has been replaced with a PayDotCom payment link.

Pretty cool, eh?

It’s actually much easier than it looks. All he’s doing is sending the PayDotCom link to a PHP page which sets a cookie and then redirects to the home page. Then, on the home page, his code looks for the cookie and if it finds it, it modifies the “buy” links to point to PDC instead of ClickBank.

Here’s the code he uses to set the cookie:

< ?php setcookie("pdc", 1); header("Location: /"); exit; ?>

So in this case, the PDC cookie is the overriding cookie. You could reverse it, or add other variables depending on which affiliate programs you’re using and which ones you deem to be the most important. This is a good selling-point when recruiting affiliates for the affiliate program that sets the overriding cookie.

Again in this case, if you go back to the page now (even by typing it in directly) it will still display the PDC links because the cookie has been set on your computer.

This is NOT a sneaky tactic or anything like that! This is not a black hat redirect, or anything even slightly questionable. In fact, you can see that I got in trouble with the search engine for not doing it this way. There are other solutions to using interchangeable payment links, but regardless of what solution you choose, take my advice and don’t use duplicate sales pages if you care about your Google PR 😉

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