With all the privacy and data kerfluffles recently, it’s critical to ensure that your affiliate website reassures customers about its authenticity. And if that wasn’t enough, you also need to keep up with the legal guidelines from the FTC. In this article, we’ll take a quick look at affiliate disclosures, how much is enough, and what the best practices are from an SEO perspective.
Authority and Trust – Disclosures are Important
Late in 2018, Google issued what is now known in the SEO community as the “Medic” update. This update focused on three things:
While there is no direct metric of these measurements, some of it can be inferred from other signals. And even though Google strenuously denies that they have any impact on the rankings, these signals are part of their page quality guidelines. And since they continuously use these indicators of quality to train their search parameters, we can safely say that they are important – either directly, or indirectly.
Expertise and authority are a bit nebulous, but “Trust” is something we can display on our blog directly. For this, you need to have a dedicated section on “Privacy”, and a prominent “Contact Me” page. The idea is to make yourself accessible immediately to anyone who wants to reach you.
Some Affiliate Networks Demand Prominent Privacy Policies
Last year, I got this message in the main from CJ – one of the prominent affiliate networks on the market:
In general, affiliate networks are very helpful, and they’re not looking for a reason to take you down. Why would they? Their business depends on you!
Complying with the FTC
The FTC is another matter entirely. Since they’re an independent body, it’s important that you keep them off your back – though I privately wonder what the chances are of them stumbling on your site! But still. Complying with their requirements is simple.
Reading their compliance document, you might find it overly complicated. But they have an easier set of guidelines for affiliate websites. In both of these, the intent is clear – users must always know that you receive a commission from your affiliate links.
For example, I put up a funny message on top of my affiliate link pages like this:
It’s clear, and it doesn’t sound stilted like some formal, legal document. In addition, I also have the disclaimer on my privacy page – which as I mentioned is right at the top. So I’m covered from all angles. The FTC guidelines mention a few things:
- The disclaimer should be before the user sees the links
- The disclaimer should be clearly visible
- It’s not enough to have the disclaimer on a separate page
However, if it’s obvious that your review or recommendation is paid, then you don’t need to put up the disclaimer. However, the caveat is that the rules will be applied from the perspective of the “average” or “reasonable” customer – so what’s obvious to you might not be obvious to everyone else.
It’s Not that Hard
Despite the complicated language on the legal documents, staying in compliance with affiliate disclosures is dead easy. You just need to understand the intent of the guidelines and you’re good to go!
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!